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Vol. 11 No. 5 - May 7, 2011


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Contents

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Artist’s bronze statues displayed

By David Futey

On April 22 in the newly refurbished Lucy Owens Gallery of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), a reception was held for Laurel Peterson Gregory, pictured with one of her bronze works titled Tuxedo Hop. Peterson, of Sedalia, uses the lost wax process to create her wondrous bronze statues. This casting technique dates back thousands of years and enables her to achieve outstanding results in detail and form. Gregory has taken the demanding technique and developed a 12-step creation process, ending with a 3/8-inch thick, hollow bronze statue. Information on Gregory and the process is at www.laurelpetersongregory.com. Information on TLCA events is posted at www.trilakesarts.org

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@ocn.me

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District 38 budget discussed April 6

By Harriet Halbig

Committee for Political Achievement of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) sponsored a public meeting April 6 to inform the community about the district’s budget deliberations.

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman (pictured at left) spoke of the district’s achievements, including its accreditation with distinction, high graduation rate, and academic and athletic honors. He then made a brief presentation about cuts the administration is considering for the 2011-12 budget.

Lisa Weil of Great Education Colorado (see OCN’s November 2009 issue) spoke of education funding throughout the state and the necessity for public involvement in petitioning for improved conditions.

Cori Tanner, DAAC co-chair and chair of the Committee of Political Achievement, encouraged community members to monitor the district’s discussions and become involved in decisions.

Board of Education President John Mann and board member Gail Wilson also made brief comments.

See page 24 for additional D-38 coverage.

Harriet Halbig can be contacted at harriethalbig@ocn.me 

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Palmer Lake Town Council, April 14: Trustee questions town office improvements; two trustees resign

By David Futey

On April 14, Trustee Bryan Jack questioned individual trustee approval of contracts under $5,000 for improvements to the Lucy Owens building, which houses town offices. These small contracts are to be paid for from a fund created by a donation to the town by the late Lucy Owens.

The Lucy Owens Fund is administered by the Town Council. The Lucy Owens building was paid for by Owens’ donation. No tax revenues would be used to pay for the improvements and repairs that were approved by a single trustee.

After a lengthy discussion, no action was taken by the council to change these previously approved small contracts.

Mayor John Cressman announced that Fire Trustee Joe Polonsky had resigned from the council. Trustee Dennis Stern was excused from this meeting. Trustee Bryan Jack also resigned after this April 14 council meeting.

Trustee-approved expenditure questioned

Jack had questions regarding expenditures for improvements in the town offices, landscaping around the offices and Town Hall, and pay raises for staff.

Cressman said his construction firm was hired by Town Clerk Pro-tem Tara Berreth to remodel the town offices. The improvements included creating a reception area, opening up a corner office, and creating a new conference room. Cressman said the costs included a building permit, HVAC, electrical, and communication work, with the total cost under $5,000.

Jack asked Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich about the drainage in front of the library and the landscaping in front of Town Hall. A bid of $4,307 was received from Oasis Landscaping for both projects. The bid was approved by Parks and Recreation Trustee Gary Coleman.

Jack said he was concerned that $11,090 in expenses was authorized and unanticipated. Jack said that the changes "look great" but they were "not necessary." He said it seemed that none of the upgrades were planned. He brought up the Citizens Survey, which showed other priorities ahead of these recent projects. He was concerned about the prioritization of the projects.

Jack also had concerns about the raises, when compared with similar municipalities. He said that most town staff salaries are "in alignment" with these other municipalities. Jack said only the Police Department was "significantly below" minimum market averages, with positions $2,000 to $6,000 below the average.

Cressman said that Administrative Clerk Kathy Van Tuinen’s $1 per hour raise was unanimously approved at the March council meeting. Cressman spoke on behalf of the raise.

Trustee Nikki McDonald said the Lucy Owens Fund was used for the renovations and it can only be used for town building renovation. The fund contained $36,000 for town building maintenance. Landscaping improvements outside the Town Hall came from Coleman’s Park and Recreation account.

However, money from the Lucy Owens Fund has been approved by the council in the past for the 2010 Potato Bake Fine Arts Festival, the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership in 2007, purchase of an automated external defibrillator for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and donations to the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance.

Berreth said Van Tuinen’s raise reflected an increase in duties listed in her job description. Berreth has also assumed increased job responsibility because Della Gray’s position was eliminated after her death. She stated that she wanted "to get all the (town) employees money" when asking for Van Tuinen’s raise in January.

Regarding the improvements, Berreth said the Lucy Owens Fund addressed a recommendation from the council to "get the office under control" and the addition of a counter prevents "people touching Kathy’s desk" where payments and other important items are placed.

Berreth said that if a proposal or bid is under $5,000, the procedure is to make a request to the appropriate trustee. She said the council should change that amount if they feel it is too high. Berreth also said she has three proposals ready to address salaries for all town staff, and she is waiting to offer them to the council. She ended by saying that town staff "morale is low, it’s horrible."

Jack again stated his concern regarding project prioritization because the town office is one of the newer buildings, and the fire station and police building need renovation. Jack said he does not want to spend any money that is not budgeted. Cressman said that town office building is "the business end of the town, where everything is directed from" and that the renovations "will make the town more efficient."

Business licenses

Council voted on each of the following business licenses separately:

  • By unanimous decision, the council approved Reelstreet Productions, owned by Mitchell Davis and located at 759 Hilltop Road. Davis is a freelance photographer and videographer. He said he does not have a storefront and wanted to have a business in name for customer payment purposes.
  • By unanimous decision, the council approved My Dinah, owned by Judy Lively, with the condition that the applicant returns for a follow-up hearing once a location for the business is identified. This is a mobile retail food sales business. Jack expressed concern about the hours of operation and the lack of a location. The location would have to be zoned commercial. Cressman said it cannot be permanently parked and still be considered mobile by the license.
  • By unanimous decision, the council approved Garden of Infinite Vitality owned by Kelli Rose and Suzy West. The business is located at 835A Highway 105. This is a holistic business with offerings such as acupuncture, Pilates, massage therapy, and yoga.

Council reports

Cressman read the Colorado House Joint Resolution 11-1012 concerning the renaming of a portion of Highway 105 after Master Sgt. William J. Crawford. The designated portion, from the "intersection of State Highway 105 and County Line Road north of Palmer Lake to just east of Monument Town Hall in Monument" will be renamed the "Medal of Honor Master Sgt. William J. Crawford Highway." The Colorado Department of Transportation will make a request to the El Paso County Commissioners to help fund the cost of the signage.

Parks and Recreation: Trustee Coleman reported that the Palmer Lake Arts and Community Event (PLACE), which was held last September in conjunction with the town and Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, will not occur this fall. Coleman said plans for this summer’s Chautauqua are being organized by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

During Coleman’s report, Sylvia Amos, owner of Palmer Lake Country Store, spoke about the Pikes Peak Urban Gardens Grant. Through the grant, materials such as seeds and wood will be provided to make garden beds along with training in the development of a community garden.

Amos said there needs to be a way to determine what can be grown in Palmer Lake and that a location for the garden needs to be identified. She said, "This could be an option for people in the community to grow vegetables." In the discussion it was mentioned that a community garden was identified in the community master plan. The council will review the grant before committing to it. Information on the Pikes Peak Urban Gardens is at www.ppugardens.org

Jack provided the council with an update on the Trails and Open Space Coalition resolution. The coalition is seeking a tax that will assist with parks maintenance. The 0.2 percent tax is proportional to population based on the census. Cressman said that smaller communities might get access to a "little more money" given the way the resolution is written. In the past, Colorado Springs has received the vast majority of funding. Cressman requested that the council review the resolution before proceeding with a vote on it at next month’s council meeting.

Berreth said that the town acquired the park area adjacent to the east side of the lake from the county and is now responsible for the daily cleaning of the Santa Fe Trailhead bathroom. The town presently has only one staff person available for the cleaning, and the bathroom is available April through October. Berreth sought suggestions from the council on how to proceed with the cleaning.

She suggested options such as paying overtime for the town staff responsible for the cleaning, using volunteers or perhaps a community group. A solution was not determined. Fees for renting the pavilion might assist with paying for the cleaning. Berreth said a fee structure needs to be set up for the pavilion, and the town is waiting for information from the county on its fees.

Police Department: During Trustee Nikki McDonald’s report, Police Chief Kieth Moreland presented Evidence and Records Technician Mark Orist with the Palmer Lake Distinguished Service Award for his efforts in property management and other services to the department. Orist resigned from the department for a position in Denver.

Water: Trustee Max Stafford presented a water conservation ordinance for council’s review. His primary recommendations were:

  • Odd-numbered building addresses would be permitted to water landscapes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Even-numbered building addresses would be permitted to use water for watering landscapes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
  • Watering would be allowed only from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Stafford said it is time the community "steps up" to become a responsible water user and noted that Monument is considering a similar resolution.

Fire Department: Cressman read the fire report. He stated the town is looking for a replacement for Polonsky as fire trustee, and the town needs the vacancy filled. McDonald asked Berreth to get examples of fire chief job descriptions from other departments. The fire chief position has been unfilled since November.

Roads: In response to a council request at the March meeting, Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich proceeded to get information from a variety of sources regarding the railroad "Quiet Zone." He is presently awaiting a response from Union Pacific officials.

Radosevich also recommended that El Paso County Park personnel perform monthly safety inspections on the playground equipment located on the east side of the lake. In exchange for their time, the town will pay for water use.

Radosevich presented the council with information on highway sign changes as mandated by the Federal Highway Administration. He said 35 mph or higher speed limit signs will need to be 9 inches in height. Regulatory signs, such as stop and yield signs, need to be replaced by 2015 and will cost approximately $11,000.

By 2018, street signs must be replaced with 6-inch letters on 9-inch signs. The town is required to have a sign replacement plan in place by 2012. The Colorado Springs Transportation Department might assist the town with the manufacturing of the signs and charge at their cost.

By unanimous decision, the council passed an ordinance vacating a portion of Clarence Street. The vacation was previously approved by the Planning Commission.

Jack said the town’s accountant has forwarded a sample request-for-proposal document to use in seeking a new auditor for the 2011 town audit.

The town increased the annual lease fee for the Palmer Lake Sports Riders’ use of town land on County Line Road to $2,000. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis needs an updated contract from the staff to review before making a recommendation to the council for approval.

Historical Society drainage issue

The council tabled a bid to improve drainage around the library building until further information is received. The town received a bid from Oasis Landscaping to improve the drainage around the library building, where the Palmer Lake Historical Society resides in the basement. The building has periodic flooding due to grading and other issues.

The Oasis bid of $3,479 covered only the building of a retaining wall and landscaping around the building. Other improvements, such as changes to the parking lot, would be required to fully address the flooding. Cressman said larger drainage catches are needed at the base of a ramp.

In a related discussion about the library building, McDonald said the contract with the Pikes Peak Library District should be reviewed, because it has not changed since originally accepted in1982. Recently the library paid for the ramp renovation, and the town paid for a new roof. The town might seek rent from the library to help defray maintenance costs. The library presently only pays for half the utilities, which amounts to $2,400 a year.

Jack and Historical Society President Phyllis Bonser said the library would leave if it were charged rent. Jack said the council would seek a nominal amount. The council recognized the importance of the library to the Palmer Lake community.

Al Walter, vice president of the Historical Society, suggested that council table the proposal so that the group can speak with Radosevich to ensure all issues are addressed and that other bids should be secured.

Public input

The owners of Herbal Outfitter, an appointment-only medical marijuana center and grow facility, requested a second business license so that the town can realize tax revenue from the business. At this time, tax revenue from this business goes to Douglas County, because that is the location of the point of sale. Jack pointed out that this is the only medical marijuana facility that the "town has not had an issue with." The owners will need to apply for the business license, and it can be put on the agenda for May.

This brought up a discussion about the lack of tax receipts from the medical marijuana businesses in town. Berreth said she has received only $12 in tax from the state in the last three months related to these businesses. She has contacted the state to determine why the amount is so low but has not received a response. There could be a problem with the tax coding. Berreth will contact the local business owners and inform them of the situation.

Historical Society seeks funding

Bonser presented the town with a copy of Communities of the Palmer Divide. The book, published in March, provides a historical overview of the area. The Historical Society will give a presentation about the book at the May council meeting.

Walter appealed to the town for funding for the Historical Society, saying that he thought some funding might be available in May. Walter said the group has reached out to other communities and organizations to broaden the understanding of it and its efforts, along with promoting Palmer Lake. The group has held events, such as a Pow-wow in July and Chautauqua in August, that draw people to Palmer Lake.

The Historical Society also has representation at various events in other communities where it promotes itself and Palmer Lake. Walter asked the council to consider these efforts when deliberating over funding and that any funding for the society "would be greatly appreciated."

Society member Rogers Davis informed the council that the group will be repairing the jailhouse with an epoxy-based filling.

The meeting ended at 9:02 p.m.

**********

The next regular council meeting will be May 12 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or call 481-2953.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 4: LP hockey team honored for state championship

Below: The members of the Lewis-Palmer High School state championship hockey team. At the front (L to R) are trustees Tommie Plank and Rafael Dominguez, Mayor Travis Easton, and coach Steve Fillo. At the April 4 Board of Trustees meeting, Easton read a proclamation hailing the teams success. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On April 4, the members of the Lewis-Palmer High School hockey team were honored by Mayor Travis Easton, who read a Board of Trustees proclamation that declared April 4 to be "Rangers Hockey Day." It listed the various aspects of teamwork that culminated with the team participating in the last three state final games and winning the last two state championships.

Coach Steve Fillo stated that his players have a remarkable achievement that they would remember for the rest of their lives and that their achievements would "never be replicated." Fillo presented a team puck to Mayor Easton. Easton then presented a framed copy of the proclamation and a town plaque to the team’s captains as their proud parents and school coaching staff looked on from the standing-room-only crowd in the Town Hall meeting room. There was a brief recess while the trustees and staff individually congratulated the players and their parents and coaches.

Trustee Gail Drumm did not attend the meeting.

Trustees’ comments

Easton thanked Town Manager Cathy Green, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, Public Works Director Rich Landreth, and Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara for all the free management services that they have provided for about two years to the Triview Metropolitan District, through Monument taxpayers.

