The Pikes Peak region's 2015 will largely be remembered by the horror of two mass shootings and record May rains that caused millions of dollars in damage.
And then there were the thousands upon thousands of potholes.
But there was more to the year than bloodshed, disaster and bumpy roads.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, elected in May, helped bring civility and collaboration to city government. Former Fort Carson Capt. Florent "Flo" Groberg was awarded the Medal of Honor. The city's traditional hot air balloon festival - once thought to be gone with the 2014 event - returned for a 39th year. And voters approved a sales tax to take care of nasty roads.
Here's a look back at the year's top stories.
An artist's rendering of University of Colorado Colorado Springs Ent Center for the Arts. It's set to open early 2018. Courtesy.
- The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Ent Center for the Arts broke ground in August. The anticipated 2018 opening of the $60 million building means the start of a much-anticipated relationship between the university and local arts organizations.
- The exhibit "Eloquent Objects: Georgia O'Keeffe and Still-Life Art in New Mexico" stopped at the Fine Arts Center from June through September. Colorado Springs was the third of four stops for the international traveling exhibit.
- Palmer Lake country and folk guitarist and songwriter Chuck Pyle died. He was affectionately known as the "Zen Cowboy" and performed for more than four decades. His music was covered by John Denver, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Suzy Bogguss and Chris LeDoux.
Guy Fieri, host of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on Food Network, will feature Claudette Hutchisen's Spice Island Grill on his Jan. 1 show at 8 p.m. Courtesy photo
- Food Network's Guy Fieri, of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" fame, targeted a handful of Colorado Springs eateries, including Front Range Barbeque, The Skirted Heifer and Piglatin Food Truck. The shows began to air in November.
- Artist and sculptor Bill Burgess was given the Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement award at the 15th annual Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards. In collaboration with David Barber, Burgess designed the Julie Penrose Fountain that stands in America the Beautiful Park.
- Great Wolf Resorts, a Wisconsin-based developer of water park resorts, bought the shuttered, partially completed Renaissance Hotel on Colorado Springs' north side and announced plans to spend $90 million to finish the hotel and construct an indoor water park.
- Colorado Springs' single-family housing market continued to rebound from the recession in 2015. The pace of new home construction through the first 11 months of the year exceeded that of the previous year. On the resale side of the market, 2015 home sales also topped that of 2014, while prices rose for 12 consecutive months. Meanwhile, foreclosure activity fell to a 14-year low.
- Apartments were hot in 2015, as rents averaged nearly $933 a month in the third quarter - a record high. The local multi-family vacancy rate dropped to 4.2 percent in the third quarter, the lowest rate in 14 years. Several apartment complexes also were purchased by out-of-town investors.
- An Albertsons grocery on Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard on Colorado Springs' southeast side closed in March; the chain said the story hadn't been profitable for years. The building remains vacant.
Dirk Draper is named as the new President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Business Alliance Friday, March 20, 2015. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
- Dirk Draper, an economist and vice president with the local office of global engineering firm CH2M Hill Inc., was named president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.
- Wal-Mart added its 10th area Supercenter in July when it opened a store in Fountain. Walmart also opened a new Sam's Club next door, which replaced a Sam's that closed on South Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs.
- Local and chain restaurants new to the Pikes Peak region in 2015: Taco Bueno and Bubba's 33.
- Seven Falls, a scenic series of waterfalls on Colorado Springs' southwest side, reopened in August after being closed for two years because of extensive damage from heavy rains. The longtime tourist attraction, now owned by The Broadmoor hotel, added a hiking trail from the canyon entrance, a restaurant and zip-line courses.
- In what is one of the biggest economic development wins for Colorado Springs since the early 1990s, Sierra Completions, a new subsidiary of Sparks, Nev.-based Sierra Nevada Corp., announced in February it will build an $88 million hangar complex at the airport. It will employ more than 2,100 people to turn wide-body aircraft interiors into flying offices for high-end customers.
