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IN OUR APRIL EDITION ~ Play it safe Spring has sprung and the great outdoors are calling. What do you need to know to avoid injury or accidents?

*********ECRWSSEDDM** Postal Customer Colorado Springs, CO 80910, 80916

Non-Profitt Org. Non-Profi U.S. Postage PAID Colo Spgs CO Permit No. 1008

MANY VOICES ... ONE COMMUNITY • VOL. 2, ISSUE 3 • MARCH 2020

Primed for opportunity Amazon announcement stirs excitement, visions of growth By Jeanne Davant

Special to the Southeast Express

A

COURTESY PHOTO/JEANNE DAVANT/COLORADO SPRINGS BUSINESS JOURNAL

Amazon's announcement that it would build a 4 million-squarefoot fulfillment center in Southeast Colorado Springs spurred excitement in the business community.

mazon’s Feb. 13 announcement that it plans to open a 4 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Southeast Colorado Springs has stirred excitement in the economic development community. The project has broken ground and the facility is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021. It’s expected to bring more than 1,000 new full-time jobs starting at $15 an hour, with full benefits. The new center will be built just north of Amazon’s current distribution center in Peak Innovation Park at the Colorado Springs Airport. Colorado Springs Economic Development Manager Bob Cope said the new fulfillment center will produce major economic benefits. “We are going to be a growing community because of our quality of life and people wanting to move here," Continued as AMAZON page 8

On the search for a solution

Panel, community dialogue opens rebuilding process By Regan Foster

The Southeast Express

F

or seven months, city law enforcement leaders and Southeast Colorado Springs residents have pondered some difficult questions: How can we come together and heal following a tragic event that drove a wedge into the community? And how can we work together to improve accountability, communication and transparency, should another tragedy occur? The questions were spurred by the Aug. 3 fatal police-involved shooting of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey. Although a grand jury ultimately declined to indict the officers, Bailey’s friends, family and supporters in the Southeast Colorado Springs neighborhood in which he was shot were unhappy with how Springs police and some city leaders handled the situ-

ation. In early February, six months after Bailey’s death, a group formed to explore how to improve accountability in policing. From that citizen-led group, the Justice for De’Von Bailey Editorial Board, arose the Law Enforcement Accountability Project. A delegation of Springs residents is slated to head to the University of Texas Law School in Austin, Texas, for a March 6 academic symposium on civilian oversight of law enforcement. The delegates are expected to report back April 2 as part of an accountability project program on oversight models and the benefits of such programs. The trip and update follow a tense-but-respectful community gathering that took place on a snowy Feb. 6. A standing-room-only crowd flocked to Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center in the Hillside neighborhood for a panel discussion on police accountability, transparency and community relations. It was the

first in a series of planned meetings designed to foster dialogue among the stakeholders on the quest to find a solution. “The tragedy of De’Von Bailey has traumatized the community and the community has been severely torn, but not torn apart,” said the Rev. Promise Lee, pastor at Relevant Word and the evening’s moderator. The panelists included: Florencia Rojo, an assistant professor of sociology at Colorado College and adviser to a student-led project studying police transparency and best practices in Colorado Springs, Aurora, Denver and Boulder; the Rev. Stephany Rose Spaulding, chair of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a candidate for U.S. Senate; Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski; Kevin Mitchell, Colorado Springs NAACP Continued as DIALOGUE page 9

INSIDE Making college accessible page 10

Classes from the heart page 12 Meet Sierra's history maker page 21

Faces of a community

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MARCH 2020

THE CENSUS TRUST & SAFETY TEAM •

PROTECTING THE COUNT IN 2020 The use of digital platforms changed how people get their news and updates making it easier to spread scams and false information. The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card numbers, money or donations, your mother’s maiden name, or anything on behalf of a political party. If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity; Check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 1-800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. Learn more at 2020census.gov/en/avoiding-fraud.html The U.S. Census Bureau is dedicated to protecting you from misinformation and disinformation about the 2020 Census. Help us protect the count by reporting inaccurate, suspicious, or fraudulent information you read, hear, or spot online, including:

• A rumor in a message board or group claiming the information you provide will be publicly disclosed.

• A post shared on social media discouraging participation in the 2020 Census.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Flag suspicious information on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and other platforms.

Reach out to us on our verified Social Media accounts

• An advertisement on social media sharing fake 2020 Census websites and inaccurate information.

WHY IT MATTERS

Report suspicious information and tips to: rumors@census.gov

Call the Census Bureau Customer Service Hotline at 1-800-923-8282 to report suspicious activity.

• A suspicious email requesting your social security number or bank account information for the 2020 Census

The census is one of the most important events in the United States. Every 10 years, the census helps determine the number of seats your state gets in Congress and how billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed to states and communities each year. Help the Census Bureau protect the accuracy of the count by reporting inaccurate, suspicious, or fraudulent information. Learn more about the importance of the census at 2020census.gov.

(@uscensusbureau).

Shape your future START HERE >

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IN OUR APRIL EDITION ~ Play it safe Spring has sprung and the great outdoors are calling. What do you need to know to avoid injury or accidents?

*********ECRWSSEDDM** Postal Customer Colorado Springs, CO 80910, 80916

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Colo Spgs CO Permit No. 1008

MANY VOICES ... ONE COMMUNITY • VOL. 2, ISSUE 3 • MARCH 2020

Primed for opportunity Amazon announcement stirs excitement, visions of growth By Jeanne Davant

Special to the Southeast Express

A

COURTESY PHOTO/JEANNE DAVANT/COLORADO SPRINGS BUSINESS JOURNAL

Amazon's announcement that it would build a 4 million-squarefoot fulfillment center in Southeast Colorado Springs spurred excitement in the business community.

mazon’s Feb. 13 announcement that it plans to open a 4 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Southeast Colorado Springs has stirred excitement in the economic development community. The project has broken ground and the facility is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021. It’s expected to bring more than 1,000 new full-time jobs starting at $15 an hour, with full benefits. The new center will be built just north of Amazon’s current distribution center in Peak Innovation Park at the Colorado Springs Airport. Colorado Springs Economic Development Manager Bob Cope said the new fulfillment center will produce major economic benefits. “We are going to be a growing community because of our quality of life and people wanting to move here," Continued as AMAZON page 8

On the search for a solution

Panel, community dialogue opens rebuilding process By Regan Foster

The Southeast Express

F

or seven months, city law enforcement leaders and Southeast Colorado Springs residents have pondered some difficult questions: How can we come together and heal following a tragic event that drove a wedge into the community? And how can we work together to improve accountability, communication and transparency, should another tragedy occur? The questions were spurred by the Aug. 3 fatal police-involved shooting of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey. Although a grand jury ultimately declined to indict the officers, Bailey’s friends, family and supporters in the Southeast Colorado Springs neighborhood in which he was shot were unhappy with how Springs police and some city leaders handled the situ-

ation. In early February, six months after Bailey’s death, a group formed to explore how to improve accountability in policing. From that citizen-led group, the Justice for De’Von Bailey Editorial Board, arose the Law Enforcement Accountability Project. A delegation of Springs residents is slated to head to the University of Texas Law School in Austin, Texas, for a March 6 academic symposium on civilian oversight of law enforcement. The delegates are expected to report back April 2 as part of an accountability project program on oversight models and the benefits of such programs. The trip and update follow a tense-but-respectful community gathering that took place on a snowy Feb. 6. A standing-room-only crowd flocked to Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center in the Hillside neighborhood for a panel discussion on police accountability, transparency and community relations. It was the

first in a series of planned meetings designed to foster dialogue among the stakeholders on the quest to find a solution. “The tragedy of De’Von Bailey has traumatized the community and the community has been severely torn, but not torn apart,” said the Rev. Promise Lee, pastor at Relevant Word and the evening’s moderator. The panelists included: Florencia Rojo, an assistant professor of sociology at Colorado College and adviser to a student-led project studying police transparency and best practices in Colorado Springs, Aurora, Denver and Boulder; the Rev. Stephany Rose Spaulding, chair of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a candidate for U.S. Senate; Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski; Kevin Mitchell, Colorado Springs NAACP Continued as DIALOGUE page 9

INSIDE Making college accessible page 10

Classes from the heart page 12 Meet Sierra's history maker page 21

Faces of a community

14


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Upcoming Events

Kindergarten Sneak Peek & Registration Join us for an exciting event to learn more about Kindergarten in D2 and register your child for the 2020-2021 school year! Each of our elementary schools will host a Kindergarten Sneak Peek and Registration evening on Wednesday, March 11th at 5:30 p.m. at their school. For a complete list of our elementary schools visit www.hsd2.org or call Student Support at 719-579-2554. Your child must be 5 years old by October 1, 2020 to attend Kindergarten next year. Parents can register the student at this event by bringing valid proof of residency, birth certificate and immunization records. Can’t make it on March 11th? Register online at www.hsd2.org or in person at the D2 Administration Building, 1060 Harrison Road, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. All Choice Enrollments for Kindergarten (a school that is different from your zoned school) must occur at the District office. We can’t wait to welcome your child to our family!

March 5 Parent Teacher Conferences March 6 Teacher Work Day No School March 11 Kindergarten Sneak Peek & Registration Evening March 19, 6:00 p.m. Board of Education Meeting March 23 - March 27 Spring Break No School

2020-2021 Choice Enrollment Open

Sierra High School Girls’ Wrestling Makes History

Winter Weather Policy Reminder

Choose FREE, Not Fees

It was a historic weekend for Sierra High School as their girls’ wrestling team hit the mats at the State Championships in Thorton, Colorado.

When inclement weather occurs and parents feel weather conditions are a threat to their child’s well-being, they may notify the school and those absences or late arrivals will be excused. The students are our first priority and we hope you will visit our district website and check the Parents tab for our Winter Weather Policy with helpful information about how delays and closures may impact you.

Because the best things in life are free. FREE College with the Dakota Promise Program FREE Concurrent Enrollment FREE Advanced Placement Exams FREE Career Technical Programs FREE Athletics FREE Award-winning Arts Programs Visit www.hsd2.org for additional information.

Harrison School District Two 1060 Harrison Road Colorado Springs, CO 80905 719-579-2000 www.hsd2.org

Join us on

Hailey Ahsmuhs, a Sierra High School junior, came out on top as the State Champion for the 147lb weight class. She fought her way through the bracket and defeated the same opponent she defeated at regionals to secure a state title. Hailey is the first Sierra wrestler to hold the title of State Champion. Nadiya Trujillo, a Sierra High School freshman, also came away with a 4th place finish for the 100lb division in the state championships. As a freshman, Nadiya has quite a promising wrestling career. Overall, the girls’ wrestling team came in 7th place out of 65 teams. Congratulations Sierra High School!