Background: Triview pays the town a fixed yearly fee for town Public Works Department hourly employees to operate and maintain Triview’s infrastructure. This has typically not covered total town costs for providing water/sewer utility service and roads and park maintenance. Triview also pays the town for the full-time services of an hourly administrative employee who works with district utilities. Triview recently hired Mark Carmel, a Pueblo resident, for six months to perform some district management duties on a part-time basis.

Easton also stated that the long-running negotiations with the Triview board to have the metro district pay the town something for these still-free department head management services are continuing.

Trustee Rick Squires passed out pictures of disposal bins that could be provided by Waste Management for recycling glass, plastic, cardboard, and newspapers. He proposed having the town place a bin in the cul-de-sac east of Highway 105 between the Arby’s and Conoco buildings and on the east Jackson Creek Parkway by the electrical substation north of the Leather Chaps interchange.

Trustee Jeff Kaiser noted that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) staff had reported on April 1 that BRRTA’s sales tax revenue was up 30 percent for the past 12 months.

Invited guest speaker

Trustee Rafael Dominguez introduced his commercial real estate broker, Brad Bird of CB Richard Ellis Inc. in Denver. Dominguez invited Bird to speak to the board on local commercial property tax issues. Bird is currently the commercial broker for the former Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in the Monument Marketplace shopping center and also in the Triview Metropolitan District.

Bird reported that in 2010 commercial property in Monument and Triview was subject to the following mill rates:

  • El Paso County – 0.007387
  • El Paso County Road & Bridge Share – 0.000165
  • Town of Monument – 0.006289
  • El Paso County-Monument Road and Bridge Share – 0.000165
  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38 – 0.050324
  • Pikes Peak Library District – 0.003556
  • Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District – 0.0085
  • Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority – 0
  • Triview Metropolitan District – 0.035
  • El Paso County TABOR Refund – 0
  • Total Mill Levy in Triview – 0.111386

Every commercial property in Triview is subject to an 11.1386 percent property tax on the assessed value, and 11.1031 percent outside of Triview. For commercial property, the assessment rate is currently 29 percent of the market value estimated by the county assessor. The assessment rate for residential property is 7 percent.

Bird said that on average this total Triview mill levy is nearly 1 1/2 times the mill levy of equal or similar properties in the greater Colorado Springs area, and the tax per square foot on a building is sometimes three times the amount. Bird made five specific comparisons of three Triview tax-related business expenses (taxes per square foot, assessed value, and total mill levy) and the average rate of these same three factors for similar stores in Colorado Springs:

Carl’s Jr.: Taxes per square foot—$13.32 vs. $4.31, or 209 percent higher. Assessed value—84 percent higher. Mill levy—69 percent higher.

McDonald’s (Baptist Road): Taxes per square foot—$12.26 vs. $4.71, or 160 percent higher. Assessed value—35 percent higher. Mill levy—69 percent higher.

Walmart: Taxes per square foot—$1.86 vs. $1.40, or 33 percent higher. Assessed value—1 percent lower. Mill levy—49 percent higher.

Home Depot: Taxes per square foot—$1.93 vs. $1.49, or 30 percent higher. Assessed value—22 percent lower. Mill levy—41 percent higher.

Kohl’s: Taxes per square foot—$1.78 vs. $0.90, or 99 percent higher. Assessed value—4 percent higher. Mill levy—91 percent higher.

Some of the other points that Bird made were:

  • Unfortunately, I have seen the property taxes in Monument deter a plethora of businesses from opening their doors in the area. Most of his customers laugh at Monument tax rates and look in other areas for possible development locations.
  • I hope that this information will equip and motivate the Board of Trustees to set in motion the conversations and actions needed to ultimately change the tax structure, improve the business climate, and promote growth and strength of existing and potential businesses in Monument and the Tri-Lakes area.
  • "The Triview mill levy is huge."
  • The District 38 mill levy is 20 to 30 percent higher than other county school districts.
  • The Tri-Lakes fire mill levy is also high.
  • Local Monument property taxes are particularly high and disproportionate in comparison to other local property taxes.
  • Assessed values are on average 20 percent higher than comparative properties of similar age and use.
  • The mill levy is on average 64 percent higher than comparative properties of similar age and use.
  • The per square foot (PSF) tax on commercial property in Monument is on average 106 percent (over double) the average PSF tax rate for comparative properties of similar age and use.
  • In this real-world example, the Carl’s Jr. in Monument would be required to sell nearly 4,200 more meals each year to remain competitive with the Garden of the God’s store— just to cover the local property taxes.
  • This impact is not limited to fast food; it applies to all businesses competing in the market that are subject to the "astonishing" Monument property taxes—a high-tax, non-business- friendly environment.
  • Taxes not only represent an expense, they also represent the cooperativeness of the local government and the health of the local economy. If the taxes are too high, the government is considered "unfriendly" and represents unknown obstacles.
  • Parker, Greenwood Village, and the Denver Tech Center "exploded overnight" because of much lower taxes than downtown Denver.

Green noted that all of the properties Bird analyzed are in Triview, and he should make this presentation to the Triview board. The Triview mill levy cannot go down due to the high Triview bond debt. Most of the town’s revenue comes from sales tax rather than property tax.

PPRTA membership discussed

Kassawara led a lengthy technical discussion regarding the board proposing a November 2012 ballot issue to join Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA.) Monument did not join PPRTA when it was created a few years ago. The east side of Monument has been in Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA.) It appeared that the revenue that might come to Monument from PPRTA would depend on total population, but the town would only experience a 1 percent tax increase for PPRTA on the west side of I-25, leading to a net "profit" from joining until BRRTA is dissolved.

Because of the high number of ambiguities and uncertainties about the actual process of joining PPRTA, participation in capital projects after the next 10-year PPRTA election, future withdrawal from PPRTA membership, and other matters, the board directed Kassawara to invite Rick Sonnenberg, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments’ PPRTA project director, to answer board questions at a future board meeting.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for the Columbine Garden Restaurant, 481 Highway 105, #201.

The board unanimously approved four payments over $5,000:

  • $25,378 to CIRSA Insurance for second quarter worker’s comp insurance
  • $13,577 to CIRSA Insurance for second quarter liability insurance
  • $12,285 to Level 3 Communications for work performed in the Third Street Project
  • $9,218 to Water Matters for the second payment for creation of a town water conservation plan.

The board unanimously approved the January and February 2011 financial reports presented by Smith at the March 21 board meeting but continued to this meeting.

Staff reports

Green reported that four draft intergovernmental agreements had been passed to Carmel for a Triview board vote.

Green stated that she had asked the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to allow the town to annex the CDOT county parking lot on the northwest corner of the I-25 Monument exit so that the staff can regulate the Coffee Caboose business on this county property. However, the Caboose has gone out of business and is no longer on this lot. CDOT has offered to sell the lot to the town. There was board consensus that the CDOT lot should be annexed.

Green noted that the town’s Big Plant landscaping event was scheduled for May 28. Kaiser has arranged for about 350 volunteers from two churches to plant flower beds on Third Street, create a bocce ball field and complete the community gardens in Lavallette Park, and prepare the town cemetery for Memorial Day.

The town will hold a clean-up day on May 21 to complement the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce recycling day.

Landreth discussed his unhappiness with an article in the April 2 issue of OCN about turning off caustic soda injection in the town’s drinking water at the Second Street Water Treatment Plant. The story, coverage of the March 8 Joint Use Committee meeting, appeared on page 8; see: www.ocn.me/v11n4.htm#juc 

Landreth made the following statement:

"I just wanted to address an article in the OCN .… It had some erroneous information. I just wanted to set the record straight. This is regarding a corrosion control system that was installed at one of our water plants. The article was basically saying that the Town of Monument was blowing off the Monument Sanitation District, and that is absolutely false.

"One of the big things it said was that the equipment was installed improperly, and that’s absolutely false. It was not installed the way it was presented originally in the drawings by GMS, the engineer for the project. But we always consulted with them. We did not make any unilateral decision by ourselves. We always communicated with them.

"And contrary to the story, we always consulted with the director, Mike Wicklund. And so those were absolutely false and I just wanted to make sure everybody understands that.

"Secondly, this is a problem that the sanitation district has. I don’t want anybody to think that we have a problem with copper in town. We test every three years per state regulations and we’re well below copper levels for drinking water. That doesn’t mean that there is not a problem with copper in the water once it gets to the wastewater plant and that we shouldn’t help the sanitation district.

"The other thing that the story kind of pointed toward was that we just kind of blew off and didn’t use the system, which is absolutely false again. We ran the system for over a year and we collected our own data. We saw no difference in any kind of readings we did in copper levels. In particular, pH never changed because ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do. I communicated with them, and maybe there I should have communicated more with them regarding this ….

"Our feeling is that the reason this didn’t work is because … we have five places where water is coming into the system and yet we’re only treating one or two at a time, and it’s not making that much difference and we’re just wasting our time, wasting our money. We have not scrapped the system. It’s still in place and ready to go. We just have to make a determination in which direction to go in the future.

"I just wanted to set the record straight. ... I’ll write a letter to their board also, and I’ll make sure their board gets it also, because nothing could be further from the truth. We tried to run the system. Now it didn’t work. Some of it was correct. It didn’t work the way it was supposed to work. Part of that is because of the great expense. With the limited budget that we have, I’ve got things that in my mind — I know it’s not in their mind — but in my mind they’re more important to deal with, with such a small budget. That’s why we didn’t want to put in a manhole. We really didn’t want to dig up the parking lot in the water plant to put in a manhole to accommodate this injection point" (for caustic soda as shown in the GMS design).

(See Monument Sanitation District article on page 17 for more information on Landreth’s statement.)

The board went into executive session to receive legal advice on specific legal matters at 8:21 p.m. It came out of executive session at 8:45 p.m. and adjourned with no further votes.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 18: Farmers’ market fee controversy continues

By Jim Kendrick

On April 18, the Monument Board of Trustees continued to discuss the controversial farmers’ markets held in various parts of town during warm weather. On March 21, the board was deeply divided by strong feelings on whether sales tax rules should be enforced on farmers’ market vendors and managers in the same manner as they are imposed on more permanent downtown businesses.

A motion to approve the fee schedule proposed by the town staff and endorsed by Town Treasurer Pamela Smith was defeated in a 3-3 vote at the March meeting, with Trustees Gail Drumm, Stan Gingrich, and Jeff Kaiser opposed.

Trustee Tommie Plank was absent from the April 18 meeting.

Board schedules "do over" hearing on farmers’ market fee schedule

At the beginning of the April 18 meeting, Trustee Rafael Dominguez read a letter from the Historic Monument Merchants Association expressing its opinion that having no schedule for business licenses for farmers’ market managers and vendors due to a 3-3 board vote at the March 21 board meeting is unfair to the town’s "brick and mortar" businesses that still have to purchase a business license and collect and remit sales taxes to the state. See www.ocn.me/v11n4.htm#bot0321 for the article that discussed the 3-3 vote that defeated the fee schedule for farmers’ markets.

Trustees Gingrich and Drumm explained why they did not want to impose the proposed $200 license fee and have the town staff enforce a sales tax burden on the managers or the vendors of the farmers’ markets in the same manner as they do for permanent downtown businesses.

Mayor Travis Easton and Dominguez said that the fee schedule should be discussed again as an agenda item on May 2.

Board recoginizes administrative professionals

The board unanimously approved a proclamation declaring the week of April 24 as Administrative Professionals Week, saluting the valuable contributions of these and all office professionals. Easton read the board’s proclamation and presented a copy to the Pikes Peak Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals represented by:

  • Linda Carmona, executive assistant, Integral Systems Inc.
  • Marilyn Sullivan, CPS, annual fund specialist, Memorial Health System Foundation
  • Lynn Dibben, CPS, administrative assistant, Lockheed Martin

Easton asked Town Manager Cathy Green to thank the town’s administrative professionals for the board.

School District 38 update

Easton said he had invited Dr. Dave Cloud of Direction 38 to brief the board on his analysis of D-38 revenue sources because of remarks commercial real estate broker Brad Bird had made at the April 4 meeting regarding D-38 having property taxes about 30 percent higher than other school districts. Cloud gave a very technical half-hour presentation on his statistical research of how school districts are funded by state and local sources and property taxes.

Interim D-38 Superintendent Ted Bauman introduced new Superintendent John Borman, noting Borman had previously been a principal, English teacher, and athletic director in Greeley prior to serving as principal of Lewis-Palmer High School. Bauman discussed a number of specific areas where D-38 has excelled academically. Many of these facts are available at http://lewispalmer.org/ under the link "Why choose D-38?" in the center of the home page so that they will be readily available to constituents, real estate agents, and companies.

Town code revisions approved

The board approved a revision to the town ordinance on temporary uses that will allow fireworks sales and business promotional events such as tent sales. Promotional events would need a business permit only if the event requires a street or sidewalk closure, significantly interrupts the flow of traffic, reduces the number of parking spaces available, or includes the sale of alcoholic beverages.

The revision also eliminates the requirement of a temporary use permit for the sale of plants, such as at a garden center. This would now be allowed as an accessory use to an established retail business.

There was no public comment on this ordinance. The revision was unanimously approved.

The board also approved an ordinance that added a section to the town code that bans open fire and open burning. This revision was approved by a 5-1 vote, with Kaiser opposed.

The board unanimously approved a revision in the town’s personnel manual to outline policies, procedures, and benefits for seasonal workers. These are typically college students hired as full-time temporary employees in the summer.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to observe Arbor Day on April 22. The town has recognized Arbor Day each year since 1981. Trees will be planted in Limbach Park and the town cemetery. Monument was once again given Tree City USA recognition for its commitment to urban forestry.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution supporting El Paso County’s Stage 1 fire restrictions. The sale or use of fireworks is prohibited temporarily, as is open burning and outdoor smoking in most circumstances.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved a temporary liquor license transfer for the 1st and 10 Sports Bar and Grill from the former Eric’s Monument Grill at 1455 Cipriani Loop. The formal license transfer hearing is scheduled for the May 16 board meeting.

