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Noted: Pro Cycling Challenge brings over $80 million


Cycling impact: $83.5 million

The inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge had an $83.5 million economic impact on Colorado, according to a study commissioned by organizers. IFM, a global sports research firm, looked at out-of-state travelers to determine the number, leaving out spending from locals and from tourists in Colorado.

More than $67 million went to lodging, food, transportation and entertainment spending from spectators who traveled more than 50 miles to see part of the seven-day event.

The study also says more than 1 million attendees watched the 518-mile race across the state Aug. 22-28, starting in Colorado Springs. Shawn Hunter, event CEO, called the results very encouraging: "More than 22 percent of the 1 million-plus spectators at our race visited us from outside Colorado. And with 94 percent reporting they will return next year, that's a tremendous benefit for the state of Colorado in 2011 and in the future."

In Colorado Springs, August sales taxes rose 4.74 percent over the year before, to $3.3 million, with the race likely contributing. It's not yet known whether the race will return to Colorado Springs next year. — JAS

Memorial bidders sought

Within days, officials from at least five health care systems will be rifling through the city-owned Memorial Health System's confidential financial information as they put together bids to lease the operation.

"They will sign a nondisclosure agreement, and there will be a website, password-protected, where they will be given access to confidential information," City Council task force chair Jan Martin says. "We call it the e-Due Diligence Room."

Among those expected to bid are Banner Health, out of Phoenix; Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA; Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, partnering with University of Colorado Hospital; Memorial's management team and board; Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, Lenexa, Kan.; QHR of Brentwood, Tenn.; and Centura Health, which runs Penrose-St. Francis here.

Two task force consultants have said it would be nearly impossible for Centura to overcome anti-trust issues — if chosen, it would be the city's only hospital provider — but the task force opened the door to Centura anyway. Asked whether Centura could feign interest to mine Memorial's data for a competitive advantage, Martin says, "If that was ever found to be true, we would hold them accountable." She didn't say how.

Martin also says bidders are being asked to disclose "any past and present investigations." But the city's request for proposals doesn't ask the applicants to provide a history of court judgments, settlements or any malpractice payouts.

Bids are due in mid-November, and the task force plans to give a recommendation to City Council by year's end. The winning proposal would be put to a public vote in early 2012. State Attorney General John Suthers has urged the city to allow his office to review the lease for compliance with state law prior to an election. — PZ

Giuseppe's to be event center

According to proprietor Craig Ochs, Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant (10 S. Sierra Madre St.) will cease regular food service on Monday, Oct. 24, shifting the property's focus to hosting special events only, as The Depot.

As a press release notes, the Denver Rio Grande and Western Railroad depot has been a Springs landmark for 122 years; it will continue to be, just in a new capacity. — MS

Wider is better for I-25

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments' board has approved using federal and state fuel tax money to widen four miles of Interstate 25 from Woodmen Road to Interquest Parkway in north Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to allocate $31 million from a pot of $229 million in transportation money to the Pikes Peak region, and PPACG decided to put up $5 million from the local allocation of federal and state fuel tax money as the required match. The decision is consistent with a 2004 environmental assessment of transportation capacity improvement options that looked at commuter rail, light rail, express bus and road-widening.

A rail idea was abandoned due to findings that commuter and freight trains can't share the same rails, and that a commuter line would cost more than $70 million per mile to build. The best option was determined to be widening I-25 to six lanes. — PZ

Red light for cameras

After just a year, Colorado Springs has decided to remove its red-light cameras at four intersections.

The city is junking the program because it didn't do enough to reduce crashes, and because its 2.5 employees could be used elsewhere. According to program partner American Traffic Solutions, the four camera systems reduced violations by 30 percent through September, though results varied widely — there was a 22 percent increase in violations on northbound Nevada Avenue at Bijou Street. Preliminary data also shows that the program did not reduce front-to-side collisions as hoped.

"When we decided to test the technology, we had hopes of making a significant difference in motorist safety," Interim Police Chief Pete Carey says in a release. "A review of the data after one year shows conflicting information at best. We discussed the program with Mayor [Steve] Bach and determined citizens would be best served if we reassigned personnel to other priority functions."

But watch out, motorists — the photo speed enforcement program lives on. — PZ

No-camping ticket issued

The first ticket for violating Colorado Springs' "No Camping Ordinance" has been distributed, to a 47-year-old unemployed remodeler who's been living on friends' couches. Steve Bass was ticketed Tuesday after popping up a tent in Acacia Park at 11 p.m., the time the park closes. Bass had been camping there since Thursday, and had received one warning.

Bass was participating in the Occupy Colorado Springs protest, but was ticketed under the ordinance created nearly two years ago to address camping along creek beds. The law helped in clearing homeless camps, because more temporary housing was offered in conjunction with the law, and because the police organized a Homeless Outreach Team to deal with homeless people. The team helped campers find resources, with tickets only a last resort.

Police have been similarly lenient with Occupy Colorado Springs protesters camping in the park. (They've also allowed temporary information booths to stay in the park long enough for the group to obtain a permit or be turned down.) But now police say anyone sleeping in the park may be arrested.

Bass says he was purposely disobeying police orders when ticketed, and he hopes to challenge the law when his case goes to Municipal Court at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. — JAS

Police hire spokesperson

Colorado Springs police have hired a new media contact, Barbara Miller, a civilian with 28 years' experience at the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Orlando, Fla. Miller replaces Sgt. Steve Noblitt, who had held that position for 18 months.

Noblitt actually had been handling two jobs, as media contact and community relations sergeant. Now he'll focus on the latter position, problem-solving with people who are feeling the sting of discrimination, such as minorities and religious groups. "We really keep in touch with the faith-based communities in the minority community," Noblitt says. "If something is bubbling up, it's our responsibility to know."

Noblitt says Miller will have the same responsibilities he did, but since she isn't a sworn hire, she won't be paid overtime, and her salary is less. Police lieutenants had traditionally filled the spokesperson role, earning about $94,000 a year. Sergeants like Noblitt are paid around $82,000. Miller will likely be paid $59,200. — JAS

Compiled by Matthew Schniper, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

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