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Pioneer's picks for top 20 Westside stories of 2015 - numbers 15-20 & honorable mention

       Editor's note: The article about story numbers 1-7 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 8-14 at this link.

K8e (pronounced KAY-tee) Orr outlines the day's plans to volunteers during a late-April tile-installing day for the ramp-wall mural at the back of the Old Colorado City Library parking lot.
Westside Pioneer photo
15. Library mural. Participation by dozens of volunteers and several Westside entities helped the Old Colorado City Library and contractor Concrete Couch complete a tile mural at the back of the library parking lot. The brainchild of Library Manager Jocelyne Sansing, the project combined more than 1,000 commercial and custom-made tiles into images, quotations and colorful arrangements along the once-blank concrete walls lining the lot's rear pedestrian ramp. Numerous planning and tile-creation days preceded the actual placement of the pieces over a series of project days in April and May.
       16. Old Colorado City History Center. The Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), the volunteer nonprofit that owns and manages the center at 1 S. 24th St., tried some new things this year. Not only did they prove popular, according to society leaders, but they helped produce a record year financially. The efforts included replacing the traditional, annual Cemetery Crawl and Holiday Tour events with the Haunted Histories Tour and Holiday Open House, respectively; plus, adding the summer Tunnel Tours.
       17. In memoriam. Four well-known Westsiders passed away in 2015. Probably the most prominent was retired Army Major Henry “Duke” Boswell, a veteran of World War II (including D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge) and Korea (where he was badly wounded), taught at Whittier Elementary for 15 years and later spoke regularly about his experiences with schools and other groups. Other Westsiders who will be missed are T.J. McGinty, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who personally flew supplies to Haitian poor on numerous occasions; Tom Hendrix, a World War II veteran and long-time community service volunteer; and Ron Baalman, co-owner of multiple Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory stores, including the one in Old Colorado City.
       18. Panhandlers/transients. Different strategies were used to address the matter of beggars on public right-of-ways. Free-speech-oriented legal threats from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) forced the city to throw out several old ordinances. Currently, for example, panhandlers can legally stand with signs on road medians or make repeated requests of people who say no. A proposed ordinance to curtail sitting or lying on sidewalks is being scaled back by its City Council proponents, who believe less severity is in line with public opinion. Meanwhile, the informal Avenue Task Force (consisting of law enforcement representatives and Westside citizens) is disseminating materials urging people to give to charities instead of beggars because direct recipients are likely to use handouts to fund alcohol or drug addictions.
       19. Medical marijuana moratorium. Led by District 1 City Councilmember Don Knight, City Council in November passed a six-month moratorium
Worried about lack of regulation, City Council has put moratoriums on new or relocated cannabis clubs, where people can go to smoke pot together (like this one on 30th Street), and medical marijuana stores.
Westside Pioneer photo
freezing the processing of applications for MMJ stores or social clubs that want to open or relocate. A key goal is to reconsider current laws that let such facilities open anywhere that has commercial zoning, without allowing the public an opportunity to offer objections. An example in 2015 was when an MMJ shop opened in a prominent storefront across from Bancroft Park in Old Colorado City despite some family-friendly concerns.
       “I believe these moratoriums will give us the opportunity to review city codes and to create processes that are fair for all parties involved,” Knight summarized in a Westside Pioneer guest column.
       20. Midland Trail links. The city built two connections to the Midland Trail in 2015. One of these, which includes a new pedestrian/ bicycle bridge over Fountain Creek at 31st Street, links the north-south Foothills Trail (which also goes past the Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge Ranch and Pleasant Valley) to the east-west Midland Trail through the Westside. The other project was a 50-foot concrete “shortcut” to and from the Midland Trail and the northeast corner of 26th Street and Highway 24. Supported by local bicycling advocates, both projects were funded through a city tax that charges $4 on the sale of each new bicycle.
       Honorable mention. After a decade of work with the National Association of Counties (NACo), Sallie Clark, a Westside resident, businesswoman and three-term El Paso County commissioner, started a one-year term as its president in July… John Suthers was elected in May to a four-year term as Colorado Springs mayor. His first major advocacy, supported by City Council, was the road improvement tax (see Story of the Year #10)… In January, the city pulled down a barb-wire-topped fence that had enclosed the 19th Street stormwater-detention pond for roughly half a century and opened it to public use… The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site added a working windmill in April - although high winds recently blew off its wheel and tail assembly. Ranch manager Andy Morris said repairs are in the works… Local grower Marc Sawtelle entered the heaviest giant pumpkin (1,338 pounds) in the 11-year history of the Old Colorado City Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off... Chuck Green's life-size, sword-waving pirate sculpture that once personified the Pike Elementary Pirate mascot (from 1993 to its 2009 closure) has found a new home - as a Russell Middle School Raider.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/11/16; Community: Ongoing Issues)

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