What’s News – Rick Langenberg

whats-new

Patrol Car Escapee Apprehended
A 34-year-old Colorado Springs woman, who escaped from a Woodland Park Police patrol car last week, while handcuffed, has been apprehended by authorities without incident.

The escape, which resulted in an extensive search around the Wal-Mart store in Woodland Park, was called off on Friday. The escapee, Tammara Martin, returned to her residence in Colorado Springs and was taken into custody. In addition, a stolen car linked to the incident has been located.

The initial incident occurred on Thursday, when the Woodland Park Police were investigating multiple theft suspects in the Wal-Mart area. Officers had four people in custody, including Martin. According to a WP Police press release, Martin escaped from the back seat of a patrol vehicle during the investigation. Police also reported that she had black handcuffs behind her back, when making her escape. In addition, police reported that a stolen vehicle, a Blue Dodge Caravan with Alaska plates, could be linked to the investigation.

Police sent out an advisory alert that evening, with a photo of the woman. Authorities expressed concerns about the welfare of Martin with overnight temperatures plunging into the teens, and with the escapee only clothed with a black tweed jacket, blue jeans and tennis shoes. She was not considered armed or dangerous. When Martin first escaped from the patrol car, she was seen heading east-bound from Wal-Mart. She wasn’t located that evening.

A detailed search then ensued for the theft suspect. However, the search was called off on Friday, when the suspect returned home.

This marks the second big incident in Woodland Park in which a person reportedly committing or involved in a crime made a staunch effort to escape. A bank robbery, which occurred last July at Peoples Bank, resulted in the suspect successfully eluding authorities on foot. That person is still at large.

Active Shooter Class Emerges as Big Hit
An active shooter training class, conducted by the Woodland Park Police Department and sponsored by the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce last week, emerged as a big hit with a room full of participants.

Woodland Park Police Chief Miles DeYoung stated that other related classes will be held with interested businesses and civic groups. “I expected maybe 10 or 15 people to attend this class. Instead, we had about 100 people,” said the WP Police Chief.

According to the DeYoung, the class was prompted by concerns over recent incidents, including the publicized attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that captured national media attention. This incident hit home as the suspect for this attack that killed several people and injured many others, Robert Lewis Dear, resided in the South Park area. In some ways, his story wasn’t that different from other people coming to the area to retreat into the High Country,
In addition, many concerns have escalated over the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, California in December 2015, resulting in the death of 14 people.

“The first five minutes are critical,” said DeYoung, when describing situations involving active shooters. The recent class was taught by Ryan Koski of the Woodland Park Police Department. It was based on the model proposed by ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), started by a police officer in Dallas Texas, Greg Crane, who used the techniques to protect his wife, who served as a school administrator.

The woodland Park Police Department has taken the lead role in dealing with active shooter threats. But other agencies in the area are expected to join forces in dealing with these types of incidents that in the past have been treated as isolated threats. Steve Steed, who heads the county’s office of emergency management, cited these potential incidents as something that will be reviewed in more detail in updating Teller’s emergency response plans. To date, these have mostly been tailored to natural disasters.

In fact, better preparation and preliminary training in dealing with the prospects of unlikely shootings and even terrorist attacks is now becoming a key theme among local law enforcement leaders, who oppose more gun restrictions. DeYoung reiterated that he joins other law officers in the state in urging national lawmakers to address the need for more mental health assistance in assisting unstable individuals, rather than initiating more gun control laws. He cited statistics indicating the country has considerably less mental health resources than it did in the past. And even in previous years, these resources fell well below acceptable standards, according to the police chief. “We really need more mental health resources than gun control laws,” said DeYoung. And similar to the sentiments of local law enforcement officials, he doesn’t believe that the new gun control executive actions, announced by President Barack Obama, will have much of an impact in Woodland Park.

Wal-Mart store shutdown won’t impact Woodland Park
Woodland Park appears safe from a spree of Wal-Mart store shutdowns announced last week—at least for now.

With more competition from on-line purchases and such competitors as Amazon.com, the Wal-Mart Stores has decided to close 269 stores, including 154 in the United States, according to corporate officials.

None of these closures are planned in the Pikes Peak region, where 10 supercenters are located. Instead, they mostly would impact Wal-Mart Express outlets and Wal-Mart stores located within 10 miles of each other.

Business experts believe that the Wal-Mart supercenters in the Pikes Peak region are safe from the company’s biggest mass closures in recent years. But big box consultants concede that the company will be undergoing a massive restructuring effort to better compete and deal with declining revenue.

That’s good news for the city of Woodland Park, as the local Wal-Mart has served as its main retail giant and a prime provider of sales tax revenue. If the local Wal-Mart closed down, the city’s chances of developing a $15 million aquatic center would undoubtedly crash to a halt, according to most predictions.

Woodland Park’s Wal-Mart Superstore, opened for business in 2007, following one of the more contentious approval processes, capped by hours of meetings. The Wal-Mart company had to overcome much local opposition and then deal with flood plain restrictions from the federal government. It opened more than a year and a half after getting the final approvals from the WP City Council.

But regardless, the store was regarded as an architectural model for other superstores. Initially, the main impetus behind the Woodland Park Wal-Mart dealt with the amount of people in Teller County, who shopped at a Wal-Mart on Eighth Street in Colorado Springs.

Summit Elementary snags grant for playground improvements
The Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation recently awarded a $30,000 grant to Summit Elementary School in Divide to help renovate the preschool playground.

According to Katie Rexford, Principal of Summit Elementary, the playground renovation will need to occur in stages. “The main priorities for the playground will be to purchase a piece of equipment that will allow multiple students to play at one time,” she said. “The new play structure will also serve as additional shade for our students.”

The grant came together by the collaborative work of Amy Byrne with Teller Park Early Childhood Council, Jill Cochran, preschool director at Summit Elementary and the preschool team at Summit. “It is an honor to work with our preschool team. They work hard to provide the best opportunities for our students. The playground that will be created with these funds will serve our students for many years to come!” Rexford said. “It is exciting to think about the new safe and inviting playground that will engage the minds and bodies of our youngest learners!”

In addition to the grant received, the preschool will be working with parents to provide in-kind services to help make the dollars go further. It is the hope of the preschool staff and Summit Elementary to update the equipment, the ground cover, and the fencing of the preschool playground. Plans are to begin construction over the summer.

The Buell Foundation is a professional philanthropic organization supporting the positive development of children through grants and partnerships with other sectors of our community. The Foundation focuses primarily on the state of Colorado and concentrates its grant making on programs that benefit children.