2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Rockrimmon residents fear new apartments will create dangerous congestion

    Wed, December 4, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    The clubhouse of the Encore at Rockrimmon apartment complex is finished in this Dec. 3, 2013 photo. The Nor'wood Development Group hopes to take possession Dec. 21 of the first building in the 260-unit complex under construction on 12 acres along Delmonico Drive near South Rockrimmon Boulevard. Rents will range from $900 to $1,450 a month.

    The clubhouse of the Encore at Rockrimmon apartment complex is finished in this Dec. 3, 2013 photo. The Nor’wood Development Group hopes to take possession Dec. 21 of the first building in the 260-unit complex under construction on 12 acres along Delmonico Drive near South Rockrimmon Boulevard. Rents will range from $900 to $1,450 a month.

    With images of their frantic escape from the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire fresh in their minds, some residents of Rockrimmon are worried their neighborhood is about to become dangerously congested as one large apartment complex opens and another is proposed.

    But officials of the new 260-unit Encore at Rockrimmon apartments on 12 acres along Delmonico Drive, and the proposed Creekside at Rockrimmon project, with 141 apartment units and 62 single-family homes on 24 acres just to the west, say their projects would not unduly add to traffic volumes.

    Premier Homes of Pueblo has proposed building a student housing complex with 141 units and 62 single-family homes to be called Creekside at Rockrimmon in this field along South Rockrimmon Boulevard. This view is looking west from Delmonico Drive. Neighbors fear the student apartments, coupled with the nearby Encore at Rockrimmon apartments now under construction, will dangerously clog area streets.

    Premier Homes of Pueblo has proposed building a student housing complex with 141 units and 62 single-family homes to be called Creekside at Rockrimmon in this field along South Rockrimmon Boulevard. This view is looking west from Delmonico Drive. Neighbors fear the student apartments, coupled with the nearby Encore at Rockrimmon apartments now under construction, will dangerously clog area streets.

    The fears surfaced in neighborhood meetings designed to alert folks to the projects and gather their input.

    Neighbor Carol Vogeney wrote me about the project after one of the meetings turned ugly and left her and others unsatisfied with the answers they received.

    “It was explosive,” Vogeney wrote of the two-hour meeting in October. “Many issues came up: traffic, crime, what to do if we have to evacuate again in the traffic.”

    She was talking about the bumper-to-bumper traffic jam that occurred June 26, 2012, when the Waldo Canyon fire exploded into Mountain Shadows neighborhood prompting the evacuation of about 30,000 residents west of Interstate 25.

    The Creekside at Rockrimmon project proposed by Premier Homes of Pueblo calls for 62 single-family homes and a 141-unit student housing complex on 24 acres. The Encore at Rockrimmon apartments will have 260 units when completed. Courtesy FlashEarth.com

    The Creekside at Rockrimmon project proposed by Premier Homes of Pueblo calls for 62 single-family homes and a 141-unit student housing complex on 24 acres. The Encore at Rockrimmon apartments will have 260 units when completed. Courtesy FlashEarth.com

    At the peak of the evacuation, looping Rockrimmon Boulevard was six lanes of eastbound cars, packed with kids, pets and personal belongings, trying desperately to avoid the inferno to the west. Delmonico was choked with southbound cars.

    The streets intersect twice, north and south, and it was gridlock at both.

    Both apartment projects are located near the south intersection, which was especially clogged due to the proximity of railroad tracks and an intersection with Mark Dabling Boulevard and I-25.

    The Encore at Rockrimmon apartments fill 12 acres between Delmonico Drive and the railroad tracks adjacent to Mark Dabling Boulevard. The complex sits behind the Mateo Spa and USA Cycling buildings. Originally, the project was call North Pointe Apartments. It will have 260 units when completed.

    The Encore at Rockrimmon apartments fill 12 acres between Delmonico Drive and the railroad tracks adjacent to Mark Dabling Boulevard. The complex sits behind the Mateo Spa and USA Cycling buildings. Originally, the project was call North Pointe Apartments. It will have 260 units when completed.

    Now, Vogeney and many folks in the Golden Hills and Tamarron neighborhoods, among other nearby neighborhoods, worry that adding hundreds of apartments will make it even harder to funnel through the intersection of Delmonico and South Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    “Can you imagine that intersection?” Vogeney asked.

    City planner Lonna Thelen said traffic engineers studied plans submitted by Nor’wood Development Group for Encore and deemed the projected volumes within reasonable limits.

    Steve Sharkey, Nor’wood Development vice president, said Encore’s apartments would generate less traffic than if the property had been developed into more retail shops, as was originally envisioned and zoned.

    “The volume of traffic will be significantly less than a retail environment,” Sharkey said, adding that Encore will appeal to “young professionals and emptynesters” who can afford rents ranging from $900 to $1,450 a month.