- FedEx Corp. began construction in March on a new distribution center near the Colorado Springs Airport. The 223,000-square-foot center at 125 Troy Hill Road, will more than triple the size of its existing Colorado Springs center and serve much of eastern Colorado. The center is scheduled to open in July 2016.
- The unemployment rate in Colorado Springs fell sharply in the second half of 2015 to an 8-year low of 4.3 percent in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth during the first two quarters of the year was the strongest in nine years, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Much of the growth was generated by the health care and restaurant industries.
Ore is mined from the open pit Thursday, June 11, 2015, at the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company. Newmont Mining Corp. agreed to buy the gold mine for $820 million from AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
- Greenwood Village-based Newmont Mining Corp. completed its $820 million acquisition of the Cripple Creek & Victor gold mine in August, vowing to continue expansion of the state's largest gold mine. Newmont retained the mine's 570 employees, including management. A $585 million expansion of the mine is about two-thirds complete.
- Atmel, which employs about 1,000 people at Colorado Springs a computer chip manufacturing plant, agreed in September to be acquired by Dialog Semiconductor in a $4.6 billion deal expected to be completed early in 2016. California-based Atmel received a competing bid in mid-December and began negotiations with the potential buyer.
- A combination of favorable weather, low gasoline prices and no fires, floods or other natural disasters combined to produce what may end up as a record-setting tourism season. By most measures, the area's tourism industry is on track for its best year since at least 2008, and this year could become the industry's best since the late 1990s.
- Chef's Catalog and Sinton Dairy announced major layoffs this year, while call centers operated by Firstsource, HomeAdvisor, Progressive, StarTek and T-Mobile announced plans to hire hundreds of employees.
- The election of a new Colorado Springs mayor and two new City Council members dramatically changed city governance in 2015, introducing an element of collaboration that had eluded Steve Bach - the city's first strong mayor - and the previous council. Former state Attorney General John Suthers bested former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace and four other candidates in the April 7 city election, then won the runoff election against Makepeace by a 2-to-1 margin May 19.
Colorado Springs Mayoral candidate John Suthers takes the stage at his watch party at the Wyndham Mining Exchange Hotel to the applause of supporters on April 7, 2015. Suthers will most likely be facing former Colorado Springs Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace in mid-May, because of no candidate getting a majority. To his immediate right is current El Paso County District Attorney Dan May and newly elected El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder (far right) (JERILEE BENNETT/THE GAZETTE)
- Fifteen candidates battled for four City Council seats April 7, and voters chose two newcomers and two incumbents. Merv Bennett handily won re-election to his at-large seat, joined by council neophytes Bill Murray and Tom Strand to represent the city at large. Larry Bagley won election to the District 2 seat to which he had been appointed in December 2014. A promise to introduce council-mayoral cooperation was the campaign mantra for Suthers and most council candidates, and the new team of leaders quickly established a productive working relationship.
- Colorado Springs voters overwhelmingly approved a five-year, 0.62 percent sales tax increase to address the city's crumbling roads.
- Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Helen Collins was investigated by the city's Independent Ethics Commission and found to have violated ethics by helping friend and former legislator Douglas Bruce with a condominium sale. The commission recommended Collins be censured for putting her friendship with Bruce ahead of her loyalty to the city. The council cited her with three ethics violations in an 8-0 vote in June, noting that the council "is not making findings that the violations occurred." Bruce owed a judgment of $7,947.52 to the city when he signed title to a condo over to Collins for $10 on Dec. 4. She sold it for $140,000 and later endorsed the check to him. Collins will have her case heard by an independent hearing officer from Jan. 5-7.
Collins, who survived a recall effort in April, meanwhile alleged ethics violations by her council colleagues, saying the "Gang of Eight" eat a city-paid lunch twice a month and accept city contributions toward their pensions.