Two payments over $5,000 were approved:

  • $92,843 to Triview Metro District for sales tax revenue
  • $13,314 to Advanced Stocrete Inc. for soil stabilization rehab in the Monument Lake Dam

Staff reports

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, and Mayor Easton briefed the board on their additional research on the pros and cons of having Monument citizens vote on joining the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. Kassawara and Easton stated that there was probably too much risk associated with membership that could lead to significantly less revenue being returned to the town than the amount contributed to the authority through a 1-cent sales tax. After a lengthy technical discussion, the board dropped the matter.

Rich Landreth, director of Public Works, announced that the town plans to place a two-inch top coat of asphalt on Second Street from Beacon Lite Road to Front Street in May. The board unanimously approved his recommendation to reallocate $8,000 from the $60,000 budgeted patching for Old Denver Highway to pay $58,000 to repave of Second Street. Landreth noted that asphalt prices are currently much lower than expected when the 2011 budget was developed, which presented the unexpected opportunity to complete repave Second Street.

Trustees discussed altering the angle parking on the south side of Second Street in front of the Monument Sanitation Building as part of the restriping that will be required after the new asphalt is installed. Some trustees and staff members expressed concern about the hazard created when long-wheelbase pickup trucks use the existing angled parking places. These trucks extend into the through lane and often block pedestrian passage on the sidewalk and curb cuts in front of this building.

Green suggested limiting the use of the angled parking spaces to compact cars rather than converting to parallel parking. There are no plans at this time to remove the angled parking on the west side of the Covered Treasures book store or convert this area to parallel parking. These spaces are supposed to be restricted to compact cars at this time.

There was further discussion about other parking problems in the downtown area. When the town lot formerly used by the town Police Department is cleared and paved with asphalt, it will provide a total of 15 parking places for general use.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held on May 16 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

Jim Kendrick can be contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Planning Commission, April 13: Church annexation, zoning, and sketch plan approved

By Jim Kendrick

On April 13, the Monument Planning Commission approved applications for an annexation and zoning map as well as a planned development (PD) sketch plan for the Family of Christ Lutheran Church at 675 W. Baptist Road, just east of the new AutoZone store. The church is also seeking inclusion by Triview Metropolitan District.

Commissioner Kathy Spence’s absence was excused.

The nine-acre property, lots 45 and 46 of the county Chaparral Hills Subdivision, must be annexed by the town to be eligible for inclusion by Triview. Another standard part of the annexation process is giving the parcel the appropriate town zoning and a planned development sketch site plan that documents the existing site layout and current uses.

Karen Griffith, Monument’s principal planner, noted that the property exceeds the annexation requirements listed in the Colorado Revised Statutes. She noted that the church has agreed to deed its water to Triview. The town staff has recommended that the church property also be included in the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority because the authority built the access road to the church as part of its Baptist Road widening project.

Griffith discussed the staff’s analysis of the applications with regard to the town’s review and approval criteria, Future Land Use Plan, Urban Growth/Annexation Policy, and annexation guidelines. The "negatives" noted in her report are that the church is tax exempt and will not generate sales tax revenue for the town. The Monument Police Department will have to provide services to the church, but already does so.

Griffith recommended approval of the annexation and PD zoning with four conditions:

  • Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording the annexation ordinance.
  • The annexation agreement shall be executed prior to recording the annexation ordinance.
  • An executed petition for inclusion and inclusion order for inclusion into the Triview Metropolitan District shall be provided to the town staff prior to recording the annexation.
  • The property shall be included in the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority prior to recording the annexation.

The annexation and PD zoning with these four conditions were unanimously approved.

Griffith discussed the staff’s review and approval criteria analysis of the PD sketch plan application. The church has no current plans for new facilities but is planning for expansion in three years. Plans will be submitted for town review and approval at that time.

Griffith recommended approval of the PD sketch plan with one condition: Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording the annexation ordinance.

The PD sketch plan and this single condition were unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 11 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, April 12: Attorney suggests asking governor for help on proposed nutrient regulations

By Jim Kendrick

On April 12, Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility attorney Mike Cucullu responded to a request from the Joint Use Committee for legal advice on whether the JUC should enact resolutions with regard to the environmental and compliance issues relative to the cost of compliance for new capital equipment to meet tighter environmental regulations.

Cucullu also gave advice on sending resolutions and letters to the governor and/or other elected officials on new tighter proposed limits on the concentrations of total phosphorus and total nitrogen nutrients in the facility’s effluent.

Cucullu suggested getting the help of the district’s environmental attorney, Tad Foster, to find a contact in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office who is knowledgeable about these water quality issues. He also suggested obtaining court documents from Florida’s successful lawsuit against the EPA’s proposed tighter nutrient restrictions so that he could review the grounds for the EPA’s appeal.

Cucullu noted that the Tri-Lakes facility could achieve about 80 percent compliance on these proposed nutrient regulations with an investment of about $1 million in capital costs. The additional capital investment cost to achieve 100 percent compliance is about $25 million if the new EPA restriction is enacted. The Tri-Lakes facility serves about 5,000 residential properties at this time. The unresolved question is how to pay the cost for 100 percent compliance for an unfunded mandate from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "There is no answer to that question," he said.

Cucullu suggested that the JUC approve a resolution and cover letter opposing nutrient regulations that require a level of capital investment that is unaffordable and unsustainable. He suggested that the boards of Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District write letters to the governor and other state and federal elected officials similar to the one sent by the Monument Sanitation District Board.

He said the cover letter should say, "We cannot comply. It is impossible to comply. This is a condition which cannot be met under any circumstances in today’s world. This is a figment of the EPA’s imagination with regard to compliance concerning nutrients. The regulations don’t make sense from a science standpoint either. The impact is minuscule." The governor needs to understand how hard it will be for his attorney general to defend the Health Department’s proposed regulations in court.

Cucullu also suggested that these three special districts that own the Tri-Lakes facility continue to inform their constituents about the very high construction and operating costs required to comply with the state’s and EPA’s various proposed nutrient regulations.

Cucullu also suggested enlisting the support of District 20 state Rep. Amy Stephens in a face-to-face meeting as well as finding an advocate for the science side of this issue and enlisting the support of the Gazette, Pueblo Chieftain, and Denver Post. All of them should be invited to visit the Tri-Lakes facility and review the districts’ and facility’s budget.

Cucullu concluded that the districts and the state will most likely have to fight these new limits in court if they are adopted in March 2012. The cost of pursuing a lawsuit against the state or the EPA will require a large coalition such as the Colorado Nutrient Coalition to protect the small districts that cannot afford to challenge the nutrient regulations individually.

Resolutions are a cost-effective way to get on record in opposition to the EPA’s "explosively expensive demands" and the lack of state or federal support to districts that do not have and cannot raise the resources to build facilities at the very limits of new technology, he said.

2010 audit approved

CPA Pat Hall of HCH PC presented his draft audit for 2010. He said it is a "clean audit."

The JUC unanimously approved the audit. Hall will provide a final copy for signature and forward it to the state.

New state regulations report

Jim Kendrick, Monument Sanitation District Operations, gave a detailed technical review of the scientific and statistical details of the past month’s meetings of the Water Quality Control Commission, Wastewater Utility Council, Water Quality Forum, and numerous Water Quality Forum Workgroups and subgroups on water quality and regulatory issues.

Kendrick noted that tests performed by GEI Consulting, the Tri-Lakes facility’s aquatic life consultant, had shown that the macroinvertebrates living in Monument Creek are identical above Monument Lake and at the northern boundary of the Air Force Academy, just below the discharge points of the Tri-Lakes and Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facilities.

Kendrick also noted that the Water Quality Control Division is currently open to interim 10-year limits of 2 parts per billion for total phosphorus and 15 ppb for total nitrogen. These are limits that the Tri-Lakes facility could meet with a capital investment of about $1 million to $2 million. However, the division has not changed its position on final permanent nutrient limits for total phosphorus and total nitrogen that are considered unaffordable.

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund explained actions taken in sending a district board letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper and about 20 other state and federal officials. He noted how sensitive the members of the Water Quality Control Commission were to the heavy attendance by numerous special districts and municipalities at the April 11 meeting.

Kendrick noted that many of the state officials are stating that this nutrient issue is far more scientifically complicated, statistically variable, and expensive than any previous environmental issue the state has ever addressed. As a result, no state has willingly complied with EPA’s demands for nutrient regulations.

A working group of professional engineering consultants has been formed to determine the amounts of nutrients that can be cost-effectively removed. The group is expected to provide a draft recommendation to the state and affected stakeholders by the end of May. The Tri-Lakes consultant engineers and biologists will participate in this group at facility expense.

State Rep. Marsha Looper and state Sen. Keith King have introduced legislative resolutions that would prevent the Water Quality Control Division from enacting these new nutrient regulations until they are reviewed by several state House and Senate committees.

Facility manager’s report

Facility Manager Bill Burks reported that the plant was operating very efficiently.

The copper level for March was 9 ppb, less than the maximum permit limit of 11.7 ppb for an individual test result but more than the maximum annual average limit of 8 ppb. Currently the facility has a temporary modification to these permit limits that increases these limits to 36.4 ppb for an individual sample and 24.8 ppb for the annual average of test results. The state has extended the temporary modification until the end of 2013.

Burks also presented a lengthy scientific analysis of how he conducts whole effluent toxicity tests and how naturally variable biological testing results can create false positive results that incorrectly indicate that a toxic situation exists.

The meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. May 10 at the Tri-Lakes facility lab building, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, April 14: Poster contest winners named

Photos by Candice Hitt.

Below: Be Water Wise earned first place for Sara Oliver, a fourth-grader from Prairie Winds Elementary.

Below: Save Water by Jonathan VanDyke, a fourth-grader from Lewis-Palmer Elementary, won second place.

Below: Low Flow Toilet won third place for Julia Howe, a fourth-grader from Monument Academy.

By Candice Hitt

The theme of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s 2011 poster contest was "Water Wise." Six District 38 elementary schools participated in the event, and first-, second-, and third-place winners from each school were announced at the district’s April 14 meeting.

The first-place winner was "Be Water Wise" by Sara Oliver, a fourth-grader at Prairie Winds Elementary; in second place was "Save Water" by Jonathan VanDyke, a fourth-grader at Lewis-Palmer Elementary; and the third-place winner was "Low Flow Toilet" by Julia Howe, a fourth- grader at Monument Academy.

Prizes included: first place—a backpack, water bottle, stickers, and other goodies; second place—a backpack, stickers, and a card; third place—a card and stickers. All entries received a participation gift.

District reviewing survey results

Results are being tabulated from a recent survey sent out to gather feedback on current district service and consumer knowledge of current and future water supplies. The results will be posted on the district’s website.

Summer water use

Woodmoor’s summer water use program will begin June 1. The program is designed to decrease peak summer irrigation and to allow for longer use of ground water. The summer water use program is mandatory, and more information can be obtained on the website.

Water conservation plan

A formal water conservation plan designed by Rocky Wiley of Tetratech along with direction from the district’s staff is available for public comment on the district’s website, www.woodmoorwater.com. The district continues its efforts to increase public awareness and education about the importance of water conservation.

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The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. May 12 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. For information: 488-2525.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me

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Monument Sanitation District, April 21: Caustic soda issue draws responses

By Jim Kendrick

On April 21, Rich Landreth, Monument Public Works director, e-mailed a letter to Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund and the district board regarding injection of caustic soda into town drinking water. This letter was similar to the statement he made to the Monument Board of Trustees at its meeting on April 4. For more details, see Landreth’s statement to the Board of Trustees, which is quoted in its entirety on page 10 at the end of the April 4 meeting article.

Before the sanitation district board meeting, Wicklund e-mailed Landreth’s letter to Roger Sams, owner of engineering consultant firm GMS Inc., to obtain his comments on the letter so he could also present them to the district board that evening. GMS was the town’s consultant for developing a design for the caustic soda injection system. GMS is also the district’s engineering consultant for designing and maintaining its collection system.

At the district board meeting that evening, Wicklund read Landreth’s letter to the directors:

"I am writing to you regarding a recent article in the OCN. Apparently at your last meeting you were informed that the Town of Monument discontinued the corrosion control project because we did not install the system as designed. This is not the case. The town staff never made unilateral decisions regarding the installation of the equipment. We ALWAYS consulted with the engineers and kept Mr. Wicklund informed. While it is true that the system was not installed as originally designed, all changes were approved by the engineer.

"The system was installed in late 2008 and we operated it for 16 months beginning in January of 2009. During this time we monitored the copper and pH levels in our system and we did not notice any meaningful change. The town has nine wells and seven points of connection with our system. We believe that in order to gain a benefit from caustic injection, more sites need to be added. We have discussed this with Mr. Wicklund and he has offered to help again. At this time, with budgets tight, we are not in a position to install this equipment. I would be happy to meet with you and discuss this issue. Thank you."

Wicklund then read Sams’ e-mail:

"This brief message is in response to our discussion a few minutes ago regarding a letter received by the district from the Town of Monument. This matter is regarding the installation and operation of a corrosion control system using chemical application to the town water treatment plant serving wells 3, 8, and 9.

"It is my understanding that the town installed the chemical feed equipment but modified the point of application to be in the water treatment plant rather than the vault outside the plant as originally conceived. At the moment I am not aware that this matter was reviewed or otherwise sanctioned by our office. As I indicated in our discussion, we will review our files and discuss with Tom McClernan, the design engineer with GMS, to determine if other discussions occurred of which I am not aware of or do not recall at the moment."

Wicklund stated that Landreth had not kept him informed of the changes. Landreth was told by Wicklund, Sams, and Randy Gillette and Phil Steininger of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District that it would take at least 24 months to achieve results in coating the inside of copper pipes with scale that would prevent further erosion. Wicklund said that in a recent conversation with Landreth, he had suggested adding caustic soda injection equipment at the town’s well 7 treatment plant.

There was board consensus that Wicklund should meet with Landreth, Sams, and McClernan to resolve the issue. Wicklund later scheduled this meeting for April 28.

Other matters

Wicklund reported that Synthes plant had not yet paid the tap fee of about $44,000 for the new polishing facility it has built in leased space on Synthes Avenue. Synthes was sold to Johnson & Johnson on April 27.

