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18 people, events and outcomes to watch for in 2018 around Colorado Springs

With 2017 in the books, it's time to look forward to 2018. Here are 18 stories to watch in the Colorado Springs area and the Pikes Peak region as the year unfolds.

For more Gazette lists, check out our lists page

sapper competition

Fort Carson deployment

Where: Afghanistan

When: Spring, 2018

Thousands of Fort Carson soldiers will head to war in Afghanistan this spring as the 4th Infantry Division headquarters and two of its combat brigades deploy.

The deployment, made official by the Army in December, comes after the soldiers have spent long months in training to hone their combat skills. About 10,000 soldiers, including 7,500 from the brigades, could go to war. Exact dates on the deployments haven't been announced.

The move to Afghanistan comes after President Donald Trump outlined an aggressive new strategy for the 17-year-old war. Under Trump's plan, U.S. troops would target Taliban fighters in an effort to break the long insurgency that has left Afghanistan stuck in a civil war.

The Fort Carson troops are expected to be overseas for about nine months.



Widening the "Gap"

Where: I-25

When: (Maybe, hopefully) 2018

Commuters have something to be excited about next year: Construction might begin on the long-awaited widening of the Interstate 25 "Gap" from Monument to Castle Rock - if the funding that's been identified for the project is secured.

Under the Colorado Department of Transportation's current proposal, a pair of toll lanes would be added to each side of the roughly 18-mile stretch, widening it from two to three lanes in each direction.

The roughly $350 million widening would be paid for by a mix of local, state, and federal sources, including a $65 million grant that officials won't hear back about until spring. Local governments are also working to come up with about $7.5 million more for the project.

Already, Douglas County is expected to contribute $10 million, El Paso County $7.5 million, and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority $10 million. Roughly $250 million would come from a new state law that's expected to generate revenue through the sale of state-owned buildings.

If construction begins in late 2018, the project would be finished by summer 2021, according to CDOT.

Mark Reis, The Gazette


Former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa

What: Retrial

When: Jan. 23

Seven months after his first trial ended in irresolution, ex-Sheriff Terry Maketa is due back in front of a jury on Jan. 23.

His retrial - which promises to be among the most closely watched cases of the year - could settle whether the once-popular lawman abused his authority during his turbulent third term, as alleged, or if he has been unfairly branded a criminal over what his lawyers characterize as unpopular management decisions.

Jurors will weigh the evidence against Maketa on three remaining counts, including extortion, a felony alleging that he threatened to terminate a multimillion dollar jail healthcare contract unless the contractor agreed to fire one of the sheriff's rivals. In July, the panel at his first trial acquitted Maketa of four counts and deadlocked on the others.

The retrial comes after continuing signs of trouble from the prosecution, which recently dismissed all counts against John "Juan" San Agustin, a former sheriff's commander charged alongside Maketa as an accomplice to corruption claims. Maketa's former undersheriff, Paula Presley, remains on track for a trial, though a new date isn't expected to be scheduled until after Maketa's retrial.


Modifications to a 30-year-old annexation agreement for the Banning Lewis Ranch property would eliminate several fees and ease other financial requirements thrust on developers.



El Paso County Sheriff's election

Who: Incumbent Sheriff Bill Elder, challenger Mike Angley

When: June primary

Could El Paso County have a new sheriff?

El Paso County Sheriff and longtime Republican Bill Elder is running for a second term, but faces June primary challenger Mike Angley, a retired Air Force colonel and political newcomer. No Democrat has announced their intention to run.

The campaign turned antagonistic in December as Angley used his campaign website to pummel Elder with allegations of misconduct and mismanagement, some of which date to the transfer of power from Elder's predecessor, ex-Sheriff Terry Maketa, who remains under indictment for corruption.

"We have not run into anyone yet who's satisfied with how things are going in the Sheriff's Office," Angley told the Gazette in a December interview. He cited employees complaining of "tribalism," workplace retaliation, and disparate treatment of subordinates. Elder's office declined to respond to the accusations, characterizing the drama his office has faced as "falsities and half-truths." Instead, he is relying on numerous high-profile endorsements listed on his campaign website, including that of the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association.


