June 7, 2012
Colorado Springs residents are cleaning up Thursday morning after a massive thunderstorm.
Severe hail in many parts of the city Wednesday night caused significant damage to cars, trees and homes. Snowplows were called out to clear streets near The Citadel mall.
Some intersections remain without stoplights. One of those is Chelton and Santa Rosa. You should treat those intersections as four-way stops.
Also, westbound lanes of Platte Avenue between Circle and Union were closed early in the morning but have since been reopened.
The National Weather Service said Thursday morning the threat for severe weather continues mid-to-late afternoon, with low clouds and fog moving through Thursday morning.
If you have photos from the hail or the aftermath, email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them to our Facebook wall at facebook.com/springsgazette.
Severe weather is expected to return Thursday. Look for strong thunderstorms with a chance for more hail in the afternoon. Temperatures should reach a high of 80 degrees with an overnight low of 54.
Stay with Gazette.com for continuing coverage throughout the day.
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Firefighters diverted to new wildfire
LIVERMORE (AP) — Some firefighters who are gaining ground on containing a wildfire in northern Colorado have been diverted to a new wildfire burning on about three acres nearby.
Larimer County sheriff's officials said aircraft from the Stuart Hole fire and about 40 firefighters were working to put out the new fire Wednesday. Authorities suspect it was started by lightning.
The Stuart Hole fire is about 227 acres and is 80 percent contained. The residents of 13 homes that were evacuated have been allowed back home.
The lightning-sparked Stuart Hole fire has damaged at least two outbuildings since it started Monday. It's about 40 miles northwest of Fort Collins in rocky terrain north of where a camp stove ignited a wildfire last month.
That earlier fire is smoldering but is fully contained.
Colorado Supreme Court hears 2 foster care cases
DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Supreme Court is hearing arguments in two cases involving foster parent rights.
Arguments in the cases to be heard Thursday morning deal with whether foster parents have a right to continue their parenting relationship with foster children and whether they have a right to present arguments in court.
One case involves a 3-year-old child being removed from a foster home following unsubstantiated allegations of "eccentric or unusual behavior" on the part of a foster parent. The advocacy group the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center argues that policies need to be structured to ensure that children have permanent homes in order to thrive.
Another case involves an instance where a court overturned a ruling because foster parents improperly cross-examined witnesses.
Both cases happened in 2010.
Denver school prinicipal out after CSAP review
DENVER (AP) — A Denver Public Schools principal is out after an investigation indicated an unusual number of students' answers on statewide tests had been changed, likely by administrators.
The Colorado Department of Education said Wednesday it has invalidated the 2010 and 2011 results of Beach Court Elementary students on the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, or CSAP.
Meanwhile Principal Frank Roti has been removed. His phone number isn't listed, and he couldn't be reached for comment.
The state says school administrators denied altering test answers.
Denver Public Schools had sought the review of CSAP results at two schools including Beach Court after finding statistically unusual scores. The state didn't find substantial wrongdoing at the other school.
The state attorney general's office and an outside contractor conducted the investigation.
Metro State recommends tuition cut for immigrants
DENVER (AP) — Metropolitan State College of Denver officials are unanimously recommending a measure to cut tuition for illegal immigrants living in Colorado by more than half.
A finance committee and members of the board of trustees met Wednesday to discuss the college's upcoming budget for the next school year. The measure affecting illegal immigrants was a key component.
The budget goes before the full board Thursday. No member was opposed to the budget, which also included other tuition and fee increases.
College president Stephen Jordan was praised for providing more students a chance for an affordable education after presenting the proposed cuts for illegal immigrants.
Churchill case goes before Colorado Supreme Court
DENVER (AP) — A University of Colorado professor fired following public outcry over an essay in which he compared some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi is arguing his case before the Colorado Supreme Court.
The court will hear arguments Thursday afternoon regarding the 2007 termination of Ward Churchill. The university launched an investigation into the former ethnic studies professor's academic work following publicity surrounding his essay in which he described some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as "little Eichmanns."
Adolf Eichmann was the Nazi leader who helped orchestrate the Holocaust.
A 2009 finding by a jury that the school unlawfully fired Churchill was set aside.
The court will consider whether the investigation violated Churchill's First Amendment Rights and whether the school's Board of Regents enjoys immunity from lawsuits.
Denver-area Congress race could see new candidate
DENVER (AP) — A suburban Denver congressional race between Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and Democrat Joe Miklosi could see a new third candidate.
Independent candidate Kathy Polhemus turned in signatures Wednesday to the Secretary of State's office to petition onto ballots. The 64-year-old is a first-time candidate who was a board member for the Dress for Success charity.
Polhemus is a former Democrat who now says "both parties are to blame" for the nation's problems.
A campaign spokeswoman says Polhemus should hear by the end of the month whether she turned in enough valid signatures to make the ballot.
House strips oil shale subsidy from spending bill
GRAND JUNCTION (AP) — The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has approved a Colorado Democrat's proposal to strip a $25 million oil shale subsidy from an appropriations bill.
The Daily Sentinel reports the proposal by Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado and Gerry Connolly of Virginia narrowly passed in a 208-207 vote Wednesday.
Colorado's delegation split along party lines on the measure, with Democrats voting yes and Republicans voting no.
Companies are drilling shale formations for oil and natural gas, but that resource is different from oil shale, which must be heated to high temperatures before it can produce petroleum.
Companies are still researching how to turn oil shale into oil in a commercially viable way.
Firm fined over Japanese beetle quarantine
DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Department of Agriculture says a Delaware-based company is being fined for allegedly violating the state's quarantine against the Japanese beetle.