Wicklund reported that Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility attorney Mike Cucullu had attended the April 12 Joint Use Committee meeting. Jim Kendrick, Operations, gave a technical presentation on regulatory meetings he had attended in the past month. See the JUC article of page 15 for details of Cucullu’s and Kendrick’s presentations.

Wicklund noted that two of the district’s grinder pumps had been installed in Wakonda Hills homes that could not be cost-effectively served by gravity as the district’s collection system expansion was being constructed last year. Having standardized pumps and wet wells in each of these individual home lift stations will make it easier to service the systems and ensure uniform reliability and performance. The pumps are working very efficiently, draining the wet well in about 45 seconds when tested for maximum performance, he said.

Wicklund stated that Wakonda Hills tap fees and capital expenses for these pumps will be segregated from other district accounts so that costs and revenues for this development will remain transparent. District CPA Ray Russell will set up the accounting procedures for this tracking.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

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The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 26 at 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 21: Connection to Springs Utilities approved

Below (L to R): Tim Murphy, Donala board president, congratulates Mike Poeckes on being named employee of the quarter. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the April 21 monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Donala General Manager Dana Duthie reported that on April 12, the Colorado Springs City Council approved a service agreement with the district to transport the district’s renewable water from Pueblo Reservoir to the vicinity of Northgate Road, where a connection will be made to the district’s infrastructure.

Duthie said the district hopes to start construction in June and complete the connection with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) in July.

The service agreement calls for a minimum of 100 acre-feet of Colorado Springs water to be supplied to the district in 2011. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. The district will be required to draw a minimum of 200 acre-feet per year in subsequent years. The maximum amount that can be drawn per year is 1,000 acre-feet.

The initial rate is $11.12 per 1,000 gallons, plus a system use fee of $354,807. The district is also obligated to pay $296,902 for a CSU pump at Northgate Road. The total cost for the 100 acre-feet to be drawn during 2011 will be $717,319, or about $22 per 1,000 gallons. When the district obtains rights to the water from Willow Creek Ranch, the net cost for CSU transportation of the water is projected to decline to about $10.36 per 1,000 gallons.

The highest rate the district currently charges any of its customers is about $11 per 1,000 gallons, and some customers pay as little as $3.40 per 1,000 gallons. The average rate is about $5.75 per 1,000 gallons.

Water reclamation study narrows options to six

Each year, hundreds of millions of gallons of water are being discharged into Monument Creek by the wastewater treatment plant that the Donala district shares with the Triview Metropolitan District and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. The Donala district has undertaken a yearlong $220,000 study called the Donala Expanded Water Supply Study (DEWSS). The study is considering ways that effluent from the plant could be captured, extensively treated, and mixed in with the district’s water supply.

The DEWSS study team includes Roger Sams from GMS, Katie Fendel and David Takeda from Leonard Rice Engineers, and Floyd Ciruli from Ciruli Associates, a polling and public relations firm.

Sams reported that the DEWSS study team has narrowed the project options to six, which were identified as Smith Creek, Jackson Creek, Monument Creek, Jake’s Lake, Forest Lakes Tech Center, and Brown Ranch Reservoir.

The Smith Creek, Jackson Creek, Monument Creek, and Jake’s Lake options would rely on enhanced wetlands, in most cases coupled with soil aquifer treatment. The Forest Lakes Tech Center and Brown Ranch Reservoir options would rely on constructed wetlands and, in the case of the Brown Ranch Reservoir, would employ extended water storage.

Since not much space remains available at the wastewater treatment plant, several of the options involve acquisition of land. The associated costs will likely be an issue.

The six options are to be presented to the district’s Citizens Advisory Committee May 5 with a goal of eliminating one or more of the options.

Sams reported that the initial water sampling has been completed to characterize the effluent and other water sources that could be involved if the project were to be implemented. The samples have been sent to three labs for analysis.

Sams reported that the 50-year water supply-demand model is being refined based on the past five years of water use in the district.

The DEWSS schedule calls for preliminary findings to be published in July 2011 and the final report to be published in September 2011. The preliminary design would be completed in November 2011. Community meetings to discuss the project are planned for May and September 2011.

Water court case awaits judge’s decision

Duthie reported on the progress of the water court case on the proposed change from irrigation to municipal use for water from Willow Creek Ranch.

In November 2008, Donala completed the purchase of the ranch near Leadville and has been reducing irrigation on the ranch and seeking conversion of the excess irrigation water, which flows to the Arkansas River, for use by the district. If the water court approves the conversion, this source would cover about 20 percent of Donala’s current demand.

Duthie previously reported that settlement had been achieved with all those opposing the water court case except for the State Engineer’s Office and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). On March 8 and 9, the case was presented to water court Judge Maes. Both sides presented closing arguments March 31. Susan Schneider, first assistant attorney general in Colorado’s Natural Resources and Environment Section, represented the CWCB. Jennifer Mele, assistant attorney general in Colorado’s Natural Resources and Environment Section, represented the state engineer’s office. Rick Fendel and Kara Godbehere from Petrock & Fendel represented the district. The state had until April 18 to respond to the district’s arguments and then the district had 10 days to respond to the state’s response. It is now up to Judge Maes to make a decision on the matter.

The district is hoping to obtain rights to about 280 acre-feet of water per year. If that is the final figure approved by Judge Mae then, under the terms of the ranch purchase agreement, the district will be obligated to pay Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, about $408,000.

Other matters

  • Mike Poeckes, the chief waste plant operator, was named the employee of the quarter for his work with the DEWSS study team. Poeckes joined Donala in September 2001.
  • During the three months from Jan. 1 through March 31, the district’s $3.77 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.30 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.10 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 1.1 years.
  • Duthie reported that injection tests of one of the district’s Arapahoe aquifer wells have been completed. Leonard Rice engineers are analyzing the results. The purpose of the tests is to determine the practicality of pumping water into the Arapahoe aquifer for recovery later during periods of higher demand.
  • Duthie reported on the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting April 6. The group approved Petrock & Fendel as its legal counsel. The group also officially supported a joint resolution of the Colorado Legislature calling for a presentation to the Joint Agriculture Committee in January 2012 regarding proposed regulation of nutrients, principally nitrogen and phosphorus, in wastewater effluent.
  • Regarding the debate about the addition of caustic soda to drinking water to adjust the pH to reduce corrosion of copper water pipes, Duthie said, "We have always used pH control in our water. We believe in pH control as a corrosion inhibitor and will continue to use it and would appreciate it if Triview would do the same." Triview and Donala share the same wastewater treatment plant, and the dissolved copper can become an issue for the plant.

Following the public meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel and negotiation issues.

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on May 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of each month.

The district’s website is at www.donalawater.org

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, May 4: Ongoing shortfall, needed repairs mean rising sewer fees

By Susan Hindman

Sewer service fees will rise $10 per household, from $30 to $40 per month, the Academy Water and Sanitation District board decided at its May 4 meeting. The decision was made after a report by Operator Anthony Pastorello that a maintenance cleaning and inspection revealed essential repairs are needed in three large sections of pipe.

Last year, when service fees for water and sewer were examined, the sewer increases at the time were $8 less per household than what was needed to maintain the district’s capital investment fund. That shortfall has come back to haunt the board, because these repairs to the 50-plus-year-old collections system will cost at least $20,000. The board voted to authorize not more than $30,000 to address the problems.

The new sewer service fee will be effective June 1. The extra income will also help cover expected increases in electricity rates that were noted in Mountain View Electric’s recent flier.

The sewer cleaning was conducted by DRC Construction, which also compiled data going back three years to create "an accurate map of the collections system," describing linear feet, pipe size, and type, Pastorello said. The map will be especially helpful as the district goes forward with plans involving wastewater treatment.

Seeking property clarity

Two of the district’s three wells sit on undeveloped land on Spring Valley Drive owned by Tari McCollom. She attended the meeting, along with her real estate agent and two others, to discuss water rights, easements, and other questions concerning the district’s relationship with her property in the event of a sale of that property.

The district currently maintains a dirt road easement on the property that leads to the two wells. Under that road are pipes, which would prevent that road from being paved. Any septic system put in by a future owner would present "a great threat" to the wells, said Pastorello, because the water is only 8 feet from the surface. In addition, the development of private wells on the property could be a point of concern for state and local authorities.

Details will be made formal in legal documents in the near future.

New face on the board

At the April 6 meeting, Susan Hindman was appointed a director of the board, replacing Syd Cline, who passed away in March. She will serve as secretary. Hindman is a reporter for Our Community News and has covered the district’s board meetings since 2007.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is June 1.

Susan Hindman can be contacted at susanhindman@ocn.me

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, March 30: McCallister appointed to the board

Below: On March 30, Board President Scott Campbell swore in William "Bo" McCallister. Photo by Mary Hafner.

By Jim Kendrick

On March 30, William "Bo" McCallister was sworn in to fill the vacant seat on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board. His appointment runs through May 2012, when McCallister would have to stand for election if he wants to continue serving as a director. Board President Scott Campbell also administered the oath of office to new Career Firefighter/EMT Jared Whiteley and new Volunteer Firefighter/EMT Brenden Hoglund.

All board members were present.

The February financial statement was unanimously accepted. No problem issues were noted.

Chief’s report

Chief Vinny Burns stated that former Chief Jeff Edward’s retirement celebration will be held April 9 at 9 a.m., and also will include the formal retirement ceremonies for volunteer Battalion Chief Mike Badger and volunteer firefighter/paramedic Carly Lehman.

Burns also gave an update on the district’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This advisory document provides information on the differing wildfire zones around Palmer Lake, including identifying a half-mile buffer around it, and wildfire preparedness such as evacuation routes, civilian staging areas, firefighter safety zones, and staging areas. This plan also sets priorities for evacuation routes, a defensible space around homes program, and fire fuel treatments on state, county, and federal lands.

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings noted that Wescott is working with various district homeowners associations (HOAs) in the area to improve wildfire mitigation. The district has submitted its first application for a $12,000 grant under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act to help with fire mitigation expenses for 20 homeowners, to cut the homeowners’ expenses. The HOAs will be the fund managers for these grants. Guidelines are being established to have firefighters potentially assist one or two homeowners per year by providing the physical labor for the fire mitigation efforts to those who would not be able to afford fire mitigation without this assistance.

There were 116 calls in February. One firefighter injury occurred during a wildland fire response and required three stitches to the face in an emergency room.

The region’s fire danger level has been high. Wescott has responded to wildland fires in Douglas County, the Air Force Academy, and the Black Forest area.

Burns noted that he had recently attended the annual Fire Department Instructor’s Conference held in Indianapolis.

Progress on the new Highway 83 Station 3 building permit is slower than hoped. The current delay is getting approval for the water augmentation plan, which has been filed in two district courts.

Burns discussed recent issues with unsatisfactory performance by various contractors and asked the board to consider a performance bond. Campbell suggested using a standard statement of work contract with a remedy clause to guarantee work and quality, with late work and escape clauses and a 50-50 payment schedule. He cautioned that contractors would be hesitant to enter such agreements.

Two new committees have been established. McAllister and Director Harland Baker were assigned to the Manpower Committee, in conjunction with Chief Burns and Assistant Chief Ridings. Campbell and Director Joyce Hartung were assigned to the Strategic Vision Committee, in conjunction with Chief Burns and Assistant Chief Ridings.

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, April 9: Wescott honors service of three retirees

Photos by Jim Kendrick.

Below: April 9: Left: After 15 years of service, volunteer EMT Instructor, CPR Instructor, and Firefighter/EMT Carly Lehman retired from the DWFPD. 

Below: After 23 years of service, volunteer Battalion Chief Mike Badger (R) retired from the DWFPD. Volunteer firefighter Jake Alcorn (L) presented the retirement plaque to Badger. 

Below: After 15 years of service, Chief Jeff Edwards formally retired from the DWFPD. Volunteer Lt. Bryan Ackerman presented a shadow box to Edwards with a flag flown at every El Paso County fire department and all of Edwards’ earned rank and insignia, as son Brian Edwards and wife Deb looked on. 

By Jim Kendrick

On April 9, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District honored the service of three retired firefighter/EMTs: Chief Jeff Edwards, volunteer Battalion Chief Mike Badger, and EMT Instructor and CPR Instructor Trainer Carly Lehman.

Volunteer Lt. Bryan Ackerman was the master of ceremonies for this heavily attended event held at The Club at Flying Horse. Chief Vinny Burns and several other staff members discussed their careers and presented plaques and other gifts to each of the three retirees.

Lehman joined the department in 1995. She has been an EMT instructor at Memorial and Penrose hospitals and at Pikes Peak Community College. She was Wescott’s Firefighter of the Year in 2000. When Ackerman asked, "How many of you were trained by Carly?" all EMTs in the room raised their hand. Ackerman praised her passion and the sense of realism in her training sessions throughout her 15 years of service to Wescott.

Badger joined Wescott as a volunteer in 1988. He has been active in the Pikes Peak Firefighters Association for 20 years and served as its president. Badger was Wescott’s Fire Officer of the Year five times. He was promoted several times, becoming battalion chief and chief of the volunteers in 2002. Badger will continue his career with the Colorado Springs Fire Department and service with the Memorial Star helicopter.

Edwards joined Wescott as a volunteer in 1996 and became the second paid Wescott firefighter in 1999; Burns was the first in 1988. He was Fire Officer of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and was promoted to chief of the department in 2006. He continued his military service in the Air National Guard and deployed to the Middle East in 2004, 2007, and 2009. Some of the highlights of his tenure as chief that Ackerman discussed were:

  • Purchase of a new Engine 1
  • Purchase of new Ladder 1
  • Increased full-time staffing for each shift
  • Board and county approval of the new Station 3 on Highway 83 at Stagecoach Road
  • Purchase of new apparatus for Station 3
  • Implementation of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan
  • Wildland firefighting participation in Colorado and California
  • Department technology system upgrades
  • Raised over $100,000 for the Southern Colorado Muscular Dystrophy Association

Edwards received numerous gifts from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4319, the Wescott board, and firefighters, including statues of firefighters and an Army Ranger, a shadow box with a flag flown at every fire department in El Paso County, and his helmet. Valerie Marshall presented a slide show that showed the roles played by Edwards, Badger, and Lehman at the conclusion of the ceremony.

