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Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.
– Tom Barrett  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 7 July 2020  

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    Facts about wolves
    Rush Café steps up to the plate
    Churches finding new ways to worship
    Coping with COVID-19
    Food pantry needs help
    Government agencies adapt to virus
    Building and real estate update
 
  Facts about wolves
  By Robin Widmar

   In response to recent interest in wolves and the proposed wolf reintroduction program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife created a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions document available online: https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/WildlifeSpecies/Mammals/Information%20on%20Wolves%20and%20QA%20FINAL.pdf
   
   Here are some quick facts about wolves and the future of wolves in Colorado.
   
   The gray wolf is an endangered species in the United States.
   Wolves once roamed most of North America but were hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 20th century. In 1978, the gray wolf was classified as endangered throughout the contiguous U.S. under the Endangered Species Act. Killing a federally protected wolf is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
   
   Today, gray wolves remain endangered in much of the United States. The Minnesota gray wolf is classified as threatened. Gray wolves were delisted due to recovery in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and north central Utah. Reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf continues in Arizona and New Mexico.
   
   Wolves do not quickly reproduce.
   Wolves usually live in packs of two to 12 members. Not all female wolves give birth every year. Those that do typically produce a single litter of four to six pups in the spring. Pack members contribute to raising the wolf pups, but not all pups survive to maturity.
   
   Wolves benefit ecosystems.
   Predators are a natural part of ecosystems. When they are removed, prey animals populate unchecked, which stresses habitats. As an example, the 1995-1996 reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park has helped thin overpopulated deer and elk herds, which in turn allowed overgrazed habitats to recover and initiated a cascading effect that has benefitted multiple species.
   
   Livestock are more likely to be killed by disease and other predators than by wolves.
   U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that the majority of livestock losses in the U.S. are due to nonpredator causes such as illness, weather and birthing complications. In 2015, nonpredator causes accounted for almost 98 percent of all deaths in adult cattle and almost 89 percent in calves. Coyotes accounted for the highest percentage of predation, followed by unknown predators and dogs. By comparison, cattle and calf death losses caused by wolves were 4.9 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
   
   The 2014 USDA statistics for sheep deaths show that nonpredator causes accounted for 71.9 percent in adult sheep and 63.6 percent in lambs. Coyotes and dogs were the top two sheep predators. Wolves accounted for 1.3 percent of all predator death losses in adult sheep and just 0.4 percent in lambs.
   
   Wolf attacks on humans are rare.
   Wolf attacks on humans do happen, but they are very rare in North America, even in areas where large wolf populations exist. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife service website states that most documented attacks have resulted from wolves becoming habituated to humans who feed them and do not properly secure garbage. 
   
   Colorado is part of the gray wolf’s native range.
   According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, gray wolves once occupied Colorado but were eradicated by the 1940s. In 2019, a wolf from the Snake River pack in Wyoming was located in Jackson County, Colorado. In January 2020, CPW officials confirmed the presence of a pack of at least six wolves near the Colorado borders with Wyoming and Utah.
   
   Wolves are a potential ally in the fight against CWD (chronic wasting disease).
   Although still widely debated in the absence of definitive scientific studies, it is possible that wolves could aid in the battle against CWD. The disease is a fatal and contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. In Colorado, CWD has been confirmed in multiple game animal herds. Since wolves prefer to prey on animals that are old, sick or disabled, it is thought they could help cull herds afflicted with CWD.
   
   There is currently no plan to reintroduce wolves in or near El Paso County.
   Colorado ballot proposal 107 (Restoration of Gray Wolves) specifies that, if approved by voters, reintroduction of wolves would occur on “designated lands,” west of the Continental Divide as determined by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.
   
   Officially, Colorado Parks and Wildlife neither opposes nor supports wolf reintroduction in Colorado.
   
   The CPW website states the agency is “committed to ensuring a fair election takes place” and has not adopted a resolution or position on Initiative 107. The agency also stated that it anticipates and is prepared for the eventuality that wolves will enter the state (as some already have).
   
   CPW noted: “There will be funding and staffing impacts to CPW, should a reintroduction occur. A more precise understanding of what this would look like will be apparent after a management plan is developed, should the ballot initiative pass in November 2020.”
   
   Sources:
  • “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West” by Nate Blakeslee
  • “Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone” by Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson
  • Colorado Ballot Proposal 2019-2020 #107 – Restoration of Gray Wolves
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Michigan State University Animal Legal & Historical Center
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  
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  Rush Café steps up to the plate
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On March 16, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order banning restaurants from serving food and drinks onsite because of the coronavirus pandemic. Two days prior to the announcement, Jason Rush, new owner of Rush Café in Rush, Colorado, celebrated his new restaurant’s grand opening.
   
