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Incline to reopen, mayoral money race, new chief in charge, and more

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Manitou Incline to reopen

It's been three months of waiting, but the day is almost here: The Manitou Incline will reopen Friday.

The trail is one of the region's most popular, despite the fact that it's a tough climb. Hikers must get up 2,741 "steps" of an old tourist railway, gaining 2,000 feet in elevation with an average 43 percent grade.

Getting the trail safe and legal has also been a tough road. For around 20 years, Incline enthusiasts trespassed on private property to hike the trail. It took an act of Congress, plus years of negotiations, for the three property owners (Colorado Springs Utilities, the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway, and the U.S. Forest Service) and the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs to arrange for the Incline to be officially open to the public in early 2013.

But then there was another hurdle — raising money for major repairs to the Incline, which was falling apart from years of use and major erosion. The work focused on the top of the Incline, which is the steepest part and was in the worst condition. It included repair and replacement of retaining walls, implementation of new drainage structures, cleanup of rebar and loose debris, and stabilization work.

The city will have a reopening celebration at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at the base of the Incline. Attendees should park in the cog railway parking lot at 515 Ruxton Ave. — JAS

Admiral takes command

A new commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command will be installed Friday at Peterson Air Force Base.

Navy Adm. Bill Gortney, Northern Command's sixth commander and its third Navy admiral since the command was created following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, replaces Army Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr.

Jacoby arrived in August 2011 and played a key role in the military's support of civilian authorities in fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire the following year.

Gortney is former U.S. Fleet Forces Command commander and served several assignments in the Middle East.

NORAD is a bi-national military command between the U.S. and Canada. NorthCom provides homeland defense and civil support during natural disasters. — PZ

Suthers leads money race

Attorney General John Suthers leads in campaign fundraising among the top candidates in the Colorado Springs mayor's race, to be decided in the April 2015 election.

Suthers has raised $75,960 — nearly double the amount raised by the other two leaders combined. He's spent $3,324.

Among donors to Suthers' campaign are former City Attorney Patricia Kelly and her husband, Pat, who gave $300, and former Springs Police Chief and City Manager Lorne Kramer and his wife, Kena, who gave $200. His biggest single donation during November was $5,000 from Larry Mizel of MDC Holdings.

El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen has raised $29,717 and spent $5,858. Donors include Regional Building Official Henry Yankowski, $100; the county's community services director, Tim Wolken, $250; and developer Elite Properties of America, $1,000.

Mary Lou Makepeace, mayor from 1997 to 2003, has raised $12,390 and spent $911. Her donors include former Councilor Mary Ellen McNally, $500; Tim Gill of the Gill Foundation, for which Makepeace used to work, $1,000; and Jay Cimino, CEO of Phil Long auto dealerships, $500.

Candidate Justine Herring, a real estate broker, has given her campaign $300. — PZ

More mental health care

AspenPointe opened its new Crisis Stabilization Unit, at 115 S. Parkside Drive, on Monday.

The unit, which is always open, provides immediate care to people experiencing a mental health crisis. It's part of a larger $10.3 million statewide plan that includes similar units across Colorado and a statewide crisis hotline (844/493-TALK). It was set in motion by Gov. John Hickenlooper following the mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater in 2012, in hopes of preventing future tragedies and better serving the mental health needs of the state. Quick treatment can prevent a mental health crisis from escalating. — JAS

Turkey drive a success

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado had an ambitious goal this Thanksgiving season: give out 7,000 turkeys to hungry families. The organization didn't quite reach it, but it came a lot closer than it has in past years. It had 7,151 requests for turkeys and 5,586 turkeys.

To put that in perspective, spokesperson Shannon Coker notes that last year the organization gathered 1,092 birds on Take a Turkey to Work Day, one of its biggest events. This year they received about 2,300 birds from the event.

"We did really well this year," she says.

The organization also did things a little differently. After hearing repeated requests from partner agencies like food pantries for smaller birds, Care and Share decided to purchase roasting hens for some families. It had 6,880 requests for the hens and fulfilled 6,784 of them.

Care and Share won't be asking for more fowl for Christmas — Thanksgiving is the organization's only turkey drive. "We kind of put all of our eggs in the Thanksgiving basket," Coker explains. — JAS

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