Noted: Big money for Ft. Carson 

Millions for Carson

At a time when Republicans are howling about the federal deficit and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is poised to propose cutting billions in military spending, President Barack Obama signed a bill last weekend including more than $400 million for Colorado military construction projects, the Associated Press reports.

Fort Carson gets nearly $238.6 million for combat aviation brigade facilities, part of $730 million needed for the new unit over four years, not including 113 helicopters. Another $43 million goes for National Guard training barracks at the post, and $4.3 million for energy conservation.

The Air Force Academy will receive $13.4 million for an inspection station for large commercial vehicles entering the base. Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora gets $70 million for a National Security Agency building, and the Pueblo Chemical Depot receives $15.3 million for destruction of 2,600 tons of outdated mustard agent. — PZ

Buyer nabs Express Inn

The Express Inn, at 725 W. Cimarron St., was purchased last week, but not by the expected party. Since the aging, bed-bug infested motel closed last spring, leaving scores of impoverished residents to find new homes, the Colorado Department of Transportation has had plans for the property. It's near the busy interchange of Interstate 25 and Cimarron and was expected to be absorbed into a future road project.

CDOT hoped the property would be retained by the bank when it went to auction. But on Dec. 22, E.D.R. Allinn LLC, registered to Ernest Ringler, purchased the property for $1.1 million. By law, CDOT cannot bid on properties at auctions.

E.D.R. Allinn, at 3855 Hill Circle, was previously known as Pikes Peak Sanitation LLC, a garbage company that still operates in the Springs.

Dave Watt of CDOT says the purchase does not necessarily hurt road plans for the area. He says CDOT representatives would likely arrange to meet with the new owner to determine if a sale can be negotiated. — JAS

Free-speech petition

Inspired by the reaction to the Occupy Colorado Springs protest in Acacia Park, City Attorney Chris Melcher is exploring possible "free-speech zones" downtown. As reported last week ("Not in our downtown," News, Dec. 29), an ordinance could go to City Council this month.

Before that happens, Occupy member Chris Murray wants to collect 5,000 signatures on a petition opposing the ordinance.

The petition frames free-speech zones as a possible gateway to more draconian measures, ranging from restrictions on advertisements to potential arrest "for saying something in public that another person does not agree with."

On its first day Tuesday, the petition attracted more than 50 signatures. — CH

Civil unions pushed again

Last year, the movement to win civil unions in Colorado suffered a setback when six Republicans voted in a state House committee to kill the bill. This year, as the Denver Post reports, Republicans might be a key to victory.

One Republican organization, Coloradans for Freedom, has sided with advocates of civil unions, arguing that urging the state to respect a private contract between individuals is about as conservative a value as one can find. The organization, the Post reports, "includes business leaders, political activists, lobbyists and former and current lawmakers. Most are straight, but several are gay."

A bill legalizing civil unions will be pushed again this year, and as House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, tells the Indy, Democrats hope to find a Republican to co-sponsor the bill in the House. — CH

Arrowswest a no-go

County commissioners quietly let a $2.1 million deal to buy a building in northwest Colorado Springs die last week. The contract to acquire a portion of a building on Arrowswest Drive expired Dec. 30, when nonprofits and the county failed to complete subleasing contracts.

The deal had been pending for more than a year ("Another black eye," Dec. 29, 2011), and County Attorney Bill Louis warned commissioners against it. Still, the county pressed forward through November and December before suddenly giving up.

"There's nothing that I can picture that would revive it," county spokesman Dave Rose says. — PZ

Lamborn targeted?

Just when you begin to think your local congressman will be there for life, a challenger comes out of the woodwork. Reports say Robert Blaha, a political unknown with deep pockets, is eyeing a primary run against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.

The 5th Congressional District, which Lamborn has served since 2007, is deeply conservative. If Blaha could somehow topple the incumbent, he would likely face only Independent candidate Dave Anderson in the general election. But he has to best Lamborn first, and Blaha's only chance would appear to be spending huge amounts of his own money. — CH

Compiled by Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.


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