Noted: DEA outlaws Spice 

Spice now illegal

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration this week has outlawed five chemicals most commonly used to make a drug known as "Spice" or "K2."

The drug is usually sold as incense and was available over-the-counter at head shops and gas stations in Colorado. However, Spice has long been deemed illegal in other countries and more recently in several states, as well as branches of the military. In January, the Air Force Academy announced that it was investigating 25 cadets for using the drug.

Spice is an unregulated mix of chemicals intended to mimic the effects of marijuana. It can have serious side effects, as described in the Indy's July 22, 2010 cover story, "Incense nonsense." The DEA has outlawed the drugs in Spice under a 12-month emergency order. — JAS

Water officer appointed

Gary Bostrom, general manager for Colorado Springs Utilities' planning, engineering and resource management in water services, will take over as top water officer, vacated by the promotion last fall of Bruce McCormick to chief energy officer.

Bostrom has spent his entire career at Springs Utilities and now takes over a water system that includes 25 reservoirs, more than 1,700 miles of distribution pipe, seven water treatment plants and a transmountain raw water system. He also oversees the city's wastewater treatment and collection system.

A Springs native, Bostrom received a 15 percent pay bump, to $224,390 a year, to assume his new role. — PZ

City fire chief retires

Colorado Springs Interim Fire Chief Dan Raider, who began his fire career in 1971, has retired. Raider had long been planning his retirement with the department, so a succession plan was in place.

He'd been deputy fire chief until assuming the role of interim chief last year in place of Steve Cox, who moved up to become interim city manager. Two firefighters have taken over Raider's duties: Tommy Smith was promoted to deputy chief (and interim fire chief), and Troy Branham was promoted to battalion chief. Both men have around two decades of experience with the department. — JAS

Manitou narrows its field

Manitou Springs city leaders have selected five finalists for their top staff position of city administrator.

They are: Jack Benson, manager of the Summit County emergency communications center; Ike Holland, former town administrator for Orchard City on the Western Slope; Chris LaMay, town administrator of Elizabeth; William Powell, business manager of public works for Longmont; and Ronald Stock, city manager of Lamar. Maryann Ustick, acting city manager for North Las Vegas, Nevada, was also named a finalist but has since withdrawn from consideration.

The finalists were selected from 65 applicants and will be interviewed in the coming weeks. The position was vacated in April 2009, when Manitou City Administrator Verne Witham fell ill. Finance director Mike Leslie filled the spot on an interim basis. In February, Witham lost his long battle with cancer. — JAS

Concealed-carry passes

State House Republicans understand the pros and cons of carrying a concealed weapon. Pros: John Wayne, America, the Second Amendment. Cons: licensing, fees, communism. While it might be your idea of a good time to walk around with a gun strapped to your thigh, it's a total buzzkill to have to register your name with the state for any cop to see.

Tuesday, a bill that would remove the licensing regulations — and the $152 permit fee — for concealed weapons passed through the Republican-controlled House. As the Denver Post reported, nearly 1,250 people who applied for concealed-carry permits in 2010 were denied their applications due to previous criminal behavior. El Paso County issues thousands of permits a year.

The House must approve it again by recorded vote before it would move to the state Senate, where its chances are less likely with Democrats in the majority. — CH

Cottonwood promotes Murphy

Sandy Murphy already had been overseeing Cottonwood Center for the Arts on an interim basis. Now she's the permanent executive director.

Murphy, a metalsmith, had said she wouldn't pursue the job beyond serving as fill-in, preferring to resume her work as a Cottonwood artist. But she's changed her mind, saying, "I've gotten to know the artists a lot better and we have a great community and I think it's just become a passion of mine to stay in this position and help them grow. I've just fallen in love with the position."

Murphy plans new projects at Cottonwood, including the Dog Days of Summer, a festival in August to celebrate dogs and art that will take place outside Cottonwood on Corona Street and will feature 40 to 70 booths offering arts, crafts and dog products as well as booths from rescue organizations.

Cottonwood will also continue its downtown retail operation, which Murphy says has done quite well. The space at 8 S. Tejon St. was granted to Cottonwood for free until the space is rented by another business. — EA

Cupcake story ends sweetly

It took a couple weeks, but Mended Little Hearts of Colorado Springs finally got its money.

Rene Harrell was thrilled, she says, after her small nonprofit scored a fundraiser at Couture Cupcakes on Powers Boulevard. Like all the lead organizers with Mended Little Hearts, Harrell has a child with heart problems, and the money would go to their care-package program for kids hospitalized with congenital heart issues. According to Harrell, Couture Cupcakes' owner told her that she would bake and sell cupcakes at the Feb. 12 event and donate all proceeds to the charity.

More than 100 people turned out and bought cupcakes. Harrell and crew's hard work spreading the news was successful, and the cupcakes were a hit. Then the problems started, Harrell says. There were numerous delays in collecting the money. Harrell felt she was being avoided. Finally, on Feb. 25, she and another volunteer collected a cashier's check for a little more than $500. They seemed to remember owner Joni McCoy saying that it would be more, but were happy that the ordeal was over.

McCoy says it was just a misunderstanding, and that most charities don't receive money from fundraisers for 30 to 60 days. She says the ladies at MLH were "just anxious." — CH

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

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