COLORADO SPRINGS UTILITIES
- The Colorado Springs Utilities board, which consists of all City Council members, voted in November to close the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant by 2035. Downtown merchants, business leaders and the Downtown Partnership appeared to play a key role in the board's unexpected vote, as they want downtown to undergo revitalization and redevelopment into a thriving, modern urban center.
- Bill Elder replaced Terry Maketa as El Paso County Sheriff on Jan. 1. Maketa left office in disgrace after being accused of sexual impropriety, discrimination, removing nearly all budget oversight and creating a hostile work environment. Settlement agreements totaling more than $300,000 for claims filed against Maketa and other Sheriff's Office employees were approved this year.
- A pipe bomb exploded Jan. 6 outside a building that houses the Colorado Springs chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The building was not damaged beyond charring on an exterior wall. Thaddeus Murphy, 45, was sentenced in November to five years in federal prison for placing the explosive device. Murphy told the court "it was not his intent to damage the building, but "to get the attention of my accountant who I thought was there."
- Twelve female Colorado Springs police officers filed a discrimination lawsuit in April seeking to bar the Police Department from enforcing physical testing protocols and monetary damages for earning opportunities after the women failed the test. In November, the city of Colorado Springs and the Police Department agreed that officers were not required to take the test this year and those who failed no longer faced penalties, such as being barred from wearing their uniforms or being on full patrol duty. The outcome of the lawsuit is pending.
- Desmond Smith, 14, was shot and killed during the early hours of July 18 in Memorial Park over what police say was a missing cellphone. Police arrested Raymond Rogan Jr., 18, and Riccardo Kirven, 31, on suspicion of first-degree murder. Raymond Rogan Sr., 36, was arrested on suspicion of accessory to first-degree murder after the face and tampering with evidence.
- In September, Colorado Springs police were awarded a $600,000 grant to purchase 500 body-worn cameras. The grant required the department to match the funding to cover the cost of the cameras for two years. CSPD hopes to have 50 to 100 officers wear the body cameras in April, with all 471 officers equipped by October.
The rear window of a Colorado Springs Police car is shattered by gun fire in front of the Wendy's restaurant on Wahsatch Avenue in Colorado Springs as police investigate the one of the scenes from a shooting rampage that left three victims dead Saturday morning, Oct. 31, 2015, in Colorado Springs. The shooting began on Prospect Street near Platte Avenue and ended at Wahsatch and Platte avenues where police exchanged gun fire, killing the suspected shooter. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
- On Oct. 31, investigators say Noah Harpham killed three people during a shooting rampage in downtown Colorado Springs before he died in a shootout with police in a Wendy's parking lot. His motive remains unclear.
- Robert Lewis Dear Jr. allegedly shot and killed three people during a shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 27. Nine others were wounded. In his first appearance inside a courtroom, Dear, 57, yelled over his attorneys several times and alluded to a motive by calling himself "a warrior for babies." He has been charged with 179 felonies, including eight for first-degree murder and 131 for attempted murder.
In this Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 photo, teacher Nicoleen Winklarek works with students in a seventh grade accelerated math class at Holy Spirit School in East Greenbush, N.Y. The Diocese of Albany, New York, announced recently that it will reduce the frequency of the Common Core-aligned tests while sticking with the standards. The decision coincides with a call by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Â“a total rebootÂ” of the Common Core after his state became the epicenter of anti-testing sentiment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
- The testing frenzy came to a head for Colorado public schools, as students in some districts opted out of new standardized assessments in droves in April. One of the most glaring cases was at Cheyenne Mountain High School, where only 29 of the 320 juniors took the English and math tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). When the Colorado Department of Education released scores for the new tests in December, many education officials said the data is virtually useless because of the high numbers of students that refused to take the tests, for a variety of philosophical and practical reasons.
