TMJ Week of 9.27.16

Panthers’ football team ends losing streak with key road win Mac McClintock

Broncos Win in the Jungle 29-17 – Bob Volpe

A Guide to the Casinos of Cripple Creek Rick Langenberg and Catherine Mahrholz

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Broncos Win in the Jungle 29-17 – Bob Volpe


Three and a half point underdog Broncos go into the Bengal’s liar and come out with a big road win. Football’s talking heads will have to stop saying Trevor Seimian is insignificant as the leader to the Denver Broncos. Seimian threw for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first road game as quarterback of…

Cripple Creek and Teller County Celebrate the Lively History of Gambling- Bob Volpe and Rick Langenberg

As towns sprouted in the 19th-century American West — outside Army forts, at river crossings along wagon trails, in mining districts and at railheads — some of the first structures built were recreational facilities. Recreation for the almost totally male population inevitably meant the triple-W vices of the frontier: whiskey-drinking, whoring and wagering. Saloons, brothels…

Teller Commissioners Approve Pro-Government Telecommunications Study Rick Langenberg


Despite the fact that Teller prides itself as a conservative area adhering to a “hands-off” philosophy pertaining to government involvement in private enterprise, the county commissioners, in slightly different twist from this stance, have unanimously approved a new $80,000 telecommunications’ consultant study and future plan. These 100-plus page documents give the county their marching orders,…

Local Internet Provider Mounting Campaign Against Pro-telecommunications Ballot Plan Peak Owner Accuses County of Competing Against private Businesses Rick Langenberg


On paper and at public forums, the pro-communications plan sounds great. Teller residents and businesses will hit the jackpot with millions in telecommunications enhancements; they will get much better service through top-notch broadband, government-funded infrastructure; they won’t discover any more dead zones when making cell calls or receiving e-mails and text messages; and better yet,…

PPRH Dedicates New Patient Patio


PPRH recently completed a new patient patio outside its inpatient wing. The patio gives appropriate patients, visitors and PPRH staff members a place to go outside to enjoy the fresh Colorado air and sunshine. The patio was made possible through generous donations by Andersen Enterprises, Inc., and The Pikes Peak Regional Medical Center Foundation. Pictured…

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Local Internet Provider Mounting Campaign Against Pro-telecommunications Ballot Plan Peak Owner Accuses County of Competing Against private Businesses Rick Langenberg