   As a transplant to Rush from Spokane, Washington, via his parents’ house in Falcon, Rush said he has been in the food industry for a long time and knew as soon as he saw the Rush Café that he would own it one day. In February, Rush said he bought the café and began the process of getting the restaurant up and running.
   
   The first few days the restaurant was open, the place was packed, Rush said. However, he said the onset of COVID-19 dramatically changed his plans, and the café quickly became a vital part of the community for more than just the food.
   
   Rush residents were posting various items they needed on a community Facebook page because those items either were not locally available or were sold out online, Rush said. He said he realized he could purchase the items from his vendors and have the residents reimburse him.
   
   “I read on Facebook that someone was looking for flour,” Rush said. “People were telling me they needed things, and I said to let me know what they needed and I would get it on my (delivery) truck. I started getting blown up left and right. Every time I got a new message (of an item someone needed), I would just add it to my list.”
   
   Rush said he found another distributor who had access to paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, and he purchased those for residents as the need was communicated to him. He bought the items at wholesale prices and sold them to the community members who ordered them at the same cost, he has not made any profit from the arrangement.
   
   The food has always been his No. 1 priority, and Rush said he has stayed busy cooking his mom and pop style food, working 14 to 15 hour days, six days per week. For now, the Rush Cafe is open only for takeout and delivery service.
   
   “The community is supporting me and people are loving my food,” he said. The food is fresh, the prices are affordable and everything has a lot of flavor, Rush said. People have started requesting his signature roasted pepper aioli as a dipping sauce, and he said he plans to have four other signature sauces available for customers to purchase.
   
   Rush said he is prepared to stay in Rush and run the café until he retires.
   
   “I have done the big city thing,” he said. “I am most likely going to retire here in Colorado.”
   
   Hours of operation: Monday — closed; Tuesday through Sunday – 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Once the restrictions are lifted, the hours will extend to 8 a.m. 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
  
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  Churches finding new ways to worship
  By Pete Gawda

   “Let us not give up meeting together,” Hebrews 10:25 NIV (New International Version)
   
   With today's regulations against public gatherings, churches in the area are coming up with innovative ways to safely meet together while keeping a distance. Some churches are using the internet and others are going back to the 1950s, when drive-in theaters were popular. They are hosting their own drive-in services.
   
   Meridian Point Church has opted for drive-in worship services. At first, they used outdoor speakers, then they got a small FM transmitter so people could hear the service through their car radios. After three Sundays of drive-in services, Pastor Barry Zimmerman said that attendance was almost up to what it had been with normal church services.
   
   He said before the pandemic, they had about 400 people; now they are up to 340. The praise team performs from a stage, and Zimmerman preaches from a balcony. The attendees greet each other by honking their horns. And donations are about the same as they are with traditional worship services, he said. Zimmerman said the people who have not been laid off are giving more to make up for those who have been laid off.
   
   They also have online devotional services each day with 25 to 40 participants, along with online classes during the week, and the youth group is meeting online. Zimmerman said it was a bit different preaching to people in cars, but he asks attendees to honk their horns at appropriate times in the sermon; and he also has things for kids to do. “It's been a different experience,” he said. “But it's been great to preach to actual people.”
   
   What used to be First Baptist Church of Black Forest is now the Black Forest Campus of Cross Fellowship Church. Michelle Kate, executive assistant at the church, said they have online services and online giving.
   
   Foundation Lutheran Church met at Meridian Ranch Elementary School before the pandemic. Pastor Steven Prahl said they were not live-streaming previously because of the lack of internet access at the school. Now, services are video recorded and available on the church website each Sunday. They accept online donations. Church leadership is staying in contact with members, and several church members have taken it upon themselves to contact as many members as possible.
   
   Unlike some churches that had been live-streaming before the coronavirus, Grace Community Church started live-streaming when public gatherings were banned. A spokesperson for the church said the response has been so great they will probably continue the practice after normal worship services have resumed. The practice has been especially well-received by elderly members who cannot attend in person.
  
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  Coping with COVID-19
  By Leslie Sheley

   Kathi Kennedy is a registered licensed psychotherapist from Peyton. She owns Kennedy Counseling and is offering free 20-minute online counseling sessions during the coronavirus shutdown.
   
   “I am very community oriented, and people are laid off and don’t have an income,” Kennedy said. “Counselors are expensive and this is not a time to spend money when you need help. People are hurting and that’s what I’m here for. People need help with coping skills and making sure they’re finding accurate resources.”
   