Monday morning 2-hour delay means no PLC meetings or professional development, and a Monday 2-hour delay is to be treated as a TuesdayFriday school day. The District will send out notifications via text, email, and push notifications through the District app. To ensure that you receive these communications, please make sure your contact information is current in Infinite Campus by checking with your school registrar. You can also watch local television stations, check the district website or the district Facebook page between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. when there is inclement weather. Download the free District App


AUGUST — SEPTEMBER 2019 MARCH 2020

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Xxxx

Guess what? You count Xxxx

H

ey, Southeast Colorado Springs! Want to have a say in how your roads are funded? What about your schools? Regan Foster Your public health clinics or first responders? Then here’s the thing: You Regan Foster need to be counted. This month, you will probably receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census … if you haven’t already. This part of town has historically been under-represented in the decennial count, which is a real shame, given how much hinges on the tally. Like what, you ask? Let’s take a look. • Colorado’s fair share of roughly $880 billion each year in federal funds. The U.S. government divvies up that total into education, health care, infrastructure and other programs based on each state’s population. Since Colorado’s residency rates have exploded in the past 10 years, we could be in line for about $2,300 more per person if every resident is accurately counted, Colorado Springs city officials have said. OK, great; but what does that mean for you? Consider this: Here in El Paso County, just shy of $8 million per month in food assistance was distributed to an average of 65,214 residents as of August 2019. A good chunk of the cost was covered by federal dollars, which, again, are distributed based on population. More residents mean the city, county and state collect more dollars that, in turn, benefit more people.

• Our legislative representation. The 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are assigned to states based on — you guessed it — population. In 2010, the last time the official count happened, Colorado as a state tallied just over 5 million residents. Last year’s estimates put us at more than 5.7 million, according to Census Bureau data. That’s a 14 percent jump in our population in just 10 years! And for residents who have called El Paso County home for the past decade, it should come as no surprise that the county grew at a similar rate. The 2010 census found we had 622,263 people living in the county; the 2018 estimates, the most recent available, put that number at 713,856 … a 14.7 percent increase.

accurately counted, Colorado Springs’ population could tip the half-million mark and earn the state an eighth representative. That could be your new Congressperson — your voice advocating for your family, your home, your community in Washington. But if the scales don’t tip, it probably won't happen. • Plus, there’s kind of a whole legal obligation to participate. The simple fact is that you count, in so very many ways. Your family members count. Your roommates count. And it’s important that every single one of us stands up and participates in the roll call. Look, there’s been some reluctance to participate, and frankly that’s understandable. After all, it’s not been a secret that the Trump administration wanted to not just ask basic demographic information, but whether or not every resident of a home was a U.S. citizen. That got squashed by none less than the U.S. Supreme Court, so no, you won’t be asked about your citizenship status. What you will be asked is basic information related to your age, gender, number of residents in the home, home ownership status, race, whether you are of Hispanic origin and relationship of the people in your home. All answers are kept confidential. So when that census invitation letter comes, please take the time to read it, process it and, come April 1, do your civic duty and participate. You can count me in.

We truly want to be he newspaper of,

for and by Southeast Colorado Springs. It’s important that every single one of us stands up and participates in the roll call.

So how does that impact our representation in Washington? The state currently sends seven representatives to D.C. to work on our collective behalf. City officials believe that if every resident is

Covering 80916 & 80910

Contact Southeast Express Editor and General Manager Regan Foster at (719) 578-2802 or regan.foster@southeastexpress.org.

WE WELCOME YOUR OPINIONS The Southeast Express accepts letters to the editor. To submit an opinion for consideration, email regan.foster@southeastexpress.org; or call Regan Foster at 578-2802. The Express reserves the right to determine suitability. Copyright Copyright ©2019, ©2019, all all rights rights reserved. reserved.

The Southeast Express is a project of fifiscal scal sponsor and Colorado nonprofi nonprofitt Concrete Couch and with the support of Colorado Publishing House, Colorado Springs’ largest locally owned media company. The The Southeast Southeast Express Express isis published published six 12 times per per year year by by the the Concrete Concrete Couch, Couch, 214 214 E. E. Vermijo Vermijo Ave., Ave., Colorado Colorado Springs, Springs, CO, CO, 80903. 80903. POSTMASTER: POSTMASTER: Please Please send send address address changes changes to to Southeast Southeast Express, Express, 235 235 S. S. Nevada Nevada Ave., Ave., Colorado Colorado Springs, Springs, CO, CO, 80903. 80903.

235 S. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903 235 (719) S. Nevada Ave., •Colorado Springs, CO 80903 578-2802 southeastexpress.org (719) 578-2802 • southeastexpress.org

Editor and General Manager REGAN FOSTER Editor and General Manager News Reporters REGAN FOSTER FAITH MILLER SeniorHILLSTROM Consultant ZACH LOU MELLINI MARCUS HILL Intern Senior News Account Executive ADELAIDE EVANS JAMIE ROMERO-AGRUSA Advertising Director Account Executives JASONADAMS JANC LANNY JANC SeniorJASON Account Executive DANIELLE ROGGE JAMIE ROMERO-AGRUSA Account Graphic Executives Designers LANNYTOMPKINS ADAMS ROWDY NOHEA EDWARDS MARCH MELISSA ZK BRADLEY Graphic Designers Community Outreach Director ZK BRADLEY MANNY LOPEZ DEL RIO ROWDY TOMPKINS MELISSA EDWARDS

COLORADO PUBLISHING HOUSE COLORADO PUBLISHING HOUSE Chair JOHN WEISS Chair JOHN WEISS Executive Editor Emeritus Executive Editor Emeritus RALPH ROUTON RALPH ROUTON

Advertising in the 30,000-plus circulation Southeast Express is an incredibly effi cient way for your efficient businessororcivic civicorganization organizationtotoreach reachevery everysingle singlehome homeand andbusiness businessininthe the80910 80910and and80916 80916ZIP business ZIP codes. codes.For For aa no-obligation no-obligation conversation conversation with with our our advertising advertising team, director, call or text at 719-200-8787. callJamie NoheaAgrusa-Romero March at 719-329-5217.


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The hard part’s never over, and that’s OK

I

gen, that found its way into her lungs. had just arrived back at my office from an interview with And as if one life-threatening ailment a sweet old woman who was weren’t enough, what was even more celebrating her 100th birthday concerning, they told us, was the fact that when I looked down at my phone Winter was very “floppy.” They would lift and saw I had missed three calls her little arms and let go, and each time from my girlfriend. they came crashing limply down to the “This is it,” I realized excitedly. table — an expression of pure gravity “She’s here. The baby is coming.” with no discernible sign of resistance. I called Geanine and she conThis, they told us, was very worrisome. firmed my assumption: Her water They took Winter down the hall to a had broken at work and she was head- Zach Hillstrom small Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and I ing home to get ready. followed as the nurses helped Geanine get At the time, I was working for the daily paper cleaned up. I sat in a rocking chair watching them down in Pueblo, so after wrapping up my work work on my 6-pound, 3.8-oz baby girl. Her eyes and finding someone to cover my assignments, I were closed, her face as purple as a day-old bruise. made the drive up Interstate 25 feeling excited and The nurses said she was exhibiting symptoms of a stressed and hopeful and anxious all at the same condition called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy time. The other thing I felt — even though I knew (HIE), which meant that the stress of her delivery we still had an Everest-size mountain ahead of us had, at some point, cut off oxygen to her brain. — was relief. Panicked and needing to feel like I had some Geanine’s pregnancy had been particularly brutal: control, I did the stupidest thing I could — I vomiting every day the whole nine months, masgoogled it. The first result said: “HIE… is a brain sive hormonal swings, her body’s rejection of most of the foods and routine to which she was accusinjury … associated with a high risk of death and tomed, the whole nine yards. lifelong disability.” So as I made the white-knuckle drive home to At that moment, I felt like Geanine and I had Colorado Springs, I couldn’t help but think: Maybe taken an elevator to the top of a New York City the hardest part is over. skyscraper, only to have the cable snap as soon we I knew it wasn’t likely, but I’d heard of some firstreached the top floor. time moms who had relatively easy deliveries, so I “She’s fine,” I pleaded with myself. “She’s gonna be hoped that maybe since Geanine’s pregnancy had fine. She has to be fine.” been so rough, she’d finally be able to catch a break. We were told that there’s a treatment for babies The next 50-plus hours were like something out with HIE called “cooling,” or therapeutic hypoof a deserted-island survival movie. thermia, which entails lowering the baby’s body Geanine’s contractions were so debilitating that temperature to minimize the potentially cataeach one stopped her dead in her tracks. She strophic brain damage associated with HIE. But it couldn’t eat, could hardly drink water, and the idea would have to happen quickly — the treatment is of sleep was nothing short of laughable. only effective if administered within six hours of We’d originally planned for a homebirth, and our the initial brain injury, and the hospital we were in midwife told us that walking might help speed up did not have the capabilities. the contractions, so we paced around our small A short time later, Winter was loaded into one condo for hours on end. ambulance and Geanine another. It went on for what felt like weeks. A biting chill hung in the air as I followed the On Monday afternoon, more than two full days emergency vehicles to the hospital downtown, after Geanine’s water broke, we finally gave in and and as I drove, I realized how fitting it was we had headed to the hospital. chosen the name “Winter.” She was born in the But things did not get any easier. freezing cold and because of her condition, was The anesthesiologist botched the epidural, but we forced to spend the first 72 hours of her life on ice. had no time to dwell on it, as the medication they The days that followed were a complete blur of gave her significantly sped things up. medical discussions and doctors’ visits and converJust after midnight, Geanine told me that the baby sations about Winter’s prognosis. was coming and asked me to call the nurse. I was so They were, far and away, the most difficult days of disoriented and exhausted, she had to repeat it three our lives. times before I finally delivered the message. Once she got finally to the point of pushing, Geanine was a woman possessed. She drew upon some kind of other-wordly strength, and just after As I smiled sheepishly and cut 1 a.m. on Feb. 5, 2019, Winter Joy Hillstrom finally the umbilical cord, I foolishly told met her mommy and daddy. myself the hard part was over. As I smiled sheepishly and cut the umbilical cord, I foolishly told myself the hard part was over. But after no more than 30 seconds, they removed Winter from her rightful place on Geanine’s chest and placed her on a small medical table nearby. They began to suction her tiny airway and told us she’d seemingly been very stressed during the delivery, causing her to release her bowel of its meconium. They said she had meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), meaning as Winter attempted to take her first breath, it was the meconium, rather than oxy-

