Andrea Chalfin

News Director

Andrea came to KRCC in 2008 by way of Missouri. She’s responsible for KRCC’s overall news presence, and oversees a cadre of freelancers and students.  Her award-winning work has been heard on NPR, The World (PRI), and the BBC. The Ohio native loves music and media, food, and the open road; it’s also not uncommon to see her taking a walk through downtown Colorado Springs.  Follow Andrea on Twitter @AndreaChalfin.

The Army has released its final Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed increase in training and operations at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in rural southeast Colorado.  The Army is looking to increase training at the site to include explosives, drones and full-brigade sized exercises, though in the final 642-page document [.pdf], the Army says it’s no l

Ballots are hitting mailboxes in Colorado Springs for April’s municipal election. Voters are being asked to choose a new mayor, as well as a council representative from the city’s northern District 2 and three at-large city council members.

A bill in Colorado’s Senate that seeks funding to help preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route passed out of committee today on a 5-2 vote. 

This comes on the heels of a report from the state’s Southwest Chief Commission that says the original expected $40 million share to help save the long distance route has been knocked down to 8.91 million, due in part to a federal transportation grant and negotiations with BNSF Railway, the company that owns the tracks. 

Investigators have arrested a 44-year-old man in connection to an explosion last month outside a building that houses the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.  

Thaddeus Cheyenne Murphy faces charges of arson and being a felon in possession of firearms. A search of Murphy’s home revealed seven guns and devices similar to the one used in the explosion earlier this year.  The U.S. Attorney’s office says that device was a road flare and pipe bomb near a container of gasoline.  No one was hurt in the explosion.

Bob Wick, BLM California / BLM Flickr / Creative Commons

Browns Canyon in Chaffee County will be designated a National Monument by President Obama on Thursday. 

Conservationists, community leaders and businesses are praising the move, which comes after years of work to secure the designation.  It covers a 22,000-acre stretch of public land along the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida known for recreational opportunities. 

Keith Baker heads the non-profit group Friends of Browns Canyon.

Governor John Hickenlooper spoke in support of Fort Carson Tuesday at a listening session in Colorado Springs.  The forum comes as the Army looks to reduce its numbers of active-duty soldiers by at least 40,000.

The reductions could impact up to 16,000 personnel at Fort Carson.  The listening session was one of 30 being held across Army bases aimed at providing input to the Pentagon before any decisions are made.

Governor Hickenlooper said Colorado has a long, proud history with the military, and provides training and support that is unique.

Richard Tinker / NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Experts from western states are gathering in New Mexico to talk about drought and its impacts on recreation and tourism.  KRCC's Tucker Hampson reports.

A video from the Western Governors Association shows a montage of streams and water formations affected by drought, some dry and barren.

Tune in to KRCC Sunday, January 25 at 5 PM for a special one-hour call-in Connecting the Drops program focusing on the State Water Plan.

The plan looks to find a way to meet the state’s growing water needs. But what does it mean for different stakeholders?  Joining us for a state wide discussion on the Colorado Water Plan are James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River Water Conservation District  and Chris Woodka with the Pueblo Chieftain will be our guests, and your calls will be welcome at 800-737-3030.

El Paso County Commissioners

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has announced he will run for U.S. Senate in 2016.  The Republican cites issues like the economy, immigration, and veterans issues as among his main concerns.  In a statement, Glenn said his early announcement shows he’s committed to the time and networking necessary to create what he’s calling a “comprehensive strategic plan.”

Glenn has served on the Colorado Springs City Council and was recently elected to a second term as a commissioner.

Democrat Michael Bennet currently holds the senate seat.


Investigators have released a sketch of a man they say is connected to an explosion outside a building that includes the offices of the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.

The man is described as white, around 40 years old, and balding.  Investigators say he was in the area at the time of the bombing and appeared to have carried something down an alley and returned to his truck empty handed.

Special Agent Thomas Ravenelle heads the FBI Denver field office and says they’re still not speculating on motive.

El Paso County Public Health officials say someone who traveled to Colorado Springs last month has tested positive for measles.  The case may be connected to nine other measles cases in two other states where the patients visited Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in mid-December. 

Local officials have released statements in response to Tuesday's explosion outside a building that houses the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP, as well as a business.  

A joint statement distributed by the Colorado Springs Police Department comes from local law enforcement agencies and Colorado Springs NAACP President Henry Allen, Jr.:


The FBI is looking for a person of interest in an explosion outside the local chapter of the NAACP in Colorado Springs.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin reports.

The device exploded Tuesday morning outside the building that houses the offices of the civil rights organization and one other business.  A gasoline can was placed next to the device, but did not explode. There were no injuries, and minor damage to the building.

Amy Sanders with the FBI says they’re investigating.  

