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Noted: Big bucks for Sen. Bennet 

New lawmaker gets a jump toward election funding

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet may have gotten snowed out of a weekend foray to Colorado's Western Slope, but otherwise it clearly seems to have been a good week for him.

Bennet, appointed to fill Ken Salazar's seat in January after Salazar was appointed to lead the Department of the Interior, already has raised nearly $1.4 million for the 2010 election, according to the Denver Post.

The timely report of Bennet's impressive haul sends a clear signal he won't be an easy target in his first-ever election next year. Some Democrats, still miffed that Gov. Bill Ritter picked Bennet instead of former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, are itching for a Democratic primary fight.

On the Republican side, there's no clear candidate, though Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney; Ryan Frazier, an Aurora city councilman; and former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez have been mentioned. — AL

Volunteer for bright idea

The Colorado Springs Conservation Corps is asking for volunteers to hand out 15,000 free, 60-watt, compact fluorescent light bulbs. A training for volunteers will take place at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 11, at the yet-to-be-finished Conservation Center, 409 N. Tejon St. The volunteers will go door-to-door handing out light bulbs in the city.

"[Fluorescents] use a quarter of the energy of incandescents," explains Tom Nelson, volunteer coordinator.

Nelson's hoping to hand out a few hundred bulbs over the weekend, and more throughout the year. Free light bulbs will also be available to volunteers. For more information, call 636-2852. — JAS

Transition goes smoothly for returning congregation

Episcopalians turned up in droves on Palm Sunday after the historic Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was returned to them following a two-year dispute.

David Watts, the church's junior warden, estimates the turnout was 600, split between two services, with the majority showing up at 11:30 a.m. Officials had estimated 400 people would attend.

The church property at 601 N. Tejon St. was returned Friday, April 3, after a judge's order ended a two-year dispute over ownership of the property. In March 2007, the Rev. Don Armstrong led congregants in a break with the Episcopal Church, affiliating with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America, but staying at the church building.

Armstrong's group has become St. George's Anglican Church and is meeting at 2760 Fieldstone Road, the former Renaissance Academy. Armstrong still faces allegations he embezzled from his old parish. — AL

Artist memorial planned

On April 1, local artist Timothy (Timber) Kirwan passed away at the studio he shared with friend and artist Douglas Rouse. Kirwan was known for his geometric sculptures and his work with lighting and fur. Kirwan would create geodesic domes, many of which were illuminated with electroluminescent wire, and would display them during Burning Man events in Nevada.

A memorial service will be held at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church (730 N. Tejon St.) at 4 p.m., Friday, April 10. Following the memorial will be a happy hour at the V Bar (19 E. Kiowa St.) and another tribute at Rouse and Kirwan's studio, the INKQB8TOR (228 S. Sierra Madre St.), starting at 8.

Says Rouse of Kirwan, "This man brought everybody together. His greatest gift was his time, and he gave it to anybody and everybody who asked for it." — EA

Extra brigade in doubt

A leaner proposed budget released by the U.S. Defense Department this week has cast doubt on an Army growth plan that had been expected to place a newly created brigade at Fort Carson within the next five years.

A statement from U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn notes that no final decision has been made, but acknowledges the proposed spending plan does away with the new brigade.

The 3,500-soldier unit was scheduled to become the 4th Infantry Division's 5th Brigade Combat Team, but no construction has started on facilities to house or train them. The new plan has no effect on current growth at Fort Carson, under which the 4th ID headquarters and its 1st Brigade Combat Team will be arriving in Colorado Springs this summer, expanding the base to nearly 25,000 soldiers.

Fort Carson officials say they've received no official word on the 5th BCT. —AL

New art space opening

Brett Andrus, local artist and former co-owner of Rubbish Gallery (17B E. Bijou St.), will open a new multimedia art space to be called Modbo near the end of May. Andrus, with his partner and girlfriend Lauren Ciborowski, plans a venue that will host art shows and classes, poetry readings and music concerts spanning the genres of classical to rock.