- Testing, testing and less testing. While Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate spent a good deal of time killing each other's bills during the 2015 General Assembly, a compromise was reached on one of the biggest issues in the session. Students will spend far fewer hours during the 2015-16 school year testing than they did in previous years. It was an issue that made for odd bedfellows, with Colorado Springs Democrat and teacher union sympathizer Sen. Michael Merrifield teaming with Sen. Owen Hill, a Republican and pro-charter school and home school dad.
- The Colorado Springs STAR (Space, Technology and Arts) Academy, a 9-year-old charter school that served a large number of low-income children, closed on May 27. Colorado Springs School District 11's Board of Education unanimously decided in January to shutter the academy due to concerns over a deficit of more than $200,000, struggling academic performance, staff turnover and not spending all of its Title I money.
- The Gazette published in October the culmination of a year-and-a-half investigation into the state's troubled youth corrections system, uncovering secretive isolation practices, continued violence despite policy and leadership changes, cases of youth escaping from secured facilities and other problems. The Gazette began hearing from teachers and guards in May 2014 that conditions at Spring Creek were dangerous, and articles about the issue led state lawmakers to open to the public records of incidents within the juvenile centers.
- A reform slate of three candidates seeking change in the region's largest public school district, Colorado Springs School District 11, failed to win seats on the seven-member board in the November election, after teachers' unions poured large sums of money into incumbents' campaign coffers.
Canon City Police Chief Paul Schultz, left, and Crime Prevention Coordinator Jen O'Connor listen as Superintendent George Welsh talks about a sexting scandal at Canon City High School during a news conference in Canon City, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. An unspecified number of students have been suspended and the school forfeited its final football game of the season because of the number of players involved. (Tracy Harmon/The Pueblo Chieftain via AP)
- More than 100 students were connected to a widespread sexting scandal uncovered in November at the middle school and high school in Cañon City, but no charges were filed against anyone after a month-long investigation. Investigators found 351 questionable images on the cellphones of three students.
- Posts made in November on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak led to disciplinary action of Colorado College juniors Lou Henriques and Thaddeus Pryor. Henriques was expelled after quoting a South Park episode in which a character appears on the Wheel of Fortune and tries to solve a "People Who Annoy You" puzzle with the letters N_GGERS showing. The correct answer is "NAGGERS." His housemate, Pryor, was suspended until the end of the 2015-16 academic year after he responded to a post that read #blackwomenmmater with, "They matter, they're just not hot."
- May was the wettest month on record in Colorado Springs, when 8.13 inches of rain was recorded at the Colorado Springs Airport - breaking the mark set in 1935, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo. The rains - which fell on all but one day in May - caused enough damage throughout the state to warrant a federal disaster declaration. For El Paso County that made the fourth federal disaster declaration in three years.
- At least 11 counties, including El Paso, will get federal grants to help pay for millions of dollars of damage to roads and open spaces. Months later, some county roads remain closed after spring washouts. The rains contributed to a slew of mudslides and sinkholes around Colorado Springs and brought several western county homeowners closer to flood danger. Several people in Cascade have been living with constant summer flooding since the Waldo Canyon fire in 2012, and the spring rains worsened the situation for many homeowners, some of whom agreed to accept government buyouts of their homes.
City street workers were trying to clear a drain that could be leading to street flooding on Las Vegas St. just east of Nevada Ave. on Friday, May 8, 2015. The Pikes Peak region is saturated because of recent storms and more storms are in the forecast. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)
- Aside from massive recovery bills, the May flooding also dampened the spirits of Colorado Springs' outdoors enthusiasts, who were shut out of Red Rock Canyon Open Space for six weeks while city crews repaired trail damage and other havoc wreaked by the collapse of an earthen dam. Red Rock reopened to packed parking lots on July 4.
- In February, President Barack Obama used his executive privilege to create the Browns Canyon National Monument, sidestepping 20 years of ideological battles over conservation issues related to a scenic stretch of the Arkansas River. The designation enshrines 20,000 acres under the nation's strictest level of protection, meaning development will be off limits. Partisans, including U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, decried the move as a "land grab," while sportsmen, anglers and conservationists celebrated the preservation measure.