   Kennedy said people are facing many fears and anxieties such as loneliness, health and safety and economic displacement. People feel powerless when they can’t call the shots, Kennedy said. “Not having control over something is a major cause of stress and anxiety on a normal day, and these clearly are not normal days.”
   
   Acknowledging feelings is important, and journaling is a great way to express those feelings. Kennedy said write freely and openly, don’t hold back. Include a list of at least three things for the “I am grateful” category.
   
   Set boundaries on news and media consumption, Kennedy said. Watch or read the news once a day to stay up-to-date on the current situation or ask others to watch and relay just the necessities. And make sure the information is accurate; take time to double check sources and facts.
   
   Self-care is important in high-stress times, Kennedy said. Eat nutritious food; this is a good time to learn more about nutrition. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day, which releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Those endorphins are critical in managing stress and depression. Create a vision board; this is also a good time to dream and create new goals — plan for the future, she said.
   
   As social beings, social distancing does not necessarily equate to isolation. Kennedy said people can adjust and reframe connections with others. Consider hosting a virtual gathering, call old friends, relatives you miss, family or neighbors and catch up with them; make business calls to stay in touch with clients, she said.
   
   And be aware of warning signs of depression and suicide. Suicidal thoughts often come from a feeling of hopelessness and the inability to see solutions in a temporary situation. If you are thinking of suicide or suspect that someone is, act immediately and reach out for help.
   
   “We will emerge into society again, and we will regain our sense of safety; this situation will end,” Kennedy said. “We can learn great lessons from this and hopefully gain an attitude of gratitude for the simple things we have and do. In the meantime, reach out for help if needed. Remember, this is a temporary situation; it will pass, and we will be okay.”
   
   Rev. Roger Butts teaches Centering Prayer at Black Forest Community Church and is a chaplain at Penrose Hospital. He said physical distancing is causing all kinds of heartache and stress. “We are a month in, and things are really hard,” Butts said. “Somehow we know this will come to an end, but we are in the ‘meanwhile’ right now.” He said making the most of a difficult time like this means focusing on the intimate and ultimate, the near at hand and the transcendent.
   
   Butts explained. The near at hand means to take advantage of the idea of proximity. If someone lives with a partner or spouse, get to know that person in a deeper way. Ask open-ended questions. If living with a child, spend time with them and find out what they are thinking and talking about. “My 13-year-old said to me the other day, ‘What if the world ends? Dogs don’t know anything and they won’t be ready.’ She has serious things on her mind, and that is a conversation that must not be missed,” Butts said.
   
   Regarding the transcendent and the ultimate, he said, “I’d be lost without my practice of Centering Prayer. My friend who is a Buddhist teacher at the Air Force Academy would be lost without his practice of meditation.” In this time especially, creating silence is important.
   
   Butts said the small voice within all of creation is waiting to be heard, but it can’t be heard above the din of constant, “Too Hot to Handle” or “Friends” reruns. Carve out some time for silence and meditation; pick a time every day and sit silently for five minutes, say the rosary or the Lord’s Prayer or recite a favorite Psalm and see what emerges, he said.
   
   Find Kathi Kennedy at Kennedy Counseling: http://kennedycounsel.com
   Pikes Peak Mental Health: 719-635-7000
   Suicide Prevention Partnership Pikes Peak Region Hotline: 719-596-5433
  
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  Food pantry needs help
  By Cara Lord-Geiser

   The High Plains Helping hands traditionally serves around 650 families. Since the start of Coronavirus, they have seen a 12 percent monthly increase with a 30 percent increased need in the communities. With the onset of the Coronavirus, they need help.
   
   HPHH is part of the Fresh Start Center and is open to the public; they provide families in need with food by collecting donations from the community. They also have sponsors, but with a growing need, there is an equally growing need for donations.
   
   Grant Winger, executive director of Fresh Start Center, said the pantry has switched to a call-ahead curbside service. The staff loads carts and brings them to the cars. All volunteer staff are wearing masks, and sanitation has been a major priority. Food donations are even being “quarantined” and then sanitized to prevent any possible spread of contamination.
   
   The pantry has 1.5 acres of raised garden beds, where they teach sustainable home gardening. Winger said, although they receive donations from big-box stores such as Sprouts and Little Caesars, there is still a need for additional nonperishable or unopened/sealed items: canned foods, peanut butter, dairy, meats and pasta. He said some “expired” goods can still be used. Foods that might be discarded because they have expired can still be used because the health department’s shelf life is extended beyond expiration dates.  
   
   The HPHH traditionally serves about 650 families. Since the start of the coronavirus, the pantry has seen a 12 percent monthly increase, and the communities have seen a 30 percent increase in need. With the increase, there has also been a decrease in donations. Annual drives that the pantry depends on for major donations have been cancelled. Winger said one specific drive a local Boy Scout troop sponsors is also canceled. The troop went door to door to collect canned goods and contributions.
   