On paper and at public forums, the pro-communications plan sounds great.
Teller residents and businesses will hit the jackpot with millions in telecommunications enhancements; they will get much better service through top-notch broadband, government-funded infrastructure; they won’t discover any more dead zones when making cell calls or receiving e-mails and text messages; and better yet, they will be rescued at any place in the county when they get lost or injured by making a mere call or posting an emergency posting to a local fire department.
And all in all, communications in the local region will rise from the Dark Ages. Just vote yes on the county’s so-called pro-telecommunications bill, allowing for an opt-out from previous state restrictions from Senate Bill-152 that bars any government partnerships in the communications arena.
Well, hold on and be careful for what you wish for. In fact, you may have to decide between funding the costs for the county’s new technology plan, and those endorsed in other municipalities, and paying more for road improvements and other services. After all, no government programs are free of charge.
Moreover, Teller may not get the buy-in from local Internet providers to hook onto the government’s wonder technology link. More notably, the cost estimates for a fiber-optic connection between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek, extending through much of Teller, are just plain wrong.
Instead, telecommunications and government consultants could end up as the big winners and Teller residents will be sold a bag of goods.
That’s the sentiments of Jayson Baker, the main operator and owner of Peak Internet, which has made major improvements in offering reliable broadband service to many residents in Teller County. The company, which started about 15 years ago, has completed 23 repeater sites and invested millions in expansion efforts in the last few years.
“The county has no business being in the telecommunications business. What we need is more collaboration (from the government) and less competition,” said Baker.
Baker said he plans to mount a public information campaign, informing voters of the impacts of the so-called pro-telecommunications ballot proposal, promoted by Teller elected leaders, which has been touted as a “no brainer.”
However, if the new ballot proposal passes, Baker said Peak Internet may put an immediate halt to all further expansion activity. “Why would we want to compete with the government?” questioned Baker.
Baker has been critical of the county’s telecommunications’ planning efforts in the past.
He questioned why the county allocated close to $80,000 for a study, outlying weaknesses in broadband Internet areas in Teller.
“They kept saying ‘we want to give you a plan. ‘I told them ‘we don’t need a plan to tell us what we already know.’”
According to Baker, he even offered to give the county Peak’s own market coverage and technology plan free of charge, and save the county tens of thousands of dollars, and to invest the money into solving the problem.
We aren’t in the Dark Ages
He also objects to the continual comparison of Teller’s broadband plight to that of the Dark Ages by the consulting firm for the project, the Glenwood Springs-based NEO Fiber company. According to Baker, this firm did previous work for a number of communities in the Western slope that had significant communications woes. To compare Teller’s situation to virtually “off the grid” communities in other parts of Colorado just didn’t make any sense, noted the local Internet company owner.
“We are not in the Dark Ages. There have been a lot of improvements. We have done a lot of expansions,” related Baker.
But what worries Baker and other Internet providers is that residents, through the pro-telecommunications ballot package, are being sold a package that is comprised of false figures and assumptions. “This just doesn’t seem like the best use of taxpayer money,” said Baker, in explaining the funds the county wants to rely on for paving the way for the “super highway” of broadband coverage.
Baker cites the cost estimates of establishing a fiber/optic line between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek for $9.2 million, as just plain ridiculous. “It will cost considerable more than that,” said the Peak Internet owner.
And to top matters off, he said his company has no intentions of hooking up with the infrastructure network being planned by the county, through a variety of state and federal grants, and with the help of the Colorado Department of Transportation. Baker said he has heard similar concerns voiced by other Internet providers.
“We already have a lot of that (fiber-optic network) in place,” said Baker. “Why not work with the existing businesses in improving what we have?”
If a buy-in by local and regional providers doesn’t occur, that could pose a problem for the county’s overall telecommunications program. Teller County and other local governments want Internet and telecommunications providers to offer service to actual residents and businesses from public buildings and entities, where the fiber/optic link is established.
Baker is also outraged that he wasn’t consulted during the writing of the pro-telecommunications ballot question. He says if he was involved in the process more, he contends that county could have an issue that he would have supported and lobbied for. According to the language of the ballot issue, Baker contends the Teller government would become a competitor. “I just can’t support this ballot question the way it is worded,” said Baker.
He says this lack of communications was a familiar problem during the consultant study, and an issue he spoke with Teller County Commission Chairman Norm Steen about. Steen, a member of a local technology committee, is the commissioner that spearheaded efforts to improve broadband Internet and cell phone service in Teller County.
Baker says even Steen was surprised of the massive investment Peak Internet made into improving its current system and in providing fast, and reliable broadband service throughout the county. “I was told, ‘how did we miss this,’” related Baker
However, Baker is the first to give Steen credit for prompting his company to do major expansion efforts. “Norm got me off my butt to really expand beyond Woodland Park. I will give him credit for that.”
Baker says Teller residents need to know that if these government-related telecommunications funding plans get escalated by massive amounts, they could end up holding the tax bag. “They may have to choose between getting their roads maintained and paying for these improvements,” said Baker.
He notes that nothing comes for free when it comes to government funding and that significant matching funds could be required. Plus, he cites a problem in having to pay for an additional consultant to implement the program.
A tough battle
Baker, though, realizes the pro-telecommunications bill has many supporters from local government officials and citizens. For example, local resident Phillip Irish, in a recent e-mail, noted, “It’s time to let the county provide facilitate, partner and/or coordinate with Internet providers interested in bringing fiber/optic service to our county. Whether you’re a home teleworker, a business owners a police, fire, school, library or hospital service provider, opting out (of the current state restrictions) will allow our county to move forward much faster, with other, more interested private partners and with more consideration of our unique needs.”
Steen also contends that the purpose of this effort is not to compete with the current providers, but to improve current services. He does agree with Baker about the cost projections for the fiber-optic line from Colorado Springs into Teller County due to requirements to build it in many areas underground. He now says the line will cost more than $11 million and it will occur over a three-year period.
Steen also emphasized that no local taxpayer dollars are involved. The broadband infrastructure project will be funded by the state and feds, with these monies coming from the state Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Rural Health monies. In fact, he says a good portion of the funding comes from a small payment assessed on consumer telephone bills.
As far as the ballot issue, Steen said that the plan was approved during a public meeting. “This was a public process. People need to become engaged in the process.”
Steen says he hasn’t received hardly any complaints about the proposed pro-technology ballot plan. According to Steen, the main theme that emerged from the study was the need to improve the current level of broadband and cell phone services, especially in areas outside of Woodland Park.