Next-Era Energy Resources resumes construction of 126 wind turbines in Calhan, Colorado, on Tuesday, July 21, 2015. According to project director David Gil, the $400 million project comes with a maximum generating capacity of 250 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 62,000 homes a year. Photo Logan Riely, The Gazette
- In February, the El Paso County commissioners approved changes to a massive wind farm project near Calhan. The wind farm, initially approved in December 2013, was purchased by NextEra Energy Resources, which wanted to move the project's transmission line above ground. After a 15-hour meeting of emotional public testimony - both for and against the wind farm - the commissioners approved the 29-mile above-ground transmission line. By fall, the work on the wind farm was completed, with 145 wind turbines rising above the plains of Calhan.
Many property owners remained irate that the commissioners had approved the wind farm. A group, known as the El Paso County Property Rights Coalition, filed a lawsuit in the spring against NextEra, demanding that the project be reverted back to its original plan, with the underground transmission line. The lawsuit was dismissed in early September.
- The towns of Monument and Palmer Lake resolved a years-long fight over water in 2015. For years, Palmer Lake relied on an old railroad water right to fill its natural lake, which suffered due to drought and development. Once the water right was legally changed from industrial to municipal use, Monument laid claim to some of the water. In the spring, after legal battles and tense public meetings, the towns reached a settlement: Palmer Lake was granted use of 64 acre feet of water a year. But when Palmer Lake was declared full this summer for the first time in years, it was not thanks to the water right, but to heavy spring rains.
- The Colorado Springs Airport became the home of one of the largest firefighting aircraft in the United States, a Boeing 747-400 Coverted Freighter owned by Global SuperTanker Services. The plane can carry up to 19,600 gallons of retardant or water for 4,000 miles, surpassing the DC-10 airtanker, which can carry 12,000 gallons and was used during the 2013 Black Forest fire.
The company's decision to use house the aircraft at the Colorado Springs Airport was hailed as a victory in August by Mayor John Suthers, particularly after the city lost a bid to house the state's new Center for Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting.
- Hundreds of people at Penrose Hospital were possibly exposed to the measles virus in January as part of a multi-state outbreak that began at two California theme parks.
- In February, Peak Vista Community Health Centers announced Dr. Scott Robinson would lead its new family practice medical residency program. The hire represented a major step forward for a program that could help address a shortage of primary care doctors in the Pikes Peak region.
- In April, University of Colorado Health, the nonprofit statewide hospital system operating Memorial Hospital, announced a partnership with Adeptus Health, a for-profit chain operating several First Choice Emergency Room locations across Colorado. Under the partnership, the emergency rooms were renamed UCHealth ER.
- Several changes went into effect at Memorial Hospital Central in June after state and federal investigations examined Children's Hospital Colorado's operations there. Children's Hospital Colorado relinquished its license at the facility, and its employees became contracted employees of Memorial Hospital. The investigation also led Memorial Hospital to relinquish a Level I pediatric trauma waiver earlier in the year.
- Penrose-St. Francis Health Services spent much of the year planning a series of expansions. The two-hospital chain confirmed in February it was looking for a site to build a third campus that would accommodate many of the in-patient and acute care services now provided at its main campus on North Nevada Avenue, which would be converted to mostly offer outpatient and rehabilitation services. Penrose-St. Francis also announced plans for a major expansion of its St. Francis Medical Center in northeast Colorado Springs and opened its third "health neighborhood" in southwest Colorado Springs.
- The third health insurance open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act began in November. It marked another test for Colorado's exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, and it came weeks after one of the most popular insurers, ColoradoHealthOP, went out of business due to federal funding shortfall.
- In November, Memorial Hospital announced it would share about $1.3 million of its revenue with Colorado Springs, signaling Memorial's improved financial footing amid expanded Medicaid reimbursements and increased patient visits, admissions and surgeries. The one-time payment adds to the $5.6 million that University of Colorado Health pays annually to lease the city-owned hospital.
