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5 things you need to know for Thursday, June 24

Posted at 6:37 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 08:41:16-04

Good morning southern Colorado and here's what you need to know on your Thursday, June 24.

If you'd like to read the full story, be sure to click on the story headline.

Pikes Peak Summit House opens

Today is opening day for the new Pikes Peak Summit House, but not everything is 100% just yet. There are some, know before you go, cautions with the end of June opening.

Work is still happening on some parts of the new complex. Interpretive displays are not yet in place, construction crews are doing finish work on the outside of the building, and removal of debris from the demolition of the old building is on-going.

The largest remaining job is grading and paving for parking. It means there is still just a few parking spots at the summit for people with special needs. The paving has to happen mid-summer when it gets warm enough on top of a mountain peak over 14-thousand feet. For now, there will be shuttles running from lower elevation parking lots at least through July.

Visitors can go inside the new building to enjoy the views, get something to eat, and use bathrooms. There are also outside overlooks to enjoy.


Colorado pediatricians, educators pen letter to state urging quarantines, masks during next school year

Colorado pediatricians and educators, as part of their unions, have penned an open letter to Governor Jared Polis encouraging stronger mitigation measures next school year to ensure in-person instruction.

The group urges continued testing of COVID-19 and quarantines, enhanced ventilation and use of outdoor space, and mask usage for unvaccinated people (including children who are not yet eligible for vaccination).

According to the letter, vaccinations have helped drive a significant decrease in COVID-19 transmission throughout much of the state but there are 800,000 children who are not eligible for the vaccine. The groups haven't received a response from their letter, but plan to continue efforts for stronger mitigation measures.

Parents who spoke to News5 about the letter are not in favor of a return to masks, citing their childrens' own reports of an increased difficulty in learning and keeping the coverings clean.

Community leaders come together to discuss actionable strategies to prevent military and veteran suicide

Today, the Suicide Prevention Collaborative of El Paso County will host an Executive Leadership Summit on Military and Veteran Suicide as area leaders come together for solutions to the issue.

You can watch the event from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on KOAA News5's digital and social platforms. KOAA News5 on your time, streaming on your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and AndroidTV. Also, on KOAA News5's Facebook page.

The virtual event will contain 6 actionable strategies identified to help current military service members, veterans, and family members struggling with mental illness.

  1. Start at the Top: Get State and Local Leaders to Publicly Commit to and Coordinate Efforts on Ending Service Member, Veteran, and Military Family Suicide
  2. Identify Local Circumstances of Service Member, Veteran and Military Family Suicide
  3. Increase and Promote Suicide Prevention Collaboration Among Military and Veteran Serving Organizations
  4. Support widespread Suicide Prevention Training for All Military and Veteran Serving Organizations
  5. Support and Promote Lethal Means Safety Initiatives
  6. Provide Suicide Loss Survivor Resources to All Impacted by Suicide

City of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers is taking part in the event. In his invite to community leaders he wrote, "Suicide is a complex and serious public health challenge that has claimed the lives of more than 600 Veterans in our community since 2004. Unfortunately, it is believed that El Paso County has the highest numbers of deaths by suicide in Colorado, due to its concentration of a largest number of Service Members and Veterans in the state."

That need for help is the drive behind SB-129, creating a Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot Program, which was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis this week. The Colorado Department of Human Services will provide funding to counties in order to provide no-cost behavioral health treatment for up to 700 veterans and their families, many in El Paso County. Read more: State lawmakers pass bill to prevent veteran suicide in Colorado


Cañon City turns to data-driven approach to address homelessness

A few years ago, elected leaders in Cañon City knew they needed to address what was becoming a growing issue in the community- the number of people without a home. Mayor Ashley Smith says in 2019, 395 households were homeless in Cañon City.

That's when the city learned about a scholarship through Kaiser Permanente for a national program called "Built for Zero". The program uses certain practices to try and end homelessness in communities across the United States.

After attending a convention, Smith says they got to work in addressing at least one community especially vulnerable to homelessness: veterans.

Dee Dee Clement is the Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes Ministry in Canon City, she says addressing homelessness in Fremont County is something that's been ongoing for years. The ministry has put in a lot of hours over the years working to help people get back on their feet and into housing.

"Homelessness is not a one agency problem, this is truly a community problem and it takes a lot of collaboration," Clement said.

Dee Dee Clement, along with a group of community leaders like Mayor Ashley Smith started tackling homelessness with a big outreach effort. By constantly collecting data on the number of veterans and others facing homelessness, they used a database to understand the challenges people were facing, as well as getting contact info, specifically their name and barriers they're facing. A personalized approach beyond the raw numbers in what's known as a "by-name list".

Read more

Get your latest First Alert 5 Weather forecast

We're going to see a smoky and hazy start to the day with more smoke and haze through the afternoon.

It was windy overnight from storms over the mountains and virga over the Pikes Peak Region pushing down strong winds. We'll be cooler today with highs in the 80s and 90s.

Storms will develop over the mountains during the daytime with storms then moving east and southeast out of the mountains and over the plains. Storms will fall as virga at first as they move east but eventually, some rain and storms will actually hit the ground.

We could see a few strong storms, but strong winds and lightning are the main storm threats today.

Tomorrow we could have a few strong to severe storms across the Pikes Peak Region and especially up around Denver with much cooler air. Highs will be in the 70s Friday and fall to the 60s over the weekend. Storms are going to be more numerous on Saturday with more scattered storms from Sunday through the middle of next week.

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