    As Encore prepares to open its first building Dec. 21, Creekside awaits approval of proposed changes to its concept plan in hopes of launching the first phase of its project. It calls for 38 units in six buildings plus a clubhouse on five acres west of the intersection.

    Creekside needs approval to amend its concept from multi-family to student housing, hoping to cash in on the explosive growth of the nearby University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

    Thelen said she is awaiting analysis by traffic engineers of the plans for Creekside, submitted by N.E.S. Inc., a Springs planning firm handling the project for Premier Homes of Pueblo.

    Premier Homes of Pueblo has proposed building a student housing complex with 141 units and 62 single-family homes to be called Creekside at Rockrimmon in this field along South Rockrimmon Boulevard.  The first phase calls for 38 units in six buildings and a clubhouse with pool on five acres.

    Premier Homes of Pueblo has proposed building a student housing complex with 141 units and 62 single-family homes to be called Creekside at Rockrimmon in this field along South Rockrimmon Boulevard. The first phase calls for 38 units in six buildings and a clubhouse with pool on five acres.

    “We’ve asked for additional study in response to neighborhood concerns,” Thelen said. “We have asked the applicant to resolve questions about geological hazards, drainage and traffic.”

    John Maynard of N.E.S. Inc., said his client has built similar student housing projects in Pueblo, east of Colorado State University there. And a similar project is planned at Mesa State University in Grand Junction.

    “There will be a pool, clubhouse, common kitchen and living area,” Maynard said. “Each bedroom has its own bath and the units are all furnished with daily trash pickup and 24-hour security patrols.”

    But Vogeney said many neighbors fear Creekside will actually be home to far more students, who will double-bunk to save money and clog the area with cars.

    “The developer insists that college kids have changed and will take good care of their dorm rooms and no one will ever have an extra roomate,” she said in disbelief.

    Premier Homes of Pueblo has proposed building a student housing complex with 141 units and 62 single-family homes to be called Creekside at Rockrimmon in this field along South Rockrimmon Boulevard. This view is looking north from Tech Center Drive. Neighbors fear the student apartments, coupled with the nearby Encore at Rockrimmon apartments now under construction, will dangerously clog area streets.

    Premier Homes of Pueblo has proposed building a student housing complex with 141 units and 62 single-family homes to be called Creekside at Rockrimmon in this field along South Rockrimmon Boulevard. This view is looking north from Tech Center Drive. Neighbors fear the student apartments, coupled with the nearby Encore at Rockrimmon apartments now under construction, will dangerously clog area streets.

    Maynard said his client is convinced the project will run smoothly, citing experienced gained in Pueblo. He said he hopes to provide Thelen soon with new traffic projections and calm neighborhood fears.

    One change might be the installation of a traffic signal where the project will intersect with Rockrimmon at Tech Center Drive.

    Creekside, if approved by Thelen, would need approval of the City Planning Commission and possibly the Colorado Springs City Council if an appeal is filed. Premier hopes to have the first phase built and open by the 2014 fall semester.

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  • Colorado Springs men find friendship in daily coffee club

    Sun, November 3, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    The Breakfast Club, left to right: Gene Jinings, Frank Castle, Jack Kenney, John Weidner, John Koll, Bob Galvin, Richard Suriano and Fred Porter. Seen on Oct. 29, 2013. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

    The Breakfast Club, left to right: Gene Jinings, Frank Castle, Jack Kenney, John Weidner, John Koll, Bob Galvin, Richard Suriano and Fred Porter. Seen on Oct. 29, 2013. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

    Six days a week, since 1976, a group of Colorado Springs men has met for coffee.

    They debate the front-page stories of the day, do crossword puzzles, swap war stories and most importantly, just enjoy being friends.

    They are the Breakfast Club (or the “Honorable and Ancient, Tattered and Tired Mug Wranglers” as one member jokingly calls the group).

    The original club members were strangers who shared a love of old cars and became acquainted at Norma’s Stop & Shop on North Academy Boulevard.

    Most of those men are gone. But the club lives on, surviving because these 30 or so men recognize that life is more fun when shared with friends.

    Whether it’s old cars or military backgrounds or politics, they’ve developed a bond that has survived nearly wholesale turnover of the club. Only members Gene Jinings and Richard Suriano date back to the old days at Norma’s.

    These days, instead of many World War II veterans, the club now has more men who served in Korea and Vietnam. In fact, Jinings, 87, is the last club member who fought in World War II.

    The club has even survived repeated relocations as various coffee shops closed over the years.

    Oliver's DeliI first met them in 2003 at Mountainside Coffee in the Safeway center in Rockrimmon. It closed long ago and, about eight years ago, the club settled into Oliver’s Deli in a strip mall on Delmonico Drive, near Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    That’s where I found them last week, sitting elbow-to-elbow around a couple tables. Coffee cups were scattered around the table along with plates that held the remnants of bagels and eggs and homemade deli sweet breads.