A worker tends to marijuana plants in a "bloom room" at a medical marijuana grow operation in a commercial building in Colorado Springs Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
- Manitou Springs had its second recreational pot shop open April 1. Its sales tax revenue from "industry," which includes the marijuana stores, increased by 4,268 percent in the first half of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014. Manitou Springs has the only two recreational pot shops in El Paso County.
- Voters allowed the state to keep $66.1 million in revenue generated by special taxes on recreational marijuana when they overwhelmingly supported Proposition BB in November. The state would have had to refund the money because of provisions in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, but instead will spend $40 million of it on school construction and the rest on drug prevention and addiction programs.
- The Colorado Springs City Council, spurred by Mayor John Suthers, doubled down on the city's anti-marijuana stance, enacting ordinances that thwart business expansion for six months and proposing stronger penalties on minors caught with paraphernalia. Moratoriums were set on creation or expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and "cannabis clubs."
- As of November, Colorado had collected $53.7 million in tax revenue from medical and retail marijuana sales and wholesales, according to statistics from the Department of Revenue. An additional $6 million in license and application fees from medical and retail marijuana growers, product producers or sellers was collected.
- The number of marijuana businesses continued to grow in Colorado. On the medical marijuana side, there were 508 stores, 736 cultivations and 197 infused product manufacturers as of Dec. 1, 2015. In the retail or recreational realm, there were 408 stores, 512 cultivations, 160 infused product manufacturers and 17 testing facilities, according to the Department of Revenue.
- Training accidents in February and September claimed the lives of two Fort Carson soldiers in mishaps with the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle. Staff Sgt. Justin Holt died in the February incident and six others were injured. In September, an incident at Fort Irwin, Calif., killed Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Christopher Popham. The Army hasn't released investigation reports on the incidents.
- A probe released in February prompted reforms at Fort Carson's Evans Army Community Hospital where a patient recorded a doctor accusing of lying about his mental health condition. The Army found that some workers in the hospital's behavioral health department were demeaning, patronizing, foul-mouthed and told the soldier that a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, would make commanders pay attention to his claims of mental illness because they would see him as likely to snap. A social worker and a major at the hospital faced discipline and commanders were ordered to retrain the hospital staff.
Schriever Air Force Base runs a base defense exercise involving the El Paso County Sheriff's Special Response Team one day after a similar exercise triggered a lock-down of the base in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Thursday, November 19, 2015. The exercise involved a hostage scenario with cooperation from the Sheriff negotiator lasting several hours. Photo by Daniel Owen.
- Schriever Air Force Base will house the new Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center. The center brings together military space expects with their counterparts from intelligence agencies. The first work at the center will include a series of war games to determine how the military and intelligence agencies should react if American satellites are threatened.
- Fort Carson was spared from deep cuts in July when the Army announced it would shave just 365 soldiers from the 24,500-soldier post as it seeks to downsize in a cost-saving move. The Army over five years is cutting its ranks by about 70,000 soldiers.
- Air Force investigators say they're still probing the April death of Air Force Academy cadet Alex Quiros. Quiros was found with fatal stab wounds in his academy dorm room on April 2. The El Paso County coroner deemed the death a suicide. Thirteen days after cadet Quiros died, his mother, Ksenia Quiros, ingested deadly levels of antihistamine and hiked into remote open space where she was later found dead. That death was also ruled a suicide. In December, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations denied requests for records in cadet Quiros' death, saying the investigation continued.
- Air Force Space Command in April announced a new work schedule for satellite crews. The crews will work six months on satellite operations before rotating to six months of intensive training. Space Command boss Gen. John Hyten said the move will lead to better training and more experience for those who control satellites that are increasingly considered wartime targets by America's rivals.