The Army is looking to increase training activities at its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado. As part of the process, officials are required to conduct environmental impact studies and open the reports to public comments.

Today, Monday December 15, is the last day to submit public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed increase in training.

You can view the DEIS here [.pdf].

I'm the News Director here at KRCC, but by this time, it should be no secret that I'm a pretty big music fan. There are a lot of albums I need to explore from this year, but I offer you my one pick:

Band of Horses: Acoustic at the Ryman

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Explosions, drones, and full-brigade size exercises with armored vehicles are all a part of the Army’s proposed Enhanced Readiness plan for its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeastern Colorado. The goal is to get troops trained on new gear.  It’s a controversial plan that some say opens the door to expansion, a notion that’s long been a thorn in the side of many nearby residents.

The training grounds span around 235,000 acres between Trinidad and LaJunta. It’s bound by the Purgatorie River on the east and the Comanche National Grasslands to the north. Recreationally, the area around the Maneuver Site is known for canyons, wildlife, ruins, and dinosaur tracks.

Nearly 100 people packed a small meeting hall at the training site for the only scheduled public forum. They came from as far away as Boulder and as close as the adjacent tiny community of Tyrone to hear about the proposal and its projected environmental impacts.

Technologies and tactics are constantly evolving, according to Dan Benford, Director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security at Fort Carson.  As such, Benford added, it’s important for soldiers to be able to train on equipment they’d use while deployed.

“When we put them in harm’s way,” said Benford, “they have to have that second nature reaction with their equipment.”

Fort Carson released a 430-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement [.pdf], or DEIS, that looks at proposed alternatives, including a continuation of existing operations, and an update to allow for Strykers - the new class of eight-wheeled armored vehicles. 

Then there’s the preferred plan, which the Army calls “Enhanced Readiness Training.”  This plan includes the Stryker vehicles, demolitions, and drones, among other components.

“We’ve got some other training that soldiers need to be able to do,” said Hal Alguire, the Director of Public Works for Fort Carson.  “So to use effectively the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, we want to do those things.”

Among the findings, the DEIS lists potentially significant impacts to geology and soils, including loss of plant cover and erosion.  It also lists moderate impacts to noise, and minor impacts to air quality and cultural resources.

The DEIS isn’t enough for Jean Aguerre.  “It doesn’t make any sense that there’s no cumulative impacts,” Aguerre said during the public comment period.  She also invoked the memory of the 1930s Dust Bowl and the sensitive nature of the native plants in the area. 

“We got a soil analysis in this current DEIS, with absolutely no root analysis,” Aguerre said.  “The key to the short-grass prairie, as everybody in this room knows, is keeping that root system intact.”

Like Aguerre, most of the comments were critical of the Army and its plans for the remote Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, ranging from wildlife and historical concerns, to simply requests for more time and meetings with easier access to provide public comment.

Trinidad Mayor Joe Reorda addressed the area ranchers who oppose the proposal.

“We support you,” he told the ranchers. “The city of Trinidad supports you.  But by God, we have to have somewhere to train.”

Many are concerned through, that allowing the higher intensity activity at the site would open the door to eventual expansion.  It’s a possibility that Garrison Commander Colonel Joel Hamilton downplayed in his opening remarks.

“For the record,” said Colonel Hamilton, “we are not about expansion of Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.”

It’s also written into the DEIS that the proposal doesn’t require expansion.

That’s a point that Jim Herrell equates to having a coyote keep watch over a chicken house.  Herrell said at the meeting that continued expansion of the infrastructure at Pinon Canyon would lead to a Congressional authorization within seven years or less to acquire more land.

“And don’t you think there won’t be,” said Herrell.  “Then there will be a Congressman, probably from Texas, that will tack on an appropriations amendment to some crap to buy more land.  And everyone in this room in uniform will be gone.  And everyone in this room with a cowboy hat and boots that are pointed will be here, just a little older.”

In the face of this kind of distrust, Colonel Hamilton said it’s important to keep the dialogue going.  “It’s maintaining an open line of communication,” said Hamilton.  “We also heard the term ‘transparency’ thrown around this evening and we take it very seriously.”

Hamilton also mentioned the Southern Colorado Working Group, which is open to anyone. The group meets quarterly and works to coordinate military and community efforts throughout the region.  Hamilton says it helps to put a human face on the issues presented in the DEIS.

But for some, like Kennie Gyurman who lives in and has decades of history in the bordering community of Tyrone, there’s nothing the Army can say that will earn his trust.  Gyurman considers himself pro-military, but he says the Army knows what it wants.

“You just can’t believe them,” said Gyurman.  “But after you’ve dealt with them for a while, you kind of know what to expect. These meetings keep them from thinking they’ve got a way of doing what they want to do without any resistance.  This is resistance, even if it sometimes doesn’t help out a lot.”