    Some were working on crossword puzzles from the morning Gazette, passing them back and forth.

    Others were sharing photos from their smart phones of the latest antique car they’d restored.

    Still another had a computer tablet out, tapping away while others chatted about Obamacare and the Broncos and the upcoming marriage of one of their club members.

    They immediately invited me to join them and warmly welcomed me, even if a couple jokingly frowned when they recognized me from the paper.

    It’s the same way they greet any guy who wanders into Oliver’s and looks like he needs a friend.

    “We say ‘Hi! Why don’t you join us?’ And they sit down,” Jinings said of the way new members are recruited.

    As I pulled up a chair, the men looked at my gray and balding hair and said I’d easily win membership in the club. I like these guys.

    At the table I saw familiar faces like Jinings and Frank Castle. And there were others who didn’t stay strangers for long including Suriano, Fred Porter, John Koll, Bob Galvin, Rick Couch, Jack Kenney and John Weidner.

    On any given day, a dozen or so meet at Oliver’s, trickling in around 8 a.m. and hanging out until 10 a.m. or so. In the old days, the group met beginning at 6 a.m., before work.

    “But now most of us are retired,” Castle said with a smile.

    I’d barely sat down before all the guys were introducing themselves. And one thing I really liked was how they bragged on each other.

    “We have test pilots in the group,” Jinings said, pointing them out. “And fighter pilots.”

    Another noted Jinings had served on a destroyer in the war.

    And Porter, in addition to piloting 30 types of planes during his Air Force career, had been shot down over Vietnam.

    Besides the obvious military influence, the group includes men from all backgrounds.

    “I worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” Castle said. “We have electrical engineers and machinists and carpenters.”

    Crossword puzzles aren’t the only thing they help each other finish.

    “If you are working on something at home and can’t solve it,” Castle said. “We call each other. We’ve got plenty of help in the group.”

    I think the most help they give each other is camaraderie, day after day.

    True, they get a little feisty.

    “We have diverse opinions here,” Suriano told me.

    Translation: “They can get a little loud during election time,” said Betsy Oliver, who owns the deli.

    Actually, she had the best observation of the club.

    “They are family,” she said.

    I looked around and noticed no women in the group.

    Betsy said that wives join the club only on Saturdays.

    “And the ladies sit by themselves on the other side of the deli,” she said with a laugh.

    Betsy particularly admires the way they welcome strangers and their attitudes about the future.

    “They live life like there’s a million miles ahead of them,” she said. “I like that.”

    I also wondered, when I looked them up again in 10 years, where I’d find them next.

    “They have a home here,” Betsy said. “They bring life to the deli.”

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  • Rockrimmon Trail rerouted for safety and private property concerns

    Thu, July 25, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Gary Flanders say he planned to build a "linear home" on a tiny, triangular-shaped parcel his GeoTech Corp. purchased a few years ago. The Rockrimmon Trail crossed the parcel, which city officials say should have been deeded to the city decades ago but "fell through the cracks." When Flanders offered to sell the parcel to the city, parks officials instead re-routed it to a traffic signal and crosswalk on Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    Gary Flanders say he planned to build a “linear home” on a tiny, triangular-shaped parcel his GeoTech Corp. purchased a few years ago. The Rockrimmon Trail crossed the parcel, which city officials say should have been deeded to the city decades ago but “fell through the cracks.” When Flanders offered to sell the parcel to the city, parks officials instead re-routed it to a traffic signal and crosswalk on Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    In recent weeks, a short section of the Rockrimmon Trail was blocked by a fence and the trail re-routed across a small creek over a new bridge with a new concrete sidewalk on each end.

    Trail users began calling me asking why the detour was created, for no apparent reason. They could see no damage which might have prompted the dramatic change to the trail, which dates back some 30 years to when the adjacent Silver Springs subdivision was developed.

    Turns out there were a couple of reasons for the permanent detour: safety and private property rights.

    For years the city has been concerned because the trail crossed busy Rockrimmon Boulevard in the middle of a blind curve near an intersection with Allegheny Drive, encouraging trailgoers to jaywalk and put themselves at risk, said Kurt Schroeder, a Colorado Springs parks department official.

    “It was a bad place for a crossing,” Schroeder said. “It dumps people out mid-block. It’s not the safest situation possible.”

    Schroeder said it makes more sense to redirect the trail 200 feet or so east to a traffic signal and crosswalk at the intersection with Allegheny in front of Fire Station 12.

    The city installed a bridge and concrete sidewalk to alter the path of the Rockrimmon Trail recently so that trailgoers will cross Rockrimmon Boulevard at a traffic signal instead mid-block. The change was made after a small, triangular-shaped parcel was purchased by Gary Flanders' GeoTech Corp. a few years ago. Flanders said he offered to sell the parcel to the city, which declined and built a pernament detour instead.

