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Maketa leaves early, Collins faces recall, Bear Creek protected, and more

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Maketa leaving early

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says he is not leaving office early due to a string of controversies, including alleged misconduct with employees, which are now being investigated by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Maketa, a three-term sheriff, has long refused to resign over the allegations.

But he is leaving office as of Jan. 1, and the Board of County Commissioners is expected to name Sheriff-Elect Bill Elder the interim sheriff until Elder is officially sworn in for his first term Jan. 13.

Maketa, contacted via text, says he decided to leave early because the county's retirement system only allows employees to retire at the first of the month.

Tom Pfeifle, executive director of the El Paso County Retirement Plan, says retiring on the first of the month isn't actually a requirement, but it is the most popular choice of employees because it makes the most financial sense. Retirement is paid by the full month and in arrears, he explains, so a person who retires effective Jan. 1 gets a full month of retirement pay on Feb. 1.

If Maketa were to wait until mid-January to retire, he'd be considered a February retirement, and wouldn't get that first month's pay until March 1. — JAS

Collins faces recall

An effort is underway to oust District 4 City Councilor Helen Collins.

Former Harrison School District 2 board president and former rival Council candidate Deborah Hendrix, as well as Harrison Board President Victor Torres and Harrison Coordinator of Student Services Woody Longmire, filed an affidavit with the City Clerk's Office seeking petitions to recall Collins in the upcoming April city election.

Among their reasons, they state that Collins has not represented the best interests or the concerns of her constituents and that she has opposed initiatives such as a stormwater funding effort and a plan to "tackle downtown homelessness," as well as economic development projects. The affidavit also said, without naming anyone specifically, that she embarrassed the district by being friends with "a criminal suspect eventually convicted of murder" and associating with "a convicted felon and controversial figure."

The affidavit states, "She is out of step with voters and has let herself be manipulated by a handful of extreme activists pushing a fringe agenda."

Collins could not be reached for comment before the Indy's deadline.

Hendrix, whom Collins defeated for the District 4 seat in April 2013, says she will not run again.

The petitioners would need to collect 1,485 valid signatures by Jan. 8 to force the recall for the April 7 municipal election. — JAS

Bear Creek protected

Bear Creek Regional Park wasn't in any imminent danger of being turned into a condo project, but now it never will be.

Last week, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a conservation easement on the park in cooperation with the Palmer Land Trust. The move, following a two-year community process, means that the property will remain a park forever.

The easement sets restrictions based on a master plan that guarantees that natural areas will be left as-is. Other areas will allow limited development — for instance, the improvement and expansion of recreation areas. — JAS

Early Colleges expands

Three schools affiliated with Colorado Early Colleges have announced they'll purchase their buildings in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Parker.

Financing of $17.3 million for the three sites will come from Sunflower Bank, which recently began to finance charter-school facilities in Colorado.

Colorado Springs Early Colleges, in its eighth year, helps students receive an associate degree for free while in high school. The second, in Fort Collins, is in its third year, and the facility in Parker opened this fall. The three have a combined enrollment of over 1,460 students.

The Springs school is located at Chestnut Street and Garden of the Gods Road. Its administrator is Keith King, who serves as Colorado Springs City Council president. — PZ

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