WP Panthers Suffer heartbreaking Loss to Air Academy – Mac McClintock

The Woodland Park Panthers’ football team beat themselves last Friday, falling to the Air Academy Kadets in a difficult one-point loss.

Once again, the woes of the offense came back to haunt them.

In the first half, the Panthers looked almost completely lost. The offense only got two first downs for the entire half, and the defense was left on the field for nearly two quarters. What stung the most was when the Panthers gave up two 30-plus yard runs, following back-to-back Woodland Park fumbles. Those runs eventually would lead to two Kadet touchdowns and present a 13-point deficit for the Panthers.

It could have been an even worse half for the Panthers, if it was not for maybe the worst field goal attempt ever attempted in recent memory. The Kadets’ field goal try from 27 yards did not even make it to the end zone. Plus, the kick would have been several yards to the left of the field goal posts, even if it made the necessary distance.

Even with their dismal performance for the first half, the half-time break provided a good show for the Woodland Park faithful, as Air Academy hosted a rather extensive fireworks display. As for the second half, the third quarter provided little entertainment, as neither team was able to mount much of an offensive attack.

It was not until the fourth quarter that Woodland Park started to make a comeback. But unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

The team drove down the field and scored their first touchdown on a one yard touchdown run from junior running back Dominic Roskam. The team tried to go for a two-point conversion, but failed. The defense then was able to hold the Kadets at bay, stopping Air Academy from getting a first down.

The Panthers got the ball back with good field position, and once again, Roskam, who had an impressive performance in their opening home game, carried the offense. The team was able to drive down the field successfully. The Panthers then handed it off one last time to Roskam for a 6-yard touchdown run, his second of the quarter.

That score enabled the Panthers to pull within one point. Once again, Woodland Park decided to go for a two-point conversion. As a result, the entire game came down to one play.

If Woodland Park converted, they would take the lead and just have to stop the Kadets one last time. If they failed, they would have to rely heavily on their defense, and try to score with little time left in the game.

Unfortunately, the latter scenario is what occurred.

Woodland Park, though,, still had a chance if they could stop Air Academy.

It seemed as if the Panthers were going to get the ball back, after forcing the Kadets to a third and twenty three predicament. But the Kadets were able to complete a 24-yard pass play. As a further insult to the Panthers, the 24-yard pass play was the Kadets’ first pass completion of the game.

Even after that successful play by the Kadets, Woodland Park found a way to get the ball back with 1:44 in the game. Then on the first play, they completed a pass and kept their hopes alive. But then, the Panthers gave the ball right back to Air Academy by fumbling it away. After this last and most costly turn-over, Air Academy was able to kneel on the ball and walk away with a close 13-12 win.

The Panthers will have to see if they can put this heart breaking lost behind them as they have a tough opponent next week at home in Conifer. That game is scheduled for September 16 at 7 p.m.

Linksters win big tournament
As far as other Woodland Park sports action, the Boys Soccer team was able to win against Falcon by a score of 3-1. The Lady Panthers Volleyball team won their game against Falcon as well, but lost to Pueblo East. That brings the team’s record to 3-1.

In another high note, the Panthers golf team was able to win the Cheyenne Mountain tournament and Sam Levy, the team’s number one player, prevailed in the individual portion of the tourney. The golf team should fare better this year with better and more experienced players.

The Softball team was able was able to win three games, but lost two more contests, bringing their overall record to 3-5. The good news for the softball squad is that they did win their first league game against Harrison by a score of 27-0.