    The city installed a bridge and concrete sidewalk to alter the path of the Rockrimmon Trail recently so that trailgoers will cross Rockrimmon Boulevard at a traffic signal instead mid-block. The change was made after a small, triangular-shaped parcel was purchased by Gary Flanders’ GeoTech Corp. a few years ago. Flanders said he offered to sell the parcel to the city, which declined and built a pernament detour instead.

    “That’s where people need to be crossing,” Schroeder said.

    The safety concern is completely legitimate. For years I’ve seen people dodging cars there and narrowly avoiding tragedy.

    What puzzled me was why the city made the changes now, after all these years. The answer was a surprise.

    The city was prompted to after it was contacted by the owner of that section of the trail.

    Turns out, the city didn’t own that tiny section of trail or have an easement across it. It was private property!

    In the 1960s and ‘70s, when the Golden Cycle Corp. was transforming Rockrimmon from a massive underground coal mine into a master-planned, residential subdivision, it deeded to the city most of the trail, which meanders more than a mile from Foothills Park to Golden Hills Park to Monument Creek with several branches.

    But a triangular parcel about 300 feet long and 40 feet wide never was transferred, Schroeder said.

    “It fell through the cracks,” he said. “It was an insignificant piece of property. But we should have secured an easement. Who knows how it happened?”

    The parcel’s ownership went ignored for decades until it was picked up via quit claim deed by Gary Flanders of LaVeta and his GeoTech Corp. Flanders specializes in taking ownership of small parcels that sometimes get overlooked in transfers of ownership. He owns several in Oak Valley Ranch, for example, and has tried to convert them to development sites or sell them.

    In fact, in 2007 I wrote about a proposed 15-acre subdivision in Oak Valley Ranch along Allegheny Drive just below the Pikeview Quarry that was derailed by a Flanders parcel.

    Just as the project was on the verge of city approval, it unraveled after the developer, Kalima Masse, placed an easement across an associated open space to allow a road to be built to an isolated parcel Flanders owns adjacent to Oak Valley Ranch Park. Flanders and Masse are partners. (She answered the phone when I called his LaVeta home.)

    072513 Side Streets 4At the time, city planner Larry Larsen and assistant city attorney Wynetta Massey said the easement was not permitted and withdrew city approval of the project. Kalima Masse eventually abandoned the project.

    On the Rockrimmon Trail parcel, Flanders said he planned to build a “linear house” along the creek.

    “But the city said no,” Flanders said. “So we offered to sell it to them or trade for surplus property.”

    Schroeder said the parks department wasn’t interested.

    “We looked at the alternatives and determined installing the bridge and rerouting the trail was the best option,” Schroeder said. “It’s safer, which is the most important factor. And it was less expensive.”

    Installing the bridge, sidewalk and fences cost about $150,000. Schroeder said that was half the price of buying the parcel.

    Flanders said he couldn’t remember the asking price he put on the parcel but insisted: “It couldn’t have been more than $50,000.”

    When I visited the parcel Tuesday, there were trash bags piled up within the fences. And a deer grazed in the brush.

    A neighbor told me some joggers ignore the fences and cut through Flanders’ property, often accosted by neighboring homeowners to yell at them to get out.

    Schroeder hopes trailgoers will respect the fences and use the bridge and traffic signal.

    “It’s private property and we shouldn’t be there,” Schroeder said. “And the new alignment is much safer.”

    Fences now block a short stretch of the Rockrimmon Trail. The city installed a bridge and concrete sidewalk to alter the trail route to cross Rockrimmon Boulevard at a traffic signal instead mid-block. The change was made after a small, triangular-shaped parcel was purchased by Gary Flanders' GeoTech Corp. a few years ago. Flanders said he offered to sell the parcel to the city, which declined and built a permanent detour instead.

    Fences now block a short stretch of the Rockrimmon Trail. The city installed a bridge and concrete sidewalk to alter the trail route to cross Rockrimmon Boulevard at a traffic signal instead mid-block. The change was made after a small, triangular-shaped parcel was purchased by Gary Flanders’ GeoTech Corp. a few years ago. Flanders said he offered to sell the parcel to the city, which declined and built a permanent detour instead.

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  • MANGLED ANTLERS ARE ALL THAT REMAIN OF BUCK

    Thu, January 24, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Wildlife officials tranquilized a large buck that had been living on a ledge of a retaining wall along Vindicator Drive in Rockrimmon and removed it on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. It was given a medical exam, treated with antibiotics for an infected injury to its leg, clipped of its antlers and relocated southeast of Colorado Springs. Courtesy Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.

    Readers this week were reporting the Rockrimmon buck with the mangled antlers, swollen leg and drooping ears was missing from his ledge at Vindicator Drive and Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    The buck first appeared before Christmas, obviously injured and suffering. It seemed to be trying to hide behind bushes on the ledge of a retaining wall beneath an apartment complex.

