El Paso County

  Colorado Springs officials are seeking disaster assistance after rain in early May caused an estimated $8.2 million in damages to public infrastructure, including roads, stormwater, and parks and trails. The local disaster declaration covers rainstorms and flooding from May 3 to the 12th.  Initial reports indicate an estimated $281,000 for sinkholes, 5 million for stormwater damages, including landslides and erosion, and nearly 3 million for parks and trails. 

El Paso County Commissioners have voted to approve two settlements in claims brought against the Sheriff’s office, former Sheriff Terry Maketa, and former Undersheriff Paula Presley.  The claims allege lost income and benefits due to a hostile work environment.
 

County Attorney Amy Folsom said at Tuesday morning’s commissioner’s meeting that her office has analyzed the risk of liability and evaluated the potential cost of litigation in each case.

UPDATE: Vollmer has reopened. Tapadero and Green Mountain Rds. remain closed. 

El Paso County officials have closed several roads:

Army leadership is seeking public input in light of changes and cuts that could affect the Pikes Peak Region.  KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports on a community listening session held Tuesday.
 

The Army is looking to reduce the number of active duty soldiers by at least 40,000. The Regional Business Alliance says this could impact up to 16,000 personnel at Fort Carson.

4th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Colonel Armando Hernandez says community input will play an important role in the coming changes.

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. 

El Paso County is undergoing a master plan process to get public input for the new Falcon Regional Park. 

The 215-acre park site is east of the Meridian Ranch Development near Falcon High School. A survey is the next step in the planning process, and it asked residents which amenities, like picnic pavilions, baseball fields and trails are the most important to include.

Elaine Kleckner is the Planning Manager for El Paso County. She says the park is not only important to the community of Falcon, but the surrounding areas as well.

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. 

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.

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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.

Maketa Recall Effort Fails

Jul 12, 2014
Staff Photo / El Paso County

Embattled El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will not face a recall election in November. Organizers of the effort had until 1:00 Saturday to turn in the more than 44,000 signatures needed for the recall.

The committee tasked with addressing stormwater needs throughout the Pikes Peak region is hosting several community meetings to talk about their new draft plan. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

The Pikes Peak Stormwater Taskforce formed two years ago to address drainage systems in the region. The plans include improvements on Manitou Boulevard and bank stabilization on Monument Creek.

Task Force spokeswoman Rachel Beck says they’re focusing on long-term solutions.

El Paso County

Crews are slated to begin repairs on the final damaged section of Old Stage Road in El Paso County this week. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

Last September’s flooding caused extensive damage, and the work will include repairing the road and retaining wall, and installing larger culverts. 

El Paso County Engineer Andre Brackin says repairs on Old Stage Road have been ongoing.

Health officials are reporting the first rabid bat of the season in El Paso County. As KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports, rabies is also showing up in surrounding areas.
 

    

Three children discovered the bat in Southwest Colorado Springs, and two were recommended for rabies post exposure treatment.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says as of early last month, 24 wild animals across the state have tested positive for the disease this year. Three were found in surrounding Pueblo and Elbert counties.

Tucker Hampson / KRCC

It’s harvest season in El Paso County, but this crop isn’t exactly what one might expect. KRCC's Tucker Hampson reports.
 

A Skid Steer Loader, which looks kind of like a big Bobcat, pulls tumbleweeds out of a ditch. The tumbleweeds are then chopped up by a converted 1995 John Deere Harvester, dubbed the Tumbleweed Eater, and then shot out into neighboring fields.

Staff Photo / El Paso County

El Paso County Commissioners invited Sheriff Terry Maketa to their board meeting Tuesday to answer questions about the functionality of the department. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

Sheriff Maketa says the allegations and subsequent investigations into his alleged wrongdoings are not interfering with emergency operations, but IT restrictions even after the seizure of hard drives and collecting of disk images are hampering fieldwork.

The three remaining Motor Vehicle Offices in El Paso County are now also open as Voter Service and Polling Centers as primary election day draws near. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

Of the 214,000 ballots that went out earlier this month, over 33,000 of them have been returned so far. Most of them are expected to be returned by mail, according to Ryan Parsell, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Spokesman. Parsell added they expect between 30-35% of those who received a ballot to return them.

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.

Staff Photo / El Paso County

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa restated his plans to remain in office despite an investigation into alleged wrongdoings.  As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, the comments came during an unrelated press conference on the Black Forest Fire.

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.

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.  

Trainings for volunteer call takers during large emergencies in the Pikes Peak region are taking place this week.  It’s a collaboration between Pikes Peak United Way 211, the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.  KRCC’s Martha Perez-Sanz was at the first gathering and has this report.
 

Now that Colorado’s historic recall elections are over, there’s an ongoing clash about who should foot the bill. The recalls of two Democratic lawmakers cost over $400,000. As Bente Birkeland reports, the Secretary of State’s Office says he can’t legally reimburse counties for the elections.
 

El Paso County’s senior population is expected to jump an estimated 179 percent over the next thirty years. KRCC’s Elaina Formby has more on a new report identifying possible ways to help support the growing demographic.
 

According to a report from the Innovations in Aging Collaborative and Peak Vista Community Health Centers, El Paso County’s seniors are challenged by gaps in transportation, healthcare, and housing options.

Officials in the Pikes Peak region are seeking volunteers to help staff call centers in the event of another large emergency. The effort comes from Pikes Peak United Way 211, the City of Colorado Springs, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

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.

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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."  

Colorado voters have until 7 tonight to turn in their ballots in today’s election. For nearly a month, El Paso and Pueblo County Clerks have been collecting mail-in ballots.

Despite a slow start, Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz is optimistic about the turnout.

"I was really nervous going into today," said Ortiz, "because the voter turnout really wasn’t doing very well and it was pretty slow here in Pueblo County. We’re really excited, the last two days have been very heavy, and the voter turn out has gotten up above average."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is still in Colorado working with counties, including El Paso, to assist with recovery efforts.  So far, the agency has approved more than 38 million dollars in assistance across the counties declared major federal disasters after last month’s devastating floods.  Renee Bafalis is the FEMA Public Information Officer assigned to El Paso County, and she came by the KRCC studios to talk about their efforts.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin began by asking about the availability of assistance, despite the government shutdown.
 

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