- U.S. Northern Command in May increased security at military bases nationwide in response to growing threats from Islamic State-inspired terrorists. The command's leader Adm. Bill Gortney said the move makes bases safer by imposing random measures that could thwart individual attackers like the Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who gunned down four Marines and a sailor during a July attack on recruiting centers in Tennessee.
- The Air Force Academy changed its graduation schedule in a bid to save money. The move delayed graduation or the class of 2015 by a day after Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson moved the ceremony to avoid overtime costs incurred by having the event just two days after Memorial Day. The move gave most academy workers the holiday off.
First Lt. Shaye Haver, Apache pilot, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, left, traverses an obstacle during the Ranger Assessment held at Fort Carson to improve the participant's chances of completing Ranger School, Oct. 24, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Glassey, 4th Inf. Div. PAO)
- Fort Carson got a new boss in May when Maj. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves took the reins from Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera. Gonsalves was a familiar figure in the Pikes Peak region who started his military career at Fort Carson and had served as the post's deputy commander.
- A Fort Carson helicopter pilot broke through gender barriers when she became one of two women to complete the service's grueling Ranger school. First Lt. Shaye Haver graduated the course on Aug. 21. Haver said that when times were tough during the school, she looked to her classmates for inspiration. "The ability to look around at my peers and see that they were sucking as badly as I was kept me going," she said.
- Former Fort Carson capt. Florent "Flo" Groberg was awarded the Medal of Honor during a Nov. 12 ceremony at the White House. Groberg earned the medal while serving in Afghanistan with the post's 4th brigade Combat Team. He's credited with pushing a suicide bomber away from other troops, saving their lives on Aug. 8, 2012. He suffered severe leg injuries when the bomber detonated his suicide vest.
- An Air force Academy graduate who led the school's women's rugby team to a 2002 national championship died Dec. 21 in an Afghanistan suicide attack. Maj. Adrianna Vorderbruggen was one of six airmen killed in the attack outside Bagram Air Base. She was one of the first airmen to openly marry a same-sex partner.
- Fort Carson sent hundreds of troops to Afghanistan as 2015 ended. Soldiers from the 3rd Squadron of 61st Cavalry Regiment will serve near Kabul as they train and assist the Afghan military. Troops from the post's 4th Combat Aviation Brigade will fly attack and transport helicopters throughout the region. The December deployments come amid increasing concern over the Taliban's resurgence.
After 37 years in Colorado Springs, the Colorado Springs Pride Center is closing after the Board of Directors announced that they were dissolving the center.. The center is a local nonprofit that serves the LGBT community in the Pikes Peak region. On Monday, January 12, 2014, board member Laura Ettinger talks on the phone during a visit to the office to decide where the assets of the non-profit can be best used. A press release from the center listed the reasons for the closure as, "unretired debt from years past, as well as management issues, combined to create an untenable situation and one that could not be overcome without placing the nonprofit in further straits." (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)
- In January, the Colorado Springs Pride Center, a go-to resource for the region's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, announced its closure after years of overwhelming debt and management issues. The announcement ended a 37-year run of offering assistance, advocacy and support programs for thousands of people across the Pikes Peak region.
- In late summer, the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region took over operation of the Colorado Springs Senior Center after the Colorado Springs Housing Authority said it could no longer run the facility.
- In September, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado and Family Promise of Colorado Springs partnered to open a homeless family day center inside the Hanifen Center, 14 W. Bijou St.
- Throughout the year, Rocky Mountain Human Services' Homes for All Veterans program led a push to try to end veteran homelessness across El Paso County, housing many people that caseworkers and a cadre of volunteers met on the streets.
- Hot air balloon festivities continued in 2015 despite some doubt about the annual Labor Day weekend event when 2014 closed. After the owner of the Colorado Balloon Classic said she would not bring the event back to Colorado Springs, but Scott Appleman brought the Labor Day Lift Off to town - meaning the balloons left ground in the city for the 39th year.