Ty Evans

Specialty: Quarterback

Age: 17

From: Palmer Ridge High School

Evans led his team to the program's first football state championship, was named the 2017 Colorado Football Gatorade Player of the Year, the Gazette Preps 3A-1A Football Peak Performer of the Year, and numerous other accolades.

He threw for 3,627 yards and 42 touchdowns last season as the top-ranked quarterback in the state. He is the most heavily recruited Division I football prospect in the area, and since decommitting from Arkansas in late November, his future in college football is wide open.

Area football fans should expect big things from Evans in his senior year as he settles on a top-tier college football program and works to bring home a second straight 3A state championship to Monument.

Chris Gobrecht

Chris Gobrecht

Specialty: Basketball coach

Age: 62

From: Air Force

The pieces may be in place for the worst women's basketball program in Division I to at last turn a corner in 2018-19.

What Gobrecht was challenged with at Air Force wasn't a rebuild, because the program has never so much as had a winning season in its Division I era (since 1996) and is 23-259 in conference play since the inception of the Mountain West.

In Gobrecht, the Falcons hired a veteran coach (and mother of an Air Force graduate) who has overseen programs in the Pac-12, ACC and Ivy League over a 38-year career. She has set about scrapping much of the way the program had operated and now the team features a roster that has nine freshmen and three sophomores among its 16 players. As Gobrecht wraps her third season with the Falcons this spring and heads into her fourth before the calendar turns to 2019, she will be running a team populated with her own recruits and with sights set on taking a long downtrodden program to a place it has only hinted at in the past - competitive respectability.



Golf — 317 calories per hour


The Broadmoor hotel's 100th anniversary

Where: Colorado Springs' southwest side

When: June 29, 2018

The Grand Dame of the Rockies is throwing itself a party - a big one.

The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs - the five-star, five-diamond, internationally known resort - marks its 100th anniversary on June 29.

The hotel site was a dairy farm and gambling casino in the late 1880s before it was transformed by Broadmoor founder and mining magnate Spencer Penrose into a luxury resort. Since it opened, The Broadmoor has played host to presidents, dignitaries and celebrities and gained a reputation as one of the top resorts in the world. It now has more than 780 rooms and its amenities include golf courses, restaurants, stores, a spa, tennis courts, a movie theater and pools. In recent years, The Broadmoor also has added three off-site wilderness areas.

The hotel plans a series of special events and activities throughout the year, opening in late January with Legacy on Ice with Olympian Peggy Fleming - a salute to the original Broadmoor Ice Palace that eventually became the original Broadmoor World Arena. The U.S. Senior Open golf tournament takes places from June 25 to July 1.

The hotel also has produced a book - "The Broadmoor Story" - that explains the resort's history.


U.S. Olympic Museum

Where: Downtown Colorado Springs' southwest side

When: Most of 2018.

Construction of a 60,000-square-foot museum that will pay homage to the nation's Olympic and Paralympic movements will kick into high gear in 2018 at Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street in southwest downtown.

The nonprofit group behind the project is targeting an opening in 2019 for the $75 million museum, which is one of the Springs' four City for Champions projects.

The venue - with interactive displays and exhibits, a Hall of Fame, theater, retail space, cafe and outdoor plaza - is expected to draw about 350,000 visitors a year. Besides helping to boost local tourism, the museum is expected to be a catalyst for redevelopment of the light industrial southwest downtown area.

The museum also is expected to help strengthen ties between the Olympic movement and the city, which is home to the U.S. Olympic Committee's headquarters, an Olympic Training Center and two dozen Olympic national governing bodies. The Springs also has adopted "Olympic City USA" as its brand.


Sports and event center

Where: Downtown Colorado Springs' southwest side

When: Dec. 16, 2018

It's make-or-break time for a proposed downtown sports and event center, which was one of four City for Champions projects designed to boost tourism in Colorado Springs.

On Dec. 16, 2013, city and business leaders were awarded funding from the Colorado Economic Development Commission for City for Champions - and were given exactly five years to commence "substantial work" on each project or risk losing the state money. Three Champions projects are on track to meet that deadline - a U.S. Olympic Museum, a new Air Force Academy visitors center and a sports medicine and performance center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The fourth project - a $92.7 million downtown sports and event center that would host a variety of activities - has never gotten off the ground, however.