"It's going to be a multifunctional art space," says Andrus. "It's not going to follow a traditional gallery model."

Modbo will be located off the same alley as Rubbish, which will stay in business under longtime owner Jon Lindstrom. — EA

Edifice Gallery heads west

Former urban art hub Edifice Gallery will reopen in San Francisco, where co-owner Richard Arnot is relocating at the end of April. Arnot sees the move as a chance to expand the business and the urban art fair, Nocturnal Mockery, which he has built with partner Jason Herzog.

"I want to extend my network," Arnot says. "I'm going to go out there ... and within a year I plan on doing a Noc Moc, hopefully, in San Francisco."

In a few years, he hopes to bring a refreshed and improved Noc Moc back to the Springs. "I want to give it a little bit of a break because, I think, the edge is kind of lost," Arnot says.

The Web site he maintains with Herzog (edificegallery.com) will continue covering art news and eventually will serve as a store for books and prints. — EA

Focus staffer nabbed

Focus on the Family employee Juan Alberto Ovalle, 42, was arrested April 3 after Jefferson County District Attorney investigators allegedly caught him trying to seduce a teenage girl online.

Ovalle had set up a rendezvous with the "girl" in Lakewood, unaware that he was really communicating with undercover cops. The DA's office alleges that Ovalle made sexually graphic statements online before showing up for the "meeting."

In addition to his work with Focus, Ovalle has narrated popular Spanish Bible CDs. He was released Monday, April 6, on a $25,000 bond, and was scheduled to be charged Thursday, April 9.

As of deadline, Focus officials had not returned calls to the Indy regarding Ovalle's status. But Gary Schneeberger, Focus vice president of media and public relations, issued the following statement: "Juan Ovalle is a Spanish producer for Enfoque a la Familia who works at Focus on the Family's Colorado headquarters. Our Human Relations department is looking into the allegations. Because it is a personnel matter and therefore confidential, there is not much we can say." — JAS

For readers and writers

In a move acknowledging current economic times, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference recently announced it is extending its early-bird registration discounts until April 10.

The conference, planned for April 24 through 26, includes new options. First is a day of lower-priced workshops on April 23 that writers can register for, whether or not they attend the conference. The conference is also expanding into other areas of writing.

"We had been primarily focused on fiction," says Pikes Peak Writers President Ron Heimbecher, "but over the past year we've had so many inquiries from nonfiction people that we've started expanding in a couple of areas to bring in more nonfiction people." For more about the conference or registration, visit pikespeakwriters.com.

Also this week, the Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Project released Poetry While You Wait, an anthology containing poems of 40 area writers including past and previous poet laureates, published poets such as Jane Hilberry, David Mason and Jessy Randall and a fourth-grade student named Julia Stark. Copies of the book can be found at local libraries and in places people pass time, like waiting rooms and coffee shops. — JT

Dream dies for another year

A proposed bill that would have let children of illegal immigrants get in-state tuition at public colleges and universities died this week in the Colorado Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, would have allowed any student who spent three years and graduated at a Colorado high school to receive in-state college tuition, but it failed after five Democrats joined Republicans to oppose it.

In January, the Indy spoke with a local woman who came to Colorado with her parents when she was young, graduated near the top of her class from a Colorado Springs high school, but has been unable to attend college due to the steep out-of-state rates she would face ("If stars align," News, Jan. 8).

"I feel that my talent is being wasted," she said of her work as a babysitter. And now it appears it will be for at least another year. — AL

State of the Rockies released

Colorado College's recently released State of the Rockies Report Card notes that as compared with 2000, the region is in good shape: well-educated, diverse, with healthy economic growth. But the report also notes the growth is heavily impacting wildlife and the environment.

The associated State of the Rockies symposium is over, but the entire report card can still be viewed at coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/reportcard.html. — JAS

Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Anthony Lane, J. Adrian Stanley and Jill Thomas.

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