Greetings (again) from the Gwillimville Bureau (more on that soon, I promise. Really!). Thanks for all the encouraging and supportive feedback regarding my inaugural column in our Nov. 21 issue of The Tribune. I also appreciate your keeping the non-constructive stuff to yourselves.

I had planned on sticking to the light and frothy path for a few weeks while we got ourselves acquainted, so as not to run anybody off prematurely — there’ll be plenty of time for that as we go. I could stick with ruminations on the wind whipping off the Divide, perhaps, and how these breezes serve to bring the community together (as we go house to house every few weeks collecting our trash cans, lawn furniture, mail, tool sheds and trampolines, small pets and young children — a great way to meet and maintain relations with the neighbors).

But a subject near and dear to my heart, mind and liver — alcohol and drug addiction and the horrors, hype, hysteria, hope and healing that are all part of the deal — has reared its lumpy but lovable head around here, in the form of the Mountain Springs Recovery treatment facility in the process of setting up shop in the former Ramada Inn on Woodmoor Drive (also known as the Falcon Inn, then Sundance Mountain Lodge).

I was fully prepared to dispense wisdom on the topic, having done “research” at both inner-city and suburban rehab centers in another life — ever hear the one about the guy who was awakened from a Thanksgiving Day nap by a certain former First Lady herself? — but I find my current opinion under healthy siege, and at risk of being influenced by input from people with differing perspectives from mine (something I usually try to avoid … ha!)

As someone predisposed to looking at the upside of such additions to the community — the hope and healing part of the alliterative action above — I occasionally give benefit of the doubt where it’s not appropriate or deserved. This is big stuff around here, though. There are lives in the balance on every side of this issue: the afflicted and their families, the community around the proposed facility, and those taking on the responsibility of helping to lead the wayward ones out of the wilderness. There’s also a world of ignorance surrounding the matter, as evidenced by the online chatter, to which I don’t want to be a contributor. Hysteria and half-truths abound, not to mention bad cyber-manners (where are the grownups when you need ’em?) and the emotionally-charged nature of the discussion too often overrules rational thinking. As a friend noted, the online commentary couldn’t be any more over the top if it’d been announced that a leper colony was moving into the Ramada. Kinda funny, but definitely on point.

In light of this need for additional useful data, I’m asking for a 14-day extension to get myself better informed on this important matter before casting my rhetorical vote. As I mentioned to another concerned friend, this facility would ideally be an asset to the community within and without its walls, taking the initiative to carry a message of sobriety and hope to our schools, churches, businesses and anywhere else they’re welcomed. The most important question for me is always net effect: will more people be helped or harmed by any business or institution’s presence here? I’m down for replicating the kind of miracle of which I am the beneficiary today, but not for a con job under the guise of recovery. Sobriety-scammers give legitimate recovery programs a bad name and make what is an uphill battle to begin with (the saving of people from their own destructive instincts) that much tougher. Prayers for wisdom and vision for all involved, as this gets sorted out.

In the meantime, thanks and Godspeed to my friend Brian Brown, whom many of you know as the general manager of the Drury Inn on Interquest Parkway. Brian and his wife Lauren have been great neighbors, involving themselves in Tri-Lakes Chamber activities and stepping up to offer their services as headquarters hotel for our annual Rocky Mountain Select Texas Longhorn Sale each August. They’re headed back to Virginia in January to open a Drury Plaza (a recovery center of sorts, n’est pas?) in Richmond, and our loss is the East Coast’s gain. ¡Vaya con dios, caballero magnifico! Tune in Dec. 19 for more!

Charlie Searle has lived in Monument since 1994 and is active in a variety of pursuits in the Tri-Lakes area, as his tagline “Meat, Motors, Music, Media” attests. He has three kids, Mike, Caitlin and Sarah, all veterans of the Lewis-Palmer school system, and resides in the 1870s-era Gwillimville Cabin on Searle Ranch east of Monument. His band Ashtonz was one of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Best of the Springs nominees in 2018 and plays regularly (“somewhat irregularly,” he corrects) up and down the Front Range. Contact Charlie at

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