A consultant's report in early 2017 said the venue needed an infusion of $28 million, but Springs Mayor John Suthers said at that time he wouldn't ask the public to bridge that funding gap - putting the project on its deathbed. Recently, Suthers and other city officials said they're talking with local community members and business people about whether the project can be saved. If the sports and event center is to survive, the city has until Dec. 16 to figure out a way.


Downtown's awakening

Where: Several downtown Colorado Springs locations

When: Various dates in 2018

Construction activity in downtown Colorado Springs will never be confused with downtown Denver's frenetic pace. But after watching Denver's economy explode, the Springs finally is seeing its own flurry of new residential and commercial projects in its downtown - several of which will be ready for ribbon-cuttings in 2018.

The 171-unit, 333 ECO Apartments will open at Colorado and Wahsatch avenues, while construction of an as-yet unnamed 184-unit apartment building on South Cascade Avenue is expected to be well underway. Park Manor East, a smaller, 20-unit building, will open west of Monument Street and Mesa Road on the edge of Monument Valley Park.

On South Tejon Street, the remodeled building that formerly housed Southside Johnny's is expected to reopen as home to a trio of Denver-area restaurant and bar concepts - Atomic Cowboy, Fat Sully's Pizza and the Denver Biscuit Co. A 167-room Hilton Garden Inn also could debut this year at Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue.


Volunteer Steve Sjordal removes a stump Saturday, May 30, 2015, as Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado work on the Dixon Trail to the top of Cheyenne Mountain from Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The trail is expected to be completed by 2019. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Dixon Trail completion

Where: Cheyenne Mountain

When: This year.

This long-awaited 3-mile direct route to the Cheyenne Mountain summit is expected to open in 2018, said park manager Mitch Martin. There's one remaining piece of the puzzle - a quarter-mile segment of private land for which an easement is being sought. Volunteers have worked to build the trail since 2011. Already, local nonprofit Rocky Mountain Field Institute has built a figure-eight loop atop the mountain, giving hikers additional backcountry adventure after a tough climb with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The state paid RMFI $50,000 in 2016 to build the trail. Getting to the trailhead, people will have to go 2 miles on the Talon Trail and continue another mile or so on Talon South. Dixon starts off Talon South.


Workers finish the landscaping outside The Ent Center of the Arts Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The new building opens in January 2018. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Ent Center for the Arts opening

When: This month

Opening in January is the $70 million Ent Center for the Arts off Nevada Avenue on the westernmost portion of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. The 92,000-square-foot facility with a distinctively curvilinear facade will house five performance venues, including the 774-seat Shockley-Zalabak Theater, a three-story black box Dusty Loo Bon Vivant theater for Theatreworks, the GOCA UCCS art gallery, classrooms, offices, practice rooms, and the UCCS department of visual and performing arts.



Broadmoor World Arena 20th anniversary

When: This month

The Broadmoor World Arena, celebrating its 20th anniversary this January, is still rockin'. In March 2017, rock legend Sir Elton John's performance there broke several longstanding records: most tickets sold in its history (9,000); highest grossing single event; and fastest sellout (24 minutes). As the largest entertainment venue in the region at 8,000 seats, the arena is a go-to for concerts, Colorado College hockey games, other events and festivals. The World Arena's staff also manages the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs, owned by El Paso County.


Brother Luck

What: "Top Chef: Colorado" competition

Top prize: $125,000

We have a celebrity chef in our midst: Colorado Springs chef Brother Luck, executive chef and owner of downtown restaurant "Four by Brother Luck" and contestant on Bravo's "Top Chef: Colorado." If he wins, Luck will take home $125,000 and a chance at national stardom. Luck is highly respected in our fair city, and diners love him. Previously, he owned Brother Luck Street Eats on West Colorado Avenue, and before that he had a catering business, CrEATe 719 Kitchen, which he operated out of the Triple Nickel Tavern. He has been named "Best Local Chef" three years running by Gazette readers.