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News briefs from the Front Range

Water worries at Silver Moon
They just opened the place in October, but Hardy Wright and Charlie Cagiao are already concerned about the survival of Silver Moon Events Center, which has brought in once-hot music acts like Canned Heat and The Kentucky Headhunters.

"I think we'll outlast this one," Cagiao says. "If it takes longer than April, it will definitely hurt me."

Cagiao is talking about installation of a $54,000 sprinkler system and a fire hydrant, an update that the Colorado Springs Fire Department requires. The department is working with Silver Moon's owners to keep the business open as they bring the building up to code.

But the leash is getting shorter. In the past, the fire department had allowed Silver Moon to pack in as many as 500 people, as long as two firefighters were there to stand watch. But Cagiao says he was forced to reschedule a Feb. 10 show, with Melvin Seals and the Jerry Garcia Band, because his capacity was limited to 125.

Silver Moon is not planning any concerts until April due to the issue, which Cagiao says will cost him about $50,000 in lost revenues. It will host a metaphysical fair in March and events including private parties.

"It's hard to get mad at an entity that's trying to protect people," Cagiao says of the fire department. "It's really more just being disappointed." JAS

CyberCom decision delayed
Exactly where the U.S. Air Force will locate its computer warfare command remains shrouded in mystery. Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, La., the provisional location for Cyber Command, said in a statement two weeks ago that a decision, expected last fall, won't be final until the end of 2008.

That's good news to Colorado's congressional delegation, which wants CyberCom in Colorado Springs. The command fights international and financial hacker-terrorists. Colorado Springs is already home to Strategic and Northern commands, as well as the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

CyberCom's provisional commander, Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, an Air Force Academy grad, said in the Barksdale statement that the Air Force is still reviewing locations. Lord, who promised a thorough process, anticipates selecting four locations where the Air Force would conduct surveys, including environmental surveys. Those studies could take up to eight months.

Several locations are competing for the site. MdY

Parents fight D-12 closure
Parents whose kids walk to Cheyenne Mountain School District 12's small Cañon Elementary School say they don't want it to close.

"The school literally reflects why we chose to live where we did," says parent and "Sustain Cañon Campaign" leader Andrew Dwyer.

Discussion started when the school board created a blue-ribbon panel to analyze the district's older elementary schools. The panel, chaired by former City Manager Lorne Kramer, recommended Feb. 11 that the district could save money by closing Cañon (and likely Skyway Elementary, too) while expanding Broadmoor Elementary.

D-12 has a tight budget and steadily declining population of in-district kids. But parents like Dwyer say it makes no sense to expand one school at the expense of the other two, because many kids live around Cañon and Skyway.

In fact, 37 percent of kids at Broadmoor are out-of-district, compared to only 27 percent at Skyway and 19 percent at Cañon.

"Let's pay to maintain what we love," Dwyer says. "Let's not pay to create something nobody wants."

The last of three community input meetings is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., March 5, at Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School. JAS

Benson gets CU president job
They rallied and protested. A liberal group even started a Web site to stop him.

Despite all the effort, University of Colorado regents appointed Bruce Benson the 22nd president of the CU system last week, by a 6-3 vote.

Critics listed a number of objections. They said his background as an oil and gas company president was not adequate preparation to be a university president. Many objected to his ties to the Republican Party, and his lack of a graduate degree.

Supporters contended that Benson's leadership skills and fundraising abilities would boost a university system struggling for funding.

Protests were most notable on the system's Boulder campus. In Colorado Springs, Benson met with faculty and student groups twice after he was announced as the sole candidate to take over the position being vacated by Hank Brown, but the gatherings were sparsely attended. AL

Helicopter flies again
As of early Wednesday, the Colorado Springs Police Department was bracing itself for a media circus.

The cops suspected that reporters and camera crews would be tripping over each other for a chance to witness an extraordinary sight: a helicopter flying.

OK, maybe thats not so amazing. But it does represent the latest chapter in a City Council saga that began with the exclusion of the air-support helicopter program from the budget (to save money). And then, recently, the addition of the program back into the 2008 budget (for safety reasons).

The chopper was expected to zoom back into the sky at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. JAS

Generals embrace plan
Often, diplomats and heads of state sign agreements with other countries. But on Feb. 14, it was an Air Force general and a Canadian commander who pulled out the pens.

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, who commands U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Canadian Air Force Lt. Gen. Marc Dumais, who commands Canada Command, signed a "Civil Assistance Plan" at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

The agreement allows either nation's military to support the armed forces of the other during a national emergency. NorthCom and CanCom both conduct homeland security operations in their nations. MdY

Compiled by Michael de Yoanna, Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.

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