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Pioneer's picks for top 20 Westside stories of 2014 - 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.

       15. OCCA Welcome Center - The Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) bought a vacant, two-story 1899 Victorian-style house at 2324 W. Colorado Ave., renovated it and opened it for use in October. The first floor is styled after the Convention and Visitors bureau downtown, where visitors can drop in to use the bathrooms, pick up information on such aspects as lodging, restaurants, attractions and events. In addition to a welcome center, the
On the north side of Colorado Avenue's 2300 block, two turn-of-the-20th-century houses sit just west of what is now the Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado building (note the sign on the brick wall). The one on the right is the recently opened Welcome Center for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, used to orient tourists and serve as OCCA headquarters. The one on the left is owned by Front Range BBQ (the actual restaurant is out of view to the left). Both were bought from Junior Achievement in spring 2014.
Westside Pioneer photo
1,638-square-foot, structure will become OCCA headquarters, including office and storage space that the group formerly had to lease. Two upstairs rooms have been converted into offices that are now being leased to other businesses; also, the OCCA is offering its downstairs meeting room for rent to other groups, as needed.
       16. OWN defunded - Nearly 40 years after the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) formed to help rally residents in the city's battle against Westside blight, the city has stopped funding the volunteer group, as part of a new direction in the use of federal funds related to blight and poverty. However, OWN President Welling Clark said he and the other board members plan to continue their efforts. These include organizing outreach events (such as the annual picnic or election-timed political forums), providing information about helpful programs and analyzing planned projects or public policy changes affecting the Westside, An opportunity for citizen participation will be March 12 at the annual
During the Organization of Westside Neighbors annual picnic July 19 at the Westside Community Center, Colorado Springs Utilities volunteer (and retired lineman) Tom Hutchison gives a presentation on electrical safety. Helping is Bill Morse, another volunteer, retired from the city-owned enterprise's electric standards division. The Utilities booth was an educational aspect of the event.
Westside Pioneer photo
OWN town hall, which will include election of board members. Five seats are open. The city funding - about $8,000 a year - had once paid most of OWN's costs for printing and mailing its Westside Story newsletter four times a year. Now OWN has stopped publishing it. However, the Westside Pioneer is giving the group news space for a regular column.
       17. Coronado High - After a lengthy selection process, District 11 named Darin Smith as the new principal of the Westside's flagship high school. He took over going into the 2014- 15 school year, replacing Marcia Landwehr, who had retired. Smith is uniquely attached to Coronado, as an alumnus himself, a teacher there for five years, an assistant principal the last four years and a school parent himself. Two sons graduated from Coronado in 2014, two are attending now (a daughter, Class of 2016; and a son, Class of 2019), and a daughter is at Holmes Middle School.
       In other Coronado news: The extracurricular robotics team (now technically for all of District 11) won a regional event, and went to the national competition for the fifth time in six years... The golf team won state for the first time. Adding to that enjoyment, all four of Coronado's state golfers
Coronado High's golf team poses for photos after its victory in the 5A state tournament last fall. From left are assistant coach Bill Hinson, Luke Travins, Isaac Petersilie, Austin Burgess, Wes Moran and head coach Marty Cornell.
Photo by Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com
(including Isaac Petersilie, who was second individually) are underclassmen this year.
       18. November election - For many on the Westside, the big local election story was the defeat of Ballot Question 1B (property fee for a new county drainage authority). This sent local officials back to the drawing board on how to deal with what has been identified as roughly half a billion dollars worth of backlogged flood-control needs. Voters did approve Ballot Issue 1A (property tax refund for county park projects), which will include upgrades in Bear Creek Park and the Nature Center. Also, despite strong Republican returns nationwide, voters supported local Democrats Pete Lee and Michael Merrifield in state districts that include parts of the Westside. Lee won a third two-year term in House District 18 while Merrifield - who had represented HD-18 from 2002 to 2010 - returns to office for four years as the senator for Senate District 11.
       19. Old Colorado City History Center - The volunteers who run the museum/bookstore and plan its historical programs had a down/up sort of year. The down part peaked in the summer, when the center, located in a converted church across from Bancroft Park, had frequent problems with vagrants camping out, leaving garbage and worse. The issues forced the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) to dip into savings and to seek donations for building alterations that would discourage such abuse. This was on top of 2013,
Three members of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) enjoy the new railing along the entrance ramp to the History Center shortly after it was installed last September. From right are Terry Lee (a member of the maintenance committee that worked on it), Sharon Swint and Kay Atteberry. The improvement was needed because transients were hiding behind the former ramp (which had walled sides).
Westside Pioneer photo
when the rains led tounanticipated building drainage fixes and even the cancellation of an annual, major fundraising event (the Cemetery Crawl). But then good news came. Donations arrived in response to Westside Pioneer stories on the trashy trespassers; a show of digitized historic Colorado Springs photos - organized by an OCCHS member/photographer as an OCCHS benefit - attracted purchases of numerous copies; and earnings from December's annual Holiday Tour of historic buildings had its highest earnings in five years. OCCHS Treasurer Suzanne Schorsch announced that the nonprofit entity was “back in the black” as a result.
       20. Gold Hill Mesa - Residential development is continuing unabated on the 210-acre development south of Highway 24, east of 21st Street and north of Lower Gold Camp Road. Now with close to 250 homes (and more on the way), Gold Hill developers started this winter on Filling 4, which is platted for 41 lots on 5.2 acres. Preparation work has included considerable grading to allow the extension of Eclipse Drive, up from Portland Gold Drive to a new flat area not far north of Lower Gold Camp. Construction manager Barry Brinton predicted that street paving would begin early in 2015. Homes are likely to go up later in the year.

       Honorable mention:
       - The 14-acre Palmer House Redevelopment north of Fillmore Street is taking shape, seven years after being rezoned for a commercial center and shortly after the Fillmore project in 2013 that realigned Chestnut Street through the property. Last year, Kum & Go opened a store at the new northeast corner of Fillmore/ Chestnut; and Les Schwab, a national tire store chain, bought a 2- acre parcel. Also, a retail business is close to agreement on a 10,000-square-foot store across from Kum & Go, developer John Gatto said in a recent interview…
       - Junior Achievement (JA) of Southern Colorado officially moved into the former Goodwill building at 2320 W. Colorado Ave. The nonprofit is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to cover the costs of renovating some of the 40,000-plus square feet into business “towns” where students can get hands-on business experiences. JA's former offices had just 9,500 square feet…
       - Although the Garden of the Gods gets an estimated 2 million visitors a year, the city park did not have a ranger dedicated to it alone until additional hirings made this possible…
       - The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority finished its last two 2004 Westside projects - at the 25th Street bridge and the Chestnut/Garden of the Gods intersection…
       - Lorig's Western Wear, one of the oldest retail outlets in the city, relocated to the historic Schmidt building in Old Town's 2600 block...
       - Bear Creek Lanes, a 24-lane bowling alley that opened in 1958 on South 21st Street, closed last fall. The property is for sale…
       - The 60-plus-year-old gym at the former Bristol school was demolished for a redevelopment project…
       - The city upgraded two Westside detention ponds, off 19th Street and off King Street...
       - The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) tore down the former Express Inn at Eighth and Cimarron. CDOT had bought the site for a future project right of way. It may have earlier use as a staging area for the Cimarron interchange replacement.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/19/15; Community: Ongoing Issues)

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