    In this Jan. 13, 2013, photo by Rockrimmon resident Sue Giesbrecht, a large buck with injuries including broken antlers, a swollen leg and drooping ears lived several weeks on a ledge of a retaining wall along Vindicator Drive in Rockrimmon. It is seen in this Jan. 13 photo. Parks and Wildlife officers tranquilized the deer and removed it on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, relocating it southeast of Colorado Springs.

    Its magnificent, oddly twisting antlers made it impossible to hide.

    Passersby easily spotted it at the busy intersection, prompting worried folks to feed it and call for action on its behalf.

    In the following weeks, I watched as crowds of onlookers gathered daily at the Safeway shopping center across the street. And I received regular updates from people who saw it wandering in nearby neighborhoods.

    Some even lashed out at me, declaring that by writing about the buck,  it’s blood would be on my hands if it died for some reason!

    Anyway, after the buck went missing over the weekend, I called Michael Seraphin at the state Division of Parks and Wildlife to see if  anyone had filed a “Missing John Doe” report. Or, in this case, John Deer.

    I was surprised at what I learned.

    The deer wasn’t missing, Seraphin said. It was captured by wildlife officers and removed Friday night.

    It seems as the deer napped on his ledge, it was deer-napped by wildlife officers who tranquilized it for safe transport.

    They took the deer to the agency’s regional office on Sinton Road where it was examined, treated for an infected wound to its leg, clipped of its antlers and put in a heated garage for the night.

    The Rockrimmon buck, in a Jan. 15, 2013, photo by Rockrimmon resident Sue Giesbrecht.

    “They gave him a good medical exam and determined he didn’t seem to have any broken bones,” Seraphin said. “He did have an injury to his leg that had a mild infection. So we gave him antibiotics.”

    Though the deer’s impressive antlers would have fallen off naturally in a few weeks, officers chose to cut them off to take the bull’s eye off the animal, allowing him to further heal in peace.

    “We removed the antlers so he doesn’t keep getting in fights with other deer,” he said.

    At dawn Saturday, the deer was re-assessed for any after-effects of the tranquilizer. Once it was deemed hang-over free, officers took it to an undisclosed open space southeast of Colorado Springs and released back into the wild.

    Actually, it’s in a far more wild environment than it had experienced on its Rockrimmon ledge.

    There, people were plying the deer with apples, cranberries, lettuce, grapes and tubs of water.

    “There was concern it was not getting the proper diet and becoming wholly dependent on people,” Seraphin told me. “For example, someone put hay up there on its ledge and other foods that aren’t normally part of its diet like grapes and lettuce. Deer can’t digest hay well.”

    In addition, folks were walking up to the animal — some with babies in their arms — to get a closer look at it.

    Wildlife officials were concerned that folks were putting themselves at risk of a close encounter with its antlers should the deer, estimated at 200 pounds and at six to eight years old, had  spooked for any reason.

    The Rockrimmon buck, in a Jan. 13, 2013, photo by Rockrimmon resident Sue Giesbrecht.

    The prospect of the buck bolting into traffic or whacking a child walking to school or even dying on the ledge in front of a crowd was especially troubling to officials.

    In the end, its growing celebrity status doomed its stay in Rockrimmon and led officials to risk tranquilizing it and removing the buck.

    “Everything went fine,” Seraphin said. “You never know how they’ll handle being tranquilized. It can be a difficult process. They can die from it.”

    Not this tough old buck. It woke up Saturday and was healthy enough for release.

    “We didn’t want to keep him too long,” Seraphin said. “We checked him at first light. He seemed alert. So we took him out and released him. The operation went smoothly.”

    So you folks who live and hike southeast of town, keep an eye out next fall for an old buck with a magnificent rack. It may have antlers twisting in all directions, even under its chin. I’ll be interested to hear how he’s doing!

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  • MAGNIFICENT BUCK A VICTIM OF LOVE

    Thu, January 10, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Just before Christmas, a buck with a large, magnificent set of unusual antlers showed up near the intersection of Rockrimmon Boulevard and Vindicator Drive looking pathetically underweight with obvious injuries, a noticeable limp, blood-stained fur and antlers and sagging ears.

    At the Safeway across the street, customers and employees shared their concerns for the buck. Some speculated he’d been hit by a car, noting the large knots on his legs. Others volunteered that they were taking cranberries and water to the buck.

    A few days later, I saw the buck again. Instead of limping along the sidewalk, he was resting on the ledge of a retaining wall, about five feet above the street. He was hidden among shrubs growing on the ledge. He barely moved as people walked right up to him. Next to him was a plastic tub of water left by a neighbor.

    In the meantime, concerned neighbors started calling the state Division of Parks and Wildlife office and its officers began making daily checks on the buck.