The department said Wednesday that John Deere Landscapes Inc. ordered 207 containers of ornamental grass and 20 trees from Elkhorn, Neb., that were planted at Buckley Air Force Base outside Denver. State agriculture officials say Elkhorn is known to be infested with the Japanese beetle, and the company planted grass and trees from there without certifying they were free of the destructive bugs.
The company could've been fined $1,000 per violation.
Instead, the department says the company is paying $5,576, and the rest of the fine will be vacated after two years if it meets conditions including treating the plants with pesticide.
Udall: Low-level training flights delayed
DENVER (AP) — The Air Force has indefinitely delayed plans to fly low-altitude training missions over parts of New Mexico and Colorado.
Officials at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., said Tuesday they will examine the training requirements for all the base's aircraft and then decide what kind of environmental review process to undergo.
Officials say they hope to complete the examination by early 2013. The environmental review would begin after that.
The Air Force wanted to fly CV-22 and MC-130J aircraft on the low-level training flights. In Colorado, the flights would have been over the southern, southwestern and central mountain areas.
Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado first announced the delay.
Mom of boy in buckled-up gas can photo fires back
AURORA (AP) — A mother of a toddler who was photographed in a car not buckled up, with a gasoline can in the car seat next to him, says the photo is a big misunderstanding.
The Colorado Department of Transportation posted the photo on Facebook this week. Aurora police Lt. Chuck DeShazer has said the photo wasn't staged.
DeShazer says an officer snapped the photo last week after stopping the vehicle for making an improper turn. The officer found that the toddler, a 14-year-old passenger, and the driver weren't properly restrained.
Driver Sandra Ramirez was ticketed.
Ramirez told KUSA-TV in Denver on Wednesday her son was in the car seat but wiggled out while she spoke to the officer, and the teen then put the gas can in the car seat.
UW, CSU presidents reaffirm plans to sell Y Cross
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The presidents of the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University have reaffirmed plans to sell a 50,000-acre ranch in southeast Wyoming.
The University of Wyoming Foundation and Colorado State University Research Foundation have jointly owned the Y Cross Ranch since 1997.
UW President Tom Buchanan and CSU President Tony Frank met and decided this week to move ahead with selling the ranch by sealed bid, possibly later this year.
The woman who gave the ranch to the two schools, Denver philanthropist Amy Davis, has expressed regret that she donated the property, saying the gift hasn't seen enough use for hands-on agricultural education.
Colorado State spokeswoman Emily Wilmsen says proceeds from the sale will help to fund scholarships in accordance with the gift agreement.
800-pound tapir wanders out of Denver Zoo exhibit
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Zoo is investigating what needs to change at its new $50 million exhibit for elephants, rhinoceroses and Malayan tapirs after one of the tapirs got out into a separate enclosed area.
The zoo says the 4-year-old female tapir never made it into visitor areas, but a zookeeper did spot the 800-pound animal wandering outside her primary exhibit into the landscaped area within the Toyota Elephant Passage on Wednesday morning. The zoo says the animal was back in her exhibit within five minutes.
Staff suspect the animal managed to squeeze through two cables of her exhibit area.
Zoo officials say they are not concerned about the larger elephants and rhinoceroses getting out.
The tapirs will remain off exhibit while staff investigators determine what to change.
Colorado skier visits down nearly 10 percent
DENVER (AP) — Weak snow dented skier visits to Colorado last winter.
The trade group Colorado Ski Country USA said Wednesday that according to preliminary figures, skier visits at its 22 member resorts this past winter fell 11.4 percent from the previous winter to 6.16 million. Including resorts owned by Vail Resorts Inc., there were an estimated 11 million skier visits in the state for the season. That's down 9.8 percent from the previous season.
Figures from the National Ski Areas Association show that nationally, skier visits dropped an estimated 15 percent.
Good snow last fall got Colorado's ski season started early.
But Colorado Ski Country says precipitation on the Western Slope this winter ended up 43 percent below average, and March 2012 was the driest in Colorado in more than 100 years.
Ascent Solar launching solar iPhone case, charger
THORNTON (AP) — What if an iPhone case could protect the device while also giving its battery a boost?
The thin-film solar module maker Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. said Wednesday it is introducing a smartphone case that includes a thin battery that harnesses sunlight for power. Ascent Solar CEO Victor Lee says the case would extend the phone's usage time.
The first case in its EnerPlex line is designed for the Apple iPhone 4 and 4S. The Thornton, Colo.-based company says it will eventually launch chargers for other phones.
It plans to start shipping EnerPlex cases to Asia within weeks. Global shipments are expected late this year.
Details on pricing and the exact weight of the case weren't immediately available.
Ascent Solar's shares were up 28 cents Wednesday to 86 cents.
-- “Steve Weeks and His Silly Songs” children’s summer reading program, 10:30 a.m., Cheyenne Mountain Branch Library, 1785 S. 8th St., free.
-- “Jim Jackson - Busker and Me - A Circus Dog’s Tale,” children’s summer reading program, 10:30 a.m., East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd., free.
-- “Fight Pillow Pests with Beth Epley,” children’s summer reading program, 10:30 a.m., Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St., free.
-- “Monsters Beware with Denise Gard and Sienna,” children’s summer reading program, 10:30 a.m., High Prairie Library, 7035 Old Meridian Road, Falcon, free.
-- “Summer Sacklunch Serenade,” presented by Pikes Peak Area Theatre Organ Society featuring the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ and a silent movie accompanied by the organist, 11 a.m.-noon, City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St., free.
-- Black Rose Acoustic Society Rockabilly Jam, 7-9 p.m., Colorado Springs Senior Center, 1514 N. Hancock Ave., free, donations accepted.
-- Robby Red Locks & The Reggae Time Machine, 7 p.m., Rasta Pasta, 675 S. Union Blvd., no cover.
-- Karaoke, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., Townhouse Lounge, 907 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.