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Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, April 27: Cost reduced for new station

Below: Seven new probationary volunteer firefighter/EMTs will be starting their Donald Wescott Fire Protection District orientation on April 29: (left to right) Richard Steiner, Scott Webber, Nicole McAllister, Aaron Nonko, Mark Hrdlichka, Jessie Brown, Ben Rackl. They will complete required paperwork, be briefed on department policies and procedures, have their fire fighting and emergency medical skills tested, and participate in a physical agility test. Photo provided by the DWFPD.

By Jim Kendrick

On April 27, representatives of general contractor Colarelli Construction Inc. confirmed the results of a cost analysis they had performed with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Chief Vinny Burns and Assistant Chief Scott Ridings. The final design-build contract cost has been reduced from $1.9 million to $1,769,351 for the new Station 3 building to be constructed on the southeast corner of Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road.

Ridings noted that about $100,000 has also been spent on permitting and related site expenses. Another $150,000 has been budgeted for furniture and other building operational requirements that are not part of the Colarelli contract.

Brad Schmidt of Colarelli said the development plan would be approved by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department in a few days, which will allow Colarelli to "pull" building and grading permits. A special board meeting was scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on May 10 to complete contract signing by the district board chairman and Colarelli representatives. The district’s attorney will review the final contract prior to the signing meeting.

The groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the construction site at 8:30 a.m. on May 14.

Trustee Joyce Hartung was excused from the meeting.

The March financial statement was unanimously accepted. No problems were noted and no major expenses occurred. The amount rolled over at the end of 2010 was budgeted to be $119,269. The actual amount rolled over was $569,894, because only 79.4 percent of the total amount budgeted for 2010 was spent.

Chief’s report

Ridings reported that there were 125 calls in February including, six fire and 90 medical calls.

Burns noted that Hoelting & Co. had completed the on-site portion of the 2010 audit. Hoelting will present the final draft to the board prior to forwarding it to the state.

Burns said the new Rosenbauer pumper will be ready for pick-up in early May.

Ridings passed around a thank you letter to the district from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for wildfire support in the Shasta Trinity National Forest in Redding, Calif. A total of 10,000 firefighters participated in fighting this wildfire.

Ridings said that Wescott collected about $16,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Burns noted that seven new probationary volunteer firefighter/EMTs will start their orientation on April 29: Richard Steiner, Scott Webber, Nicole McAllister, Aaron Nonko, Mark Hrdlichka, Jessie Brown, and Ben Rackl.

During this time they will complete required paperwork, be briefed on department policies and procedures, have their firefighting and emergency medical skills tested, and participate in a physical agility test.

Wescott staff members will help with a Pleasant View Estates chipping event at Wescott’s Station 2, 15000 Sun Hills Drive, on May 7.

Burns reported that the Manpower Committee had held its first meeting to provide Directors Bo McAllister and Harland Baker an overview of district staffing plans and issues.

The meeting adjourned at 7:53 p.m.

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The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on May 25 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, April 27: Board approves purchase of safety equipment

Photos by Bernard Minetti

Below: Battalion Chief Mike Dooley explains the need for replacement of the self-contained breathing apparatus units in the district. 

Below: TLMFPD Board President Charlie Pocock congratulates Battalion Chief Greg Lovato for his significant efforts in overseeing the training and operation of the district emergency medical service unit. The unit was nominated for the Peak to Plains annual unit award.

By Bernard L. Minetti

On April 27, Battalion Chief Mike Dooley presented a study of the condition of the self-contained breathing apparatus equipment in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. He determined that the safety of firefighters was being jeopardized. He said that they had reported numerous failures and that the present equipment would no longer be supported due to new industry standards.

In local testing by survey of district firefighters, it was determined that the failure rate of the present equipment was 50 percent. It was also noted that because of these failures, multi-million-dollar lawsuits had been filed in other parts of the country. Dooley’s staff has examined the equipment that is available for purchase and determined that Scott manufactured the equipment that was best suited to the district’s needs.

To equip the district’s mobile fire equipment, 20 self-contained breathing units and 20 spare bottles would be needed. Additionally, Dooley determined that it would require three additional pieces of this equipment to outfit the rapid intervention teams who are called upon to rescue firefighters in distress. Each fire station requires three of these items to equip the rapid intervention teams.

Dooley advised the board that it would cost $122,495 to purchase and replace the self-contained breathing units. He determined that this could be funded through impact fees. The district receives $700 per new private residence and $700 per 2,000 square feet for each new commercial property. The district impact fee balance at the beginning of the year was $345,000.

After some discussion by board members, Director Roger Lance made a motion that Dooley’s recommendation be accepted and that the cost be paid in one lump sum. It was unanimously approved.

Budget report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt noted that property tax revenues totaled $1,255,924 through March, which was 38.95 percent of the budgeted amount for the year. He said specific ownership tax receipts totaled $67,893, or 24.77 percent, of expected revenue. Ambulance revenues totaled $164,671, or 33.61 percent, of the annual budget. He also notified the board that expenses averaged 22.34 percent of the budget to date. The revenues and expenditures through March should represent 25 percent of the annual budget.

Two recognized for professionalism

Fire Chief Robert Denboske advised the board that emergency medical technician Erin Lamb-Smith had been nominated for the EMT Paramedic of the Year Award. He further noted that Battalion Chief Greg Lovato should also be recognized, since the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District was nominated for the Emergency Medical Service Agency of the Year Award. Lovato is directly responsible for the training and oversight of the district emergency medical service operation.

Board President Charlie Pocock noted that while these two individuals did not achieve the award, the fact that they were both nominated speaks very highly of their dedication and professionalism. These awards are sponsored annually by the Plains to Peaks Agency, which is a cooperative partnership of emergency medical and trauma service providers serving Cheyenne, El Paso, Kit Carson, Lincoln, and Teller counties in Colorado.

Training Officer Mike Keough reported that during the month of March, total personnel training hours totaled 620.9. The breakdown included 487 Fire/All Hazard Specific hours, 85 EMS specific hours, and 48.9 Physical Fitness hours. He advised the board that the district had achieved the certification and training level that allows them to be called to assist and to be reimbursed by state or federal agencies.

The certification level reached allows one type 1 engine and one brush truck to be utilized in any cooperative trans-agency operation. Keough further advised the board that any participation by the district with state or federal agencies would not affect revenues.

More sprinkler program information

Pocock then read the sixth installment of information on the residential sprinkler program into the record. It consisted of the following:

"Residential Fire Sprinkler System or No Fire Sprinkler System, Article Six

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) is currently using the 2003 edition of the International Codes and should be adopting the 2009 edition within the near future, with the exception of not adopting the requirement to have residential fire sprinkler systems installed in all newly built one- and two-family homes. The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) is in the process of reviewing our current fire code requirements along with our current amendments to the fire codes (2003 edition also). The TLMFPD is reviewing the amendments used by the Colorado Springs Fire Department and is following close to what they will be using with some minor changes. The current amendment requiring a residential fire sprinkler system will not change—it has been in effect since April 2008.

The TLMFPD has in its amendments to the 2003 edition of the Fire Code a mandate requiring residential fire sprinkler systems in homes having total covered square footage of 6,001 or more. Homes with a square footage of 3,600 to 6,000 being built in the Urban-Wildland Interface area also require a fire sprinkler system with one exception. If the builder and/or homeowner mitigate the land from 30 feet around the home out to 45 feet, then the amendment drops the requirement for the fire sprinkler system. Any new one- and two-family home being built in or out of the Urban-Wildland Interface area greater than 6,001 square feet is required to have a residential fire sprinkler system installed.

Two types of residential fire sprinkler systems can be installed in a new home. One would require a water tank to be installed in the utility room containing enough water to last 10 minutes minimum to contain the fire to the room of origin. This system would require an annual maintenance check of the pressure gauge and the antifreeze solution. The second type of system is connected to the domestic water system in the home. The testing of this type occurs every time a water faucet is turned on, such as a bathroom sink, bathtub, shower, kitchen sink or any indoor or outdoor water faucet."

Chief Denboske advised the board that Battalion Chiefs Lovato and Dooley were on-scene commanders for the recent hydrochloric acid spill from a railroad tank car on the west side of town. Lovato’s team was first on the scene and Dooley’s team relieved Lovato’s team. The chiefs and their teams were recognized for their efforts in maintaining a stable and safe situation during this incident.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25, at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Fire District Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education, April 7 and 21: Board appoints new principal, discusses budget

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Above: Sandi Brandl, new principal of Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo provided by D-38.

Below: The district’s chess champions are, from left: Jonathan Carswell (home schooled), adviser Steve Waldmann, Meera Bjhatia (Bear Creek Elementary), Garrett Smith (Prairie Winds Elementary), Alisa Young (Prairie Winds Elementary), Zachary Race (Prairie Winds Elementary), Easton Eberly ( Palmer Lake Elementary), Eric Sullivan (Palmer Lake Elementary), Eric Sullivan (Palmer Lake Elementary), Nathan Wisniewski (Palmer Lake Elementary), Quinn Turner (Lewis-Palmer Elementary), Wade Smith (Bear Creek Elementary) and Cedar Collins (Bear Creek Elementary). 

Below: Teachers who have achieved or are seeking national certification are, from left: Diane Jensen, Lewis-Palmer Middle School (national board certified in music), Susan Sparks, Lewis-Palmer High School (national board certified in English), Jalen Waltman, Lewis-Palmer High School (national board certified in Spanish), Jennifer Powers, Lewis-Palmer Elementary (advanced candidate for national board certification in language arts), Linda Wilson, Palmer Lake Elementary (advanced candidate for national board certification as generalist in early childhood education), Phyllis Robinette, Palmer Lake Elementary (national board certified as generalist in early childhood education). 

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer School Board approved the recommendation that Sandi Brandl become the next principal of Lewis-Palmer High School. Brandl is currently assistant principal and has 17 years of experience in education. She has been with the district since 1996.

Brandl received her principal license from the University of Denver and a master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

She will succeed current Principal John Borman, who will become superintendent of schools for District 38 in July.

Budget discussion

A spreadsheet of the district’s preliminary budget reductions may be accessed on the district’s website, lewispalmer.org. Go to departments, business services department, budget documents 2011-12.

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman and incoming Superintendent John Borman presented the budget to the District Accountability Advisory Committee on April 12 (see article on page 26 of this issue).

It is anticipated that the district will need to reduce its budget by about $3 million for next year, based on anticipated funding levels from the state, anticipated enrollment figures, and increases in fuel and utility costs. At each of its meetings the board has discussed specific parts of the budget, approving some and asking for further information on others.

In the area of central administration, the board proposed eliminating the office of assistant superintendent of student learning, a position presently held by Dr. Shirley Trees, who will be retiring at the end of the school year. The $205,000 savings will come from salaries and benefits for those in the office.

Borman said that the process of curriculum mapping (please see an explanation of this in the October 2010 issue of OCN) will be passed to the principals for a few years. The principals present at the April 7 meeting confirmed that they could absorb this function for a limited time. The office of student assessment can also help with the process.

Bauman proposed that the district utilize $350,000 from the county’s cash in lieu of land fund to fund such projects as locks, roof repairs, HVAC system repairs, and a boiler. The fund’s source is fees from developers building residential areas who would normally be required to provide acreage for new schools. Since the district does not anticipate needing a new building, it is permitted to use the fees (there is presently $1 million set aside by the county) to buy land, build or renovate schools, or fund capital needs.

Bauman said that this would eliminate the need to use capital reserves funds for this purpose.

The board discussed the possibility of charging fees for the use of buses. Several options, including levying a fuel fee, a blanket fee for all community members (to include parking spaces as well as bus use), or a fee per trip, were discussed. The board finally agreed that they would not levy a bus fee this year.

The board also rejected a proposal to reduce spending on Title 1 resources for special education.

The board considered increasing revenue by selling some of the district’s assets, such as the portables outside of the Grace Best school building. The structures are in good condition, and it was felt that the activities now occupying them could be moved into Grace Best.

Board member Mark Pfoff expressed concern that the district might need the buildings in the future if enrollment were to increase. He requested that Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman investigate other district assets that may be sold.

A representative of Advantage3 spoke to the board at its April 21 meeting regarding a contract for branding assets in the district. This would involve contracting with Advantage3 to seek sponsors for such assets as stadiums, libraries, cafeterias, and other physical assets. The district would have the final approval on such sponsors, who could be local, regional, or national in scope. The contract for five years could result in over $100,000 for the district. Advantage3 would receive 40 per cent of the proceeds, with the district retaining the rest. Advantage3 would be responsible for maintaining the signage and removing it at the end of the contract.

Members of the board were concerned about the division of proceeds and asked to investigate other companies that would perform the service while retaining a smaller fee.

Steve Stephenson of the Long Range Planning Task Force reported that his group has been negotiating with Black Hills Energy to reduce the cost of its services. They discovered that each of the district’s buildings currently has its own account. By combining all into one bill and by being refunded taxes erroneously charged by the utility, the district could save over $10,000. In addition, the district could receive rebates by purchasing approved boilers and other equipment.

The board passed a resolution to increase student fees by a modest amount in 2011-12. These fees cover such items as media materials and transcripts.

District transportation manager Robin Mossman explained proposed changes in bus routes to allow elimination of two routes. This was achieved by increasing the walking requirement for elementary students from one-half to one mile. The department considered such elements as the availability of sidewalks, traffic, and roadways in making this decision. The board passed the proposed change.

The board passed the extension of contracts and the conversion of contracts from probationary to non-probationary. It also passed a list of non-renewals for certified personnel.

Budget process proposal

At the April 7 meeting of the board, David Cloud, a district resident, proposed an algorithm that would allow the district to better anticipate large expenditures by forecasting five years into the future. The intention is to maintain a goal level of reserves (he recommended 25-30 percent of expenditures) and determining the rate of expenditure on that basis.

He said that had the district used such a system in the 2004-07 school years it could have avoided the large one-time decrease in reserves to fund the operation of Palmer Ridge High School.

