Senate pick visits Saturday 

Bennet, Ritter coming to Penrose Library

Put a name and a face on the man who would be your newest U.S. senator. At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, Michael Bennet visits Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., with the man who just made him a household question mark, Gov. Bill Ritter.

Ritter has announced Bennet as his choice to fill Sen. Ken Salazar's seat, if and when Colorado's senior senator is confirmed as head of the Interior Department. Bennet has been superintendent of Denver Public Schools for three years and reportedly was a finalist to become education secretary. AL

Cops put heat on Armstrong

In late November, the Rev. Donald Armstrong looked mildly annoyed as investigators seized computers from buildings at Grace Church and St. Stephen's. Now Colorado Springs police have released an affidavit justifying their search, and it's easy to imagine the embattled rector is getting a bit hotter under his priestly collar.

Between 1992 and 2001, according to the affidavit, Armstrong misused an average of about $9,000 a year from a trust fund meant to provide scholarships for seminarians, using at least some of it to help fund his children's tuition. Noting Armstrong's two children attending college from 1999 to 2006 were not seminarians, the affidavit details Armstrong's convoluted effort to justify his actions.

The affidavit summarizes evidence supporting the conclusion by an Episcopal court last year that Armstrong stole about $400,000 in parish and trust fund money. Armstrong and his supporters have remained firmly planted in the historic church building at 601 N. Tejon St., since realigning with a conservative branch of the Anglican church based in Nigeria.

It remains unclear whether criminal charges will be filed against Armstrong. AL

BAC director resigns

Patricia Arnold, nearly a year into her position as executive director at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs, has resigned. A newsletter sent to BAC members last week announced her departure for personal reasons. Her last day was Jan. 3.

The announcement came as a surprise to most, including the artists who rent studio space at the center.

"Until they announced it to the public, those of us with studios had no idea," says artist Jay Miller. "There's been no communication regarding what this change means."

The BAC board of directors met privately on Tuesday to discuss Arnold's departure. Trevin Bensko-Wecks, board vice president, said Wednesday they're discussing options for an interim executive director. EA

Manitou looks into detectors

The death of 22-year-old Manitou Springs resident Kelly Murphy from carbon monoxide poisoning has swung government into action.

Led by Councilor Aimee Cox, the Manitou City Council is looking at ways to prevent the odorless, colorless gas from claiming another life. Installing a carbon monoxide detector is one of the best ways people can protect their family, but many homes don't have detectors like the Murphys' rental home at the time of Kelly's death, Dec. 17.

"There was a general will on Council to get some legislation," Cox says.

Tuesday night, Council formed a small group to investigate the best way to put more detectors into homes. Cox says the group will likely examine the housing code and licensing for landlords, to see if language can be added to require the detectors. Any recommendation would be open to public input. JAS

Film fest may get 500 entries

Someone once quipped that "when the going gets tough, the tough go to the movies." If interest in the 2009 Indie Spirit Film Festival is any indication, the old adage rings true.

"We've received 265 films so far," says festival co-founder Matt Stevens. "We only had 150 films at this time last year."

The downtown festival, which screened dozens of films in 2008, will accept submissions through Feb. 15. Stevens thinks this year's event, to be held April 24 through 26, will feature an "even more impressive" batch of movies. Festival jurors have begun reviewing hopefuls and will announce in early March the names of films they've selected. Stevens says, "We're well on our way to getting 400 to 500 submissions."

Tickets go on sale Feb. 1. Visit indiespiritfilmfestival.org to learn more. JT

BBB issues ABCs (and Fs)

For years, the Better Business Bureau has been the first stop for consumers wanting to know more about companies selling them everything from used cars to milkshakes.

Spying on others just got a little easier. The BBB is now giving businesses letter grades, from A+ to F, based on factors including the category of industry, time in business, complaint history, compliance with licensing and registration requirements, and any government actions against it.

Consumers can check out the new feature at southerncolorado.bbb.org. JAS

Arts advocate takes own life

Gerry Riggs, longtime director of the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, committed suicide last weekend in his home in Pagosa Springs. Riggs, 57, stepped down in 2006 and left both a legacy and a void in the local arts scene.

In 2002, Riggs told the Indy, "... it seems like the shows we do that mean the most to the community are the ones that involve more of the community." That voice of unity is how many will remember Riggs. MS

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

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