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Public works head named, students flock to UCCS, rabbit fever found, and more


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Reports of elder abuse rise

The Pikes Peak Elder Abuse Coalition is reporting that one month after a new law went into effect, agencies are being flooded with reports of suspected abuse of local senior citizens.

Senate Bill 13-111, which went into effect July 1, requires certain professionals to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of at-risk seniors age 70 or older.

In July 2013, Adult Protective Services at the El Paso County Department of Human Services received 114 such reports, according to a press release from the coalition. This July, it received 179 reports. On average last year, Adult Protective Services received 85.5 reports per month. So far this year, the average is 120.4 per month.

Colorado Springs Police saw referrals from and to APS increase from 80 in January to 150 in July, and Silver Key Senior Services, a local nonprofit serving seniors, saw 29 referrals in July compared to 21 in January, the coalition stated.

The new law requires medical professionals, social workers, law enforcement, care facilities, clergy and others to report suspected abuse within 24 hours. Abuse can be anything from physical assault to sexual assault to taking an at-risk senior's money.

To learn more about the law, visit — JAS

Public works head named

City Council has confirmed Travis Easton, former mayor of Monument, as public works director.

Easton was interviewed at meetings of no more than two councilors at a time so the city could avoid having to disclose his identity. (If three or more councilors meet, it's an open meeting.)

Easton was a senior vice president at NV5 Inc., an international engineering firm with a Colorado Springs office, and reportedly wanted to keep his nominee status secret until the city job was secured. He starts Oct. 1 at an annual salary of $150,000, replacing Dave Lethbridge, a former city worker who was appointed last summer as interim public works director but isn't a registered professional engineer as required by the job description.

Easton reports to the mayor's chief of staff and will oversee a $108 million budget and 209 employees in city engineering, traffic engineering, streets and Mountain Metropolitan Transit. — PZ

Students flock to UCCS

One of the heaviest concentrations of area construction activity over the last decade or so has been taking place at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Now, all that building is apparently paying off.

UCCS last week reported record enrollment this fall semester with 11,199 students, a 5.7 percent bump from last year's September enrollment, which itself was a record. The university says in a news release that enrollment has grown by 47 percent, or 3,500 students, since 2005.

The school, which offers 37 bachelor's degrees, 19 master's degrees and five doctoral degrees, also notes the fall semester is seeing the largest freshman class in UCCS history, with 1,759 enrolled. The numbers will be finalized following the university's Sept. 11 census. — PZ

Rabbit fever found

El Paso County Public Health has confirmed a case of tularemia — also called rabbit fever — near Yoder, about 30 miles east of the Springs. While monitoring wildlife for plague, county specialists found a dead rabbit and confirmed it was infected with the disease.

No people have reported an infection, according to a press release.

Tularemia spreads through insect bites, contact with infected animals, ingestion of contaminated water or inhalation of contaminated dust or particles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks tend to cause large numbers of rabbits, hares and rodents to die.

The press release says fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pains and coughing are typical signs of infection in humans. If caught early, tularemia is easily treated with antibiotics.

In order to prevent infection, wear insect repellent with DEET when in areas with rodents (to protect yourself from their fleas and ticks); avoid handling sick or dead animals; wear proper footwear where dead animals have been found; and don't mow over dead animals.

If it is necessary to move a dead animal, wear the insect repellent and do not touch the animal directly. — GS

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