Schoeppey out at end of June
Falcon School District 49 Superintendent Brad Schoeppey will leave at the end of June, sources said prior to a scheduled announcement Wednesday afternoon. NewsChannel 13 has reported that Schoeppey will collect a buyout of at least $250,000. Schoeppey becomes the fourth administrator to leave the district in recent weeks, and his deal would push D-49's payouts to at least $1 million.
KRDO reported that Schoeppey, 18 months after moving here from Tulsa, Okla., would leave due to his displeasure with the school board's adoption of an "Innovation Initiative" that would restructure D-49 administration. But reached by the Indy on Tuesday, school board member Tammy Harold insisted Schoeppey has strongly backed the changes, saying, "Every time I have talked to him, he has been very vocal in his support. He is just as surprised by the rumors as anyone."
Harold said that "nobody on the board wants him to leave. ... I think that he has the experience and the knowledge needed, and he has so much energy with the Innovation plan. I believe that he is the one that would more forward with it."
Many are blaming the school board for the turmoil. But Harold said blame lies with previous boards, who made missteps such as giving three-year contracts to top administrators. — CH
Lamborn gets a challenge
With the midterm elections just over, local businessman Dave Anderson announced Wednesday he will run for the Colorado's 5th Congressional District seat as an unaffiliated candidate against three-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.
Anderson, saying he's backed Democrats and Republicans, added in a release that the country is on the wrong economic path, and he has ideas to generate "millions of primary jobs" and eliminate deficits.
"I was unaffiliated until I was 55, and registered Republican to vote in the 2006 primary," he told the Indy in an e-mail. "I've been registered Democrat for a total of about six weeks ever. I profess to be a lover of my country first, and not a partisan."
Anderson says he grew up in Flint, Mich., and has an MBA from Harvard. According to his business website, he built an electronics assembly business from one location with 14 people to six locations with 800 people. — PZ
FAC picks theater director
Since Alan Osburn's July departure as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's theater director, interim directors have worked on productions such as The Producers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the upcoming 1776. On June 6, however, Scott R.C. Levy will join the FAC as permanent director of the performing arts department, overseeing future performances as producing artistic director.
Levy, who has undergrad and graduate degrees from New York University, has experience with productions on and off Broadway, and comes from a similar position at Penobscot Theatre in Bangor, Maine. He's received numerous accolades from the Bangor arts community, and Mainebiz magazine named him one of 10 individuals shaping the future of the state's economy.
"I'd like to expand on existing programming at the Fine Arts Center while promoting new works," Levy said in a release. He sees potential for more FAC cross-activity, including gallery works with stage production, in the 2011-12 season. — MR
Former Manitou leader dies
Verne Witham, who served as Manitou Springs city administrator before falling ill in April 2009, died last Saturday. Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder says Witham, 71, was a private person who did not want the nature of his illness made public, but he had battled cancer for some time.
Witham, formerly the Fort Carson and Manitou fire chief, became city administrator during Marcy Morrison's term as mayor and served for about five years. Snyder says that in better days, Witham would take walks in Manitou just to chat with residents and shop owners. After Witham left work, Snyder says residents continued to ask about him at City Council meetings, adding, "He was really beloved in town."
Witham's funeral will be at 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 4 at Living Hope Church, 640 Manitou Blvd. in Colorado Springs. Manitou Springs city government offices will be closed Friday morning for the funeral. — JAS
Spice heats up AFA
A drug commonly called "Spice" and sold over-the-counter as "incense" in Colorado head shops and convenience stores has prompted a crackdown at the Air Force Academy, which confirms about 25 cadets are under investigation for Spice use. A news release confirms that five cadets have been dismissed for using the drug since an investigation began in late 2010.
While Spice is legal in Colorado, many states, military branches (including the Air Force) and other nations have banned its use. Spice is an unregulated mix of chemicals that can have serious side effects, as described in the Indy's July 22 cover story, "Incense nonsense."
"These recent separations and the use of Spice by a few of our cadets is not the behavior we expect of America's future Air Force and world leaders," Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, AFA commandant of cadets, said in a statement. — JAS
Fountain exiting bus service
The city of Fountain plans to cut its ties next year with Colorado Springs' Mountain Metropolitan Transit bus service. For several years, Fountain has contracted with MMT for bus Route 31, which runs between Pikes Peak Community College and downtown Fountain, as well as paratransit services for the disabled along the same route.
But Fountain was appalled to hear that MMT planned to double the costs of the contract in 2012. Fountain officials say the city couldn't afford to pay that much. Instead, Fountain is using $264,000 in state grants and $66,000 of its own funds to purchase three buses. Officials say the city can run the buses itself, at a significant savings. — JAS
PERA probes coming?
The city's obligations to the Public Employees' Retirement Association should be investigated, Springs Councilman Sean Paige writes this week at locallibertyonline.org. Paige says he wants a tally of current city workers covered by PERA and an accounting of future obligations "similar to the one sought by Memorial," and adds that he will bring up his idea at Council's informal meeting.
City-owned Memorial Health System got a $246 million estimate from PERA recently to leave the system, which would be necessary if Memorial converts into an independent nonprofit.
"This research will help us better understand, for possibly the first time, what long-term costs and obligations the city faces through its participation in the program," Paige writes, noting that public pension programs may be the next bubble "to blow up in the taxpayer's face." — PZ
AFA sued over prayer event
A lawsuit has followed the Air Force Academy's sponsorship of a Feb. 10 prayer luncheon featuring a former Marine, Lt. Clebe McClary, who proclaims he serves the "Lord's Army." The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit run by academy alumnus Mikey Weinstein, and several AFA faculty and staff members seek an injunction against the academy in federal court. The case alleges sponsorship of the event violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"Egregiously sectarian statements like [those] from former Lt. McClary blatantly exclude not only non-Christians, but also the many Christians who do not subscribe to a particularly fundamentalist view of Christianity," Weinstein, the foundation's president and founder, says in a statement. Academy spokesman Lt. Col. John Bryan says the academy will abide by whatever the federal court rules. — PZ
Suthers opposes gay marriage
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers once again has stepped into partisan territory, joining four other state attorneys general in signing a brief supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Massachusetts is currently arguing in the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals that it has a right, as a state, to define marriage for itself, and that federal benefits should be made available to married same-sex couples living within its boundaries. It's unclear whether states like Colorado would be forced to recognize same-sex couples married in another state.
Suthers opposes that, and says he is defending a 2006 voter-passed Colorado law that says only marriages between one man and one woman will be recognized in the state. Gay rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and ONE Colorado have come out against Suthers' decision. — JAS
Compiled by Chet Hardin, Matthew Ruppert, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.