New editor, Best Of(s), endorsements and Give! 

Publisher's Note

We are thrilled to announce that Kirk Woundy is the Independent's new editor-in-chief. Kirk's primary mission will be to lead our editorial department, helping our full-time and freelance journalists provide the kind of insightful, award-winning news and cultural reporting that you've come to expect from the region's largest locally owned newspaper.

For the past seven-plus years, we have been blessed by Kirk's passion, intelligence, collaborative spirit and, most of all, his dedication to improving every story he touches. As the Independent's managing editor, he has been our behind-the-scenes leader. But in the coming months and years, readers and civic leaders will learn why we value him so much.

A 1998 graduate of Syracuse University's prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Kirk worked at daily newspapers and in the publishing and nonprofit arenas before finding his way to the Independent.

"The Indy really drew me in because it embodies so much of what I think journalism should be — from the local control to the in-depth reporting to the commitment to catalyzing positive change in the community," he says. "I continue to be both humbled and energized by the opportunity to be part of this paper, and to work with such a talented and unique group of dedicated people."

Kirk, 35, takes over editorial leadership from Ralph Routon, who will remain the Independent's executive editor, but in a different role. Ralph, 60, will continue to pen his weekly Between the Lines and End Zone columns, mentor reporters and editors, and also work on selected long-term projects. But he will focus more time on his latest responsibility, leading the editorial department at our sister paper, the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

"This is the best step forward for all of us," Ralph says. "Our staff at the Independent is proud of what we have achieved together over the past six years. We've done our best to earn the increased trust of our readers as the most dependable source of local news, culture and entertainment coverage in Colorado Springs. None of that will change, as Kirk has fully earned the chance to move up and make sure we continue to build on that role and momentum."

Upcoming in the Indy

With mail ballots going out Monday, Oct. 15, we'll step up to the plate as usual with endorsements. In next week's Indy, we'll focus on all the state, county and Colorado Springs ballot issues, as well as some for smaller constituencies.

Then, on Wednesday, Oct. 17, we'll weigh in on national, state legislative and El Paso County commissioner races. And yes, we will publish cheat sheets summarizing our recommendations in the Oct. 24 and Oct. 31 editions.

Speaking of voting, October also brings our two annual issues devoted to the winners in our Best Of Colorado Springs readers' poll. After four weeks of voting in 220 categories, there's a lot to share.

On Oct. 17, we will report our readers' choices for all things related to dining and drinking in the Pikes Peak region. Then the following week, we will feature results for services, shopping, cultural attractions, local celebrities and more.

Give! 2012

This year's end-of-year philanthropic campaign launches with the 2012 Give! Guide inside the Oct. 31 Independent, featuring 58 incredible, often little-known, local nonprofits. This year's goal is $800,000 from 3,000 donors, numbers that represent an increase of $100,000-plus and 500 donors over last year's record-breaking tally.

But as important as money is to local nonprofits in these trying times, we're equally excited about the volunteers, in-kind donations and well-earned applause our participating organizations will garner from the Indy and our 21 media partners.

As for the donors themselves: While giving is and should be its own reward, this year we have added several exciting new twists, including the Give! Back Sweepstakes. Those Give! donors who contribute to four or more participating nonprofits could win their choice of a 2013 Subaru Impreza or a $12,000-plus, solar-panel installation, thanks to the amazing generosity of Heuberger Motors and SunShare, respectively.

One more Give!-related note: For the first time, we'll celebrate the start of the campaign with a memorable kickoff event. For details on a Nov. 1 wine-tasting and masquerade ball at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, see pp. 43 and 47.

As the saying goes, when everyone gives a little, we accomplish a whole lot.


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