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News briefs from the Front Range

Kimball's explores more peaks

Kimball's Twin Peak Theater could gain two more screens, owner Kimball Bayles says.

Bayles recently received architectural drawings for a proposed expansion, backing into La Baguette's kitchen next door. (Bayles says La Baguette's owner is OK with that.) Each new auditorium would seat 125.

Kimball's, the only place downtown to grab a beer or glass of wine and watch an independent film on the big screen, is a bit overcrowded, Bayles says.

"We only played The Savages for one week, and there were a lot of people that were just pissed," he says, adding that he's also had to skip a lot of important, small documentaries that don't draw big crowds.

The space problem, Bayles says, is especially pronounced during Oscar season.

Price quotes from contractors, Bayles says, will tell him whether the project is feasible. If not, he says, he'll look for another downtown building to open a second theater for the additional screens. But he's crossing his fingers that he can simply expand.

"Economically, this is the best for me, because we get to keep our concession area in one place, [and] our bar," he says. JAS

East Middle School may have to seek more white students

The Colorado Springs School District 11 board is in an uncomfortable situation.

The U.S. Department of Education grant that's allowing the D-11 board to reopen East Middle School as a math-science magnet the deteriorating and underperforming school was closed last year came with a well-meaning stipulation: Within three years, get the percentage of minority kids at East in line with the rest of the district.

New board member Bob Null explains the mandate is meant to give minorities a chance to get into good schools often dominated by white kids. But at East, the majority of students have been minorities.

"This sounds ridiculous, but if the mix is 78 percent white in the district, then we have to bring in whites and displace minorities," Null says.

The D-11 board decided Feb. 13 not to change East's boundaries. A new racial mix may still be achievable; the district could prioritize white opt-in students from outside the school's boundaries. To a lot of people, the thought of excluding children of color who want to attend East seems undesirable.

Null hopes the board can appeal to the feds for a possible exception, or that D-11 may be excused if East doesn't meet the racial-mix requirements in three years.

In addition to setting boundaries, the D-11 board also recently decided East will except sixth-graders for 2008-09, then add a grade a year, eventually housing sixth, seventh and eighth grades. JAS

Another Cowboys on Powers?

The Guadagnoli club empire is undergoing some changes. Big changes, according to Sam Guadagnoli.

The Guadagnolis and business partner Chuck Schafer closed downtown's Vue nightclub in January. They've recently confirmed the long-running rumor that the space will house Cowboys (the Guadagnolis' country-style club that has long been located at Academy and Palmer Park boulevards). The move is intended to curb the violence that often got the Vue in the headlines.

But is that merely the tip of the ice luge?

The last time the Guadagnolis promised "big changes," they opened the Vue, Blondie's and another (since-sold) club, and made major renovations to their other clubs. (Guadagnoli and wife Kathy are also behind Rum Bay, the Red Martini and Sam's World's Smallest Bar.)

Aside from saying that explaining all the planned changes would take an hour, Sam Guadagnoli has been elusive on any further details. But in a recent phone conversation, he mentioned something about "a Cowboys on Powers."

Hmmmmm. Any plan in the works for Powers Boulevard is likely in its beginning stages. So far this year, the Guadagnolis have not appeared on agendas for the liquor licensing board. Nor do they appear to have taken out a building permit for a development on Powers. City planners have heard a few rumors trickling out of the Stetson Hills area, but nothing more. JAS

State committee looking at foreign-worker bill

A bill to help start a pilot project that would let Colorado use state workers to help employers find temporary foreign workers is scheduled to go before the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee this week.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, and Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, would aim to bring in 1,000 workers the first year and then more in following years to help agricultural businesses that have been struggling since new state and federal rules made it more difficult to find adequate help.

Looper and others have said the federal H-2A visa program has been unable to keep up with the demand from Colorado businesses that want to find legal foreign workers. If it becomes law, the bill would authorize the state Department of Labor to open foreign offices to help process more visa applications and attract workers. AL

Visitors step on thin ice

The city sent out an unusual message on Friday, Feb. 15: The first step to dousing the competition in the annual President's Day Hockey Tournament may have been staying dry yourself.

This evidently proved a challenge for some out-of-state skaters, many of whom were visiting from the frigid north. Apparently, with a shortage of available ice time for workouts, the athletes were looking for a little practice time on local lakes and ponds, only to have their plans fall through (the ice, that is). Several 911 calls were made, but the would-be skaters avoided tragedy.

City spokesman John Leavitt warned, "Colorado Springs' weather is not sufficiently cold to freeze these water features for safe skating." JAS

Change in the airlines

Those who hate driving to Denver International Airport and flying out of there have a reason to cheer. Northwest Airlines has announced it will add twice-daily flights to Memphis, Tenn., on June 15. (Northwest, by the way, may soon merge with Delta Airlines, which also offers flights from the Springs to Atlanta, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City.)

"Northwest is pleased to link Colorado Springs to our convenient hub in Memphis," said Dennis Newman, vice president of network planning and scheduling, in a press release. "This new service gives our Colorado Springs customers a second option for connecting to the Northwest network with convenient access to more of the destinations Northwest serves."

Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines has committed to five daily flights to Denver starting April 15. Midwest Airlines will halt its only local service (to and from Kansas City, Mo.) on April 5. JAS

Concern evaporating over Leadville mine water release

A mess of contaminated water threatening to burst from a blocked mine drainage tunnel near Leadville on the upper Arkansas River now seems unlikely to create problems for users lower on the river, says Jay Winner, executive director of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The years-old blockage finally gained widespread attention last week, including a national story on NBC News, when Lake County officials declared a state of emergency. Winner says it appears now the resources headed that direction should be sufficient to prevent a massive release, which had been estimated at potentially a billion gallons.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the tunnel, has been widely criticized for not taking action earlier to relieve the buildup of water, according to a Denver Post news story. Plans to divert water around the blockage to a treatment plant have been reported. AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.

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