Friday, June 29, 2007

Flags on Army uniforms go forward into battle

I would like to know why the American flag patches on soldiers’ uniforms have the stars in the upper right-hand corner instead of the left?
- Nancy Greene

ANSWER: The flag patch on the left shoulder of Army uniforms has the stars (the canton) on the left. On the right shoulder the flag patch has the stars on the right and appears reversed to an observer. Pentagon procedure is that the flag should always look as if it is going forward. Indeed, the words from an old hymn say, “Forward into battle.” The stars are always closest to the pole, and the flag should appear to be flowing back from the standard or flagpole.If the canton on the right shoulder had the stars on the left, it would symbolize that the soldier carrying that flag was retreating.

Quail Lake sculpture commissioned for that area

A recent column item about fishing at Quail Lake reminded me of the question I’ve had about the huge metal sculpture on the top of the hill on the north side of the lake. It occasionally turns to point in a different direction. I’m intrigued by its origin and whether it has any function other than as a piece of art. To me, it looks like one of the geese so prevalent around the lake.
- Kay Kellner

ANSWER: The large, pre-rusted steel sculpture called “Windmark” by some, “Landmark” by some and “windthinggizmo” by others, was commissioned by David Sunderland of Gates Land Co. in 1972 when Cheyenne Mountain Ranch was being developed. When the sculpture was completed in 1973 by Colorado College instructor Jack Edwards, it was placed alongside Colorado Highway 115 and later moved east to Quail Lake Park. The weather-vane-type sculpture is huge, but it’s so graceful you can move it with a touch of a finger or by a gentle breeze.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dublin Boulevard part city, part county

This is about the bottleneck of Dublin Boulevard west of Powers Boulevard. Dublin is four lanes east of Powers and two lanes west of Powers for a few blocks then four lanes again. The city did not want to complete it until the area was developed. They are now developing that area for housing. That bottleneck is even worse now that construction at Powers and Woodmen is on going.
- Donald Barnett

ANSWER: We checked with city traffic engineers and learned that the area you’re referring to between Bridal Pass and Powers Boulevard is partially in the city and partially in the county. For example, Dublin west of Balsam is county, engineers said. The city would be able to complete this project only if or when the county areas are annexed.

Squirrels left behind peanut shells

I am a transplant from the East Coast and have been living in Colorado Springs for the last two years. In our neighborhood I have noticed a large amount of peanut shells on the side of the road and some in our back yard. I know that peanuts are not a native plant in this part of the country and am wondering how these peanut shells got here. My guess is that people are buying peanuts and feeding the squirrels. Is that correct? Is there another explanation?
- Karl Knebl

You guessed correctly. Many, many people in our area buy peanuts — unsalted peanuts, pretty please — for the squirrels. Wildlife officials warn the peanut people to refrain from holding the nuts in their fingers because the squirrels, who have eyes on the side of their heads, can’t see the difference between peanuts and fingertips.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Impatient drivers illegally passing on the shoulder

It seems like I am having a hard time having my voice heard on this issue. I commute daily and as I drive south on Powers, there is a very wide shoulder before you get to the markings for the left turn lane onto Woodmen heading east. On just one morning, 13 cars passed me on the shoulder as I was patiently and lawfully waiting to get into the left-turn lane. Needless to say, the cars driving illegally on the shoulder made the light and I was stuck two more light cycles. Perhaps if the markings for the left-turn lanes started sooner there would be less backup in the through lanes and left-turn traffic would flow better.
- Bill

Much of this backup is due to the construction at this intersection, said principal city traffic engineer David Krauth. However, his department will talk with Colorado Department of Transportation about this problem, and the police were alerted to people passing - illegally - on the shoulder.

Multilane roundabouts still puzzle some drivers

I’m not sure if you have ever answered this question before or not, it’s about the roundabout that is by the Cinemark Theaters and how the lanes are supposed to be used. My boyfriend and I have a bet on this and I think it is very clear. I say if you are in the outside lane, you have got to exit at the first exit that you come to. If you are on the inside lane, you don’t have to exit until you are ready. Please let me know what is the correct way to do this.
- Kelly Kinabalu

ANSWER: We’ve run explanations and graphics about this roundabout since 2005, but the multiple lanes are still causing drivers to scratch their heads. However, the city has re-striped the lanes and there are new lane-designation signs that have helped simplify the process. Our area has three new multilane roundabouts, all in Wolf Ranch, at Research Parkway east of Powers Boulevard.

Here’s your roundabout answer and the graphic, and we’ll let you and your boyfriend decide who won.