   At the same time, Winger said people in need should come to the pantry because there is still plenty of food available.
   
   Anyone can donate, even small donations make a difference. The address of the pickup and drop-off location is 7375 Adventure Way, Colorado Springs, and the phone number is 719-495-3123
   
   May hours for the pantry:
   Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   Wednesdays: 5 to 8 p.m.
   Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   Saturday, May 16: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
   
   Visit https://freshstartcenter.com/donations to make a monetary donation. Since High Plains Helping Hands also provides health and other services, they need nurse volunteers, drivers to collect donations from stores and volunteers to help at the pantry and keep up with the garden.
  
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  Government agencies adapt to virus
  By Pete Gawda

   For some county government agencies, including the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department, business is anything but “usual.” The COVID-19 virus has disrupted the norm.
   
   “We took measures early to be aggressive without sacrificing the safety of the community,” said Jacqueline Kirby, media relations manager for the EPCSO. “We are a full-service law enforcement agency so a lot of things are being done differently.”
   
   Dispatchers are screening calls to see if people requesting service have symptoms of the virus. Deputies are making telephone contact before any face-to-face encounters. Kirby said deputies are keeping social distance as much as possible and are equipped with eye protection, masks and gloves. The jail has reduced the number of inmates without compromising public safety. As of April 15, there had been no positive cases of the COVID 19 virus among jail inmates.
   
   All face-to-face public services at the front counter of the planning department have been temporarily suspended. Business is conducted online and by telephone. Development applications can be submitted online, and the progress of those applications can be viewed online. There is also a mechanism for submitting code enforcement complaints online. Each day, there is a planner of the day listed on the department's website with their telephone number. The planner of the day handles specific zoning, development and planning related questions. The website also provides the names and telephone numbers of personnel who handle engineering, construction inspection and enforcement questions. All of this information is available at https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com.
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Hyatt property
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a request by Mark and Angelina Hyatt for a special use permit for extended family housing in a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Longinos Gonzalez and Holly Williams opposed. The property, zoned agricultural 35, is located on the north side of Judge Orr Road, about 0.62 miles east of the Judge Orr Road and Highway 24 intersection. The permit allows the applicant to use an existing 1,216 square-foot mobile home located on the property as the accessory living quarters for continuous occupancy.
   
   Pine View Estates
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Alice Jolene Owens for the rezoning of 38.8 acres from the A-35 zoning district to the residential rural 5 zoning district. The property, located about 3,000 feet northwest of the Hopper Road and Ranch Hand Road intersection, is included within the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
   
   Meridian Service Metropolitan District
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request for a license agreement with Meridian Ranch Metropolitan District to install a sanitary bypass sewer line along the Rock Island Regional Trail. The license allows MRMS to complete the installation and provide continued maintenance of the sewer line, which is located within property owned by EPC. The line will not be directly installed under the trail, and MRMS is providing a $3,125 fee in exchange for the license.
   
   Falcon Regional Park
   The commissioners unanimously approved a grant agreement with Great Outdoors Colorado and recognized revenue and expenditures for $365,500 for the Falcon Regional Park Improvement project. The project includes upgrades to the existing multi-purpose field and construction of a restroom, parking lot, playground, equestrian trailhead and baseball field.
   
   Falcon Marketplace
   The BOCC unanimously approved an easement and special warranty deed agreement with the Woodmen Hills West Homeowners Association for a right-of-way and drainage improvements related to the Falcon Marketplace final plat.
   
   Homestead at Sterling Ranch
   The EPC planning commission unanimously approved a request by SR Land LLC for the final plat of the Homestead at Sterling Ranch Filing No. 2 subdivision to create 104 single-family lots and three tracts for open space, drainage, public utilities and rights-of-way. The 29.68-acre property is zoned residential suburban 5000 and located south of the future extension of Briargate Parkway/Stapleton Road, east of Vollmer Road. It is located within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Plan and the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   Bent Grass
   The PC unanimously approved a request by Challenger Communities LLC for the final plat for the Bent Grass Residential Filing No. 2 subdivision to create 178 single-family lots and 13 tracts for open space, drainage, public utilities and rights-of-way. The 68.55-acre property is zoned planned unit development and is located 0.25 miles north of Woodmen Road, east of Golden Sage Road and west of Meridian Road. It is located within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Plan.
   
   Falcon Field
   The planning commission unanimously approved a request by Falcon Field LLC to rezone 57.67 acres from RR-5 to the commercial regional zoning district. The property is located on the southeast side of the Highway 24 and Woodmen Road intersection and within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan.
  
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