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Maketa gets new (local) digs, Suthers selects Greene, more

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$600,000 home for Maketa

Most people would say that former Sheriff Terry Maketa is in a heap of trouble. For starters, he's the subject of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation inquiry that could lead to criminal charges. His behavior as sheriff, which led to allegations ranging from sexual impropriety to creation of a hostile work environment, also was cited in two lawsuits filed by Sheriff's Office employees that the county recently settled for a total of $207,920.

But Maketa apparently isn't letting the buzz stop him from moving on with his life. He and his wife, Vicki, purchased a new home (located in Academy School District 20) on May 4 for $600,000. They may have gotten a deal — the El Paso County Assessor values the home at $647,795.

The Maketas took out a $417,000 loan to buy the property, and also took out a $121,000 revolving line of credit.

The couple bought their other home (also located in D-20) in 1994. The assessor lists its value at $249,849. — JAS

Greene named top aide

Saying he wants "fresh eyes" on city government, Mayor-elect John Suthers named El Paso County Administrator Jeff Greene as his chief of staff one day after he won the seat May 19.

Suthers says Greene will collect an annual salary comparable to that of Mayor Steve Bach's chief of staff, Steve Cox, who's paid $186,945. Greene's salary as county administrator is $146,393.

Suthers, elected by a 2-to-1 margin in the mayoral runoff against Mary Lou Makepeace, takes office June 2. Greene will transition into his new job thereafter.

Greene has been in county administration for 15 years and has served as administrator for nine years. He was named Public Official of the Year in 2011 by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce (now the Regional Business Alliance). — PZ

Hick signs testing bill

As expected, Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed House Bill 1323, a wide-ranging bill to reduce standardized testing in K-12 public schools. He also signed Senate Bill 56, another bill that was specifically aimed at reducing social studies tests.

The bill-signings come after a long and contentious battle over the issue in the state legislature. While many Republicans and Democrats wanted to see testing reduced, they disagreed over how far to go. Hickenlooper, who largely supports testing, also joined the debate.

HB 1323 reduces reading tests for young kids; eliminates 11th- and 12th-grade PARCC tests, and changes the test for 10th graders; allows paper-and-pencil tests rather than online tests; allows parents to opt their kids out of tests without penalties; and creates a pilot program for districts to use alternative tests. — JAS

Elder tries rural outreach

Serving eastern El Paso County means tackling a whole different set of issues from those in urban Colorado Springs, but Sheriff Bill Elder is giving it a go.

His office has created a Rural Enforcement and Outreach Unit, which hosted an open house last weekend in Calhan, to provide a link for citizens to law enforcement. The unit hopes to develop relationships with rural residents to provide services specific to the culture of the area, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Among those: mediating fence-line disputes, assisting with livestock issues, investigating equine abuse/neglect, and forming crime prevention programs.

"The REO is already working with School Resource Deputies and conducting investigations that Patrol would not typically have the time to commit to, in addition to collaborating with neighboring counties on joint operations and traffic enforcement," the news release said.

Based in Calhan, the unit comprises three deputies and a sergeant and will offer better coverage while helping the Sheriff's Office stay connected with rural areas. Formed earlier this year, the unit responded to 400 calls for service within two months. — PZ

Go Code picks winners

No Colorado Springs teams placed in the second annual Go Code Colorado competition, an award-winning program run out of the Colorado Secretary of State's Business Intelligence Center.

Inspired by hackathons, in which tech workers get together for a few days and create new software, Go Code asks teams across the state to solve problems for Colorado businesses with new apps ("Breaking the code," News, March 25). After a lengthy process, three teams are chosen by a panel of judges and awarded year-long, $25,000 contracts with the Secretary of State's office.

The winning teams for 2015 were MentorMatter, from Denver, and Flow and Pikr Knows, both from Fort Collins. — JAS

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