When you have your first child, there’s something that clicks inside of you. It tells you that your only priority is to protect and care for this precious little being made of half of your DNA. So when your newborn gets sick like Winter was, those instincts get all dressed up with nowhere to go. You can’t touch your baby, because doing so might raise her body temperature and negate the effects of the cooling treatment. You can’t feed her, because her breathing is only

possible through a ventilator. She’s constantly sedated and requires a highly-addictive fentanyl drip to manage her pain. All you want to do is hold her and hug her and kiss her, but none of those things are possible or helpful. So you take it day by day, talking to her, reading to her and trying to put out of your mind all the devastating things that could lie ahead in her future if the treatments are not successful. As was the standard during this experience, the days were disproportionately hard on Geanine — she suffered from devastating spinal headaches as a result of the anesthesiologist’s error, and had to endure her first week of motherhood with a sick baby in the hospital and headaches so excruciating that simply sitting upright caused her to vomit. But after a few days, we got the news we were so desperate for: The cooling treatment had done its job, and an MRI showed no discernible lesions that would indicate significant brain damage. As ecstatic as we were at the prognosis, we were far from out of the woods. Winter required several different ventilators to access different parts of her lungs, as they tried to rid themselves of meconium. After about two weeks, we finally were able to take her home, though she required supplemental oxygen to breathe. It was both the most thrilled and scared I’ve ever felt. We knew that because of Winter’s rough start, she’d need advanced monitoring and care, so we spent the next six months visiting pulmonologists, ear, nose and throat doctors, and speech and occupational therapists, in addition to her regular pediatrician appointments and weekly visits from a mobile nurse. All the while, we waited with bated breath for someone to tell us there was something wrong. Miraculously, no one ever did. It was one piece of good news after another. Eventually, we were able to take Winter off the oxygen. If you were to look at my beautiful, vibrant daughter today, you’d never be able to tell she almost didn’t make it. She’s a picture of perfection. She’s happy and healthy and wild and everything a father could ask for. She’s the strongest person I’ve ever met, despite being less than 2 feet tall. She’s gone through more in a year than most people go through in an entire lifetime. She just turned 1 a few weeks ago. Every time I look into her crystal-blue eyes, hear her warm laugh and watch her explore the world around her with a vigor that’s perhaps only found in those who almost didn’t have a chance at life, the struggles we experienced seem borderline laughable. They’re a completely trivial price to pay when it comes to the reward of being a dad. And I guess that’s what it’s really all about — weathering the storm by relying on the love and support of those around you, putting one foot in front of the other until the gray clouds part and all you’re left with is blue skies and sunshine. Now, I know the hard part isn’t over. In parenthood, it never really is. But I’ve tasted the fruit that it bares. And I know it wouldn’t be half as sweet any other way. Contact reporter Zach Hillstrom at zach.hillstrom@csbj. com or follow him on Twitter at @ZachHillstrom.


MARCH 2020

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FIVE A pair of Southeast Colorado Springs students went head-to-head in February for the coveted title of Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region Youth of the Year. Marissa Mitchell, a 17-year-old senior at James Irwin Charter High School, clinched the crown. Frankie Bridges, a 14-year-old eighth grader at Carmel Middle School proved stiff competition, and both contestants wowed the three-judge panel, said club Vice President Jrace Rider. Mitchell is a veteran contestant who started her Youth of the Year quest as a freshman. She is a decorated scholar and accomplished musician who, following intensive study at the Colorado Springs Conservatory, has been named to the Tri-Peak and Colorado State University-Pueblo honor bands. As a club member, Mitchell has been a student teacher and mentor, has instructed music and drama programming, and has volunteered with multiple programs within the community. Bridges is a peer mentor, tutor and assistant. She has been involved with programs such as the Torch Club, a character-and-leadership program for preteens. Mitchell will represent the region at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Colorado state competition in Denver in March. Southeast Springs residents had the chance to chat directly with their lawmakers Feb. 15, thanks to a pair of simultaneous community meetings. State Rep. Tony Exum, whose 17th District blankets the area, hosted a town hall in support of Black History Month, where he discussed voting. Southeast residents packed into the Sand Creek Library meeting room to hear from a distinguished panel about the history of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, about a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that essentially reversed two provisions of that landmark civil rights law, and about the importance of voter participation today. The panel included George Houston, global markets design and delivery manager for the Center for Creative Leadership and longtime community-service leader; Colorado College Senior Associate Dean of Students and award-winning mentor Rochelle

COURTESY PHOTO/JRACE RIDER

Frankie Bridges (left) and Marissa Mitchell accept their Youth of the Year certificates from Boys and Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region Executive Director James Sullivan.

T. Dickey-Mason; University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student and Legislative intern Philip Oke-Thomas; and Sierra High School senior and student leader La’Nye Vaughn. Meanwhile, State Sen. Pete Lee and Rep. Marc Snyder spoke with constituents about the 2020 Legislative session at Ivywild School. City Councilor Yolanda Avila and Council President Richard Skorman chatted business development along the South Nevada Avenue corridor, among other things, on Feb. 25. The pair met with constituents at the Meadows Park Community Center to talk about the redeveloping business district, public safety, public transportation and other issues affecting the community. And finally, just a reminder that March 3 is the presidential primary. If you haven’t returned your ballot yet, it’s not too late. To have your primary vote counted, your ballot must be back to the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. — Regan Foster To submit an item for the High Five, email a detailed description of the event, including date and location, and photos with identifying information from left to right to features@southeastexpress. org. For more information, call Regan Foster at 719-578-2802.

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Amazon Continued from page 3

Cope said. "These types of projects are going to provide the employment base that we will need going forward in the future and diversify our job base for our citizens. … And we’ll be able to better withstand any downturn. I think it’s very good news.”

JOBS, JOBS AND MORE JOBS

THE CENSUS IS COMING AND WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU The 2020 Census isn’t far away. It’s important for Colorado Springs that every single person living in our city is counted in the census. This includes one-day old babies to 100 year-old grandparents. It includes people who were born in the United States, immigrated here, or have one of a number of visas, such as student or work visas. It also includes students and members of the military community residing in Colorado Springs on April 1, 2020, whether or not this is your hometown.

WHY YOUR RESPONSE MATTERS Your response helps guide planning for the future of our community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they help define congressional and state legislative districts.

WHAT TO EXPECT Starting in March 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will invite every household across the U.S. to fill out the census. Most households will receive the invitation by mail. Every household will have the option of responding online by mail, or by phone. A census taker will visit households that don’t respond in order to get the responses in person. Census questionnaire will not ask for social security number, citizenship, money or donations. For more information visit PikesPeakCensus.com

THE CENSUS IS SAFE Your responses to the Census are confidential. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. You are kept anonymous. By law, the Census Bureau can’t release information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement. That means your answers can’t be used for law enforcement purposes or to determine your personal eligibility for government benefits. The security of the Census Bureau systems and infrastructure are designed to defend against and contain cyberthreats. The Census Bureau continually refines its approach to identify, prevent, detect, and respond to those cyberthreats.

HOW CENSUS DATA AFFECTS COLORADO SPRINGS The 2020 Census is your opportunity to shape the future of your community. Census data is used to determine how many seats Colorado has in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as drawing state and local legislative boundaries. But the census also affects our everyday lives in many other ways. For example, Many 911 emergency systems are based on maps developed on data from the last census. When wildfires, floods, or other natural disasters strike, the census tells rescuers how many people need their help. Census data also can help health providers predict the spread of disease through communities with children or elderly people. Businesses use census data to reduce financial risk and locate potential markets. Census data helps businesses produce the products you want by helping them understand customer needs. They use it to determine new geographical areas to expand into, and determine the best place to locate factory sites and distribution centers. School districts use census data to draw boundaries, develop adult educational programs, and plan for educational services for people with disabilities. We use census data to draw City Council districts. It also helps in planning for hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. It informs medical research, and helps planning for health services for people with disabilities. It helps our community forecast future housing needs, and plan for future transportation needs. It helps determine areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans, and informs assistance programs for low-income families.

HISTORY OF THE CENSUS

The first U.S. Census took place in 1790. It takes place every 10 years and counts every person living in the United State and its five territories.

Construction jobs and construction spending will generate sales and use taxes and jobs while the new facility is being built, but the biggest impact will be from the wages those thousand employees will inject into the economy. “All the consumer spending that will be a result, that’s huge,” Cope said. “But we’re also going to have a significant amount of spin-off jobs as the result of this project.” New businesses will be formed and existing businesses will grow to support the facility. “There’s two types of spin-off employment,” Cope said. “The first is indirect business-to-business. They will need machinery technicians and building maintenance and bankers and insurance, just as any business needs to operate. Then you have the induced jobs — restaurants, retail stores, clothing stores, entertainment venues.” Employees will want to go out for lunch; they’re going to want retail close by. “So I think you’re going to see new retail development to support that,” Cope said. Amazon’s announcement stated that its minimum wage is $15 an hour with full benefits, but Cope said he assumes that there will be wages across the spectrum. Some jobs will be hightech and well paid, and likely will be filled by existing Amazon employees. But he expects that many of the jobs on the lower end of the pay scale will be filled by local residents. “Those will be people in our community who are currently underemployed, maybe working in retail or service industries,” he said. “This will be a step up the career ladder for those people.” Cope said he expects many applicants for Amazon jobs will be Southeast Colorado Springs residents. Other new hires will want to move closer to their work. “That could result in increased apartments being constructed, increased home building in that area,” he said.

WHY COLORADO SPRINGS? Amazon’s first foray into Colorado Springs was a temporary delivery station housed in a large tent on airport property. That facility opened in late 2018. In November 2019, Amazon moved its operations to a 66,000-square-foot building in Peak Innovation Park.

MARCH 2020

Cope thinks Amazon chose to come to Colorado Springs to tap ts talented workforce and to tighten the network of more than 45,000 authors, small- and medium-sized businesses and developers in Colorado that sell their products and services through the online giant. According to a press release from Amazon, the company has invested $1.5 billion in Colorado, including fulfillment and cloud infrastructure, research facilities and employee pay. “[As] a result of Amazon’s investments in Colorado, more than $1 billion has been added into the state GDP,” the release stated. “I really don’t see any challenges with this at all,” Cope said. “I think that this creates more economic opportunity for all of our citizens.”