Overall it was an okay week for Woodland Park sports teams, but it could have been much better, according to local sports experts.

Support Woodland Park Senior Citizens Club on
Saturday, August 20th, 5pm – ??
121 W Midland/Hwy 24, across the street from the Cowhand
$5.00 gets you a sampling of Wine from around the World with in-house wine expert and educator, Andrea Lowe or another preferred beverage along with hors d’ouevres, pulled pork, buffalo wings and live music and dancing on the patio with Bobby Evans!

Jazz it up with classic country, classic rock, jazz standards, oldies but goodies & pop.

Show off your biggest cowboy hat, buckle and best boots if you like!

Beer, soda, water and lemonade will also be available.

We will also raffle off three special wine baskets.

Bring a friend! Taste some wine! Dance the night away!

Questions? Call 719-310-3147.

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Divide Recreational Jewel Reopened – Rick Langenberg

One of Teller’s most popular hiking and camping spots is back in action, but with more defined restrictions, including a ban against free camping.

The Pikes Peak Ranger District of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest has reopened the Crags area, including the Crags Campground and Forest Road 383. In late May, the area, located near Divide and regarded as one of the prime recreational spots for residents and visitors, was completely shut down to allow fire crews to remove a large number of trees that posed a safety hazard to hikers and campers.

The closure action was taken when the U.S. Forest Service reportedly discovered hazardous trees in areas frequently used by visitors for camping. According to officials, a spruce beetle infestation left many of the shallow rooted spruce trees standing dead, along Forest Road 383. This closure prohibited all public entry into the area, including camping, day use, hiking and access to the Crags and Devil’s Playground trails, which lead to the summit of Pikes Peak.

This closure could be part of a continual trend. Forest Service officials have concluded that hazard tree removal and associated road closures along Forest Service Road 383 are expected over the next few years. Initially, crews will work to improve safety near the campground and trailheads, but will continue working along the roadway later this fall and in future years.

And even with the reopening of this popular area, more restrictions at the Crags still apply. In fact, the Pikes Peak Ranger District has issued an official order that prohibits free camping, campfires and parking along Forest Service Road 383.Plus, the following restrictions have been put into place:

*Camping is allowed only in the developed Crags Campground. There are 17 campsites available on a first come first serve basis for a fee of $16 per night.

*Dispersed (free) camping, campfires and parking are prohibited along either side of Forest Road 383, as a large number of hazard trees still exist.

*Parking is allowed only at designated sites at the Ring the Peak Trailheads, Crags Trailhead, and within the campground.

Other changes in the drainage include the access to Raspberry Mountain, due to private property and concerns with lack of parking at the unofficial trailhead. Instead of parking at the hairpin corner before the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, those wanting to hike to Raspberry Mountain will need to drive 1.4 miles further up Forest Road 383 and park at the Ring the Peak Trailhead, and will then use the Ring the Peak Trail to access Raspberry Mountain.

Visitors are urged to take extra precautions when recreating in the area this summer due to the large number of hazard trees.

Hazard tree removal and associated road and area closures will continue along FS Road 383 after Labor Day, 2016.

Still, even with the additional restrictions, the reopening of the Crags is expected to be greeted with much enthusiasm by tourist and civic leaders. Despite the difficulty in accessing this area off Hwy. 67 South, the Crags is still regarded as a local outdoor mecca, offering some of the most panoramic views of surrounding peaks and reservoirs. It also is regarded as the best area from which to attempt a back route ascent up Pikes Peak, via the Devil’s Playground Trail. In addition, it reigns as a popular spot for camping and viewing the rocky outcropping of “The Crags,” and is a favorite area for cross-country skiers and for snowshoeing. Rumors have frequently abounded regarding the possibility of opening a mini-ski mountain area near the Crags, but access restrictions and financial obstacles have squashed these attempts.

And due to its popularity, the Crags is one of the prime spots for search and rescue missions by local emergency responders as many first-time hikers often misjudge the Teller high country altitude conditions. Plus, some reports have circulated that the area was getting frequented more by transient homeless individuals and campers.

Nevertheless, when locals are asked by visitors about prime recreational spots in the region, the Crags tops the outdoor “Best Of” list.