Thursday, August 14, 2008

Get on board for Manitou EDC fundraiser

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is being transformed into a fund-raising vehicle -- literally -- for the Economic Development Council in Manitou Springs. A fundraiser for the organization starts with a social hour at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at the Cog Railway Depot in Manitou Springs. At 4:45 p.m., participants will board the last Cog Railway train of the day, travel to Pikes Peak and return at 7:50 p.m. For $50 per person, participants will be treated to hors d’oeuvres and refreshments from The Cliff House and on-board entertainment and wine provided by D’Vine Wines, both of Manitou Springs. Door prizes also will be awarded during the train ride. Reservations for the train ride are required; call the Manitou Springs Economic Development Council at 685-9741. The council works to revitalize Manitou Avenue through streetscape improvements, while marketing those improvements to attract new businesses and to strengthen Manitou Springs’ economy, said Kitty Clemens, the Economic Development Council's director. More information: and

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Home prices fall in Colorado Springs area

Median single-family home prices fell to $200,922 in the second quarter in Colorado Springs, a 3.7 percent decline when compared with the same period a year ago, according to a report released Tuesday, Aug. 12, by Zillow, the Seattle-based Internet home-appraisal site. For all of El Paso County, which includes the Springs, second-quarter median prices fell 3.8 percent to $200,295. In Teller County, second-quarter prices declined 5.1 percent to $199,301 when compared to the same period last year. By comparison, prices in Denver dropped 5.4 percent in the second quarter, while Pueblo prices fell 0.4 percent. Nationally, median home prices fell 9.9 percent in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Zillow estimates 37.2 percent of Colorado Springs homes saw a drop in value in the second quarter, while 26.1 percent of homes sold in that period were sold for less than the previous purchase price. Of homes sold in the second quarter, 4.6 percent were foreclosures. More information:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Garman's son says he'd like to keep the business

We weren't able to reach Michael Patrick Garman while working on today's story on the plans to close the Michael Garman Gallery early next year, but we spoke with the younger Garman this morning.

He said he'd love to carry on the family business, which he ran for five years before having a falling out with his father last December.

"It was always my dream to run the company and continue on the legacy," Garman said.

Michael Patrick Garman said he still talks to his father, but not about the business.

"My No. 1 concern is my relationship with my father," he said. "I still love the man, he’s still my father. If he doesn’t have too much longer on this earth, I don’t want to create a big rift."

Michael Garman, 70, said on Monday that he's been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and his doctors say he likely has only a couple years to live.

His daughter, Vanessa Garman, now oversees the gallery. She said the business would be too expensive for any of Michael Garman's three children to buy on their own and that her brother hasn't made an offer.

"He’s never discussed this with my father at all," she said.

Michael Patrick Garman said he still sculpts and plans to teach classes at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs this fall.

USAA offers members online car-buying service

USAA insurance, a Fortune 150 financial services company that caters to the military and their families and has about 1,000 employees in Colorado Springs, has launched an online auto loan and car-buying service for members.

The new services allow members to handle all the steps of car buying -- from selecting a vehicle to financing and obtaining insurance -- electronically and without having to leave home.

The program is being done in partnership with, which established a network of participating dealerships in 70 cities across 28 states.

To get started, members can go to

Monday, August 11, 2008

Garman offers gallery closure details

“I never had any idea it would get this far,” sculptor Michael Garman said, “I guess that’s why it got this far.”

Garman, 70, flew into Colorado Springs on Monday for a press conference making official what fans of his work have been talking about for a week: Michael Garman Productions will stop making reproductions of Garman’s sculptures this winter and the gallery in Old Colorado City will close once the remaining inventory is sold — probably in spring or early summer 2009.

Garman said his health is the problem. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and doctors have only given him a couple years to live. It’s time, he said, to focus on other things.

“It’s too personal a business for me to sell it,” he said.

His son, Michael P. Garman, ran the business for five years and had planned to take it over, but he decided to strike out on his own, Garman said.

“I’m not a good manager,” Garman said. “He doesn’t want to manage. Hell of a good sculptor, though. He’s decided to go out on his own now, find his own place.”

His daughter Vanessa Garman will run the business until the end. The company’s 15 employees should stay on until the business wraps up, she said.

“We’re going to need everybody until the end,” she said.

The big question is what happens to Magic Town, Garman’s series of street scenes that have become a tourist attraction. Magic Town could be sold and moved, or it could stay put and be run by whoever buys the gallery building.

“The last thing we would want is for it to end up in storage,” Vanessa Garman said.

Losing the gallery will be a blow to Old Colorado City, said Jim Heikes, owner of Thunder Mountain Trading Company and president of Old Colorado City Associates.

“It’s really a sad thing,” he said. “He has been a cornerstone for years and years and years. It will be a tremendous loss.”

Because of his health, Garman is trying to limit the time he spends in the thin air of Colorado Springs. He plans to return Sept. 6 and 7 and Nov. 22 and 23 to appear at the gallery and sign his work for fans.

Garman doesn’t plan to sell any new works, but said he won’t stop sculpting.

“It’s been everything to me,” he said, brushing back tears.