GROWTH AT THE AIRPORT

Greg Phillips, director of aviation at Colorado Springs Airport, expects the new Amazon center to spur growth in both the airport’s business and in Peak Innovation Park. “Natural growth in the community leads to increased use of the flights out of Colorado Springs,” he said. Phillips does expect additional traffic to be generated by those 1,000 employees. “One of the things we hope for, and I’m going to push pretty hard for, is bus service to the airport,” he said. Several years ago, Mountain Metropolitan Transit ran bus service to the airport from downtown Colorado Springs. But he said they averaged 0.5 riders per trip, making it tough for the service to continue. The greater impact, he said, will be to Peak Innovation Park. “One of the challenges at the Colorado Springs Airport where it sits right now is there just aren’t a lot of amenities real close,” he said. “You have to drive up a ways north on Powers to get to restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and that sort of thing, or you have to go south to Fountain. To have something closer, it would certainly be an advantage.” Garrett Baum, managing partner of Urban Frontier, the business park’s master developer, said Amazon’s arrival is a big step in fulfilling his plan to diversify the industries around the airport. “With South Springs, you see a lot of defense contractors and a lot of military, and we wanted to make sure we were attracting industrial and office and hospitality and retail and research and development — a number of different types of industries but also financial services, health care, technology, telecom, as well as those types of companies that typically have located down there.” Those projects could bring in hundreds, or potentially thousands, of new employees, he said. newsroom@southeastexpress.org This story ran in the Feb. 21 Colorado Springs Business Journal.


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Dialogue Continued from page 3

Criminal Justice Committee co-chair; and Gia Irlando, an outgoing community relations ombudsperson for the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor. The meeting drew hundreds from throughout the city, including Southeast City Councilor Yolanda Avila, City Council President Richard Skorman, and Councilors David Geislinger, Tom Strand and Wayne Williams, as well as El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, whose 4th District includes Southeast Colorado Springs. “Some of us are angry, some of us are hurt,” Lee said. “Some of us are angry and hurt, but … this is a sacred space. “We’re not dependent on or relying on government officials or the police chief to solve this community problem. This is going to be a dialogue and conversation with some thoughts and ideas, and the impetus is on us, the community. I believe the answer lies within us and we have to be the ones to do this.” Over the course of two hours, audience and panel members heard how the Springs stacked up to other major Colorado cities in terms of police transparency; learned about Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor and its work offering oversight of the Denver police and sheriff ’s departments; and asked pointed questions on topics ranging from the type of data the police should be collecting and how that information should be disseminated to the community, to whether the city and the nation have a racist history when it comes to policing and what type of diversity training cadets and veteran officers undergo to combat inherent bias. “We can be civil and still speak hard truths,”

EXPRESS PHOTO/REGAN FOSTER

(From left): Florencia Rojo, Stephany Rose Spaulding, Vince Niski, Kevin Mitchell and Gia Irlando participate in a panel discussion on transparency and accountability in policing Feb. 6.

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talking to the community?” he asked. “We can collect all these numbers, but you don’t even know who you’re protecting and serving. This is the problem: there’s this tension and fear about the unknown.” He implored Niski to send officers into the neighborhood where Bailey was shot not to police, but to participate. “We all have titles,” Mitchell said. “We call ourselves activists but at the end of the day we are working for the community. We are supposed to be working together, so roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work.” Niski stood by his department’s recruitment, training and professionalism, and he said a critical part of adjudicating officer-involved incidents is understanding why an officer was forced to make a split-second call. Still, he acknowledged the importance of community trust to officers’ ability to do their jobs. “We do derive our powers from the community,” he said. “This meeting is part of the discussion that we need to have and we want to have.” In the end, all panelists agreed, the solution will not come quickly or easily. They also concurred it is worth the effort. “We are doing very difficult work,” Spaulding said. “This work is long-term. “It’s not just having conversations with police officers, it is having conversations with each other. It is seeing how our institutions of higher education are working toward polices. It is writing legislation. It is making sure everyone in this room is registered to vote. “When we abdicate our power and people use it against us,” she concluded, “that’s because we failed to do what we are supposed to do, as well.”

Mitchell said. “They need to be addressed.” Many of the questions put Niski in the hot seat. The chief had previously expressed skepticism about a citizen call for third-party oversight such as a community-review board or an external investigation in cases of police-involved shooting. At the core of the conversation was a community call for accountability and transparency. “Is that something,” Spaulding asked Niski, “that you would be willing to receive?” “Yes,” the chief promptly replied, to applause. “Between now and April,” Spaulding further pressed, “are you willing to sit down and have a conversation with the researchers who are willing to do this work?” “Yes,” Niski again answered, to further applause. Mitchell noted there are “a lot of common-sense steps” that can take place before April 2 to help mend the rift. regan.foster@southeastexpress.org “How about getting out to the community and PPWFC Southeast Express 4.75 x 6.5 YA JF 2.18.2020.pdf 1 2/18/2020 11:08:52 AM

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MARCH 2020

Leading an accessibility renaissance Ben Gallegos-Pardo opening doors for diverse collegians

By Regan Foster

The Southeast Express

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t could be easy to forget, when you’re sitting in Benjamín “Ben” Gallegos-Pardo’s office, that you’re on a college campus. Picture windows offer sweeping views of the mountain and the city unfurling to the north, and on a sunny February morning, music floated from his desktop computer. Then there’s Gallegos-Pardo himself. The gregarious 33-year-old with the quick smile and bright blue eyes is a master at putting people at ease, a skill he practices daily as the Pikes Peak Community College coordinator of multicultural student retention initiatives. That means he’s responsible for making sure that the college’s vibrant minority population doesn’t just enroll in classes, but stays there through graduation. “We are a community college. ‘Community’ is the first word in that, so we’re reaching out,” he said. “There are open doors; come and use this resource. “I love to be able to build programming to support [students] and their families.” He was recognized this year for his myriad accomplishments in the academic and social services sectors as a member of the Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Stars Class of 2020. The Business Journal is a sister paper of the Southeast Express.

Filling a need

According to a study released April 26, 2017, by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, African American and Hispanic students who entered into postsecondary education had significantly lower completion rates than their white or Asian American peers. Only 45.9 percent of black students completed a degree or certificate within six years, according to the study, compared to 55 percent of Hispanic students, 67.2 percent of white and 71.7 percent of Asian American students. The sample included more than 2.8 million collegians. At PPCC, the year-over-year retention trend

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between 2017 and Sept. 11, 2018, resulted in a similar, albeit reduced, gap when compared to the national average, according to the college’s 20142018 Data Book. Some 13,275 students matriculated in the fall 2016 cohort, according to the college numbers. Of those, 7,367 (52.6 percent) returned for fall classes in 2017. For a detailed break down of retention rates, see “By the Numbers.” Gallegos-Pardo sees deeply personal explanations for some of the empirical data. Students may be the first in their families to pursue higher education, may struggle with language or cultural barriers, may have many other responsibilities that can interfere with rigorous academic workflow or may not even realize that postsecondary schooling is an option. It's personal for Gallegos-Pardo. His father immigrated to the U.S. from Bogotá, Columbia, and hia maternal family has called New Mexico and Colorado home for more than four centuries. He became a dad while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in social sciences with minors in Spanish and history at Colorado State University. “A lot of people are like, ‘why are you so passionate about this?’” he said. “In every single one of these students I see my family, my ancestors. … Everyone has a similar story in their background.”

Opening doors

Gallegos-Pardo — a former English as a Second Language community liaison at Southeast’s Monroe Elementary School and diversity outreach coordinator at Corpus Christi Catholic School, among other leadership and advocacy roles — joined the staff at PPCC in 2017. He was the only Spanish-speaking admissions counselor on staff. He grew the college’s outreach to non-English speaking families, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival)-qualified students and other minority populations. And when he moved into the then-new role of coordinator of multicultural retention initiatives in 2018, he made sure there was a bilingual admissions counselor ready to step in and fill his shoes. “I’m very proud and happy to say we doubled our efforts,” he said. Among his recent initiatives, Gallegos-Pardo helped form United Men of Color. The semester

Benjamín “Ben” Gallegos-Pardo and 24 other recipients of the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s Rising Stars award will be celebrated from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 18 at the Space Foundation, 4425 Arrowswest Drive. For more information or tickets to the event, visit csbj.com/events.

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SUNDAYS 10:30A.M. Inside of Mission Trace shopping center 3217 S. Academy Blvd C/S 80916 Email: contact@restoredlife.org.

-long personal- and professional-development program is designed to help all students “learn new perspectives, unite with other college students striving for achievement, and be a part of a distinguished group of leaders and scholars uniting to define success and prove stereotypes wrong,” according to the organization’s website. For Gallegos-Pardo, the message to his students is simple: “Yes, you have come from both great challenges but also great, rich success stories. These are the fantastic things [you’ve] been able to accomplish because of the strengths [you] have.”

Renaissance man

For all he has already accomplished — mentor, educator, member of the Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber, former director of El Cinco de Mayo Inc. … he even co-owned and operated with his wife a successful Downtown restaurant called Café Corto, now closed — Gallegos-Pardo still has much to do. He is on track to graduate in December with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and he hopes to one day attend business school and become both a published author and, once again, a successful local businessman. He grew pensive when asked about his legacy. “I would like to be known first and foremost as a good dad, a good husband,” he said. “After that, I guess, a renaissance man. I don’t want to be pigeonholed.” regan.foster@southeastexpress.org

By the numbers The following is a look at retention rates for Pikes Peak Community College students in the fall 2017 cohort. Fall 2017 retention rates were based on the Sept. 11, 2018, student census. All students in the chohort, fall 2017: 13,275 Total students retained as of Sept. 11, 2018: 7,367 Retention rate: 55.5% • Asian or Pacific Islander student cohort, fall 2017: 359 Retained the following fall: 206 Retention rate: 57.4% • Black (non-Hispanic) student cohort, fall 2017: 942 Retained the following fall: 445 Retention rate: 47.5% • Hispanic student cohort, fall 2017: 2,356 Retained the following fall: 1,226 Retention rate: 52% • White (non-Hispanic) student cohort, fall 2017: 7,873 Retained the following fall: 4,491 Retention rate: 57% — Source, Pikes Peak Community College 2014-2018 Data Book (ppcc.edu/application/files/5415/4232/4800/Retention_Rates_2018.pdf)

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Advocate ABCs

Training prepares (and pays) Southeast residents for leadership roles Building community

COURTESY PHOTO/TRINIA BIVENS/FILE

Grow Your Own: Community Advocate Training graduates present their final research at the SCP Hotel in this March 6, 2019, file photo.

