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News briefs from the Front Range


Aerison blocked from leaving jail

Storme Aerison, Colorado Springs' intersexed inmate, was on the brink of bonding out of the El Paso County jail last week until Judge Edward S. Colt jacked up her bail by $625,000, to a total of $750,000.

Aerison's family was waiting to pick her up, and she had been given her street clothing. But she was detained; the judge cited her upcoming mental-health evaluation as the reason to increase her bond.

Aerison masqueraded as a Coronado High School cheerleader in 1990 but was arrested when her classmates noticed stubble poking out of her makeup. Today, she faces bond jumping, theft and fraud charges.

At her last court date, she pled not guilty by reason of insanity. She suffers from dissociative identity disorder, shifting in and out of different personalities. Aerison, who has identified as a female for years, is being held in the all-male ward of the jail, segregated from the other inmates. NZ

Bill could bring IDs to ex-cons

Ex-cons soon may have an easier time getting driver's licenses.

House Bill 1313, sponsored by Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver, would relax ID regulations that were tightened recently to preclude undocumented immigrants from accessing state services. If the bill passes, former prisoners could use Department of Corrections IDs in combination with their Social Security cards to obtain driver's licenses.

Many ex-cons, homeless and elderly have been denied social services when they could not present valid ID. Former prisoners were barred from employment and housing without IDs, often going back behind bars. (See "Prison Break," NZ

Animal cruelty up 75 percent

The Sheriff's Office tracked 42 animal cruelty cases in 2006, up 75 percent from 2005. And sad news continues to emanate from eastern El Paso County in the first couple months of 2007.

The Sheriff's Office confiscated six goats, six llamas, five cows, five horses, two hens, one sheep and a dog last week at 12760 Vollmer Road, where investigators discovered 11 other dead animals.

Deputies are having difficulty tracking down animal cruelty suspect Debra Everet, 50, says Lt. Clif Northam, a spokesman for the sheriff.

"The information we have is that she's packed up and left," he says.

The county has no barn to care for the confiscated animals, and the county's agreement for services with the Humane Society doesn't extend to many areas in Sheriff Terry Maketa's jurisdiction. County Commission Chairman Dennis Hisey last week directed County Administrator Jeff Greene to look for possible solutions. MdY

Federal dollars help push for homeless IDs

"Some in the community think a handout is the best approach," said City Councilor Jerry Heimlicher at last week's press conference detailing Colorado Springs' $1.35 million federal grant to house the homeless. "This man thinks a hand up is the best approach."

"This man," of course, is Bob Holmes of Homeward Pikes Peak. And the lauded "hand up" method is a strategy to prod the homeless toward self-sufficiency.

It starts with ID cards, an initiative in which the homeless will be tracked as they access charity meals and showers. If they don't get off the streets eventually, they'll be denied services.

For months, Holmes maintained the long-awaited cards were delayed by software problems. Now he says the plan has stalled for lack of funding. A hefty $110,000 chunk of a new federal grant will accelerate the program. But the cards need another $20,000 in seed money, which the Downtown Partnership may contribute. NZ

Lamborn looking at PTSD

First-year U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn is carving out at least one predictable issue of focus: military veterans. Lamborn has a spot on the House Committee for Veterans Affairs, and says he already has met with Maj. Gen. Robert Mixon of Fort Carson to discuss various issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"More can always be done," Lamborn says, "but I think there is a good program in place now. ... They're doing a better job of letting people know what's available."

That said, Lamborn admits that "everyone in the chain of command might not be" fully committed to dealing with PTSD. He also says he will check out a report that veterans seeking help must first fill out a 26-page questionnaire. The Veterans Affairs committee, he adds, needs "hearings and new legislation" regarding treatment of the disorder. RR

Compiled by Michael de Yoanna, Ralph Routon and Naomi Zeveloff.

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