Cloud acknowledged that uncertainty is a major obstacle to the process, but he said that in November of each year, when the enrollment levels have been determined by the October count, the district could project forward and finalize the previous year’s figures.

At this point, it is unlikely that a mill levy override would be approved, Cloud said, and he recommended that the district put any excess revenue into reserves. This could happen, for example, if the cuts at the state level were lower than anticipated.

Board President John Mann requested that Cloud present a plan for the board to implement in order to replenish the reserves in a minimum amount of time.

Pfoff commented that he would not wish to take money from the students in order to increase the reserves.

Recognitions at the April 21 meeting

Steve Waldmann, district parent and adviser of the chess team, introduced several of his chess champions to the board. In this fifth year of the program, one of the local participants went on to win the state title.

VFW Middle School Teacher of the Year Virginia Monroe introduced three members of the school’s speech team.

Phyllis Robinette, a fourth-grade teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary School, introduced five teachers who have achieved or are working toward national board certification.

Public comments

Ana Konduras of Direction 38 said that the Board of Education was irresponsible to spend more than it had in 2003-07, resulting in public distrust and the inability to pass three mill levy overrides. She recommended that the board keep the public involved in its deliberations (as in the creation of the long-range planning committee) and that it publish all budget details.

Joanne Witt of Lewis-Palmer Middle School’s PTO thanked Wangeman and Tina Wallace for their help in achieving 501(c)3 status for the group.

District parent Steve Braun lauded the board for its ability to cut so much from the district budget through the use of analysis and creativity. He was impressed that this could be achieved with little impact within the classroom. Upon talking with other parents, however, he concluded that such a budget is unsustainable and causing sacrifice on the part of the district’s employees, who face a third year of pay freezes. He said that the board should make the tough decisions of rewarding its staff and purchasing a bus every few years.

The board passed a consent agenda of such routine items as minutes of past meetings, resignations and retirements, requests for leaves of absence, and other items requiring board signature.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School district meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be held on May 19.

Meetings of the Board of Education are now available for viewing at www.ustream.tv/channel/lpsd-live 

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, April 12: Bauman and Borman review proposed budget

By Harriet Halbig

On April 12, the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) heard a detailed review of the Lewis-Palmer School District’s 2011-12 budget proposal from interim Superintendent Ted Bauman, incoming Superintendent John Borman, and Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman.

The Board of Education continues to receive updates from the Long Range Planning Task Force and is considering various cost-cutting measures that would have minimal impact on the classroom experience in the district.

Bauman opened the discussion by stating that the district would need to cut approximately $3 million from its budget under present expectations of funding from the state. This is based on an anticipated $2.2 million rescission of funds and a potential decline in enrollment of 120 students.

Wangeman said that the district may need to spend some of its reserves beginning in the 2012-13 school year, but should be able to add to them in 2011-12. She projected that there will be five fewer teachers due to the decrease in enrollment, but that there would not be a reduction in the number of tenured teachers.

Although 40 school districts in the state charge fees for busing students, Wangeman said it was hoped that would not be necessary this year.

Budget information was explained in three categories: central administration, operations, and district-wide initiatives to increase revenue.

In brief, the following initiatives were offered:

Central administration:

  • Reduce spending on textbooks
  • Delete position of Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning
  • Decrease funding for staff training and supplies
  • Decrease funding for staff travel
  • Decrease superintendent’s budget

Operations:

  • Redraw boundaries of bus routes, requiring more students to walk, thereby eliminating two routes
  • Pay off copier leases
  • Perform more maintenance in-house
  • Decrease water use by not watering elementary school lawns, only watering playing fields at high schools
  • Reduce technical staff
  • Food service operation is now running in the black and can pay into the reserves for some of its expenses
  • Use county cash in lieu of land funds for capital needs such as repairs on the roof at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, better locks at Palmer Lake Elementary, and asphalt repairs at Lewis-Palmer Elementary

Regarding potential revenue enhancements, Borman and Bauman offered the following options:

  • The school calendar for 2011-12 includes fewer days for classified workers and students, saving in salary, utility and transportation costs
  • The district has sought funds from the military for students who are dependents of active-duty members of the military
  • Increase fees for sports participation. Borman expressed a concern that an increase in fees beyond a certain level would discourage participation and potentially increase the dropout rate. Current fees are $130 to $160 per sport per student. Borman said that the fees should not be permitted to rise to $200, especially for individual sports such as track.
  • Increase rental fees for community use of school facilities. Many churches rent school properties for weekend use.
  • Savings in salaries will occur as experienced retirees are replaced with newer teachers
  • Charge for summer school service for those not having individual education plans.
  • Advertise kindergarten availability
  • Sell ads on district property such as stadiums
  • Sell district buildings such as Grace Best or portable classrooms.

All the above initiatives would result in a savings of $3.7 million, allowing some discretion as the budget is finalized.

DAAC Co-Chair Steve Braun asked that Bauman provide talking points for DAAC members to take to their Building Accountability Advisory Committees (BAAC).

Bauman said that a more detailed presentation would be made at the Board of Education meeting on April 21.

Board of Education update

Board of Education liaison Gail Wilson reported that the board had met with Borman to discuss a governance model for next year.

Regarding legislation, she said that the federal government does not plan cuts in education funding. On the state level, there were a number of bills under consideration:

  • HB 1048 would allow individuals to donate to private school and get a tax credit
  • HB 1055, which would have made it easier for charter schools to use vacant school buildings, did not pass
  • HB 1069 would require 600 minutes per month of physical education
  • HB 1089 would allow charter schools to access federal grant money, but not in support of special education
  • SB 40 would require junior and senior high school coaches to attend training in concussions
  • SB 12, regarding student possession of prescription drugs, would allow students to possess the drugs only with Board of Education approval.

Committee for Political Achievement

Committee for Political Achievement Chair Cori Tanner said that she continues to pursue a meeting with state Rep. Amy Stephens. Stephens, now the majority leader of the state House of Representatives, has responded that she now lives in Denver and would find it inconvenient to come to Monument for a weekday meeting.

This leaves the option of representatives from DAAC seeking a weekend meeting.

Tanner distributed postcards for committee members and other parents to sign regarding the committee’s concern about present funding levels.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The May 10 meeting will be held at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Exceptional Students Learning Team, April 13: Committee hears benefits of technology

By Harriet Halbig

Kiran Nay, son of Exceptional Students Learning Team member Michelle Nay, spoke to the committee on April 13 about the use of his district-provided netbook in the classroom. He said that it helps with his writing projects because it took him a long time to handwrite tests and papers. On receiving the netbook, Kiran wrote an essay on a school achievement that made him proud and about the people who helped him. He wrote about his writing teacher and others who supported him.

Committee member Marie Jackson said that her son has a netbook that reads his textbooks to him as he reads the book, reinforcing what he sees.

The group viewed a video of lecturer Jonathan Mooney talking about neurological diversity. Diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in fourth grade, Mooney dropped out of school in sixth grade, returning in ninth grade and ultimately graduating with honors from Brown University.

He said that he was brought up in a system where normalcy was required and a "fix it or get out" philosophy prevailed. He said that children like himself were made to feel that they were somehow broken and were constantly humiliated and punished in front of their peers.

Mooney said that his mother was his primary advocate during his youth. She would work with him on his studies, but would also let him be himself and would take him on outings. He said that it is crucial for parents to let their children know that they care and love their children regardless of their grades and difficulties in school. Parents must seek to individualize schools’ approach to learning and embrace what a student can do successfully rather than always emphasizing weaknesses.

Inclusion shown to be important

The committee then discussed the concept of inclusion in the district. The law requires that students be included in regular classes to the greatest extent possible. Separation is only acceptable when satisfactory results cannot be achieved.

Inclusion in the general education classroom lets special-needs students experience a more natural setting and gives them a sense of belonging and integration with their peers.

A teacher in attendance said that inclusion prompts teachers to shift their emphasis from how they teach to how an individual student learns. Studies have shown that general as well as special-needs students improve their academic performance when inclusion is practiced. The goal for the special-needs students is to learn core concepts of the curriculum to the greatest extent possible.

The committee discussed program and speaker ideas for the coming school year, including a resource fair to be held in September.

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The Exceptional Students Learning Team meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson in Monument. The next meeting will be held on May 11.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, April 1: Williams reappointed to BRRTA board

By Jim Kendrick

After eight years on the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board, District 1 County Commissioner Wayne Williams announced at the Dec. 10 meeting that it would be his last BRRTA meeting. In November, Williams was elected as El Paso County clerk and recorder. The other members of the BRRTA board and staff presented a plaque and a "Thank You Wayne" cake to Williams during a going-away party after the meeting. However, the farewell turned out to be premature.

It was discovered shortly after this Dec. 10 meeting that BRRTA’s rules allow the three county positions on the BRRTA board to be filled by any elected county officials, not only county commissioners. So Williams chose to remain on the board due to his thorough and extensive knowledge as the longest-serving member BRRTA has ever had.

The other two county positions are held this year by new District 1 Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who replaced District 2 Commissioner Amy Lathen, and incumbent District 4 Commissioner Dennis Hisey. Glenn is the board president for 2011 and Monument Mayor Travis Easton is the vice president. The board president position has traditionally alternated on an annual basis between the Monument mayor and the county District 1 office holder. Monument Trustee Jeff Kaiser is the fifth member of the five-person BRRTA board.

Hisey’s absence from the April 1 meeting was excused.

Financial items

The board approved three checks presented for approval by its CPA, Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson LLP:

  • $3,833 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for accounting services ($2,406) and sales tax administration ($1,427)
  • $8,169 to Grimshaw and Harring PC for legal services
  • $4,429 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services

The board also unanimously accepted Bartow’s monthly BRRTA cash position report. The General Fund ending balance was $765,692. Total debt service funds available were $3,072,127. The project account fund had $2,362,111 available. Bartow noted that the expected $3 million Colorado Department of Transportation payment recently approved by the state Transportation Commission had not yet been received.

Bartow also reported that BRRTA’s sales tax collections for January was about $82,000, up $20,000 or 32 percent over the previous January. These temporary tax revenues are used to pay off the 20-year bonds that mature at the end of 2026.

The board unanimously approved the engagement letter from auditing firm Biggs Kofford PC for the 2010 BRRTA audit for $3,600.

Big R road improvement fee reduction request

Background: At the Dec. 10 BRRTA meeting, Kevin Paul of Larkspur Properties had requested a reduction of BRRTA’s standard road improvement fee for a proposed Big R store in the vacant commercial zoned area at 845 Struthers Road at the Spanish Bit Drive intersection.

The request was based on three factors: a substantial portion of the proposed building is used for storage rather than retail sales, the proposed use does not fully compare to the model used by BRRTA for retail store trip generation predictions, and direct comparisons to other uses that have similarly reduced trip generation rates.

At this same Dec. 10 meeting, Dennis Menchow of Forest Lakes LLC expressed concern, saying his firm feels the current fee schedule is fair. The board went into executive session to further discuss Paul’s letter requesting the fee reduction.

At the March 4 BRRTA meeting, Paul agreed to provide the board information regarding storage to retail space allocations for other BRRTA businesses such as Walmart and Staples. There was board consensus that the road improvement fee schedule for specialty retail properties would remain unchanged for now, but Larkspur Properties would consider a partial refund if the fee schedule was amended in the future.

On April 1, BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker reported that Paul had determined that stores like Walmart and Staples have about 10 percent of their space allocated for warehouse storage compared to 26 percent for the proposed Big R store. Paul proposed that the fee for Big R be based on 16 percent of the square footage being billed at the warehouse rate and the other 84 percent at the specialty retail rate. Hunsaker said that the remaining legal question is whether to start making distinctions between stores like Big R and Home Depot or Walmart as a policy decision.

The matter was unanimously continued due to the absence of Paul from the meeting.

Williams answered some questions from Tom Kassawara, Monument director of Development Services, about how sales tax from the BRRTA area within the Town of Monument might be apportioned to Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) after BRRTA finishes all planned upgrades to Baptist Road, pays off its current and future bond debt, and is dissolved in the distant future should the Monument Board of Trustees decide to join PPRTA at some time.

After this BRRTA meeting, the Board of Trustees decided not to pursue joining PPRTA during its April 18 meeting.

Executive session

The board went into executive session at 3 p.m. to consider a settlement offer with THF Realty for the access road to THF Realty’s former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store property. This property lost its primary access from Struthers Road when the new wider northbound on-ramp from Baptist Road to I-25 at Exit 156 was constructed. BRRTA built a curb cut in westbound Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and this on-ramp for a temporary replacement access road through the adjacent former ADK Monument Developers LLC property to the east.

The vacant ADK property is the proposed site for the previously approved Timbers at Monument development on the northwest corner of the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway, opposite the King Soopers Shell station. However, ADK has gone into bankruptcy and this property is in foreclosure by Community Bank.

The board came out of executive session at 3:30 p.m. and immediately adjourned without taking further action.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. May 6 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first Friday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, April 27: Board supports new brew pub

By Harriet Halbig

The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met the owners of Pikes Peak Brewing Co. at its April 27 meeting. Chris Wright and Dan York, Monument residents, are preparing to open their tasting room and restaurant in mid-June. The pub is located in Woodmoor Center on Lake Woodmoor Drive. Half the pub will be a tasting room and half will be a production area.

Wright explained that their intention is to create a community meeting place where neighbors could come and discuss local events or celebrate special occasions. He said that the pub will be a family-oriented place, with handcrafted root beer and ginger ale in addition to beer. There will be a limited menu at first, including sandwiches and panini.

Wright said the hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and until 11 p.m. on weekends. There is a fenced outdoor seating area to the west of the building. On weekends there will be acoustic music indoors. Wright assured the board that there would not be a significant odor from the brewing process.

The brewing company will sell beer by the glass and kegs at first. In the future, they hope to bottle it and distribute it regionally. There will be charity events once a month or so to benefit the school district, firefighters, and other local entities. They have notified the local Kiwanis Club of their interest in participating in the July 4 parade.

The board voted to support the company as it seeks a liquor license at a public hearing on May 3. Members said they welcome new businesses and tax revenue to the area. The office has received no calls objecting to the business.

