Friday, April 20, 2007

Find a guide to home values in Sunday's Gazette

How much have home values appreciated in Colorado Springs and El Paso County during the past year and over the past decade? A special section in The Gazette on Sunday, April 22, will give homeowners the lowdown. For the second consecutive year, The Gazette analyzed El Paso County Assessor's Office records to determine how home values have changed in 78 county neighborhoods. The results were compiled into "Neighborhoods, The Gazette Guide to Real Estate." The information also will be available Sunday on

Some highlights: Single-family home values countywide increased 6.3 percent in 2006 over the previous year, while values for an 11-year period from 1996 to 2006 are up 80.6 percent. But increased values weren't the whole story; 2006 was a tough year to sell a house in El Paso County as the Pikes Peak region got caught up in the nation's housing slowdown.

Central Bancorp gets zoo on the move

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo unveiled a new education outreach program today, along with a distinctive ZOOMobile for transporting animals to school and community events.

ZOOM (Zoo on the Move) is made possible by Central Bancorp, which has made a three-year commitment to the program. Central Bancorp is the holding company for a range of financial services under the CB&T moniker. Steve Schneider, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, was at Bricker Elementary School to help introduce the new zoo program — and to confront an old fear.

“I have a secret to tell you all,” he told fifth-graders gathered outside the school. “I am terrified of snakes.” But as the kids watched, he touched a California king snake, one of the animals brought down the mountain for the program.“Ok,” he said as the students applauded.

Health care workers get four-wheel drive vehicles

To keep employees and patients safe and stay competitive in the health care industry, Centura Health at Home, as of April 21, is providing all 65 full-time field staff members with four-wheel-drive vehicles. The Colorado Springs office has 48 field staff, of which 27 full timers are getting vehicles.

"We believe we are the only agency in the state to provide four-wheel-drive vehicles for its entire staff," said spokeswoman Lisa Cutter.

At a launch party April 21, the vehicles were blessed before the keys were turned over to employees. The vehicles will ensure patients receive the care they need in severe weather, Cutter said, and will be a tool in attracting and retaining employees.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ramtron replaces auditor

Ramtron International Corp. has replaced accounting giant KPMG LLC with Denver-based Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hotman PC as its auditor for the current fiscal year, starting with first quarter financial results scheduled for release April 26.

The Colorado Springs-based semiconductor company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had no disagreements with KPMG on "accounting principles or pratices, financial statement disclosure or auditing scope or procedure." Ramtron had hired Ehrhardt Keefe last year for $1,350 to consult on adopting new stock option accounting rules, which the company began using on Jan. 1, 2006.

Lee Brown, a Ramtron spokesman, said the move was among several initiatives under way by the company to improve efficiency. That means the new auditors are charging lower fees; but Ramtron hasn't yet disclosed how much, he said.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New name and home for Filthy Wilma's

When a sizeable space on Manitou Avenue opened up, the artist/owners of Filthy Wilma’s in Manitou Springs jumped on it; they had been looking to leave their space at 10 Ruxton Ave. for a new location with more room and a better flow of traffic.The only catch: their new landlady hated the name Filthy Wilma’s.

“She thought it was morally corrupt,” said Tina Riesterer, who along with her husband, Ken, is among a group of artists that own the art gallery. “She would just not let that name be on her building.”So when the new gallery opens May 1, it will have a new name: the Green Horse Gallery. A grand reopening celebration on June 2 will include a funeral march from the old location to the new to mark the passing of Filthy Wilma’s.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tourism on the Web

When the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a Web site in August 1995, it was one of the first bureaus in the U.S. to do so.

The visitors bureau, now called Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak, was at the head of the pack again earlier this year when it became one of the first in the state to launch a Web site using the new Internet domain .travel. The new site,, launched March 1.

The site, which boasts an attractive design and no ads, is a way to woo potential travelers, then lead them to for further information, says Amy Long, marketing director for Experience Colorado Springs.

“Before you can get someone to take action, you need to inspire them and romance them, and that’s the intent of all .travel sites,” Long said.

Experience Colorado Springs is also helping the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region launch, a cultural events Web site, in mid-June.

“Updating our calendar is something we wanted to do, but it’s a huge undertaking,” Long said.

Read the Business section in Wednesday's Gazette or go to for a story about Experience Colorado Spring Pikes Peak's annual business meeting.

EDC leadership awards to be presented in May

The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. likes to have a good time -- and to hand out awards. The non-profit group, which works to bring jobs to town, holds luncheons every few months and at year's end, holds festive receptions to recognize existing companies that have expanded and new ones that have come to town. Next month, the EDC will go black-tie when it hands out its 2006 leadership awards during what it describes as nothing short of a gala. The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. May 5 at the The Broadmoor hotel's International Center on Colorado Springs' southwest side. In addition to the awards, the event includes a live auction, cocktails, dinner and music by the Broadmoor Pops Orchestra. The cost is $175 per person or $1,750 for a table of 10. More information: 471-8183.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's Earth Month at Whole Foods Market

All 195 Whole Foods Market stores are observing "Earth Month" throughout April.

Shoppers at Colorado stores can find a Weigh-In guidebook that includes ecologically friendly actions. Shoppers also can make a personal pledge at to reduce their carbon emissions.

The Whole Foods Market at 7635 N. Academy Colorado Springs is hosting numerous in-store events.

Wednesday, April 18, 6 to 7 p.m.: "How to Green Your Home without a Contractor" with Jene' Jackson Hanna, owner of Shades of Green Remodeling

Thursday, April 19: Five percent of net sales benefit the Friends of Cheyenne Canon, a local non-profit devoted to city parks and programs.

Saturday, April 21, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Try different eco-friendly and local products from every department. Team members from Green Mission talk about recycling.

At 1 p.m., there will be a Kids Club Recycle Art Class. Each child will create their own masterpiece to take home. Sign up at the customer service desk.

Sunday, April 22: Earth Day! And sign up for a Performance bike giveaway.

Wednesday, April 25, 6 to 7 p.m.: Green Remodel vs. Conventional Remodel by Jene' Jackson Hanna, owner of Shades of Green Remodeling. Learn different techniques of how to save energy, resources and have a positive influence on the environment.

Wednesday, April 25, 5 to 7 p.m.: Ladies' Night Out, a fun and interactive event to learn more about Whole Body department. Pangea Organics. A representative from Zuzu will do makeovers and massage therapists will pamper shoppers.

Thursday, April 26, 6 to 7 p.m.: Specialty Cheese Class: Goat Cheese, $10. Sign up at the Customer Service Desk for the first cheese class of the year featuring a variety of local and global goat cheeses.

Kids and money

Want to know how to talk to your kids about money? Local author and certified financial planner Linda Leitz will give a free lecture Thursday April 19, at 7 p.m. at Covered Treasures Bookstore, 105 Second St. in Monument.

The author of “The Ultimate Parenting Guide to Money Smart Kids,” Leitz gives parents a philosophy and practical advice on how to help their kids become financially savvy and responsible.

Filled with practical advice on money management, the book won an iParenting Media Award. For more information on Leitz, see