By Faith Miller

The Southeast Express

I

n order to be successful, aspiring entrepreneurs need to get used to rejection. So, participants in the Grow Your Own: Community Advocate Training course were tasked with making an outlandish request in order to hear a “no.” To kick off their training session Feb. 13, over dinner at Billy’s Southern Pride, several community advocates-in-training shared their experiences completing the “rejection assignment” they’d been asked to complete the previous week. One participant said he got an unexpected “yes” when he asked a local bar if he could paint a mural on the side of its building. For another especially outgoing participant, asking police if he could help with an arrest hadn’t gone so well. He joked that he’d almost gotten arrested himself. The rejection assignment — for the week themed “Social Enterprises & Financial Sustainability” — was about “going out and building your resilience,” Julie Ramirez, class instructor and community coordinator for the Council of Neighbors and Organizations, explained later. “They were supposed to go out and seek a ‘no,’ and how they did that was kind of up to them,” Ramirez said, adding with a laugh that it “wasn’t my intent for them to get involved with the police.” But CONO’s community advocate training does involve hands-on expe-

rience with leadership, organization, strategic planning and entrepreneurial skills, aimed at helping prepare trainees to make a difference in their neighborhoods. The 10-week training program is free to residents of the 80910 and 80916 ZIP codes. In fact, people who attend every session, complete the homework assignments, and who participate in the final presentation receive a $250 stipend, Ramirez said. “We’re looking for ... people who can basically gain the community’s trust and organize in some way,” she explained, “whether that’s a neighborhood group or just more ... getting involved in groups that already exist; and then people who might be interested in sitting on boards and commissions.”

More than advocacy

Nathan Ramirez, 18 (no relation to Julie), heard about the community advocate training about a year and a half ago, while he was volunteering at the Deerfield Hills Community Center. Ramirez’s supervisor at the community center referred him to the program because she thought it could help him improve his confidence and meet other people, since he’d just moved to the area. “I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s feeling like they are alienated in a sense,” he said. “Maybe if they just moved here and want to get to know the community. People who need the confidence boost, people who want to work on their net-

working and maybe have some sort of team encouragement if they’re thinking about starting a business.” Following his participation in the training, Nathan Ramirez was hired at the community center as an after-school leader for elementary school students. And he’s found plenty of other ways to make a difference. As part of the Panorama Park Youth Advisory Council, he helped create a new vision for a mostly underdeveloped park in Southeast. The new Panorama Park Master Plan — a collaboration between the city Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, multi-agency RISE Coalition, the Trust for Public Land and the 13-member youth council — was approved by the city in July. Nathan Ramirez is still involved with the Panorama Park process, he said, and he’s also helping to plan the “Community Cruise” bike ride series for kids with RISE coordinator Joyce Salazar, whom he met through the community advocate training. “Along with confidence, I learned how to network better and [find] different opportunities in different places,” he said of the training. “So I feel like that can help with anyone in any job position.”

Julie Ramirez says the basic framework of CONO’s community advocate training came from Jeannie Orozco, now president of the Harrison School District 2 Board of Education, who conducted a grant-funded survey in 80916 to learn more about the community’s needs. Ramirez has added her own elements with each new class. So far, CONO’s community advocate training has graduated three classes, with a fourth class of 15 participants set to graduate March 20. In its current iteration, the program, funded through the state’s Transforming Safety grant, incorporates hands-on training as well as presentations from business owners, nonprofits and local leaders. Each week’s two-hour training session is held at a different location so participants can get to know their neighborhood. When the training kicks off, students identify an issue in the community that guides their overall project. They talk with nonprofits that already exist, and identify how they can help with “filling in the gaps,” Ramirez said. Among the questions: “Where are these organizations lacking? How do they need help?” The trainees collect contact information of community members who are interested in a particular issue, Ramirez said, to help with the larger effort of building a coalition of people interested in making a difference in their neighborhoods. “I think the biggest takeaway for the community is just that there are more individuals that know of all the resources,” she said. “It’s just kind of a trickle effect after that. Now they can share that information with their network.” While the current program is contingent on Transforming Safety grant funding, Ramirez thinks the training could eventually expand to other ZIP codes or be replicated in different cities. “It’s really about learning what your city has to offer and how you can kind of take advantage of what there is out there,” she said. faith@csindy.com

getINVOLVED Interested in signing up for the Council of Neighbors and Organizations Grow Your Own: Community Advocate Training? If you’re a resident of the 80910 or 80916 ZIP codes, apply at www.cscono.org/TS-interest.


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MARCH 2020

Teaching from the heart

*Heart to Heart Academy is an advertiser with the Southeast Express. In no way did this impact our editorial decisions regarding this new business.

CNA school offers supportive environment, small class sizes By Faith Miller

The Southeast Express

P

riscilla Williams’ daughter knew exactly what she wanted to do well before turning 18. Through the Career Readiness Academy at Sierra High School, Williams’ daughter started her certified nursing assistant (CNA) training at Pikes Peak Community College. At 17, she graduated from Sierra with an associate degree and CNA license, and is now working toward a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. But Williams, a nurse practitioner (NP), found that her daughter needed a little extra guidance that she wasn’t getting from the large class sizes at PPCC. So, she began mentoring her daughter and other young people working to earn a CNA license. “We did that for a whole year in our home,” Williams told the Express recently. “We met every Sunday — fed them, gave them supplies, just encouraged them to continue their path, and all that good stuff.” Williams and her husband Billy even bought textbooks and supplies so that the students who couldn’t afford their own could rent them instead. “After doing that for a year, I really felt like this was something that needed to be done on a broader scale, because the group got bigger than the house could hold,” Williams recalled. That’s how the idea for Heart to Heart Academy, a new business offering CNA training and mentorship

COURTESY PHOTO/PRISCILLA WILLIAMS

Heart to Heart Academy teaches nursing skills in small, personal classes

at the Mission Trace Shopping Center, was born. Williams first approached Pastor Ben Anderson, the executive director of the Solid Rock Community Development Corporation, “when I knew that we needed to do what we were doing on a bigger scale.” Anderson advised Priscilla and Billy to enroll in the Fresh Start Initiative, a business training program funded through the state’s Transforming Safety project. Fresh Start, a partnership with the Small Business Development Center, is offered to formerly incarcerated people and those with family members involved in the justice system. Participants in the intensive, eight-week program learn how

to develop a viable business plan; track cash flow; determine costs, revenue and profit; and create a marketing strategy. Gina Peterson, project manager at Solid Rock, says the Fresh Start Initiative offered around four sessions in the community last year, and is currently focused on developing Southeast businesses that have already been started by the program’s graduates. Besides Heart to Heart, they include two catering businesses, a dog grooming business, a garment printing business and more. The program “was really beneficial,” Williams says, “because obviously, I’m a nurse practitioner, so I know a lot about medical things, but I knew nothing about business. So that class was essential for us getting our foundation on how to be business owners.” After graduating from Fresh Start, Williams and her husband moved their business into a former beautician’s parlor at 3239 S. Academy Blvd. in June. Heart to Heart Academy was approved by the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies in October, and Priscilla Williams, who’s currently the building’s sole instructor, began teaching students the following month. Since then, Heart to Heart has graduated three classes through the four-week program. Class sizes are small — most have only included four or five people — and Williams wants to keep them that way, even if demand increases to the point where she has to hire more teachers. “I have had nursing instructors that I couldn’t even reach out to if I wanted to,” Williams said.


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“That bond, and that bridge wasn’t there, and we’re bringing that back here. We’re open on Saturdays for people to practice their skills.” Two mother-and-daughter pairs have graduated from Heart to Heart’s CNA training, she added. The training is affordable compared with other programs, Williams said, and those wishing to sponsor a student’s tuition can donate through Solid Rock Christian Center. Students receive a uniform, stethoscope and blood pressure cuff upon graduation. In Colorado, you must earn a CNA license before pursuing further education to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN) or NP. But students hoping to enter the career field right after completing CNA training won’t find a problem, Williams said. “Demand,” she said, “is just ridiculous.” The number of nurse assistants in the U.S. is projected to grow by 9 percent between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — much faster than the average job growth rate of 5 percent across all occupations. Job openings for registered nurses, meanwhile, are projected to

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grow 12 percent over the same time period. (Colorado in particular has identified a shortage of RNs to replace those reaching retirement age.) Williams builds resume and interview skills into the training and has worked to build relationships with employers who need CNAs. So far, she says, most graduates of Heart to Heart’s CNA training wanted to enter the workforce immediately, and all of those people have been able to find medical jobs in the community. Gwendolyn Johnson, who graduated from Sierra High School in 2019, earned her CNA license last month. “I learn better with smaller classes, and the class size is only 10 kids [maximum], so you still are learning but you don’t feel nervous to ask questions in front of a lot of people,” Johnson recalled of her experience at Heart to Heart. “You get really comfortable with everybody.” Johnson always wanted to become a nurse because she loved helping people, but recently got discouraged when a biology professor told her she might want to rethink nursing as a career when she didn’t do well on a test.

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“I talked to Ms. Priscilla [Williams] about it, and Ms. Priscilla always told me, like, don’t get discouraged at what people tell me,” Johnson said. “She’s always helped me and kept me motivated to keep going.” Currently, Johnson is participating in Heart to Heart’s mentorship program while she prepares to pursue her RN through community college. Williams also mentors LPNs pursuing education to become RNs, and RNs preparing to become NPs. Williams still works as an NP herself and teaches CNA classes in the evenings — demonstrating her passion for the job, which she calls her “ministry.” That means providing a supportive, caring environment for all of her students. “I am not here to make you fail,” Williams explained. “I am not here to make school hard for you. ... Now, if you don’t want to learn, I can’t help you. But if you want to learn, I will find a way to teach you. “The quality of the education we’re providing,” she added, “is, in my opinion, second to none.” faith@csindy.com

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Coming home

Museum, community honor the Conejos neighborhood in oral history project By Regan Foster

The Southeast Express

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his is a love story. It’s a tale of the love that anchored a group of Colorado Springs residents to the small neighborhood they called home; of the tightly knit

friendships among children and a lifetime’s worth of surrogate parents; of the insular-yet-formative relationships that led the residents of a blocks-long community to describe themselves as “una familia grande” (a big family). It’s the true story of a residential neighborhood that was, in the late 20th century, bulldozed to

make room for a park. It’s a message of resurrection, and a tribute to the curator whose 2 ½-year commitment to gathering oral histories came to fruition Feb. 22 amid great fanfare and folkloric dance. This is the story of the Conejos neighborhood, a now-disappeared area of town that, while small in terms of footprint, had a huge impact on the community Colorado Springs was and would become. The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is celebrating the four-block long neighborhood bounded by Colorado Avenue to the north, the Martin Drake Power Plant to the south, Monument Creek to the west and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad tracks to the east, with an exhibit built on the oral history of those who called the area home. “Una Familia Grande: The Conejos Neighborhood Project” opened with memories, hugs, laughter, live music, dance, folk art and the occasional tears. “Oftentimes, it’s easy for us to forget all of the different cultural influences that affect Colorado Springs as we are today,” said museum Director Matt Mayberry. “We’re not just Gen. [William Jackson] Palmer’s community.”

