Noted: City economic findings sobering 

Survey involved more than 1,200 residents

Operation 60ThirtyFive, a study of Colorado Springs being conducted by AngelouEconomics of Austin, Texas, on behalf of a coalition of business, government and community leaders, has reached some conclusions.

The study, mapping the city's economic future, has found disturbing trends after surveying over 1,200 business owners, residents and community leaders. Of most concern: a decline in young professionals, a distrust of government, a poor tax structure, little support for entrepreneurs and lack of unified vision.

"In so many ways, your economy is still living off the successes of 20, 30 years ago," says Angelos Angelou, the research company's principal executive officer. Angelou has identified several target industries for the city to grow, including aerospace/defense/homeland security, software and information technology, renewable energy, sports and sports-related industries, and entrepreneurs. The rest of the $160,000 report is due in June. — JAS

Health board grows

Two El Paso County commissioners who once served as liaisons to the county board of health have full membership; Amy Lathen and Sallie Clark are among new members as the board swells from five to nine.

Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday effectively canceling the old board and re-establishing a new one starting with the five sitting members, as originally appointed by the county commission. “The Public Health Revitalization Act,” state legislation passed in 2008, helped spur the change as it requires all Colorado counties to designate a public health agency and a health board.

The health board sets policy for the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment, which is responsible for controlling the local spread of infectious diseases, inspecting restaurants and providing various other health services and programs.

City councilors Jerry Heimlicher of Colorado Springs and Marc Snyder of Manitou Springs will also sit on the new board (a full list is at elpasocountyhealth.org/pages/boh.aspx). The group's first meeting begins 2 p.m., Monday, April 20 at the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle. — AL

Bennet to give CC address

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet will have the chance to tell graduating Colorado College students this May the secret to getting appointed to high office without ever winning an election. Actually, the topic of Bennet's speech is still unknown, though he is slated to be the speaker at CC's graduation at 8:30 a.m. on May 18.

Bennet, a Democrat, was appointed in January to the Senate after Ken Salazar was appointed to lead the Interior Department. Bennet faces his first-ever election in 2010. He's a family friend of CC President Richard Celeste, for whom he worked as a special assistant when Celeste was governor of Ohio. — AL

City OKs Pueblo demands

City Councilor Tom Gallagher cast the only vote against a plan, approved 8-1, to accept the demands of Pueblo in a deal to build the $1.1 billion Southern Delivery System water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to the city.

City Council agreed Tuesday to give $50 million to the Fountain Creek Watershed District and to spend $75 million on wastewater or water reuse in the Springs. Both demands were meant to mitigate the pipeline's environmental impacts on Pueblo and Fountain Creek.

The agreement was a sign that relationships are changing between the two cities, which have battled over the pipeline for years. Colorado Springs still needs a slew of federal and state approvals before starting construction, but Pueblo's blessing was considered the last large hurdle.

The pipeline is expected to meet the city's increasing water needs through 2046. — JAS

County: no change in reminders

Though some residents say missed renewal notices for car registrations nearly cost them a ticket ("Don't count on county," Letters, p. 4), officials at the El Paso County clerk's office say their policies haven't changed.

Motor Vehicle department manager Bob Becker says employees send out at least 40,000 renewal notices each month, though there is no requirement to do so. He says moving without notifying the clerk's office is the big reason for missed notices, though some postcards apparently go astray in the mail. — AL

To thin or not to thin

Forest Service officials want feedback on a proposal to thin up to 25,000 acres of the Pike National Forest west of the city, reducing fire danger and improving forest health.

A history of fire suppression, logging and major fires has resulted in unnatural forest conditions that increase the odds for damaging fires. Thinning would be through controlled burns or selective cutting.

Many areas considered most vulnerable are on slopes above U.S. Highway 24, but District Ranger Brent Botts says thinning decisions will be based largely on public comments. An open house on the proposal is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 23 at Colorado Springs Utilities Leon Young Service Center, 1521 S. Hancock Expressway. — AL

Census coming to your area

Don't be disturbed by the guy with a GPS unit wandering your neighborhood.

The 2010 Census is starting a long process of verifying addresses, and that means sending surveyors to the streets and door-to-door to get the job done. These workers won't be doing the actual "count" — that's still a year away.

Surveyors should be easy to identify with an employment badge, a "Census 2010" tote and an ID inside their car. All information collected by the Census is confidential and won't be used for immigration enforcement. — JAS

Woodmen hits stimulus jackpot

The Woodmen Road project will be partially funded by a $35 million grant, courtesy of the federal stimulus package. The money will help pay for the widening of Woodmen Road eastward from I-25 to six lanes and the construction of a Woodmen Road/Academy Boulevard interchange.

Because federal funding comes with special requirements, the start date of construction will be delayed to allow it to go back out to bid. The project is now slated to start this fall and continue through 2011. Changes to Woodmen Road are designed to help traffic flow, improve aesthetics and increase safety.

City Council approved using eminent domain to acquire several properties needed to widen Woodmen Road in a 4-3 vote on April 14. Councilors Jan Martin and Randy Purvis were excused. Colorado Springs has long lacked a dependable east/west corridor. Woodmen Road and Austin Bluffs Parkway are seen as part of the solution for that problem. — JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.


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