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The power behind Powers Boulevard

For many residents of Falcon, Powers Boulevard has become the road of choice when traveling to work or shopping destinations in Colorado Springs. The road is named after Ray Powers, owner and operator of Powers Dairy, which was once located on the dirt road that is now Powers Boulevard.In 1944, when Powers was 15 years old, his parents, Cora and Guy Powers, purchased the 720-acre Norton Ranch and started a dairy. Later that year, Guy Powers was struck by lightning and killed. Ray quit school and worked with his mother to keep the dairy going.One day, a developer named Bill Smartt needed to grade a road and asked Ray Powers if he could borrow some equipment to get the job done. Powers agreed; and, when Smartt offered to name a street after him as compensation, Powers said he’d rather have a boulevard.Ray’s mother, Cora, also had a street named in her honor: Cora Lane off Palmer Park Boulevard, a few blocks west of Powers Boulevard.When Powers sold the dairy for development in 1967, he was 38 years old ñ young enough to start a second career, this time in car dealerships.At the time of the sale, Powers Boulevard was still a dirt road. Developers soon transformed the dairy site into the Village Seven subdivision, surrounded by Academy Boulevard, Constitution Avenue, Powers Boulevard and Barnes Road.In 1975, Powers married his wife, Dorothy. Three years later, he ran as a Republican for the Colorado House of Representatives and won. After serving one term, Powers won a seat in the Colorado Senate and served 20 years, becoming the Senate majority leader in his last two years in office.As a state senator, Powers championed highway construction and became known as ìMr. Transportation.î In 1997, he overcame Republican reluctance to fund transportation projects from the general fund by pushing through a $200 million highway bill.In 1999, he gathered consensus for funding COSMIX, which widened Interstate 25 to six lanes through Colorado Springs, and T-REX, which widened I-25 through Denver and funded Denver’s light rail system, as well as 23 other transportation projects around the state.Powers’ other signature cause was the death penalty, which he felt was not used enough. In the 1990s, Powers got a bill signed into law that took sentencing in death-penalty cases away from jurors and gave the responsibility to three-judge panels. When the judges didn’t impose the death penalty to Powers’ satisfaction, he tried but failed to pass a bill that would have required a single judge to make the decision.Since then, the United States Supreme Court has ruled death-penalty decisions by three-judge panels unconstitutional. Today, jurors decide death-penalty cases in Colorado.Powers actively supported his fellow Republican politicians in El Paso County, holding fundraising events in the barn on the Powers Ranch outside Colorado Springs. But there was one Republican politician who was not welcome there ñ Douglas Bruce.In 1996, Bruce ran against Powers for the Colorado Senate. It was Bruceís first campaign, and it turned nasty. Powers prevailed.Term limits, instituted in the early 1990s, forced Powers out of the Senate and into retirement in 2000. The departure of Powers was the end of an era in which El Paso County Republicans dominated the Colorado General Assembly.In retirement, Powers and his wife split their time between their Colorado ranch and Green Valley, Ariz., where, despite the many golf courses, Powers never golfed.On the ranch, Powers developed an interest in llamas and a special fondness for one named ìBlack-Eyed Susan,î who would run up and kiss him. ìShe’s a doll ñ what a great little lady,î Powers told Cara Degette, a writer for the ìColorado Springs Independent,î a year before his death.In 2008, Powers died of congestive heart failure on his ranch. He had been ill for several months.Degette wrote, ìPowers had little patience for ideologues like Bruce who holler incessantly about eliminating government. Powers believed in good governance and that most Republicans, as he said, ‘Donít have a problem paying taxes as long as they know their taxes are being spent properly.’ He had no interest in legislating morality and invading anyoneís bedrooms to dictate any action there.î

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