Resurrecting history EXPRESS PHOTOS/ADELAIDE EVANS

Visitors study historic photos and documentation of the then-Spanish Gospel Mission during the Feb. 22 opening of 'Una Familia Grande: The Conejos Neighborhood Project' at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

The Conejos neighborhood on the south edge of Downtown was platted in the 1880s under the name “Monument Addition,” according to museum documentation. The insular and colorful community was, for generations, home to hard-working

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entrepreneurs and skilled tradesmen who were employed in construction, the mines, mills, on the railroads and in junk yards, among others. “Residents built houses and businesses, raised families and socialized in a neighborhood crisscrossed by railroad tracks and increasingly industrial” influences, museum documentation shows. The intimate neighborhood was long ignored by the rest of the community, according to museum documents, and “eventually suffered from blight, neglect and indifference.” Its fate was sealed in the 1990s, when plans took shape to raze the area and replace it with a new park. Today, the site is home to the 16.9-acre America the Beautiful Park; the only visible reminder of the community that once was is the historic Spanish Gospel Mission, now known as Chadbourn Community Church. Between its founding and its decommissioning, Conejos was home to a colorful cast whose names are now legendary. There were Sam and Rosa Melena, the operators of the community hub the Rio Grande Grocery; Jose and Corina Alvarado, who in 1956 organized La Fiesta Bonita, the state’s first formal celebration of Mexican culture; restaurateurs and community philanthropists Victor and Josie Ornelas; Connie Solano de Benavidez, the founder of the popular folkloric dance troupe Ballet Folklórico de la Raza; and trailblazing entrepreneur and real estate magnate “Mama Susie” Perkins. The daughter of sharecroppers, Perkins

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Rudy Melena (center) talks about growing up in the Conejos neighborhood during a Feb. 22 panel discussion featuring former neighborhood residents.

quietly bought properties around her home at 322 S. Conejos St., which she then rented to families — mostly soldiers and people of color — who were subjected to discrimination at the hands of other landlords in Colorado Springs, according to museum documentation.

Who: The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum What: Una Familia Grande: The Conejos Neighborhood Project When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays Where: The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St. Info: cspm.org/conejos

Leah Davis Witherow, museum curator of history, spent more than two years meeting with former residents of the community, gathering these and other stories of life in Conejos and building a multimedia exhibit that includes photos, artifacts and the memories that bind them.

Familia reunion Margaret Malacara seized a rare open space between a re-creation of a counter from the Rio Grande Grocery and an informational panel Continued as CONEJOS page 24


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g n i n i D on a

‘Basically a giant egg pie’ Dime Veggie quiche a quick, and (mostly) healthy weeknight treat

By Regan Foster

The Southeast Express

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i there, home cooks! After a few months off, it’s nice to be back with you and getting creative in the kitchen. March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign led by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to get people thinking about informed food choices and forming sound eating and activity habits. This year’s theme is “Eat Right Bite by Bite,” and the academy website — eatright.org — offers a four-week plan to get you thinking the right way about healthy food. This being the beginning of the month, I took a look at week one’s goal: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day. Challenge accepted. I don’t know what it is about quiche that I personally find kind of intimidating. There’s nothing particularly hard about the construction — as a good friend explained to his young daughter, “it’s basically a giant egg pie” — nor does it matter

what you stuff them with. When you combine eggs, crust and a whole lot of cheese, the result is pretty much guaranteed to be delicious. The question then becomes how do you make it healthy and the sort of meal even finicky palates will enjoy? It should come as no surprise to regular readers that I’m a huge fan of fresh produce. There’s very little in terms of fruits and veggies that I don’t like, and, to-date, almost nothing I won’t try. Nutritionally, fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber while also being low in fat and calories, according to the American Heart Association. They’re critical for weight loss and help control your blood pressure. Plus, they taste delicious and when combined in a barrage of colors, they look gorgeous! For this recipe, I grabbed some bright green kale, a deep purple (technically red, I suppose) onion, light-brown cremini mushrooms and a vibrantly red bell pepper, which we all know is a vegetable, even though science tells us it is technically a fruit. Now, it’s not going to offend me if you don’t

want to use one or more of these ingredients. Try swapping sweet yellow onions for the pungent purples, or replacing the pepper with chunked tomatoes. If you can’t stomach kale, why not swap it out for spinach, arugula or broccoli? Or if the idea of fungus makes you fuzzy, consider thinly sliced baby potatoes in place of mushrooms. And of course, for the carnivores out there, it’s simple to add ham, turkey, sausage, bacon, flank steak … really any meat that you crave. Just make sure you either reduce the amount of egg in play accordingly, or bake it over a cookie sheet to catch the drippings. My quiche came together in about an hour, including the time to clean the produce and bake the dish. Because it was a school night, I used a premade pie crust from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. If you’re someone who has to make your own crust, plan to add roughly 15 minutes prep time; but, frankly, that’s totally unnecessary thanks to the quality of the prepared crust. I’m not kidding, this quiche disappeared almost before I could take a picture. It really is that good. regan.foster@southeastexpress.org

SHOPPING LIST

-------------------------------....................... $1.25 1 Red Bell Pepper.... 0 ........................ $1.0 1 Red Onion............ .4 ....................... $1 9 1 Bunch Green Kale 5 ushrooms........ $2.2 ½ Pound Cremini M 1 h Eggs............ $2.7 1 Dozen Simple Trut 9 .4 ® Pie Crusts..... $3 1 Package Pillsbury 2.50 Shredded Cheese..$ 1 8-oz Kroger-Brand

i Federzoni 1 16.9-oz jar Monar Modena...... $3.99 Balsamic Vinegar of 9 h Coconut Oil.. $5.4 1 14-oz Simple Trut

:..................... $1.99 Tax (8.25 percent) --------------------------------

..$26.19

... Total........................

Veggie quiche 1 red bell pepper ½ small red onion ½ bunch green kale (about 2 cups, loosely packed) ½ pound cremini mushroom caps 8 whole eggs 4 egg whites 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 premade pie crust 1½ tablespoon coconut or olive oil ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch pie pan with the prepared crust. While oven is warming, wash the bell pepper, kale and mushrooms and allow them to drip dry in a colander. Peel the onion and dice into ¼-inch pieces. Core and deseed the pepper, and slice into ½-inch pieces. Slice mushroom caps into ¼-inch thick pieces. Pull the kale leaves off of the stalk and tear into roughly 1-inch chunks.

Warm ½ tablespoon oil in a medium skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until oil spreads and starts to shimmer. Add about ⅓ of the onion and pepper chunks, and sauté until tender-crisp, about two minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and reduce until it forms a light glaze. Transfer the onions and peppers to the pie crust and spread them evenly across the bottom. Repeat the process with the onions and mushrooms, and the onions and kale mixtures. Once all vegetables are cooked, beat the eggs, egg whites, salt and pepper in a large bowl until very smooth and fully incorporated. Pour the scrambled eggs over the cooked vegetables and give the filling a good stir until everything is covered in egg. Bake your quiche for 20 minutes until the filling is softly set up but still jiggly. At this point, smother the entire thing with shredded cheese of your choice. Bake an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is totally melted and bubbly. Remove quiche from the oven and allow it to rest for about five minutes to cool until it isn’t the temperature of molten lava. Serve with fresh bread and a salad of your choice. — Recipe by Regan Foster


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Maker of memories

Help us celebrate matriarchs this Mother’s Day

SHUTTERSTOCK

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he was the first person to know and love us, even before we knew ourselves. She was our first caregiver, our first friend, our first role model. She was the giver of hugs, the kisser of owies, the healer of scraped knees and broken hearts.

She’s the family matriarch, and whether you know her as mom, mamá, ma, mommy, abuelita, nana, ouma, aunty, tía or just by her name, she plays a role in our hearts and minds. This spring, we want to celebrate the amazing

moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, teachers, mentors, friends — since love knows no limits, we say it’s open to whoever fills that critical maternal role — who shape our Southeast Colorado Springs community with their love, kindness and firmly guiding hands. Please share with us, in 250 words or fewer, a beloved memory of you and your matriarch … whether that be helping grandma in the kitchen, sharing secrets with your older sister, singing with your aunt or reading aloud to mom. Or, if you are a mom, let us know what that role means to you. (If you have a photo you would like to share, we would love to see it, too.) We plan to compile your stories and images in honor of Mother’s Day as a way to pay tribute to the fabulous females who influence our community. Submissions may be sent to regan.foster@ southeastexpress.org or via USPS to The Southeast Express, attn.: Regan Foster, 235 S. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 80903. Please be sure to include your name and a telephone number or email address (for verification purposes only). All submissions must be received by April 10 for consideration for our Mother’s Day edition. The Southeast Express team reserves the right to determine suitability for publication and to edit for style and grammar. Oh, and dynamo dads, don’t dismay: We’ll do the same thing in June for Father’s Day. regan.foster@southeastexpress.org

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Heaping the praise

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within feats and is incredovering around the Internet is a ible to see. You can get the meme of Snoop details and read her take on Dogg smirking and holdthe championship match on ing a card. page 21. The clearly-edited card In 2017, Colorado High reads, “This is the type of School Activities Association content I like to see.” helped jump-start girls wresThat phrase illustrates tling as a pilot program. Marcus Hill the amount of praise I Ahsmuhs, who wrestled her have for the successes of Harrison first season for the Stallions this year School District 2 student-athletes after living in Idaho, clearly made — former and present — in the past the most of her move to Colorado. few weeks. On the hardwoods, Harrison’s girls We start with a nod to Sierra basketball player Amyah Moore High School’s Hailey Jo Ahsmuhs, scored her 1,000th point against who became a state champion last Mesa Ridge on Jan. 31. month. To illustrate how impressive that Ahsmuhs, who is a 147-pound is, consider this: In just 61 games wrestler for the Stallions, not only — the number Moore played at the went undefeated this season (20-0), time of Harrison’s tilt with Mesa she earned Sierra’s first wrestling Ridge — she scored a grand. She state title. That’s girls and guys, needed to score about 333 points ladies and gentlemen. per season to meet that mark, which Her accomplishment features feats required her to drop nearly 16.5

Our

MISSION

points per game. Hopefully, everyone views those 16.5 points per game through the correct lens. Playing with such poise from game 1 to game 61 is astonishing. It’s incredible for a player to score 1,000 for their career, let alone partway through their junior season. She could potentially make it past 1,500 in her senior campaign. Lastly, Sierra highlighted athletes from the past with its hall of fame ceremony on Valentine’s Day. The list included: Chucky Jeffery (basketball), Shamela Hampton (basketball), Leslie Banks (track and field), Kelby Dias (track and field) and Dedrick Meadows (football and basketball). A couple of notes about a pair of the hall of famers: • In 2008 at the state track and field meet, Sierra scored 68 points and fell 11 points shy of topping Long-

mont for the state title. Dias nearly scored half of those with three, firstplace finishes in the 110 and 300 hurdles, as well as in the long jump. • Jeffery had a stint in the WNBA and was the 24th overall pick of the Minnesota Lynx in 2013. She last played with the New York Liberty in 2014. Sierra also welcomed distinguished alumni and meritorious service hall of famers as well. Distinguished alumni honorees were Brian Miller, Barry Miller, Bootsy Jones and Melva Hall; Leslie Wilson earned a meritorious service induction. The batch of athletes District 2 continues to present never ceases to amaze me. Be sure to give these folks their flowers while they can appreciate them. Contact Marcus Hill at newsroom@ southeastexpress.org or follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @MarcusLHill.

