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.

A group seeking to recall embattled El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa received approval from the Clerk and Recorder’s office to begin collecting signatures.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin has more.

A resubmitted petition from the group was accepted after an initial effort was rejected on the grounds that it didn’t meet legal standards.  According to the Clerk’s office, backers need to gather more than 44,000 signatures to recall Sheriff Maketa in November. 

Tucker Hampson / KRCC

A handful of residents gathered outside the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department Thursday afternoon in downtown Colorado Springs to show their disapproval of Sheriff Terry Maketa. Maketa faces allegations of wrongdoing, including creating a hostile workplace, sexual discrimination, and budget mismanagement.  Those protesters were met by others who support the embattled sheriff.
 

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office released a report looking at the response to the Black Forest Fire Tuesday, nearly one year to the day after the devastating fire began. 
 

The After Action Report [.pdf] details what went right during last year’s fire, and where there’s room for improvement.  Maketa said they applied lessons learned from the previous year’s Waldo Canyon event, including providing a quicker flow of information to those displaced.

UPDATE (Monday, 06/02 8:00 PM):  All evacuation orders have been lifted; the fire is 100% contained. Mop up will continue and the area will be monitored over the next several days.

UPDATE (Monday, 06/02 11:45 AM): Huerfano County Emergency Dispatch says residents north of Twin Ridge Dr. on Four Mile Canyon Road to CR 312 may return.  Residents south of Twin Ridge Dr. on Four Mile Canyon Rd. are still under an evacuation notice.  The fire is 80% contained, with a burn area of 15 acres.

Staff Photo / El Paso County

El Paso County Commissioners gave a unanimous vote of 'no confidence' to Sheriff Terry Maketa today, and asked for his resignation after allegations of misconduct.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
 

Commissioners say the vote isn’t about guilt or innocence and that investigations into employee complaints and allegations including sexual discrimination, budget mismanagement, and a hostile work environment are underway.

UPDATE:  The Red Cross Shelter has closed as of 11:23 PM.  Highway 24 has reopened.

Original post:

The Red Cross has opened a shelter in Manitou Springs for those affected by potential flooding tonight, Friday, May 23. It's at the Historic Manitou Congregational Church, 103 Pawnee Ave.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo has issued a flash flood warning until 11:15 tonight for northwestern Pueblo County, northeastern Custer County, Teller County, and western El Paso and eastern Fremont Counties.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is facing allegations of inappropriate behavior, including creating a hostile work environment and sexual discrimination.  Several department commanders say the sheriff had affairs with three subordinates, abused those who questioned the alleged relationships, and removed all oversight of the department's $60 million budget.  

CSFD

Investigators are on the scene at the Martin Drake Power Plant in downtown Colorado Springs after a four-alarm fire broke out this morning at the facility. The fire department reports two Utilities workers suffered minor injuries, one of whom was transferred to the hospital.  There are no reported injuries to firefighters.

At a press conference this afternoon, Fire Chief Chris Riley said only one of the plant evacuees suffered a minor injury.

----

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

A new collaborative effort that crosses state lines has pledged more than $9 million as part of a grant application that would help keep Amtrak’s Southwest Chief on its current route through Southern Colorado.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
 

Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Dave Philipps has won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his series "Other than Honorable," which appeared in the paper last May.

From the Pulitzer Prize website:

Water & Energy is the topic this Sunday afternoon at 5 on a special live statewide call-in program.  It's part of Connecting the Drops--a year-long collaboration on Colorado water issues from KRCC and other member stations of Rocky Mountain Community Radio.  Today, we'll have a panel of experts discussing the impact of energy development on Colorado water.  Your calls are encouraged, and we'll provide a specific number for you to call during the show.  That's today from 5-6 PM.

The toll free number for listeners to call in is 1-800-737-3030.

Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USF343-001617-ZE] / Library of Congress

John Steinbeck’s classic the Grapes of Wrath turns 75 on Monday.  The novel takes place during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and follows the Joad family as they leave Oklahoma and head to California.  Portions of Colorado were also a part of the Dust Bowl, and certainly the state is no stranger to blowing dust.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief runs daily from Chicago to Los Angeles, stretching across portions of Western Kansas, Southern Colorado, and Northern New Mexico.

US Bureau of Reclamation

Using the force of moving water to generate electricity is an old idea.  For much of the 20th century, hydroelectric technology led to the construction of giant dams across the American West and around the world.   But big hydro projects have a big impact on surrounding ecosystems, and Colorado is at the center of a growing move toward hydropower on a smaller scale.
 