    Some asked if the buck could be caught and taken to a sanctuary for treatment.

    Others wondered if it could be moved to a more remote location, away from the busy intersection and the constant stream of turning cars and trucks around the shopping center and the foot traffic of children walking to Eagleview Middle School.

    A few even suggested the buck needs to be euthanized because it was obviously in pain.

    My wife and I have been keeping tabs on the buck. My son, Ben, reported watching from his school bus as people hand-feed apples to the buck.

    Peregrine resident Chris Duffey is among the worried neighbors.

    “He doesn’t look like he’s doing very well,” Duffey told me. “It’s frustrating as an animal lover to see that animal there suffering.”

    Duffey said it appears to her the buck was hit by a car or truck, noting the knots on his legs are the size of tennis balls.

    “I hate to see him suffer a slow death,” she said. “It seems inhumane.”

    So I called Michael Seraphin, spokesman for Parks and Wildlife, who confirmed his agency is monitoring the buck.

    Seraphin said wildlife agency experts believe the buck, most likely, is a victim of love.

    They suspect he is battered, bloodied and bruised after a vicious rutting season in which bucks fight each other for dominance and the right to mate.

    “After the rut, male deer often are in poor body condition,” Seraphin said. “They can appear weak and stressed.

    “They have been battling with other deer. Often they get so focused on their reproductive drive and the challenge for dominance that they don’t eat. This can really take a lot out of them, especially older bucks like this one.”

    An injured mule deer rests on a ledge of a retaining wall along Vindicator Drive near Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    Wildlife websites say bucks can shed 20 percent of their weight during the rut. Afterward, they will bed down for several days to recover. Sometimes bucks in rut will fight to the death.

    Other factors also may have contributed to the buck’s condition, Seraphin said. A car may have hit the deer. Or a predator such as a mountain lion or coyote could have attacked.

    “We’re hoping he’ll regain his strength and his health will improve,” Seraphin said. “But if he continues to go downhill, we’ll have to revisit the decision to euthanize it.”

    Seraphin said the ledge where he’s been resting is beneath a couple crapapple trees, which he’s been eating. And he said deer are pretty tough animals, noting a few three-legged deer can be spotted around the region.

    An injured buck mule deer rests on a ledge of a retaining wall beneath an apartment building along Vindicator Drive near Rockrimmon Boulevard. Above it, other deer graze on grass.

    But the buck’s magnificent antlers, and the attention of well-meaning strangers, might doom it.

    “Even though the rut is over, male deer will continue to jostle him as long as they have those antlers,” he said. “They will take advantage of his weakened condition.”

    Then there’s the problem of humans feeding the deer.

    “We’d ask people not to feed him,” Seraphin said. “It’s illegal to feed deer. And there’s a good reason. They can starve to death with a full stomach.”

    When deer deviate from their natural diet of grasses, shrubs, leaves and other vegetation, they can suffer fatal digestive problems.

    “It’s a difficult situation,” he said. “Everyone wants to help the deer. But the only choices are putting it down or letting it be and hoping it improves on its own.

    “I’m afraid time is not on the deer’s side  unless he makes a marked recovery soon. Each day that goes by, we’re getting closer and closer to taking some sort of action. We can’t leave the situation the way it is.”

    BEFORE

    The mule deer had a spectacular set of antlers when it was healthy before the fall rut as seen in this photo by Side Streets reader George Gibson.

    AFTER

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  • HOW MANY FENCES HAVE TO DIE?

    Wed, November 2, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with 4 comments

     .

    Tire tracks and smashed fence slats . . . it's a familiar sight to Mitch Logue. He's experienced the same thing 13 times in the 15 years he's lived in his Rockrimmon home.

    A predawn wreck that destroyed part of Mitch Logue’s fence a few weeks ago turned out to be his lucky break.

    The young driver who turned part of Mitch’s privacy fence into toothpicks was the 13th motorist in 15 years to hit the fence.

    How is that lucky? 

    Mitch Logue's backyard resembles a haunted forest with trees leaning at ugly angles and missing bark due to 15 years of pounding from 13 cars that have crashed through his fence.

    It turns out 13 wrecks was enough to convince the city it was time to protect Logue and his next-door neighbor from the wild-eyed NASCAR wanna-bes who have crashed their cars into their backyard fences.

    Usually, they are turning at the T-shaped intersection of Vindicator Drive and Rockrimmon Boulevard.

    I’m guessing most were speeding, texting, cell-phoning their BFF, stuffing their pieholes, firing up a doobie or doing something more important than keeping both hands on the wheels and both eyes on the road.

    Longtime Side Streets readers — both of you — may recall I wrote about Mitch and his next-door neighbors, Donald and Colleen Kunecke, in 2009 after another spate of marauding, fence-smashing motorists.

    Mitch Logue has replaced a half dozen trees killed by cars crashing his fence. I call them Nature's Guardrails. But he's hoping the city will build a real guardrail to protect his yard.