Comments made at this recent meeting are being entered into the record, as are other comments provided through mail and online.  The last day to submit comments is December 15th.

Listen to the full public meeting here:

To make a comment on the DEIS, write to Fort Carson NEPA Program Manager, Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, 1626 Evans Street Building 1219, Fort Carson, Colo. 80913-4362; or, send an email to

To inquire about the Southern Colorado Working Group, contact Fort Carson Community Relations at 719-526-1246.

Investigators say there’s not enough evidence to file charges in connection with last year’s devastating Black Forest Fire.

Voters across Colorado cast their final ballots yesterday on state and local issues and candidates. 

Voters in El Paso County are deciding whether or not to allow the county to keep excess revenue for the purpose of supporting parks and open space.

The Taxpayers Bill or Rights, or TABOR, stipulates any excess revenue should be returned to residents, unless voters approve a measure allowing the county to put it to other use.

Ballot issue 1A seeks to retain more than $2 million for specific projects including resurfacing tennis courts at Bear Creek Park, constructing a park in the Falcon area, and restoring trails in the Black Forest Regional Park. 

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The notion of "political theater" took a different sort of turn on Thursday when the Democratic challenger in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District debated pseudo-chickens. 

Three people dressed in bright yellow chicken suits served as stand-ins for Republican Doug Lamborn at a debate with his Democratic challenger, Irv Halter.  The move comes after Halter and others say Lamborn is refusing to debate.

Beauprez-U.S. House / Hickenlooper-State of Colorado

Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and his Republican challenger Bob Beauprez met for one of their final debates last night at UCCS, sponsored by the school and the Colorado Springs Gazette, Independent and Business Journal.

Topics included jobs and the economy, energy development, and education.  

One question from the audience focused on climate change and the role people play in it.

The Citizens Project held a General Election voter forum Tuesday night, featuring the race for El Paso County Commissioner District 5, as well as state legislative races for House District 17, House District 18, and Senate District 11.  Other candidates for office were also invited to speak at the forum.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Members of Colorado’s Southwest Chief Commission heard opening remarks at their meeting Thursday from the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.


Update: 10/7/14, 10:38 am

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office has announced same-sex marriage licenses are available at the clerk's office, effective immediately.  In a statement, the office says they received "final clearance" from the office of Attorney General John Suthers.

Colorado Springs

It’s only for two weekends before closing for the season, but the South Slope Recreation Area on Pikes Peak is now open to the public.  The watershed is home to bighorn sheep, cutthroat trout, and several reservoirs built more than a century ago.  It’s been closed to the public since 1913.

Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte says the ecological character of the place meant they had to tread lightly when considering opening the area to the public.

Fort Carson officials are encouraging personnel on the base to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior after two shots were heard on the Mountain Post Monday night, prompting increased security measures. Military police are investigating the reports that say the shots were heard near the northwest perimeter of the base just before 8:00 PM.  Officials say this was not an active shooter event, and there’s no immediate danger. No suspects are in custody.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Efforts to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief long-distance passenger train service that runs through southern Colorado got a financial boost.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports on a grant from the federal Department of Transportation that will help fix some of the regional track that’s in most need of repair.

Fort Carson is conducting a full-scale crisis exercise Tuesday and Wednesday.  The training is expected to feature a simulated car bomb near Prussman Chapel on the Mountain Post.

Those on base can expect road closures from 5 am until 3 pm Tuesday, specifically Prussman between Berkeley and McGrath, and Porter Street. McGrath will be down to one lane for about a block.  Detours may also be in place.

The annual exercise tests emergency response procedures.  Previous simulations include chemical spills, terrorist attacks, and winter weather.

Phil Riggan

Colorado’s legislature this year created the state’s own air fleet for fighting wildfires. The endeavor includes four helicopters, two single engine air tankers, and two PC-12 single engine planes equipped with new thermal imaging technology.  The move has put Colorado at the forefront of utilizing advanced technology to battle the destructive blazes.  Reporter Ryan Maye Handy wrote a series of articles for the Colorado Springs Gazette about this new technology.  She spoke with KRCC's Andrea Chalfin about it.

The USA Pro Challenge makes its way to Colorado Springs on Thursday for Stage 4. Cyclists will start at the Broadmoor and make their way through downtown before heading up to Garden of the Gods. They'll repeat the downtown to Garden of the Gods circuit four times for a total of 70 miles.

In preparation, road closures will begin on Wednesday, with various reopening times on Thursday.

Roads closures Wednesday start at 9:00 AM:

Tejon between Kiowa and Colorado
Pikes Peak between Cascade and Nevada

5:00 PM Wednesday: