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Pueblo nuke plant debated

Applause punctuated a meeting Tuesday night in Pueblo, as advocates for building a nuclear power plant southeast of the town showed up in force. About 250 attended the first of two meetings before Pueblo County commissioners. Another meeting scheduled for Wednesday was dedicated to the opposition, which surely would reference the dangers Japan is facing related to nuclear-plant ruptures caused by last week's earthquake and tsunami.

Don Banner, an attorney and 38-year Pueblo resident, is proposing a "clean energy park" on 24,000 acres, anchored by a 3,000-megawatt nuclear power plant with room for wind and solar power. Banner, who spent an hour outlining his plan, notes that the project could bring 2,500 jobs during its five-year construction and 500 to 700 permanent, well-paying jobs, plus a property-tax windfall.

Dozens spoke in favor of the project, including a woman who said she checked cities with nuclear plants and found property values increased after a plant was built.

Commissioner Jeff Chostner said he and colleagues likely would wait a week or two before making a decision, first allowing for written comments. — PZ

Utilities rates going up

Changes in energy cost adjustments will drive Colorado Springs utility bills up by about $7 a month in the next month or so. Last week, City Council approved increases to Utilities' Electric Cost Adjustment (ECA) and natural Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA). "The net result of the changes will increase the electric portion of the typical residential customer bill by $1.50 a month and natural gas by $5.69 a month if a home's energy consumption were to stay the same," Utilities says on its website. ECA and GCA rates are pass-through costs for Colorado Springs Utilities. No profit is made. — PZ

Candidates request oversight

Five candidates have signed a letter to be sent to Secretary of State Scott Gessler requesting an election official be provided to Colorado Springs to oversee City Clerk Kathryn Young for the upcoming election.

The letter — signed by District 2 Council candidate Angela Dougan, District 3 Council candidate Lisa Czelatdko, and mayoral candidates Buddy Gilmore, Tom Gallagher and Brian Bahr — says the candidates "lack confidence that the upcoming Municipal Election will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner." The letter cites an incorrect order for the initial ballot listing for District 2, uncertainty over when mail ballots would go out, confusion over the legality of corporate contributions, and the tearing up of some of Czelatdko's petition forms.

Mayor Lionel Rivera is defending Young, penning a letter of his own to Gessler that expresses his confidence in the clerk's ability to run a transparent election in accordance with all state laws. — JAS

D-11 lawsuit settled

Last year, George Christopher Ash won his federal discrimination lawsuit against Colorado Springs School District 11, with a jury awarding the former teacher a little more than $300,000 after Ash claimed that he was passed over for a social studies teaching position due to his race.

The district appealed, and late last week, the judge dismissed the case with prejudice. As Ash's lawyer, Andrew Brake, points out, typically this means a settlement has been reached. Brake feels the case could have dragged on in appeals for years: "It could have been appealed on a number of issues. It could have gone up to the 10th Circuit of Appeals." Brake says he cannot discuss terms of a settlement. — CH

City names HRC board

The recently revived Human Relations Commission has its first board. Members include Tom Strand, president of the Colorado Springs School District 11 board; John McIlwee, recently retired executive director of Urban Peak; Ernest House, director of governmental affairs for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Gibson, executive director of Peace and Prosperity Alliance; Rosana Ramponi, owner of PRONTOCOM Realty; Christopher Robertson, associate program officer of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado; along with Teressa Hill, Anja Wynne, James Dodd and alternates Mathew Cheney, Corinne Harmon and Nicholas Brown.

The HRC will help the poor and disenfranchised with services such as mediation. — JAS

Edibles survive challenge

Medical marijuana edibles apparently won't be going away. Instead, the Colorado House Judiciary Committee has advanced a bill allowing state regulators to create laws requiring childproof packaging for them.

Previous incarnations of the bill, first proposed by Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, and co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, banned edible infused products outright. Audrey Hatfield, president of Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patient Rights, says the bill's sponsors cited "items that don't even exist, and certainly not in the state of Colorado — Pot Tarts and Captain Chronic. They had, of course, claimed that those items were being found throughout schoolyards in Colorado, and we were wondering how that could possibly be."

The revised bill now faces another committee review before full House consideration. — BC

Local artist dies in accident

Louis Cicotello, an artist and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs art professor emeritus, died in a climbing accident in Utah last weekend. Cicotello, 70, was climbing with his younger brother when he fell 100 feet while rappelling. David Cicotello, 57, was left stranded in the remote canyon for days before being rescued.

Louis Cicotello studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University and the École des Beaux-Arts L'Americaine in France. He co-authored the book Political Blind Spots: Reading the Ideology of Images with fellow professor and local businessman Raphael Sassower. — EA

El Pomar hands out grants

The El Pomar Foundation once again has come to the rescue of beleaguered nonprofits, issuing $1 million in checks to nonprofits that help the needy across Colorado, including $327,500 to 32 different organizations in the Pikes Peak area. This is the fourth time since the recession began that El Pomar has handed out $1 million to struggling charities.

The single largest recipient of the funding is Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, which received $85,000. Care and Share distributed 11,512,805 pounds of food in 2010 — a 38 percent increase from 2008. Among the other recipients are Mission Medical Clinic ($10,000), Project COPE ($5,000) and God's Pantry Ministry ($10,000). — JAS

Compiled by Edie Adelstein, Bryce Crawford, Chet Hardin, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.


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