    .
    In July 2009, Mitch had just spent $3,600 rebuilding his fence when a small SUV plowed into his yard, taking out a brand new fence post and a slew of slats.

    Things were quiet until this past June when a young girl missed the turn, hit the curb and landed against the fence. Mitch said he was able to make minor repairs at no cost.

    Then came a recent predawn visit from a fellow who blasted into the fence, smashing a dozen or so slats. He backed out, left Mitch a note offering to pay for the damage and drove home.

    Here's a look from FlashEarth.com at the intersection.

    “This is the first time I’ve had two in the same year,” Mitch said.

    It’s not just the fence Mitch is worried about.

    A sidewalk runs between his fence and the street and it is heavily used by kids going to nearby Eagleview Middle School as well as neighbors walking to the Safeway center.

    “Every one of the cars that has hit my fence had to cross that sidewalk,” he said. “It’s a real safety issue.”

    Here's how Mitch Logue's new fence looked in July 2009 after it was smashed.

    City traffic engineer Dave Krauth agrees. After I told Krauth on Monday of the latest two wrecks, he sent some his staff out to re-evaluate the intersection.

    By Wednesday afternoon, Krauth had a decision.

    “The good news is we’re going to install a guardrail,” Krauth said, adding that he hopes it can be squeezed between the curb and sidewalk.

     “But if we can’t fit it there, we’ll put it right against the fence.”

    Krauth said the guardrail would run 100 feet, protecting both Mitch and the Kunecke home.

    In the past, traffic engineers have rejected a guardrail because cars might plow straight into it, not glance off it at an angle.

    And engineers didn’t have statistics to support installing a guardrail because few of the wrecks were reported to police.

    But Krauth said he’s convinced by the anecdotal evidence offered by neighbors over the years.

    Mitch said he’d move his fence in a foot or so to make extra room for a guardrail, if it would help.

    “I’d really like people not to run through my fence anymore,” Mitch said. “It’s getting really expensive.”

    Once it is installed, as weather permits over the next couple months, Mitch might feel safe enough to actually use his backyard again and even let his granddaughter play there.

    “I can’t put anything back there like a playhouse,” Mitch said. “I can’t use my yard at all.”

     

    In June 2009, an SUV smashed through the fence of Mitch Logue's next-door neighbor, coming to rest against one of Nature's Guardrails.

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  • MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY OR DRUG DEALER?

    Wed, January 27, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 4 comments

    Folks in Rockrimmon are not convinced the Pure Medical storefront that opened in December is anything more than a drug dealer in the neighborhood.

    medical-marijuana-sign

    Pure Medical dispenses medical marijuana and has two stores in Colorado Springs — it’s store in the shopping center at Rockrimmon Boulevard and Delmonico Drive and another downton on Tejon Street.

    Here’s a look at the area from FlashEarth:

    medical-map

     Even though access to the windowless store is restricted to people with official medical marijuana cards, folks in Rockrimmon are upset about its existence in the same shopping center where neighborhood kids get candy and soda at the convenience store, or doughnuts, deli and sub sandwiches and pizzas.

    medical-marijuana-storefront

    Some residents have reached out to their homeowners associations.

    The Comstock Village Homeowners Association sent out a survey to its 540 homeowners to get a sense of the feeling toward Pure Medical. Their survey was a response to a group of homeowners who spoke at a recent board meeting.

    The Council of Neighbors and Organizations, or CONO, which represents the HOAs in the city, also is concerned.

    It’s unclear what, if anything, anyone can do about the dispensaries until the Colorado General Assembly acts on proposals to regulate the budding industry.

    The problem has been 10 years in the making. In 2000, voters decided to amend the Colorado Constitution in 2000 to legalize medical marijuana for “persons suffering from debilitating medical conditions.”

    The issue erupted in 2009 after the U.S. Justice Department announced it would not actively prosecute medical marijuana businesses. Didn’t matter that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law. Dispensaries blossomed.

    Check out these two Web sites catering to folks seeking dispensaries. One is the WeedMaps.com and the other is DispensaryDigest.com :

    medical-marijuana-weed-map1

    medical-marijuana-directory

    In fact, Sheriff Terry Maketa recently said there are about 38 medical-marijuana dispensaries in El Paso County but only about three in unincorporated areas.

    Colorado Springs has a task force studying what to do with the dispensaries.

    And the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which maintains a medical marijuana registery, is lobbying state lawmakers for laws to allow better regulation.

    For example, it doesn’t want doctors to be able to profit from recommending people to the medical marijuana registry. And it wants tools to ensure doctors have not had their registrations revoked or suspended by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Besides being a political issue, it’s a legal question being played out in state courts. Marijuana dispensary owners are suing for the right to sell pot, arguing communities can’t ban the dispensaries.