Ballots mailed to residents

Board Secretary Craig Gaydos reported that the ballots for approval of changes in the association’s governing documents would be mailed on April 29, and residents are encouraged to return them by May 31. He reminded the board that the number of votes to change the documents varies with each one. Amended documents may be seen on the association website (woodmoor.org) or paper copies may be picked up at the association office.

Board Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association’s spending is below budget for the year. He said that he was notified last week that the association will undergo an IRS audit on May 3. The board voted to give power of attorney to its accountant and homeowners association manager Matt Beseau to provide the required materials to the IRS during the audit.

Beseau said that he will attend a Colorado Association Institute Law Day on May 13. He is still seeking a part-time covenants assistant.

Fire Wise event set for May 7

Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that two of his officers will attend the Fire Wise event on May 7. In other matters, he said that no bear sightings have been reported as yet, but residents are cautioned to keep their trash indoors and keep their grills clean. He also suggested that a WPS officer deliver new resident packages to recent homebuyers. In this way, the officer could explain such benefits as vacation home checks and make new residents aware of other services offered by the association. The board informally agreed to this suggestion.

Forestry Director Carolyn Streit-Carey reported that all is in place for the Fire Wise event. She said that advertising has been purchased in the Gazette and Tribune and that a committee member is pursuing mention on radio and TV. The next community event will be a chipping event in June. She said there have been few recent lot evaluations. Training for new forestry volunteers will begin soon.

Common Area Director W. Lee Murray reported on several matters:

  • Signs prohibiting swimming and skating on the ponds have been contracted
  • The committee will begin a survey of common areas and seek bids for mowing services
  • Murray will ask the county for advice on the control of noxious weeds in common areas
  • Great American Cleanup day is May 14, and he is seeking volunteers to help organize
  • Six card tables have been purchased for use in the Barn
  • The Aliyah church, which has rented the Barn for Saturday meetings, has found a permanent location. Beseau said that he will ensure that the Barn be kept open for association activities for several Saturdays during the year.

The board voted to approve a new fee schedule for association and Architectural Control Committee matters.

**********

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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April Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Drier than normal conditions again prevailed in April, but it’s all relative. We actually received some beneficial moisture quite often during the month, but because April is on average our wettest month of the season, precipitation was still well below what would be expected.

Drought conditions, which started last fall, continue to plague the Front Range and eastern plains of Colorado. This is the typical pattern one would expect when a strong La Nina is occurring in the Pacific Ocean ( www.crh.noaa.gov/images/pub/climate/Southern%20Colorado%20and%20La%20Nina.pdf ).

April started off pretty close to what you would expect, with wild swings in temperatures, lots of wind, and some snow. Unfortunately, we have continued to be drier than normal, and when combined with gusty winds, fire dangers have remained elevated. We reached the mid- to upper 70s on the second day of the month, which was record high territory across the region.

The next day started off windy and mild, with winds gusting as high as 80 mph in areas west of I-25, causing damage in some spots. This was ahead of a strong storm system that brought heavy snow to the mountains and allowed a strong cold front to push through just after noon on the 3rd. Temperatures tumbled and clouds filled in, with graupel and snow falling through the early hours of the 4th. Most of us received 1-2 inches of snow and some beneficial moisture.

Temperatures again warmed quickly to the low 70s on the 5th, ahead of another quick-moving cold front that moved through late on the 6th. This brought some rain initially on the evening of the 6th, which quickly changed to snow that evening. Another 1-3 inches fell by the next morning, with more beneficial moisture helping to alleviate the drought a little. Unfortunately, more dry and windy weather moved in over the next few days and quickly made the moisture from the previous week a distant memory.

The week of the 10th started off with seasonably cool weather and clear to mostly clear skies through the afternoon of the 11th. Temperatures warmed up quickly on the 12th ahead of a quick-moving storm that was heading toward the region. Clouds began to fill in by the afternoon of the 13th, with rain developing around 4 p.m., mixing with snow at times during the evening.

This continued into the morning hours of the 14th, with a nice soaking of rain and snow across the area. This really helped alleviate the fire weather concerns for a few days and made the newly growing plants pretty happy. Temperatures warmed slowly over the next few days, with highs starting off in the 40s on the 14th, then the 50s on the 15th, with mild 60s and low 70s over the weekend.

The third week of April saw a nice reprieve from the dry weather we’ve experienced most of the last couple of months. Unsettled conditions moved in late on the 18th after a mild start to the day. Low clouds, fog, and drizzle developed during the evening. The next day started off with low clouds, fog, drizzle, and snow as well. Unsettled conditions continued into the afternoon, with thunderstorms and snow during the mid-afternoon. Low clouds stuck around the next morning, with rain developing during the early evening of the 20th.

A bit of a break in the unsettled conditions returned for the 21st and 22nd, with temperatures rebounding into the upper 60s on the afternoon of the 21st and low 60s on the 22nd. Another quick-moving storm moved into the region during the morning of the 23rd, with snow, more fog and low clouds, and cool temperatures off and on during the day. Heavier rain and snow again fell on Sunday the 24th, with some of the higher areas of the Palmer Divide picking up slushy accumulations of a half-inch or so. Temperatures held in the 40s both days over the weekend as well.

The last week of the month saw a continuation of the cool and unsettled pattern, with our heaviest snow since early February occurring from late on the 25th off and on through the morning of 27th. Several rounds of snow, intense at times, and accompanied by thunder, occurred during the afternoon and evening of the 25th. Most of the snow melted as it fell, with only slushy accumulations during the heaviest of snow. More of the same occurred the next morning and afternoon, before steadier snow late in the afternoon and again in the late evening/early morning hours managed to put down a consistent 2-6 inches of snow across the region.

Windy and warm conditions again returned quickly on the afternoons of the 28th and 29th as temperatures warmed to the mid-60s and melted the new snow quickly. However, this was ahead of one last storm for the month. The cold front with this system moved in during the evening hours of the 29th and brought in a sharply cooler air mass, clouds, and some snow.

A look ahead

May often experiences a wide variety of weather conditions in the region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms and hail, and even some snow. May 2007 was a snowy May, with over 20 inches accumulating for the month, and May in the last couple of years brought about average precipitation with just a few inches. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

April 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 58.5° (+2.3°)
Average Low 26.4° (-0.9°)
Highest Temperature 76° on the 2nd
Lowest Temperature 5° on the 4th
Monthly Precipitation 2.14" (-1.34", 48% below normal) 
Monthly Snowfall 11.1" (-21.5", 75% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 59.7" (-71.0", 54% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 10.73" (-7.63", 42% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 676 (-16)
Cooling Degree Days 0

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at billkappel@ocn.me

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Letters to Our Community

A thank you to the community

At 3 a.m. on April 20, the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross (PPARC) received a call from the El Paso County Emergency Management Office that a chemical spill had occurred in Monument involving a tanker railroad car, forcing an evacuation of 200 or more homes. A shelter to house and care for these evacuees was set up at the former Grace Best Elementary School, and by 5 a.m. we were receiving clients looking for a warm place to stay and some warm food and drink.

At around 4 a.m., the PPARC Partner Services/External Relations group started calling food companies in the Monument area to partner with us to provide some initial and basic water and food supplies for the shelter. In about 20 minutes, Walmart, Safeway, Serrano’s Coffee, and Rosie’s Diner all began assembling and delivering food and water, starting the shelter off on a solid note.

Throughout the day, other food companies in Monument started to supply food and drink spontaneously to help us help those in need: Pizza Hut, It’s A Grind, Texas Roadhouse, Dominoes Pizza, Royal Crest Dairy, Starbucks, and Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers. All these supplies were a great help to the shelter as well as to the emergency responders, railroad workers, School District 38 staff, and others who were tasked with helping mitigate the results of the hydrochloric acid spill. Some food companies wishing to donate food and drink had to be turned away because we were concerned too much might go to waste.

It is a heartwarming and wonderful testament to all residents and food companies in Monument that during a time of disaster or need, the community at large can work together skillfully and swiftly to help others in the community. The American Red Cross and your Pikes Peak Chapter thank all of you who donated and helped in one way or the other.

Bill Carroll
Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross

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D-38 meeting attempts to justify mill levy override

A School District 38 meeting was recently held at the district’s headquarters to provide information about state education funding. Sponsored by the District Accountability Advisory Committee’s Committee for Political Achievement, this meeting was advertised as: "No rumors, just information. What’s really happening with school funding."

The flier implied that Sen. Mark Scheffel and Colorado Board of Education member Paul Lundeen would attend. No explanation was offered at the meeting for their absence. I spoke with both Scheffel and Lundeen, who had previous engagements and could not have attended. The use of their names was a deliberate misrepresentation designed to pack the meeting house.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be just another justification for a mill levy override (MLO) by Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman and board member Gail Wilson. The presentation was biased. They indicated that D-38 is one of the few districts that receives the lowest amount of state funding. The fact is that D-38 is near the middle of the 34 largest districts in the state.

Our district appears to be ready to extend its hand for more money via MLO from the already strapped taxpayers in this district, while at the same time providing no long-range, fiscally responsible plan. Even with recent administrative cuts, our district continues to be top heavy.

One of the many budget items for the district to consider is charging for busing, something being done across the state. At a recent budget meeting, Bauman commented that he does not believe that families should pay for their children’s use of school transportation. Yet, he also maintains that an MLO should be passed. Apparently he would prefer to have all the district taxpayers subsidize a small group of ridership rather than have the users pay their share.

Don’t the taxpayers deserve a school district that models ethical and credible ways of doing business?

Stephen Boyd
Direction 38!

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Leaders must inform us about D-38 budget

Who’s to blame for School District 38’s budget woes? How do we solve our budget crisis? A parent posted the following question on the website of Direction 38! (lpd38.org): "Is Amy Stephens right, after all, that we have a spending problem?"

Colorado House Majority Leader Stephens responded: "The spending problem I alluded to has been within our state government the last four years—when many of us, including me, did not vote for the budget as we asked for rainy day savings—even 1/10th of 1 percent, and were turned down. We also did not want the State Education Fund brought down to nothing as these are teacher jobs."

She continued: "The question in school finance is not a spending problem—it is an economic recovery problem. Colorado’s unemployment is now surpassing the national average." Her solution: "I have focused on bills that will move the state towards lifting burdens that allow business to create more jobs and helping industries put people back to work."

D-38 leadership’s public statements lead one to conclude they blame state government, too. Yet from 2003 to 2007, the D-38 School Board overspent three of five years. They wiped out an $11 million savings account and built a second high school we couldn’t afford. Today, D-38 is one of 13 districts (of Colorado’s 178) on the state auditor’s watch list for districts in "severe financial distress."

And what about the legacy of distrust that persists? Perhaps there’s enough blame to go around. Solutions? Ted Bauman’s Citizen Task Force is a great start. Can we do more? D-38 leadership must publish, post, and push out the details of next year’s budget to allow senior citizens, parents, and teachers ample time to scrutinize before the June public forum.

An informed and engaged community can solve problems.

Ana Konduris
Direction 38!

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Fan favorites

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Are you looking for a good paperback book for your bedside table, or to stow in an airplane carry-on? Book club members and Covered Treasures staff have recommended some "good reads." A few of these are described below.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
By Helen Simonson (Random House) $15

In a small village in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew, a wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing local icon. He values the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. A shared love of literature and loss of respective spouses draws he and Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper, together, and their friendship blossoms into something more. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

Parrot & Olivier in America
By Peter Carey (Vintage International) $15.95

Olivier is an aristocrat born just after the French Revolution, and Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerant English engraver. Their lives are joined when Olivier sets sail for the New World to save himself from another revolution, and Parrot is sent with him as spy, protector, foe, and foil. With the story of their unlikely friendship, the adventure of American democracy is explored with dazzling inventiveness, richly drawn characters, and outrageous humor. A National Book Award finalist, this book was also short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

Homer & Langley
By E.L. Doctorow (Random House) $15

Homer and Langley are brothers—the one blind and deeply intuitive, the other damaged into madness, or perhaps greatness, by mustard gas in the Great War. They live as recluses in their once grand Fifth Avenue mansion, scavenging the city streets for things they think they can use. Although they want nothing more than to shut out the world, history seems to pass through their cluttered house in the persons of immigrants, prostitutes, society women, government agents, gangsters, and jazz musicians. The epic events of the century play out in the lives of the two brothers, as they struggle to survive and create meaning for themselves.

The Russian Concubine
By Kate Furnivall (Berkley Books) $15

Through the eyes of two star-crossed lovers, this epic novel brings to life the war-torn China of the 1920s. Sixteen-year-old Lydia retains her fierce spirit, even after her mother, who was among the Russian elite, flees the Bolsheviks and brings her to Junchow. Chang An Lo is a handsome Chinese communist youth with fire in his eyes. He is threatened by Chaing Kai-shek’s troops and by the priceless jewels of a dead tsarina, which are in his possession. Caught between cultures and ideologies, this young couple struggles to survive in a world of danger and change, and readers feel as though they have experienced pre-revolutionary China.

The Big Burn
By Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $15.95

On Aug. 20, 1910, the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana were overcome by a roaring inferno, as wicked winds whipped hundreds of small blazes into flames that neither the forest rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue. Equally as dramatic as the story of the fire is the larger story of President Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, this pair did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

Where Men Win Glory
By Jon Krakauer (Random House) $15.95

Pat Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army and become an icon of post-9/11 patriotism. When he was killed in Afghanistan two years later, a legend was born. But the real Pat Tillman was much more remarkable, and considerably more complicated, than the public knew. Setting the record straight, the paperback edition includes new material and new developments.

If early May is too late to ski, too early to garden, and maybe a little snowy for hiking, it’s reading time. So grab a good book and keep it handy to fill time between appointments and errands.

Until next month, happy reading.

The staff at Covered Treasures can be contacted at books@ocn.me

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High Country Highlights: May gardening in Tri-Lakes

By Woody Woodworth

May is an unpredictable month in the Tri-Lakes region. We can expect weather to ping-pong from sunny, warm days to bitter cold and snow from week to week. Many gardeners at 7,000-foot elevation get frustrated because their neighbors in Denver and Colorado Springs are already planting annuals and vegetables early in the month.

