Noted: Drilling talk, alarm-system alarm 

Drilling researcher to speak

After two years of studying data collected by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, researcher Shane Davis concluded that oil and gas fracking has not been kind to Weld County's environment.

What Davis found, according to a press release, was that over the past four years there have been 1,000 surface spills in the highly drilled county, contaminating 55,000 acres of land.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, Davis will be presenting his findings at the High Plains Church, 1825 Dominion Way, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs City Council has announced that it will revisit the subject of drilling at its Feb. 25 informal meeting, which starts at 1 p.m. in Council chambers at City Hall. — Chet Hardin

Murders, despite alarm

On Jan. 14, 17-year-old Macyo January allegedly broke into the home of newly married Army Staff Sgt. David Dunlap and Whitney Butler, triggering the ADT alarm system. The Colorado Springs Police Department has confirmed it didn't respond until roughly 50 minutes later — when dispatched to investigate reports of the gunshots that left Dunlap and Butler dead.

According to a spokeswoman for ADT, when an alarm goes off, the alarm company contacts the homeowners and the local first responder. In this instance, the first responder was CSPD. But CSPD spokeswoman Barbara Miller says the department has a policy that prioritizes its response to alarm calls. If it's clear that a person is in danger, police will respond immediately. Otherwise, the department will dispatch when it has an available unit.

There were 7,853 alarm events last year, the department reports, and 97 percent were false.

From Miller: "[The public] should not assume that if their alarm is set off, there will be an immediate response from law enforcement. Many times, the alarm company will notify the owner that their house alarm has been activated. If that person returns to his/her home to check on the alarm, they must be extremely cautious and vigilant." — Chet Hardin

Ambulance info coming

Alternatives for emergency ambulance service throughout El Paso County will be outlined by a consultant Wednesday, Feb. 6, for the Emergency Services Agency board. The board oversees the American Medical Response contract, which expires Dec. 31.

The ESA board voted in June to extend the contract for two years, but the city of Colorado Springs balked, saying it might do its own deal with AMR. Mayor Steve Bach wants to extract a franchise fee of up to $2.4 million from AMR or turn over emergency transport to the city Fire Department.

That would leave the agency's other 26 members without the city's high call volume to keep rates low. Robert Altman, a consultant from the Phoenix area, will give the board ideas for how it can operate without the city, if it can. In addition, the board will consider a proposal by Vice Chair Carl Tatum to exercise the board's prerogative in extending the AMR contract for 90 days, to March 31, 2014, while ESA members figure out a way forward with or without the city.

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle Drive. — Pam Zubeck

Mental health bill moves

Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Amy Stephens, the former House majority leader, has had an early legislative victory this session. Her bill to expand Colorado's definition of mental health professionals to include those who are licensed in other states passed out of the Democratic-controlled House unanimously.

The idea behind the bill, according to a press statement from the state GOP, is "to increase access to mental health care services on federally-run medical facilities. ... [The bill] helps military doctors and psychiatrists refer those needing treatment to a community mental health care center to address the rising demand for mental health services." — Chet Hardin

Peace activist appears locally

Internationally known peace activist and author Kathy Kelly will speak at First Congregational Church, 20 E. St. Vrain St., on Sunday, Feb. 10. Her presentations at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. are free and open to the public.

Kelly is a founding member of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence, which aims to end U.S. military and economic warfare.

Arrested multiple times, Kelly is known for defiance of laws she finds unjust. Notably, she has not paid federal taxes since 1980, and she has defied U.S. sanctions to deliver medicine to families in Iraq. — J. Adrian Stanley

Assessor hopeful announces

Talk about an eager beaver. Steve Schleiker, the deputy county assessor, has announced that he will run for El Paso County assessor ... in November 2014.

The term-limited Mark Lowderman has served in the seat since 2007. Lowderman, who is endorsing Schleiker, says he also announced well in advance.

"We just wanted to get his name out there early," the assessor says of the man he calls his "succession plan." — J. Adrian Stanley

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