CASINO TOWN HOMEOWNERS GET TAX BILLS ON PRESERVATION GRANTS 01/19/99 Soon up to one-third of the Colorado state tax money voters thought would be used for historic preservation in Black Hawk will be diverted to the federal government. The change, which will mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the National Historic District in Black Hawk, came about because of an Internal Revenue Service decision to tax the grants as income. The city has allocated more than $600,000 of its 1999 budget to pay a settlement reached with the IRS over those taxes from previous years, and new grants will come with an advisory they are counted as taxable income, officials said. ``We have argued unsuccessfully that it is not a taxable event,'' said Black Hawk City Manager Lynette Hailey. ``We did reach a settlement with the IRS.'' From 1995-1997, there were residential preservation grants totaling more than $2.1 million awarded to 44 owners of 57 houses in Black Hawk, the years covered by the settlement. In Central City, officials still were debating whether to continue the battle over the taxes or reach a settlement, while in Cripple Creek, the problem never arose because its grant program was developed only recently, with an advisory that all funds are counted as income. The problem stemmed from the original vote in Colorado allowing gambling in the three mountain towns, which specified that some of the proceeds should be used for historic preservation. Under the constitutional amendment that legalized gambling in 1991, 28 percent of the state gambling revenues must be spent for historic preservation and restoration. Through 1997, the statewide total generated from that 28 percent was $61.3 million, with $12.3 million going to the three towns involved. In Black Hawk, the Historic Architecture Review Commission was given the job of taking the tax funds, evaluating needs and issuing grants. Among the projects funded were reconstruction of rock walls, new roofing and siding repairs, as well as foundation repairs on turn-of-the-century homes. Hailey said the city never considered the grants taxable income to the recipients because there were limits imposed on the money: It could be used only for the specified repair to a structure in the historic district. In Central City, attorney Kerry Buckey said on Tuesday the debate was continuing. ``There are many who feel these grants should be tax-free,'' he said. ``The city at this point is not terribly inclined to settle.'' He said several options were being considered, including obtaining an easement on each home repaired with a grant, which should move that money into a non-taxable category. He also said the grants could be awarded with the advisory they are subject to income tax. That's what has happened in Cripple Creek for the last two years. Cripple Creek began its restoration grant program years later than Black Hawk and Central City, and made the determination the funds were taxable after several grant applicants questioned it. ``I asked if I could qualify for a grant (and if it was taxable),'' said Cripple Creek city Clerk Kathleen Conley. ``They said, `We'll find out.' I guess it was a good question.'' Buckey said a law firm has been hired to help Central City residents who have been notified by the IRS of the taxes, penalties and interest that are due. He also said the city was changing the way it addressed some reconstruction problems. It used to give homeowners grants to repair the intricate rock walls there; now it will simply pay a contractor directly, bypassing any payment to a homeowner. Hailey said Black Hawk's settlement, if approved by the IRS, would have the grants include a notice that the funds are taxable, but the city would reimburse property owners for that tax bill. ``We will issue 1099 (forms). When those are issued, (homeowners) will get a check (for the tax due),'' she said. However, she noted that the payment made for taxes also would be counted as taxable income in the following year, a bill which would have to be handled by the homeowner. The IRS did not immediately return calls for comment.

SQUAW PEAK NAME CONTROVERSY CONTINUES 01/20/99 Seven months after the controversy over the name ``Squaw Peak'' first caught Arizonans' attention, a quick resolution looks increasingly unlikely. Representatives of the American Indian Movement and other groups have denounced the term ``squaw,'' contending it denotes female genitalia. Others dispute the claim, including State Board on Geographic and Historic Names which oversees the naming process. Still, everyone seems to have an opinion on whether the popular hiking spot should continue to be called Squaw Peak or something else. On Tuesday the alternative name ``Phoenix Peak,'' proposed in September by Flagstaff resident Jeff Hunt, awaited board approval. ``Even though I prefer `Squaw Peak,' I felt the strong possibility that the name was doomed,'' said Hunt, who grew up near Squaw Peak. ``I proposed `Phoenix Peak' so it wouldn't be named something worse.'' Board chairman Tim Norton said Tuesday that he would recommend the board to reject Phoenix Peak. ``According to our policies, the board will not get involved with commercial names,'' he said. Phoenix Peak became a commercial name on Dec. 15, months after Hunt's proposal, when Phoenix resident Thomas Heineman registered it as a trade name. ``I am just one of nine board members, but as chairman, my recommendation can be equated to a judge instructing the jury,'' Norton said. In July, the board rejected a proposal to rename the peak Iron Mountain. The board said at the time there was no historical precedent for that name. The board meets quarterly and is required to consider every name proposal. Since July the office has received more than 400 letters, fax and e-mail messages from people concerned about the fate of Squaw Peak. ``Where will this end?'' Norton asked. ``I have no idea.'' Whatever Squaw Peak's name is changed to -- if it gets changed at all -- it won't be Phoenix Peak. The Arizona State Board on Historic Names on Wednesday unanimously rejected Phoenix Peak as an alternative moniker for the craggy fixture of the city skyline. A 3,000-year-old Ohlone Indian child's skull dug up at a Los Altos construction site more than 25 years ago was mailed to the anthropology department at Stanford University last month -- along with a handwritten note from the repentant thief. ``Dear Anthropology Department,'' the note read. ``Here is an Indian skull I took from a grave site on O'Keefe Lane at El Monte Road in Los Altos in the mid-1970s. I believe Stanford was excavating at that time. ``I have asked God to forgive me, the Indians to forgive me, and I ask you to forgive me. Please do not try and find out who I am. ``Signed: So Sorry.'' The Oregon Archaeological Society is sponsoring a training course to introduce participants to the world of amateur archaeology. The inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia, where Iraq now stands, are usually credited with the invention of writing. Clay tablets from slightly before 3,000 BC show a predecessor of the script called cuneiform, which records the affairs, and presumably the language, of the early Babylonians. But did writing really originate on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers? Not according to archeologist GŁnter Dreyer, director of the German Archeological Institute in Cairo. If he's right, the Earth-shattering invention occurred on the banks of the Nile. A Finnish academic known for recording Elvis Presley songs in Latin is planning a new record of eternal hits -- this time in the ancient Sumerian language. Jukka Ammondt told Reuters on Thursday he has been practising with "Blue Suede Shoes"-- translated into the language of Babylonia that died out around 2000 BC. "Elvis would have liked the idea," said Ammondt, who has produced two records of Elvis songs in Latin.