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Drones coming to Carson, plan for high-risk houses, and more

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Deeper view of Carson cuts

The Army's force reductions, announced last week, were kind to Fort Carson, slicing only 365 soldiers in the next two years, or about 1.5 percent of the 24,500 troops stationed there.

That will mean a $25 million hit to the local economy, estimates Regional Business Alliance chief defense industry official Andy Merritt. But it's a pittance compared to the worst-case scenario of a $1 billion impact that the once-threatened reduction of thousands of soldiers would have brought.

Carson will lose two explosive ordnance disposal companies and see reductions in division and garrison headquarters. It will gain soldiers in artillery and a Gray Eagle Company of drones. Another addition comes by increasing military and civilian positions at Evans Army Community Hospital, according to Army documents.

Merritt says the small reduction signals how important Fort Carson is to the Army. But U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Mayor John Suthers expressed concern that things might not go as well in future cuts.

Bennet vowed to work toward replacing the sequester, or automatic budget cuts, which he said in a release "could make these reductions worse and result in indiscriminate cuts to the Department of Defense and throughout the federal government."

Merritt also notes that another round of Base Realignment and Closure is likely in 2019.

The tiny cut at Carson probably assures continued controversy over the use of Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeast Colorado, as well as federal lands west and southwest of Colorado Springs for helicopter training.

Local pacifist Bill Sulzman says via email the small cuts are "really bad news for those in this community who want less dependence on military spending to buttress the local economy," and notes, "Many are sick and tired of the country pursuing a policy of endless war." — PZ

County buys flood-risk homes

El Paso County has appropriated $1,276,401 to buy four homes in the Ute Pass area that are at high risk of being destroyed by flood waters.

The Waldo Canyon Fire increased flooding in the area, putting the homes and occupants in peril. Downstream neighbors were also at risk; the homes could tumble downstream, endangering people and structures.

"These homes were going to move either way," Public Services Director Jim Reid stated in a release.

"Either we were going to remove them or flood waters were eventually going to remove them."

No local tax money is being used to purchase the homes. The money comes from restricted federal and state Flood Mitigation and Recovery funds. — JAS

Suthers welcomed PrideFest

It may not have been an official proclamation, but Mayor John Suthers did write a letter welcoming PrideFest to Colorado Springs.

The LGBTQ community has long fought for official recognition of its signature event from Colorado Springs mayors, but has mostly been denied. (Former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace is the exception; she wrote official proclamations of support during her years in office.)

In his letter, Suthers welcomed visitors and encouraged them to check out the region's attractions. He also offered congratulations on PrideFest's 25th anniversary, celebrated July 11-12 in America the Beautiful Park.

"The City of Colorado Springs recognizes the importance of diversity in our community and appreciates your decision to hold an event in our city," Suthers wrote. "Congratulations on your Silver Anniversary and best wishes for the event!" — JAS

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