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Tom Roeder, The GazetteTom Roeder, The GazetteApril 21, 20183min890

Schriever Air Force Base will add nearly 150 workers as Air Force Space Command assumes wider control over the military’s satellites.

The new faces at Schriever are part of the new Joint Forces Space Command Component, which pulls in Navy and Army space troops under Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond. The move was announced Friday by Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who was told of the change by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“This is great news for Colorado and I am excited to welcome additional Joint Force Space Component personnel to our state,” Gardner said in a statement.

The joint headquarters for space was mandated in a 2017 policy bill, which sought more centralized control over the nation’s military satellites. It was a compromise that backed away from an earlier plan to create a separate military branch for space.

The joint headquarters was initially established in California, but is coming to Colorado after an analysis of alternatives came out with Schriever on top.

The joint headquarters will be located alongside the National Space Defense Center at Schriever, where intelligence agency and military space experts are working to defend American military satellites from attack.

The rising fear of future wars reaching space was a key theme of the Space Symposium at The Broadmoor this week. Leaders, including Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein, said the military must be prepared to fight and win battles in orbit.

Putting the rest of the military’s satellites under Raymond is part of the continuing growth of Air Force Space Command’s dominant role in the arena. The command already controls 90 percent of the military’s satellites and oversees a space budget that’s expected to top $64 billion over the next five years.

Putting the joint headquarters at Schriever will also give the program one of the highest levels of security available in the military. The headquarters will move behind a prison-like double fence where workers pass through tight security screenings on their way in and out.

Key Defense Department programs, including operation of the Global Positioning System, reside behind the security layers at Schriever.

Gardner signaled the move as a vote of confidence in Air Force control of space operations after a White House trial balloon last month showed President Donald Trump’s willingness to create a separate space force.

“This is an important part of our national defense and I will continue to work with the Air Force to support the critical work our men and women are doing at Schriever Air Force Base,” Gardner said.

The first of the new troops are expected to arrive at Schriever next month, and the Air Force expects to have all 148 workers at the base next year.


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Ellie Mulder, The GazetteEllie Mulder, The GazetteApril 21, 20182min3710

Colorado Springs School District 11 will be closed April 27  “in anticipation of high levels of teacher participation at a rally in Denver,” Superintendent Nicholas Gledich said in a statement.

The cancellation of school is necessary because the district doesn’t have “enough substitute teachers or administrators to cover the projected number of teacher absences,” the statement says.

An afternoon rally is planned for Friday at the Colorado state Capitol to advocate for more state education funding, education news nonprofit Chalkbeat reported.

The Colorado Springs Education Association “is joining in support of the statewide education association in supporting this statewide teacher rally,” Gledich’s statement says. “As you may be aware, K-12 public education funding and the long-term stabilization of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) system are problematic in Colorado.

“Public education school boards, staff, parents, and other supporters have become increasingly vocal in their advocacy for increased funding for our statewide K-12 public schools and the stabilization of PERA. There is a belief among these groups that years of low funding is having a significant impact on our ability to attract quality candidates into the teaching profession and is impeding the ability to effectively deliver the high level of educational experience our students deserve.”

Extracurricular activities will be held Friday unless otherwise announced.

“I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our families, but I’m pleased to be able to make the announcement in advance so families may make needed arrangements,” Gledich’s statement said.


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Ellie Mulder, The GazetteEllie Mulder, The GazetteApril 18, 20189min3040

El Paso County signed a disaster declaration Tuesday night and is urging the state to take command of a wind-fueled blaze that started along Interstate 25 in the southern part of the county, burned at least 10 structures, including homes, and prompted mandatory evacuations of about 300 residents and multiple rescues.