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Noted: DASH slashed


Gone in a DASH

One of the best-used routes in the Colorado Springs bus system disappeared quietly April 30. Less than a month after its route was shortened and hours trimmed, the free Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) was eliminated.

In 2008, DASH was the city's fifth-most popular route, and ridership had been steadily climbing. It became endangered when City Council decided to divert money from the Parking System Enterprise that had been funding DASH to pay for buses in other parts of the city — buses for people with no other transportation options. DASH, which ran up and down Tejon Street, served everyone from homeless people to college students and business professionals. But the route was considered more a luxury than a necessity.

Originally, Council planned to raise DASH funds by extending the hours for parking meters, but that plan was shelved. DASH's elimination means the Downtown Partnership will need to lease or sell the new DASH buses it bought just last year — and that means the shuttle system couldn't quickly be restored even if the city had the money.

Eliminating it could cause another problem: DASH was pushed as a case study to prove the need for light rail or a Tejon trolley, and without it, federal grants may be harder to come by. — JAS

Ritter coming to town

Gov. Bill Ritter is planning a bill-signing and town hall meeting here at 5:30 p.m., Monday at Penrose Library, 220 N. Cascade Ave. Area Democratic legislators will join him, though the exact bills to be signed were still undetermined as of Wednesday morning. Ritter plans to sign additional bills into law at Fort Carson. — AL

Glenn enters county race

It's official: Newly re-elected City Councilor Darryl Glenn is running for county commissioner. Glenn has filed papers to run for the county's District 1 seat, hoping to replace the term-limited Wayne Williams in 2010. Rumor has it he could face a challenge from County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, though there's been no announcement.

Glenn says staying on City Council as he runs for county commissioner allows him to keep eye on negotiations between the county and city. Glenn is a big proponent of the city and county sharing at least some services, and of regional water-sharing that would benefit county residents.

"Partnerships are a reality when you start looking at the fiscal condition of the region," he says. — JAS

KRCC drive ends, at last

Woman's voice: "I hear a 'Woo!'" Man's voice: "We are done!"

It is 12:14 p.m., Sunday, May 3, and KRCC-FM 91.5 has finished its spring membership drive — a bit later than usual. KRCC fund drives normally end on Fridays. Last fall's campaign hit its goal on Thursday. So is this longer drive a reason for worry?

"No," says general manager Delaney Utterback. He says KRCC upped its goal by $15,000, to $200,000, this time. Amid economic gloom, he expected a slower response.

"I was just really grateful we only went through Sunday morning," he says.

KRCC is faring better than other public stations. Even National Public Radio has cut programs and staff in 2008 and 2009. — JAS

Foreclosures still going up

Just when you think it's safe to buy houses again, the county reports a record 539 foreclosure filings for April, beating the previous mark of 488 in March 2008. Adjusted for population, the current foreclosure rate is probably about the same as it was in the late 1980s during the savings and loan crisis, according to El Paso County Public Trustee Thomas Mowle.

With local job losses continuing, there's no sign of foreclosures slowing. On what could be a brighter note, Mowle points out, the rate of properties reaching foreclosure sale is slow; this could point to more homeowners working things out with their lenders. — AL

When one door closes ...

Four laid-off city employees found themselves quickly re-employed by the government-funded agency responsible for helping the unemployed. Pikes Peak Workforce Center is essentially "leasing" four employees from the city until federal and state stimulus funding expires in mid-2010, according to Renee Smit, the center's head of human resources.

Smit says the center agreed to work with the city to place some of its newly unemployed workers. She says laid-off public employees are at a disadvantage; they're not offered the same career re-training through the center as those laid off by a private company would be. Of course, she says, none of this constitutes favoritism, and all center jobs are open for the public to pursue.

The Workforce Center could be hiring as many as 30 temporary workers in total; it is accepting résumés and applications for some of those positions now. — JAS

Your chance to play soldier

Fort Carson is hosting a community open house on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Butts Army Airfield. Post commander Maj. Gen. Mark Graham will speak at an opening ceremony, and visitors will be able to view different training simulators and listen to live music. Special Forces troops are also scheduled to parachute in to the event.

Visitors can enter the post through Gate 6, which is 3.5 miles south of Gate 1 on State Highway 115, and will need a driver's license, or photo ID for passengers, plus valid car registration and proof of automobile insurance. — AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.

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