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Scream for your team!

Here are our editor’s picks for the must-see matchups of March

— Compiled by Regan Foster

Sierra High School Week of March 1 No regularly scheduled prep sports contests. Week of March 8 Boys varsity baseball vs. Jefferson: 4 p.m. March 12 at Sierra High School, 2250 Jet Wing Drive. Week of March 15 Girls varsity soccer vs. Vista Ridge: 4 p.m. March 17 at Sierra High School, 2250 Jet Wing Drive. Week of March 22 No regularly scheduled prep sports contests. Week of March 29 Girls varsity soccer vs. Ellicott: 4 p.m. March 31 at Ellicott High School, 375 S. Ellicott Highway, Calhan.

Harrison High School Week of March 1 No regularly scheduled prep sports contests. Week of March 8 Girls varsity tennis vs. Sierra: 4 p.m. March 13 at Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.

Week of March 15 Coed varsity track Panther Invitational: 8 a.m. March 21 at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 2755 Janitell Road. Week of March 22 No regularly scheduled prep sports contests. Week of March 29 Girls varsity soccer vs. Palmer: 6:15 p.m. April 2 at Harrison High School, 2755 Janitell Road.

Mitchell High School Week of March 1 Girls varsity tennis vs. Fountain Valley: 4 p.m. March 5 at Mitchell High School, 1205 Potter Drive. Week of March 8 Boys varsity basketball vs. Sand Creek: 4 p.m. March 12 at Mitchell High School, 1205 Potter Drive. Week of March 15 Coed varsity track Panther Invitational: 8 a.m. March 21 at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 2755 Janitell Road. Week of March 22 No regularly scheduled prep sports contests.

EXPRESS PHOTO/MARCUS HILL

Sierra High School’s Azaria Lacour (left) and Harrison’s Amyah Moore collide as they go after the ball on Jan. 25 at Thorpe Gymnasium during their rivalry game. Week of March 29 Boys varsity baseball vs. Sierra: 4 p.m. March 31 at Sierra High School, 2250 Jet Wing Drive.

Palmer High School Week of March 1 Girls varsity lacrosse vs. Pine Creek: 9 a.m. March 7 at Pine Creek High School, 10750 Thunder Mountain Ave. Week of March 8 Boys varsity swimming vs. Pine Creek: 4 p.m. March 12 at Rampart High School, 8250 Lexington Drive. Week of March 15 Boys varsity lacrosse vs. Denver East: 7 p.m. March 17 at Garry Berry Stadium, 2115 Afton Way. Week of March 22 No regularly scheduled prep sports contests. Week of March 29 Girls varsity tennis vs. Rampart: 3:45 p.m. March 31 at Rampart High School, 8250 Lexington Drive.

For current high school sports schedules, visit southeastexpress.org/something-to-cheer-about. Schedules are updated daily.

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Stallion shines on big stage Hailey Jo Ahsmuhs makes history with state performance By Marcus Hill

The Southeast Express

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ailey Jo Ahsmuhs became the first wrestler in Sierra High School history — boys or girls — to earn the title of state wrestling champion. Ahsmuhs nearly missed the opportunity, though, at the 2020 state girls wrestling championship on Feb. 8 at Thornton High School. After the first period of her 147-pound finals match, Ahsmuhs trailed 4-0 against Durango’s Samantha Vasquez. Ahsmuhs’ attempt to apply new techniques didn’t go as planned and led to the deficit. “I tried to do freestyle moves that I had just learned, like, two days ago,” Ahsmuhs said. “I didn’t continue running my feet and I got caught under her and I bridged real hard and time ran out. But I threw her once the (second period) started.” Just 35 seconds into the second frame, Ahsmuhs (20-0) heard the ref ’s hand slap the mat, and moments later, he raised her hand to anoint her champion. “I’m just excited to have been able to (win),” she said. “I got honored a few times at school already and there’s still a teacher who sees me in the hallway and goes, ‘Is that our state champ?’ and just yells it loud.” It’s not the only moment Ahsmuhs cherishes from her undefeated state title run.

There was a lot of frustration, but I encouraged her to never stop. ... She only needed a little guidance to be pushed to the right area.” — Sierra High School Wrestling Coach Ryan Valdez COURTESY PHOTO/ROBERT BENTLEY

Hailey Jo Ahsmuhs (center) accepts her state championship plaque at the girls state wrestling tournament on Feb. 8 at Thornton High School.

Ahsmuhs, who previously attended Mountain View High School in Meridian, Idaho, moved to Colorado last year. Making her state title doubly sweet, she wrestled for the first time in front of her father, who visited from Washington. “He hadn’t really ever watched me wrestled and I’ve wrestled for about eight years,” Ahsmuhs said. “What was really important was coach (Ryan Valdez) being there and my mom and my dad being there.” Valdez, who wrestled for Sierra from 2001-05, watched as Ahsmuhs blossomed from the start of the season through her final match. He witnessed

how she handled off-the-mat issues and observed as she overcame those obstacles to win 20 consecutive matches. “We see those happy times and those sad times,” Valdez said. “There was a lot of frustration, but I encouraged her to never stop. If you stop, you get pinned. “She only needed a little guidance to be pushed to the right area.” To see that coaching pay dividends in the form of a state title meant the world to Valdez as a coach and an alumn. “It was a memory that’s going to stick with me forever,” he said. “I had a lot of teammates and classmates who got to the big dance and always came up short. I’m back after 16 years doing what I love. She won and it was awesome; her bringing that back for Sierra is big.” With a roster of just Ahsmuhs and Nadiya Trujillo (22-11), who placed fourth at state at 100 pounds, the Stallions regularly finished top seven in girls wrestling tournaments. Valdez believes that can snowball and build the school’s wrestling program into a formidable force. He also thinks Ahsmuhs’ title run in February is enough to build a team to compete in the future. “(A few weeks ago) I had 10 or 11 girls coming to me saying they want to wrestle next year,” he said. “If I actually had a full team of girls we could compete and Sierra could be dangerous.” newsroom@southeastexpress.org

More on the mat Sierra

Harrison

Elijah Smith completed the season with a 22-13 record and scored 3.5 points at state for the Stallions. Smith earned a tech fall against Olathe’s Daniel Gray in the opening round but dropped his next two matches. Coach Ryan Valdez was grateful to see how Smith progressed throughout the year. “He stepped on the mat half way through the season and was a bit rusty, but week after week you could see the improvement,” he said. “He overcame the adversity and that’s why we do this sport.”

Nestor Torrez finished the season 21-14 at 170 pounds and earned a Class 3A state berth. The Panthers junior went 0-2 in Denver and was the lone competitor for Harrison at the event.

D2 playoff hoops commence By Marcus Hill

The Southeast Express

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ll four Harrison School District 2 boys and girls basketball teams clinched a spot in the Class 4A state basketball playoffs this season, with a pair of road and away games for each school to open the postseason. Harrison girls started their postseason on the road while the boys open at home. Sierra girls also open with a second-round home game, while the boys began their trek to a championship on the road.

Harrison girls The Panthers fell in a 14-8 hole on the road after the first quarter in their Class 4A playoffs game and couldn’t recover. Harrison lost 66-45 at Northridge on Feb. 25 and finished the season 1112 overall.

ON THE WEB

Harrison trailed 26-19 at halftime, but cut into the deficit after the break. The Panthers trailed 41-35 after the third, and the Grizzlies outscored Harrison 25-10 in the fourth to earn the win.

Sierra boys

Sierra, the No. 39 seed, upset No. 26-seed Frederick 53-46 on Feb. 26 to advance to the second round. The Stallions trailed 13-11 after one, but a 10-6 second quarter gave Sierra a 21-19 lead at the break. Sierra used a 10-2 run in the third to take a 31-21 lead, but Frederick closed the gap to 33-28 after the third. Both squads traded 3-pointers in the fourth, but the Stallions kept the Warriors at bay to win and head home for a rivalry game.

Harrison boys

The No. 7-seeded Panthers were slated to host Sierra at 2 p.m. Feb. 29 after receiving a first-round

bye. Harrison and Sierra last met in the playoffs March 2, 2006 when Harrison won 60-58. The Panthers finished this year 18-4 (13-2 CSML) with junior Donta Dawson leading the surge at 18.6 points per game (ppg). Tayzhean Archuleta (12 ppg) and CJ Harris (11.1 ppg) will also guide the Panthers in the postseason.

Sierra girls

The Colorado Springs Metro League champions and No. 11 seed Sierra were scheduled to host Rifle at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 in their second-round matchup. Sierra ended the year on an 11-game win streak and earned a first-round bye. The Stallions finished the regular season 18-4 overall and 14-1 in the CSML. D’Nae Wilson leads the Stallions with 19.6 ppg. Azaria Lacour will also be vital in Sierra’s playoff run at 14.8 ppg. Newsroom@southeastexpress.org

For more playoff coverage, visit southeastexpress.org or track the action on Twitter at @SEExpressNews.


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Sponsored Content

CITY CONNECTIONS NEW GUIDANCE FOR OPPORTUNITY ZONES TO HELP SPUR INVESTMENT IN UNDERSERVED AREAS The US Treasury Department released final guidance on the Qualified Opportunity Zones incentive that will impact eight designated areas, known as Opportunity Zones, for investment in the Pikes Peak region. Three of these zones are in Southeast Colorado Springs. This final guidance to investors, business owners, and property owners will inform the over 8,700+ Opportunity Zones across the country on how this incentive will work and how communities can take advantage of this new tool. Created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Opportunity Zones promote long-term, private investment through federal tax incentives for investment in designated geographic areas through deferral, reduction, and elimination of capital gains taxes. The new regulations provide a clearer pathway for investments in startups, operating businesses, and vacant properties within Opportunity Zones, to help revitalize underserved areas through the creation of new businesses, store fronts and jobs in these areas. If a business meets various criteria identified in the regulations, is seeking outside private investment, and is likely to grow in the next 10 years, the business may be a candidate for Opportunity Zone investments. Other projects such has attainable housing, mixed-use redevelopment, and high density housing options that are pedestrian and public transit-friendly are also potential projects that may be a good fit for Opportunity Zones. The City of Colorado Springs, along with key partners including the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, El Paso County, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, City of Fountain, and other partners have created an investment prospectus to serve as a marketing tool for the eight Opportunity Zones in the region which can be found at ColoradoSpringsOpportunityZones.com. Have an idea for new development in one of the Opportunity Zones? Contact Senior Economic Development Specialist, Chelsea Gaylord at Chelsea.Gaylord@ColoradoSprings.gov.

