Springs airport surprises
After hearing about recent efforts to increase traffic at our local airport I thought it might helpful to let others know about two recent very positive experiences. The first was on the nonstop Colorado Springs-Seattle Alaska Airlines flight. From the first pickup at our car by the parking lot shuttle to the dropping off at our car when we returned, it exceeded our expectations. Much more so than driving to Denver which we have done many times. There were also nice touches such as having help with our luggage, having the driver tell us he would wait to make sure our car started, and the one day free parking after buying some breakfast at the coffee shop.
My second trip in two weeks took us from Colorado Springs to Washington, D.C. on the early United morning flight. Although it was a bit early, it was easy to get through security especially after being told that I had been cleared for pre check TSA screening. Not having to take off my shoes, belt or take out my toiletries or laptop was a nice surprise. I'm not exactly sure why I was selected but do hope that it continues. I would like to suggest that the Airport Task Force and airport staff make a serious effort to work with the airlines and TSA to make sure that all frequent Colorado Springs flyers are selected for pre-check TSA screening if possible. Maybe it might not take too much to rework the bureaucracy to make this happen?
I have really enjoyed the days when we were easily able to fly non-stop out of the Springs for similar prices than Denver. We are looking forward to supporting the effort to make that possible once again.
Ken Jaray, Colorado Springs
Thanks to contributing organizations
For years Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado has been conducting Take a Turkey to Work Day. The event gives our community an opportunity to give a traditional gift to families at risk of hunger; a holiday turkey, the centerpiece of the season's celebration. During these drives we see companies, individuals, and organizations getting involved in many ways. What began as a solitary effort has grown to engage collaborative partners like KLite 106.3 radio, a partner in this effort for more than 10 years, the Springs Rescue Mission, and Panera Bread. This year we also partnered with the Sky Sox, Security Service Federal Credit Union, CenturyLink, and Two Men and a Truck. These organizations came together to provide celebration and sustenance to our community's most needy.
I send this note as thanks to each of these organizations who participated in the 10,000 Turkey Team effort. With your contributions we have addressed the food insecurity of our neighbors in need. Perhaps more importantly, I thank each of our community neighbors, individuals, and businesses who made donations. Each of you played a significant role in providing holiday turkeys to more than 6,300 families throughout southern Colorado. You recognized the need of these neighbors and made possible their celebration during this holiday season.
Care and Share is proud to serve 31 counties throughout southern Colorado, meeting the needs of more than 104,000 food insecure people, 58,000 of whom are children. We meet this need through our collaboration with more than 340 partner agencies. Our partner food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and residential facilities are working every day, with the tireless efforts of thousands of volunteers, to make sure our community members do not go hungry. Thank you to each of you who have supported Care and Share during this vital drive and throughout other efforts all year long.
Lynne Telford, Care and Share Food Bank, Colorado Springs
Repair our trail system properly
As hikers, bicyclists and equestrians attempt to return to favorite open spaces and trails, they are finding that recent torrential rains extracted a heavy toll. Whole sections of trail are gone, some pedestrian bridges are badly damaged, and many roads in our regional parks and open spaces are requiring major repairs.
Volunteers are eager to help, and there will be work for them to do. But some of these repairs will require engineering, heavy machinery and outside help.
It goes without saying, the safety of the trail-using public must be our top priority as these repairs are made. If it takes a little longer and means trail users need to be patient, so be it.
We are told that the damage to city park properties is likely to cost over $4 million to repair. Federal dollars might pay for part of it, but that will take time. How will we pay for this, and should we?
We hear repeatedly from our community leaders, business community, visitors and residents - our trails, open spaces and parks are magnets for new business and tourists. They are the reason many people choose to move to this region. They are critical to this region's quality of life. Residents, visitors and neighbors have come to expect a safe experience when they use parks like North Cheyenne Canon, Red Rock Open Space or Palmer Park.
If we don't spend the dollars to repair our trail system properly - what will happen? People are likely to begin using them again - safe or unsafe. Eventually the same national press that wrote about our closed bathrooms and lack of trash cans will return and write about our damaged natural playground - especially if someone gets hurt. Imagine the effect on tourism and our national reputation. Plus we're putting residents at risk.
When the economy tanked several years ago, local parks, trails and open spaces shouldered far more than their fair share of the general fund budget cuts. The general fund plummeted from $237 million to $212 million - parks share went from $19 million to $3 million. Sales and property tax revenue have improved. The general fund is expected to be back to around $243 million for 2014. It's only fair that our beloved, damaged public spaces tap into some of that surplus.
We are asking our community to speak up in defense of these assets, and support a course of action that once again makes them safe for all users.
Susan Davies, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Colorado Springs