Denver Broncos backup quarterback Brock Osweiler will get extended game action in Thursday's preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
- After losing a home game in the playoffs to the Colts, the Broncos made changes. Gary Kubiak replaced John Fox as coach. Months later, Brock Osweiler has replaced an injured Peyton Manning, who struggled in the playoff loss, as the starting quarterback.
- The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament in men's and women's basketball. Men's star Derrick White has since transferred to play for the University of Colorado at Boulder.
- Motorcyclist Carl Sorensen, a 39-year-old father of one, was killed in a practice run at The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in June.
- Franchise cornerstone Troy Tulowitzki was traded by the Rockies to the Toronto Blue Jays. Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star who won two Gold Gloves playing shortstop in Colorado.
- The Colorado Springs Switchbacks made the United Soccer League playoffs in their inaugural season.
- For the first time since the Avalanche's arrival in Colorado in 1995-96, both the Avs and Nuggets missed the playoffs. The Nuggets fired coach Brian Shaw and traded Ty Lawson after the season. The Avalanche dealt Ryan O'Reilly.
- Air Force's football team won its division and advanced to the Mountain West championship game. It lost to California in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29.
- Fountain-Fort Carson and Palmer Ridge both repeated as boys' state track and field champions.
- Republicans, Republicans, and more Republicans. For the first time in a decade, Republicans held the state Senate and Colorado Springs' own Bill Cadman became the Senate president. The year was marked by efforts to reverse gun legislation was passed by Democrats in 2013, the GOP's ability to block funding for a program that provides long-acting reversible contraception for low-income and uninsured women and a no-go to a work-around for refunds to taxpayers that the governor supported.
- Douglas Bruce, the embattled Colorado Springs politician, defended himself in court against accusations he violated the terms of his probation from his 2012 felony convictions. Bruce represented himself during the probation revocation hearings and the judge will rule in 2016 on the issue. Bruce could face jail or prison time if he's found guilty.
- A Gazette investigation found the Division of Youth Corrections violated state law by placing juveniles in solitary confinement as a form of long-term punishment under a program that had remained hidden until lawmakers opened up records for public scrutiny in 2015. One 14-year-old spent almost a month in solitary confinement before DYC began changing its policies.
- Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican who represents eastern Colorado Springs, was removed from a committee assignment after he said in an online ministry video that a woman in Longmont had her baby cut from her womb because of "a curse of God." The lawmaker was later reinstated to his committee and has since announced he will run for Senate District 12.
- Gaylord Rockies hotel and conference center in Aurora is moving forward. It faced opposition in 2015 that brought litigation, changes to legislation that seemed specifically tailored to squash the project's millions in city tax incentives, a full audit called for into the state's $81.4 million in incentives and a number of questions from the state Treasurer. The City of Aurora launched a defensive tactic on the issue at the Capitol hiring lobbyists and pro-actively combating potential legislation before it was even introduced.
- Two major construction projects - Interstate 25 at Cimarron Street and Interstate 25 at Fillmore Street - were well underway in 2015. The Fillmore Street project will make two bridges over the interstate and studies say it will improve congestion in the area by 70 percent. This project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016. At Cimarron Street, the new interchange will improve and on and off ramps from the Interstate, among other changes. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
- An estimated $2 million is needed to fix Chestnut Street between Vodelpark Drive and Ellston Street in northwest Colorado Springs, where a sinkhole opened in August after strong rain. The project is expected to take no longer than a year to complete, the city said.
- In a major step inspired by years of heavy summer flash flooding, the Colorado Department of Transportation spent $1 million installing closure gates on U.S. 24. The department installed 10 gates along the highway, although for the first time in year, flash flooding off the Waldo Canyon fire burn scar never forced the highway to shut down. (The highway was closed once in May due to excessive hail.)
- Mountain Metro Transit implemented new bus routes on one weekday and two Saturday routes. It also added large screen monitors at all four transfer stations to provide real-time arrival information.