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through towns in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.  The future of the route is in question, as the current rail lines require upgrades in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.  A partnership is on the table to share expenses for the upgrades; as proposed, Colorado’s portion would be about $40 million over the course of ten years. A bill making its way through Colorado’s legislature would set up a commission to study the issue, as well as the possibility of adding a depot in Pueblo.

clipart

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas says it’s expecting to add at least 850 factory workers statewide this year.  400 have already been hired.  The announcement comes after one of the best years for orders placed with the company, and after leaner previous years led to a series of layoffs at its Colorado plants.  In a statement, Vestas says 80 of those workers will be at its Pueblo facility, where they’re expected to reach full capacity this year.  The company also says it expects by the end of the year to employ more than 2000 total workers in its four factories in the state.

The Black Forest Fire/Rescue District has released some of the findings from an independent investigation into Fire Chief Bob Harvey’s response during last year’s devastating blaze.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
 

Update: Buena Vista Routes Re-Open

Feb 18, 2014

UPDATE: According to Chaffee County Sheriff spokeswoman Laura Smith, an x-ray of the explosive device determined it was a "practice round" and nothing suspicious.  The Buena Vista Police Department re-took custody of the scene, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will take the device back to the crime lab for processing.  Streets have reopened and the investigation is ongoing.

An explosive device in the back of a pickup truck closed streets and around the Buena Vista stoplight. "The library and nearby buildings were evacuated, streets were closed and a code red alert was broadcast to the community. Schools were also locked down as a 'precautionary measure,' [BV Police Chief] Tidwell said." The article goes on to say that El Paso County bomb squad is on its way to Buena Vista.

Summary of the Southwest Chief Impact Study, Kevin Duncan & Michael Wakefield / CSU-Pueblo

Revised, 04/24/14:  New out-of-state visitor numbers supplied to study co-author Kevin Duncan after this report aired lowers the estimated annual impact to around $3.4 million annually.  Duncan writes that it's "about $34 million over ten years. The additional cost of providing service to Pueblo is estimated to be between $26 and $30 million."

Original report:

Governor John Hickenlooper today issued a proclamation that temporarily renames Colorado’s 14ers after members of the Denver Broncos.  According to a press release from the governor’s office, the state’s tallest peaks will go by their new names for one day only, this Sunday when the Broncos play against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

El Paso County Commissioners have approved a zoning request regarding a proposed wind farm in the eastern part of the county.  Here’s the press release:

Following a day long public hearing, the Board of El Paso County Commissioners this evening gave its approval to a zoning request that will clear the way for the development of a large wind farm in eastern El Paso County.

Andrea Chalfin, KRCC News Director:
 
It should be no secret by now that I’m quite the music fan, so when Vicky asked me to participate in this year’s Top 10 list, it felt like a no-brainer.  The truth is though, I’m simply not as exposed to all the new releases in quite the same way as our amazing DJs.  So, we came up with a compromise:  two albums that pulled me in and refused to let go, and eight other stuffs that caught my attention.
 
Albums that Pulled Me in and Refused to Let Go:
 
Scout Niblett: It’s Up to Emma

Ken Salazar, former Democratic Senator from Colorado and U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and billionaire hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon, a GOP backer, are creating a political action committee to support conservation-minded congressional candidates.

Update 12/05/13: The Red Cross Shelter in Black Forest has closed. Only one resident stayed on Dec. 3rd, and no residents on the 4th.
 

Original Post:

The Centers for Disease Control says Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin is joined this month by Major Douglas Langford, a neurologist at Fort Carson.  They start by defining what Alzheimer’s is and how it’s different from other forms of dementia, or even just getting older.
 

For more information:

Centers for Disease Control: Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's Association
 

clipart

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is disputing statements made by Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey that this summer’s wildfire that destroyed more than 500 homes and killed two people was caused by humans and "likely intentional."  

Ever wonder how local news and information blends into national programming like Morning Edition and All Things Considered? Take a peek behind the public radio curtain...

"In 1879, [adventurer and geologist John Wesley] Powell proposed that 'as the Western states were brought into the union they be formed around watersheds, rather than arbitrary political boundaries.'"

Andrea Chalfin

Colorado Springs officials held a neighborhood evacuation drill for residents of Broadmoor Bluffs over the weekend.  Fire officials say that neighborhood has stepped up mitigation efforts in the past year and a half, but because of topography, the amount of fuels, and housing density, Broadmoor Bluffs is one of the highest risk neighborhoods in the city’s wildland urban interface.  KRCC News embedded with first responders and a family that chose to participate in the drill.  We start with reporter Kate Dunn.

Residential

Pages