The police department had some basics:Those entering the roundabout must yield to traffic already in it. Traffic inside a roundabout does not stop. Use the outside (right) lane if you’re making the first exit or if you’re going forward to the second exit to continue forward on the same street (and in the same lane) you entered from. If you’re going to the third exit or all the way around to the street you came in on, you should be in the inside (left) lane. Miss your exit? Just go around again.

It’s expected that most drivers will not change lanes when they’re in the roundabout. That’s often when accidents occur. The scenario: A driver enters the roundabout in the right lane. Another driver has been in the inside lane for several exits and needs to turn right. They get to the same spot at the same time. The person in the inside lane, making the lane change, must signal and yield. The driver doesn’t and . . . crunch.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Triangles along Highway 115 protect birds

What are the white triangles that you see on power poles along the highway as you enter Colorado Springs on Highway 115 south? My husband says they have been there a long time. Some poles have one, some two, some poles have four, and other poles have no white triangles. Besides the answer to “What are they?,” do they have anything to do with NORAD and Fort Carson, or are they also found in other areas?
- Diane Hintze, Williamsburg, CO

ANSWER: They’re “perch guards,” according to Kirsta Scherff-Norris, Wildlife Biologist with Colorado Springs Utilities Environmental Services Department. “They are placed on the crossarm of the power pole to prevent large birds such as hawks and owls from landing on the crossarm. This prevents the birds from being injured by the electricity in the power line. Perch guards are just one of the devices we use to protect birds on power poles."

County site has a complete recycling guide

We recycle as much as we can, but where can we recycle plastic newspaper bags and plastic grocery bags? How do we dispose of a color TV that no longer works?
- Jack Lundberg

ANSWER: Take plastic for recycling to any of the Wal-Mart stores with the exception of the one at Chapel Hills, or call Best Way Disposal, 633-8709. Color TVs up to and including 19 inches are accepted at several recycling sites. You’ll find the list in the complete El Paso County recycling directory at

Quail Lake was planned by the developer

As regular walkers around the .9 mile of Quail Lake, there have been questions regarding this lake that have come to mind: When was it built and reason why? How deep is the lake near the dam? Where is the water source? How often is the lake re-stocked for fish?
- D. M. Callahan

ANSWER: A 22-acre lake was part of the 1969 master plan for this area, Cheyenne Mountain Ranch, the 3,000-acre planned community developed by Gates Land Co. After Quail Lake was built in the early '70s it was turned over to the city in 1974. Kurt Schroeder, park maintenance, trails and open space manager, said Quail Lake was built for aesthetics and water runoff.

The lake is 42 feet deep at the dam. The lake is stocked regularly by the Division of Wildlife, which says rainbow trout are plentiful this spring, catching channel catfish should be good and fishing for bluegills should be fair. The lake is filled with excess potable water which Schroeder explains, “is when there is more water coming into the utilities water treatment plant than what they are using.” During drought years the lake went down because there was no excess water.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Noisy vehicle or motorcycle? You could be ticketed

How many times in the last year or two has CSPD given “excessive noise” tickets to motorcycle riders?
- Mike Casey

In 2006 the Colorado Springs Police Department issued 750 tickets for “exhaust systems,” which is “the city ordinance we utilize when any vehicle is too loud,” said police spokesman Lt. Rafael Cintron. This ordinance — 10.22.204 — covers all vehicles including motorcycles, cars and trucks. The number of tickets isn’t broken down by vehicle. However, Cintron said the majority of tickets are issued to motor vehicles, not motorcycles. He suggested that for the complete statistics you can go to the department’s annual report at tionID=7

Police regularly patrol Garden of the Gods; break-ins occur when valuables are in sight

Do police cars or bikes ever patrol through the Garden of the Gods? I’ve read and heard of several incidences where cars were broken into while in the park, yet I’ve never seen police there. You’d think with all of the tourists, weddings, school tours, etc. going through the Garden that there should be more police in the area.
- Lisa

ANSWER: Colorado Springs police officers regularly patrol all the city parks, including Garden of the Gods, according to police spokesman Lt. Rafael Cintron. They patrol in cars and on bicycles. However, Cintron said there aren’t resources available to have officers stationed permanently in the park.

Leaving valuables inside vehicles leads to many of the break-in problems in parks and at trailheads, Cintron said. Cameras, checkbooks, jewelry, purses, CDs and expensive outdoor equipment are sitting right there, visible to anyone going through the parking lot who looks in the vehicle’s window. People return to — surprise — find their vehicles have been broken into, frequently in a “smash and grab” where a window is smashed and the goodies grabbed. Cintron said people going hiking or leaving their vehicles to spend time in a park are reminded to lock everything in the trunk or to leave valuables at home.