    Some cities, including the Denver suburb of Centennial, counter that cities can prohibit businesses that violate federal law.

    Fourteen states permit medical marijuana, but pot remains illegal under U.S. law.

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  • TRAFFIC CONCERNS in Rockrimmon and Wagon Trails

    Sun, October 4, 2009 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    ============ UPDATE   BELOW –  UPDATE BELOW ============

    Remember the smashing fences in Rockrimmon? You know, the folks who live at the bottom of the hill where Vindicator Drive meets Rockrimmon Boulevard? They’ve lived with cars crashing into their yards for years.

    Below is a map from FlashEarth.com of the area:

    fenceflash

    Two families – Mitch Logue and Donald and Colleen Kunecke, wanted the city to install guardrails to prevent future incidents like this one below:

    fencewreck2

    I’ve written about it a couple times. Here is a link to a previous blog about the problem.

    Well the Colorado Springs traffic engineer, Dave Krauth, said the intersection won’t accomodate guard rails. But he’s interested in testing sophisticated new traffic sensors to see if he can stop some of the carnage.

    The sensors track cars entering an intersection as the traffic signal is about to change. Traffic engineers call this moment the “dilemma zone.”

     The sensors can delay the change to allow the cars to clear without stomping on their gas and plowing over the curb and into a fence and yard.

    There’s also news on another bottleneck in the city. This one is a two-lane stretch of Dublin Boulevard between Bridle Pass Drive and Powers Boulevard. Here’s a look from FlashEarth:

    dublinflashoverview

    Readers like Tim Little want to know why Dublin suddenly shrinks from four lanes to two and a stretch of pavement sits unfinished.

    It’s a twisted tale of land that is annexed vs. unincorporated land stuck in El Paso County.

    dublincitylimits

    It is further complicated by rules about when a develop must build infrastructure like roads, curbs and sidewalks.

    Krauth said the road will be widened as land is developed along the stretch. Already a short piece was widened but never attached to the intersection at Bridle Pass due to a property line issue.

    dublinflashcloseup

    The rest of the road won’t be widened until county land on the north side is developed and annexed into the city.

    As a result, motorists are stuck with roads that look like this view to the east:

    dublinroadclosed1

    And this view looking west:

    dublincurvewestb

    ================ NOW THE UPDATE ================

     

    I now have an answer to the mysterious disappearing pavement.

    dublinflashcloseup1

    The new black pavement was installed by the developer of a townhome project adjacent to Dublin Boulevard. However, it ends about 400 feet from the intersection to the west.

    Why didn’t the developer just finish the job?

    Tim Mitros of city engineering tells me the pavement ends at a property line. Developers are required to install infrastructure — sidewalks, curbs, gutters even roadway – adjacent to their projects. But not for a neighbor’s land.

    In the case above, the pavement ends at the property line of the next parcel and the remaining 400 feet will be installed if and when the adjacent land is developed.

    ==================================================== 

  • CAN ANYBODY OUT THERE DRIVE?

    Wed, July 15, 2009 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Mitch Logue was tired or looking at his patchwork wood privacy fence.

    Over the 10 years he has lived on Dillon Circle in the Tamarron neighborhood of Rockrimmon, he’s had to fix his fence frequently because of NASCAR wanna-bes who can’t keep their Goodyears on Rockrimmon Boulevard, which runs behind his house.

    So, about six weeks ago, Logue replaced the entire fence for $3,600.

    A week or so later, he was facing another patch job. For at least the sixth time in his memory, his fence was smashed by an out-of-control driver.

    rockrimmonfence2

    This time, it was a young girl in an SUV who told police she was forced off the road by another driver.

    The wreck left rubber on the road and curb, chewed up the concrete and left debris strewn on the sidewalk. Inside Logue’s yard were shattered wood slats.

    rockrimmonfence3

    Logue happens to live at the bottom of a hill where Vindicator Drive meets Rockrimmon. Here’s a look at the neighborhood from www.FlashEarth.com:

    loguefence

    It’s a busy intersection. Kids use the traffic signals and crosswalks to get to Eagleview Middle School up the hill and to the Safeway shopping center just catty-corner from Logue.

    Often, drivers come charging down the hill — dodging folks trying to turn into Safeway or the apartment complex across the curved street. They race to the intersection and fly around the left turn, two abreast, onto Rockrimmon. Unfortunately, they often miss the turn.

    When they do, they end up in the backyard of Logue or his next-door neighbors, Colleen and Donald Kunecke. I wrote and blogged about their frustrations in June. Check out the destruction the Kuneckes’ suffered on my blog.

    Traffic engineers are studying the intersection but are not keen on the idea of installing guardrails to protect the neighbors.

    Maybe Logue should invite them over for a picnic.

    In his backyard.

    Maybe, they can take their burgers and brats off the grille. And get a side of hot, buttered fender.

    ==============================