At the start of 2021, the end of the pandemic seemed within our grasp. A year later, that goal is still elusive as the virus continues to mutate. Breakthrough cases emerge among the vaccinated while the political divide over measures such as mask and vaccine mandates persists.

At the start of 2021, Colorado Springs was awaiting an answer on whether whether the city would keep U.S. Space Command and its 1,400 airmen. A year later, the answer has long been known, with plans for the command to move to Huntsville, Ala., and city and state leaders still hoping to get that decision overturned by the Biden administration. The Pentagon's Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office are expected to release findings of their investigations this year into how Huntsville was awarded the command. 

Who knows what surprises await us in 2022? We don't have a crystal ball with the answer. But here are some things we can anticipate this year:

• Colorado Springs' first Whataburger is expected to open in the first quarter of the new year in the InterQuest Marketplace shopping center, east of Interstate 25 along InterQuest Parkway on the city's far north side. A Whataburger franchisee is bringing the Texas-based hamburger chain to the Springs; its cult-like following rivals that of California-based In-N-Out Burger. The Whataburger franchisee also has plans for three more locations in the Springs.

• Denver-based Tattered Cover, the state's largest independent bookstore and one of the bookselling industry's best known names for just over a half-century, will expand to Colorado Springs when it opens in the spring at 112 N. Tejon St. in the heart of downtown. Tattered Cover will move into a portion of a more than century-old building that most recently housed the Zeezo's costume and magic shop.

• Here are two sweet bits of news for Colorado Springs' northeast side. In January, Amy's Donuts plans to open its second Springs location, northeast of Powers Boulevard and North Carefree Circle. About a month later, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will open northwest of Powers and South Carefree, returning to the Springs after an absence of 16 years.

• Vine and Wheel, 616 S. Tejon St,. is scheduled to open in February. It's another concept from Altitude Hospitality Group, owned by Mitch Yellen. It will be in the same building as AHG's other eateries, Garden of the Gods Cafe and Market and Till Neighborhood Bistro. The wine bar will offer wines by the bottle and glass. There will be a menu of small plates and charcuterie boards. It will be a retail market for cheese and wine too. Yellen will also open Trainwreck Colorado, 812 S. Sierra Madre St., in March. The sports bar will have golf simulators, stadium-size TV, billiards, sand volleyball, bocce ball, shuffleboard, yard games, live music, bar and food.

Online sales giant Amazon is expected to open two more delivery stations this year — one in a former Sam's Club store now under renovation at 715 S. Academy Blvd. and the other in a new building on the site of the former Western Forge hand tool manufacturing plant at 4607 Forge Road. Delivery stations are warehouses where Amazon drivers pick up merchandise and deliver it to customer homes.

• Southwest Airlines will study passenger numbers on flights to Houston and San Antonio it operated on a test basis during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to determine whether to add the cities to its Colorado Springs schedule on either a season or year-around basis. Airport officials also are trying to persuade Southwest or United to offer nonstop service from Colorado Springs to the Washington, D.C., area, the top local destination without nonstop flights.

• Catalyst Campus is expected to begin construction early this year on a sixth office building in the 12-acre business park on the eastern edge of downtown Colorado Springs to house its growing collection of space-focused startups and defense contractors. That's just the first step in an ambitious plan to expand the campus during the next 10 years.

• The Space Foundation is scheduled to hold its first full in-person Space Symposium since 2019 in April at The Broadmoor. Last year's symposium was postponed until late August, when it was held as a hybrid in-person and online event, and the event was canceled in 2020, both as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, the symposium typically attracted about 15,000 participants from across the globe.

• The Colorado Springs Airport is expected to begin a major renovation of the 28-year-old passenger terminal, starting with the restrooms. The project is expected to cost $10 million to $20 million, take three to five years to complete, and is designed to increase capacity; add food and gift options' make the airport easier to navigate for people with disabilities; and upgrade and replace worn-out or aging equipment. The airport hopes to finance the project by using revenue from its Peak Innovation business park or funding from the Biden administrations $1.2 trillion infrastructure program.

• The Colorado Springs City Council may appoint Stephannie Fortune to replace Councilman Richard Skorman and serve until 2023. Her expected appointment has already sparked some controversy because she has only lived in District 3, the southwest portion of town, since Nov. 15. 

• Colorado Springs could grow by several thousand acres to the south as developers plan for Amara, a new subdivision of roughly 5,600 acres. A portion of Amara was annexed to the city of Fountain in 2008 and now developers have asked to leave Fountain likely in favor of Colorado Springs, over water concerns. Fountain cannot immediately provide the water service developers need. 

• Drivers along the 18-mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock have been able to reach their destinations toll-free since all three lanes in each direction, including a pair of express lanes, opened in late 2021 as part of the South Gap project, a year ahead of schedule. Tolls are being waived during the testing phase, during which state transportation officials are gauging how the lanes operate. The testing phase is expected to last through much of 2022. Tolls will go into effect once the testing phase is complete this year, and a state board will set the rates before the new lanes open.

Voters in El Paso and Teller counties will elect a spate of new officials during midterm elections in November. In El Paso County, residents will elect two county commissioners in Districts 1 and 5, as well as a county treasurer, assessor, sheriff, coroner, clerk and recorder and surveyor. In Teller County, voters will elect a county commissioner in District 2, as well as a county assessor, treasurer, sheriff, coroner, and clerk and recorder. Residents in several Pikes Peak area towns and cities will elect a mayor and council members, including in Monument, Palmer Lake and Woodland Park. Gov. Jared Polis, meanwhile, is keeping an eye on as many as 14 Republicans who might take him on in 2022, as the Democratic tech millionaire seeks a second term.

• Could 2022 be the year electric-powered bikes have their legal day in Colorado Springs parks and open spaces? They were to be allowed on a temporary basis last year while their long-term fates were decided, but officials called off the pilot program amid heated pushback. While other Front Range communities have formally accepted e-bikes on trails, they remain a heated topic in the Springs. One side claims they allow access like any other bike, while another side claims they threaten the recreation landscape and are not allowed under the city's non-motorized restrictions.

• Residents of northern and southern El Paso County could visit long-anticipated open spaces. In the woods of Palmer Lake, Santa Fe Open Space's trails are likely to be unveiled first, before Kane Ranch Open Space's 4-mile loop on the prairie near Fountain.

• In spring, a plan is expected to outline and strategize the Pikes Peak region's "biggest, most ambitious conservation and recreation goals." That's the description of an initiative called Elevate the Peak. As a major, deep-rooted funder, Palmer Land Conservancy convened land managers and advocates throughout 2021 to discuss big ideas.

• A network of nonprofit medical clinics for the indigent will open a $4.5 million health care center across the street from Colorado Springs’ largest homeless shelter. When it debuts on Feb. 14, Peak Vista Community Health Center Downtown will offer medical, dental, mental health and care coordination to the homeless population, people at risk of being homeless and other low-income residents.

• Starting in March, seniors who need grab bars, wheelchair ramps, railings, roof repairs and other home improvements to help them remain independent can get them for free through the new Senior Home Modification program, a joint effort between Silver Key Senior Services and Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity.

• Letecia Stauch’s trial is scheduled to begin March 28, and is expected to last around six weeks. That timeline could see complications, however, because Stauch’s defense requires her to again undergo a mental evaluation. 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner ordered in December would take place at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. At that time, he said his latest information was that the state mental hospital had a 352-person backlog for people waiting for competency or restoration services. Stauch is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon, in early 2020.

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