COLORADO SPRINGS OPPORTUNITY ZONES • 8 census tracts designated as OZs in El Paso County • OZs are located in 6 areas: 1. North Nevada 2. Downtown

CALLING ALL COACHES!

The City’s Youth Sports Program relies on the participation of volunteer coaches dedicated to being a role model for the children enrolled. We’re recruiting coaches for spring soccer and football. If you register your child to play or are simply interested in the reward of guiding children toward a healthy and happy future, apply to be a coach today: ColoradoSprings.gov/VolunteerCoaching. Call Will at (719) 385-6004 for more information.

3. Cimarron Hills 4. Southeast

5. Airport 6. Fountain

DEERFIELD HILLS COMMUNITY CENTER EASTER EGG HUNT SAVE THE DATE for free springtime family fun at Deerfield Hills Community Center. On April 11 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., children age 11 and under will be on the hunt for more than 30,000 candy/prizefilled eggs. Other activities include bounce houses, face painting, games, crafts, prizes and a selfie station. The event is sponsored by Victory World Outreach. More information at ColoradoSprings.gov/Deerfield.

STAY CONNECTED

Visit ColoradoSprings.gov/News for all the latest news from the City of Colorado Springs. Follow us on social media: • CityofCOS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram • City Website: ColoradoSprings.gov


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Southeast Express

CALENDAR — Compiled by Regan Foster The Southeast Express publishes events, meetings and notices of general interest for free both in print and online. Digital notices are updated on Fridays.

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March 17 SAFE KIDS COLORADO SPRINGS FREE CAR SEAT CHECK 3 p.m., Colorado Springs Fire Station 8, 3737 Airport Road; appointments required at 305-7233 or Suzanne.Grace@ childrenscolorado.org.

To submit an item for consideration, email regan.foster@southeastexpress.org. Items for electronic consideration must be received by 5 p.m. the preceding Thursday; items for consideration in our print edition must be received by 5 p.m. the last Monday of the month. The Express reserves the right to edit content for style and clarity, and to determine suitability for publication.

March 1

Soul Sunday Open Mic: 6:30 p.m., Club Tilt Grill, 3744 Astrozon Blvd.

March 2

Classic Movie Night, “Spartacus” (PG-13): 6 to 9:30 p.m., Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave.

March 11

March 5

March 14

March 4

March 6

Exhibit opening, “Inside Stories: Art from the Colorado Department of Corrections”: 4:30 p.m., Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave.

March 7

African-American Youth Leadership Conference: 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Colorado College El Pomar Sports Center, 44 W. Cache La Poudre St. Christian House of Prayer food pantry: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Christian House of Prayer, 4360 Bradley Road.

March 8

Indoor car and motorcycle show and swap meet: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Colorado Springs Event Center, 3960 Palmer Park Blvd.

March 9

RN to BSN completion program information session: 2 p.m., Pikes Peak Community College Center for Healthcare Education and Simulation, 1850 Cypress Semi Drive, Room H-114; registration at ppcc.elluciancrmrecruit.com.

March 10

Colorado Springs City Council meeting: 10 a.m., City Hall Council Chambers, 107 N. Nevada Ave.

Colorado Primary Election Day March 3

getINVOLVED

March 13

Pikes Peak Women presents “Wine, Women and Chocolate”: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Knights of Columbus Hall, 20 W. Pikes Peak Ave; $10, Eventbrite.com.

Colorado primary election day.

Laser Cutter/Engraving Badging Class: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Sand Creek Library Makerspace, 1821 S. Academy Blvd.; register at 597-7070.

5:30 p.m., all Harrison School District 2 elementary and K-8 schools; hsd2.org or 579-2554 for details.

“The Guardians” film screening and discussion on preventing estate trafficking: 3 to 7 p.m., Colorado Springs Senior Center, 1514 N. Hancock Ave. Nursing information session: 3 to 5 p.m., Pikes Peak Community College Center for Healthcare Education and Simulation, 1850 Cypress Semi Drive, Room H-114; registration at ppcc.elluciancrmrecruit.com, for information, contact Zach Lebesock at zach.lebesock@ ppcc.edu or call 502-2237.

March 3

Kindergarten Sneak Peek and Registration

March 12

March 11

Latino Community Luncheon: 11:30 a.m., Hotel Eleganté Conference and Events Center, 2886 S. Circle Drive; $30, latinoluncheoncs.com. Kindergarten Sneak Peek and Registration: 5:30 p.m., all Harrison School District 2 elementary and K-8 schools; hsd2.org or 579-2554 for details.

Colorado Springs St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival: noon, follows Tejon Street from East St. Vrain Street to Vermijo Avenue; $10-$25 for grandstand, csstpats.com.

March 15

Concert: The Anchor, Cryptic Writings, Infestation 303 and Sons of Icarus: 8 p.m., Legends Rock Bar, 2790 Hancock Expressway.

March 16

Women’s History Month Celebration: 7 to 8:30 p.m., Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Studio Campus Music Space (Room N-214), 100 W. Pikes Peak Ave.

March 17

March 21

Christian House of Prayer food pantry: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Christian House of Prayer, 4360 Bradley Road. Clean Up the Sand Creek Trail project: noon, meet at The Community, 3750 Astrozon Blvd., Suite 120.

March 22

Disney On Ice “Celebrate Memories”: 3-6 p.m., Broadmoor World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd.; $15-$70, AXS.com.

March 23

Harrison School District 2 and Colorado Springs School District 11 spring breaks begin.

March 24

Colorado Springs City Council meeting: 10 a.m., City Hall Council Chambers, 107 N. Nevada Ave.

March 25

Medal of Honor Day: 7-10 p.m., American Legion PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Post 5, 15 E. Platte Ave.

March 26

Sand Creek Book Club, “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman: 10:30 a.m. to noon, Sand Creek Library Makerspace, 1821 S. Academy Blvd.

March 27

Deerfield Mobile Food Pantry: 11 a.m., Deerfield Hills Community Center & Sprayground, 4290 Deerfield Hills Road.

March 28

Safe Kids Colorado Springs free car seat check: 3 p.m., Colorado Springs Fire Station 8, 3737 Airport Road; appointments required at 305-7233 or Suzanne.Grace@childrenscolorado.org.

Free medical care and prescriptions: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Open Bible Medical Clinic & Pharmacy, 555 E. Costilla St.; 719-475-0972 or 719-596-4449, clinic@openbiblemedical.org or openbiblemedical.org.

March 18

March 29

Deerfield Hills Neighborhood Meeting: 6 to 7:30 p.m., Deerfield Hills Community Center and Sprayground, 4290 Deerfield Hills Road.

Colorado Comic Con: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Colorado Springs Event Center, 3960 Palmer Park Blvd.; $20, mightycomshows.com.

March 19

PILLAR Institute of Lifelong Learning’s Taste of Pillar II, “Urban Legends”: 10 to 11 a.m., Sand Creek Library Meeting Room, 1821 S. Academy Blvd.; register at ppld.librarymarket. com/taste-pillar-ii-urban-legends.

Harrison School District 2 Board of Education board meeting: 6 p.m., district headquarters, 1060 Harrison Road.

March 20

Jazz in the Round: 7 to 8:30 p.m., Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Studio Campus, 100 W. Pikes Peak Ave., Room N-214; free but a donation of a nonperishable food item appreciated.

The Southeast Express gladly considers community-engagement announcements for inclusion in the community calendar and listings. Please email your items to news@southestexpress.org and include “calendar” in the subject line.

March 30

March 31

Poetry 719, “Listen to Womxn of Color networking and open mic”: doors open at 5:30 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m., The Gold Room, 18 S. Nevada Ave.; 21 and older with valid ID.

@SoutheastExpressNews @SEExpressNews


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related to the Spanish Gospel Mission to watch, wide-eyed, as throngs of people strolled through the visual representation of her memories. Her brother, Al Malacara, stood a few feet away, greeting childhood friends with a warm smile and hugs. The pair proudly pointed to a black-and-white portrait that showed them, dust-covered from play and surrounded by siblings, posing in a street in the neighborhood. “This is an honor, it is really an honor,” Margaret said of the exhibit. “I’m … proud that I grew up around here.” The Malacara siblings spoke fondly of attending church at the Spanish mission, playing on the slide known as “the dragon” in the former Conejos Park and gathering at the Rio Grande Grocery to get the latest news and gossip … and perhaps a handful of candy. Both proudly spoke of their family’s entrepreneurial legacy — their father owned and operated Trinidad and Sons Automotive Services — and grew nostalgic for a time when packs of children could barge into a neighbor’s house unannounced and safely play outside “until the lights went off,” as Margaret put it. “Conejos was part of the Colorado Springs experience,” Al Malacara

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said. “Most people don’t know that.” “It was a great place, a great place to be,” said Orlenas, who, with her husband, opened and operated the Aztlan Restaurant and Lounge. “You felt like it was a big family.” They were among the residents asked to speak during a community panel, sharing their memories and thoughts with a standing-room-only crowd in the third-floor courtroom. Mayor John Suthers told the audience that the exhibit highlighted the role Conejos played in the city’s culture. “I think it’s a reminder of how important the neighborhood is to Colorado Springs,” he said. Rudy Melena, whose grandparents founded and father operated the iconic Rio Grande Grocery, fondly spoke about the “hanging tree,” a massive cottonwood at the end of Costilla Street that he said spanned the creek. Children would take turns, in his memory, swinging from a rope over the water, enjoying the sun-dappled shade and the feel of the wind in their faces. But more important than the rush of the ride, he said, was getting back to the safety of terra firma. “There was always a group of kids to catch you,” he said. “When you came back, all these kids would grab you and save you. By God, that was Conejos.” regan.foster@southeastexpress.org

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A mural by Molly McClure and Muji Rieger depicting Mother Earth invokes the coming growing season and summer's bounty on a February morning. The artwork can be seen on the west wall of Platte Furniture, 2331 E. Platte Place, and was created as a partnership between the Knobhill Urban Arts District, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and Colorado Springs Food Rescue, according to the arts district's Facebook page. The Express aims to highlight public art and unique spaces found in Southeast in each edition. Tell us about your favorite hidden gem by emailing features@southeastexpress.org.

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