We all get garden fever, but if we are not careful our plants can be easily devastated by a severe weather change so drastic that you may have to start over and replant.

You can offer protection for your tender plants by using a greenhouse or cold frame, or if plants are in pots simply move them in and out of the heated house. Some plants can be put in the ground or left outside now and will flourish in the colder temperatures. Pansies are probably the toughest plants for early color. They can take a hard frost, then get covered in snow and when the sun comes out the next day or two, they will poke their faces out at the world and smile. Other plants that can tolerate snow and cold are columbine, hosta, sage, chives, tarragon, and hops.

Last frost date is June 6

Typically, there is an 80 percent chance we won’t get any frost after May 23, but Mother Nature can deliver a killing frost up until June 6. That day is what we call our last frost date in Monument. If you are going to plant early, be prepared to use frost blankets as a cover. Bed sheets work well as blankets, but plastic will hold in too much moisture and possibly increase damage to plants on a cold night.

You can start gardening now, but don’t plant everything right away. A good rule of thumb is to plant shrubs and trees whenever you can dig and there is no frost in the ground. Now is a good time to cut back any perennials you have left in your garden from last season. Leave mulch around the base of most plants in early May, and then expose them more near the end of the month. Add more mulch to perennial gardens to preserve the valuable moisture we should be getting this time of year. Feed trees, shrubs, turf areas, and perennials a granular fertilizer to kick in the growth.

Plant grass and wildflower seed by scratching up the existing soil, seeding according to the sow rate and covering with about a quarter inch of soil. Try not to cover grass seed too deep, because it has a hard time pushing through lots of soil. Remember to fertilize turf areas first, wait a couple of weeks, and then plant grass seed. If you plant your seed first, the fertilizer may burn the new seedlings and kill your efforts.

Replenish pots with new soil

Clean out any pots you left full from last season and replenish with new potting soil. Use Osmocote or a granular fertilizer mixed well into the top six inches of the potting mix to ensure there is food for your plants later in the season. Leave plenty of space for the plant roots and keep the level down a couple of inches to make watering easy.

Every spring the deer come into the yard and start to munch the tender plants emerging from the ground. In the past, we’ve seen total devastation from these docile and beautiful creatures. Now is a good time to set the rules straight for the deer that are coming into your yard. The idea is to train them to understand they cannot eat your gardens. That’s right, train them.

We use Plantskydd and Liquid Fence products to achieve this goal. We spray gardens in late April or early May, and then wait about 10 days and spray again. We follow up by spraying two more times at about three-week intervals, and that pretty much does it. The deer will still come into the gardens, but they don’t put their heads down to eat. They walk away. I spray the gardens a couple of times toward the late season and before winter to protect my investment even further.

So, get out and garden if you have the fever. Be patient for warmer weather for tender plants and be aware of the weather changes. Go plant something. It’s good for the soul.

Woody Woodworth is a member of the Garden Centers of Colorado, is actively involved in the green industry, and operates a garden center in downtown Monument. He can be reached at woodywoodworth@ocn.me

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Flycatchers heading this way

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: The western kingbird is the "Darth Vadar" of the flycatcher family. Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

It’s May, the month when bird migration becomes so apparent that it’s hard to ignore, and I hear from many readers about the birds they see. Yes, the birds are arriving daily and birders are in their element.

One family of songbirds that arrives in May is the flycatcher. In many areas of the country there are colorful and elegant examples of flycatchers but here, flycatchers are drab. The showy scissor-tailed found in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas and the vermillion flycatcher found in Texas and Mexico are colorful examples.

While traveling in central Mexico with fellow birders, we saw so many vermillion flycatchers that birders familiar with this bird became tired of them. Because it was my first encounter seeing this species, I took time to observe it darting a few feet from its perch to grab an insect, then in a flash, returning to the same spot to wait for the next insect.

I suppose because it was red and in Mexico, I expected that it would behave a little differently than the flycatchers we see here but in fact, the behavior was very similar.

Habitat

As the name implies, flycatchers are an insectivore and as such do not frequent backyard feeders. While it is easy to spot flashy hummers and brightly colored finches feeding in our yards, finding a flycatcher requires us to leave our "nests" to search for them. Generally, I find them perched in quiet areas near a source of water at the edge of a forest. Places like Mount Herman Forest Preserve, the Air Force Academy, and Castlewood Canyon State Park are all good locations to find them.

The family of flycatcher includes any number of perching birds that dart out from a perch to catch a fly on the wing. The species that nest here are members of the new world "tyrant flycatcher" family and include the olive-sided flycatcher, western wood pewee, and the western kingbird. These birds have similar coloration but differ in size, habitat selection, behavior, and the songs they sing.

Western wood pewee

About the size of a sparrow, the western wood pewee is the smallest of the three flycatchers found here. As flycatchers go, the western pewee is actually medium-size with dull gray olive-colored upper parts and a pale olive-gray underbelly. Sometimes there is a bit of pale yellow on the male’s belly. Its head is darker and has a slight crest. Its wings are dark with two light wing bars. It has a round black eye, and the underside of its black beak is an orange-yellow color. Nothing really stands out, which may be one reason it’s a challenge to find it.

It perches in the lower branches of a tree or on a stalk in a grassy meadow. Its song is a "buzz peer" sound. It nests in the lower branches of a tree or in an abandoned woodpecker hole and lays two eggs in June. The chicks fledge in July, and in mid-August the birds begin their long flight to their winter home in South America.

Olive-sided flycatcher

The olive-sided flycatcher is similar in appearance to the western pewee but it’s a little larger—a little smaller than a robin. I often here its "quick three beers" song or its "pip pip pip" call before I see it. When I finally spot it, it is often observing me from its high perch.

It nests in the treetops, and while it is reclusive, it will fiercely defend its territory from invaders, primarily jays and crows. It often perches on top of a ponderosa pine. In June it sings in the morning and evening to attract a mate but takes time to dash out to catch an insect before returning to the same treetop to continue singing.

After its long flight from the Andes Mountains, olive-sided flycatchers arrive here in mid-May and begin nesting in early June. The average nest contains three eggs. The numbers of this bird are declining, which is thought to be due to habitat loss (deforestation) in its winter habitat.

Western kingbird

Unlike its demure flycatcher cousins, the larger kingbird is a conspicuous and aggressive bird about the size of a blue jay. It darts after insects like its smaller cousins, but it chooses larger insects like wasps and flies up 40 feet or more to grab them. It has an olive-gray upper body with a pale yellow belly and its elongated dark tail has white coverts. The most striking feature is its head, with its long black beak and sharp eye with a pencil-thin eye line. It is the Darth Vader of flycatchers.

I once observed a kingbird fly behind a hawk plucking out one wing feather after another as the hawk desperately tried to escape. This bird doesn’t hide; it perches out in the open. Its voice is chatty with a shrill bickering tone that sounds a little like "Don’t mess with me."

The western kingbirds’ courtship displays involve the male twisting and turning as he flies up 60 feet or more then hovers in mid-air before tumbling head over heels to the ground. After mating, the female lays three cream-colored eggs in a cup-shaped nest located in a shrub or the lower branches of a tree. She incubates the eggs for 18 days while the male guards the nest. After the chicks hatch, the parents feed them for 20 days before the chicks fledge. In late August the kingbirds begin their migration back to the mountains of central Mexico.

Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. E-mail her at elizabethhacker@ocn.me to share bird stories.

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Art Matters: The best-selling paintings

Below (L to R): Margaret Seagraves and Maggie Williamson pose with Margaret’s artworks. Seagraves has this area of gallery space specially reserved in the Bella Art gallery for her paintings, soft sculpture, and more. Photo by Janet Sellers.

By Janet Sellers

For any art purchase there is a relatively common factor that has existed since the earliest times. First and foremost about enjoying art is the element of connection, and buyers like to think that they have a connection with the artwork they are viewing and looking to purchase.

The subject matter of a painting also has a powerful impact on its value over time and, for at least the last few hundred years in the art world, the subject of a painting has played a big role in its popularity and in the market price.

Even so, in the precipitous contemporary art world, the top-selling painting to date is a Jackson Pollack drip painting that sold in 2006 for $140 million ($151 million in today’s dollars), with Van Gogh and Picasso having the most artwork represented in terms of amounts paid and number of sales of their paintings. For those of us with more modest purchasing power, the top artworks that sell are prints, and the value of prints is much higher for limited-edition prints since they are in shorter supply than unlimited editions.

Although I had a hard time researching for you what sells the most worldwide or in the U.S. alone as of this date, I did locate a survey that was conducted in the United Kingdom that is often used by journalists. It was conducted by Art Business Today on behalf of The Fine Art Trade Guild of the U.K. For the record, more than 800 galleries across the U.K. were asked to name their best-selling art in 2003. Once the largest empire, the U.K. still has a profound effect on language, culture, and legal areas of world civilization, so it is a plausible reference.

The five painting subjects found to sell most are, in this order: traditional landscapes, local views, modern or semi-abstract landscapes, abstracts, and dogs. The study revealed that the top five media that sell best are limited edition offset-litho prints, limited edition giclée prints, open edition offset-litho prints, oil and acrylic paintings, and water colors. The order of the media list reveals that the prices of prints are lower than that of the others, and that the light-fastness and physical longevity of oils and acrylics give them more sales power than the potentially fugitive water colors, which are typically done on paper.

For our Tri-Lakes area artists, galleries, and art lovers, we have quite a lot of paintings available locally for these most popular subjects. While most artists end up painting in their own inimitable style a subject that they like best, it seems the artists and buyers in our area are on the same page as the global market in terms of what to buy and what to paint.

I’m glad that my current favorite, modern and semi-abstract landscapes in acrylics, was in the top group for subject and media, but frankly, it probably wouldn’t make a dent in my opinion if they were not on the list. It is amusing to investigate what makes a savvy purchase in the worldwide art market.

Two local galleries that consistently have these popular subjects have recently made venue changes in the way they offer special exhibit spaces for artwork:

Bella Art and Frame, 183 Washington St. at Second Street in Monument, is now offering artists a new way to exhibit their art. Owner Maggie Williamson showed me the areas in the ample Bella art gallery that can be rented by artists on a monthly or bi-annual basis. The gallery will only take a 10 percent fee from a sale made from these rented exhibit areas. This offers the artist more of the proceeds from a sale if they are renting space. The gallery will continue to have its own showcase area for their curated Bella exhibits. Williamson also plans to open up the garden area outside of the building for an art sanctuary with sculptures and some nice features to enjoy outdoors as well.

Artists at Southwinds Fine Arts Gallery had the first show and sale of the season on the weekend of April 30-May 1, and we expect to see more shows over this spring and summer. Gallery owner Jim Wider has artists that offer paintings and sculptures, jewelry, glass art, and mixed media artworks. Visit the gallery at 16575 Rollercoaster Rd. on the corner of Baptist and Rollercoaster Roads, 719-481-6157.

Art Hop returns

The Art Hop is back this month! May 19 will kick off the year for our local monthly art event held the third Thursday of each month from May through September. Seventeen local venues in Historic Monument will open their doors from 5-8 p.m. for the special artful evenings throughout the summer season.

We’ve all been waiting for our local art season to begin and enjoy in the warmer weather. Please join me in attending the many artful events our Tri-Lakes venues offer. We are very fortunate to have so many within walking distance of each other. As always, we are looking forward to seeing you at the Art Hop.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter and sculptor who works in paint, metal and concrete. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colorado. She can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me

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Snapshots of Our Community

Thousand Laughs heard at TLCA, Apr. 1

Photos by David Futey.

Below: Warren Epstein opens Night of a Thousand Laughs by describing his trials while traveling to Mexico. 

Below: Comedian Adam White, who had performed the previous evening in Las Vegas, describes one of the problems he encountered while attending a wedding. 

By David Futey

On April 1, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted Night of a Thousand Laughs. Colorado Springs Gazette Entertainment Editor Warren Epstein emceed the evening as well as opened with his comedic insight on traveling to Mexico during spring break and the possibility of a call center moving to the NORAD facility in Cheyenne Mountain.

Epstein said he first performed standup comedy at the Comedy Corner. After some early success someone asked him if he "was afraid of bombing," to which Epstein said he did not at the time because he had a "naïve notion about success, as the comedy had come easy." However, shortly thereafter Epstein experienced that fear as he performed at a Christmas party at Space Command where "everyone was looking to the general to determine whether to laugh or not."

Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

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2 Hour Delay on time for concert

Below (L to R): 2 Hour Delay band members Randy Witte, Julie Novak, Jamie Lugo, and Robin Theryoung perform at the TLCA. Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

On April 8, Colorado Springs-based band 2 Hour Delay performed at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). The performance was one of the prizes for winning the Palmer Lake Arts and Community Event (PLACE) Battle of the Bands contest in September.

During their performance, band members thanked Palmer Lake and the TLCA for the opportunity to play. Band member Julie Novak said that winning the contest "put some impetus into pursuing our music," and they are now creating a CD. The band members are all past or present teachers at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and Novak is a music teacher at the school.

The band played a mix of covers from the likes of the Dixie Chicks and Sheryl Crowe, along with originals written by band member Robin Theryoung.

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@ocn.me

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Hats are a hit

Photos by Mary Hafner.

Below: The Monument Homemakers Club celebrated the Easter holiday by holding a Easter bonnet contest during their monthly potluck lunch Apr. 6. Irene Walters, the president, led the women present to chose the prettiest, funniest, and most unusual bonnet worn by the group. The winners in each category are below. Karen Miller was chosen as having worn the prettiest bonnet.

Lorena Roe stepped up to win the prize for having the "funniest" bonnet on her head; 

and the most unusual bonnet award was presented to Katie Moore. 

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"Dog N Jog" fundraiser a big success, Apr. 17

Photos provided by the Aguero family.

Below: More than $3,000 was raised at the "Dog N Jog" at Fox Run Park April 17.

Below: The event was organized by Gabe Aguero (right), a junior at Palmer Ridge High School, for Tyler Biggs (left). The five-year-old suffers from a rare form of epilepsy. Money raised will help pay for the seizure-response dog that Biggs received through the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation. In addition, Crossroads Animal Hospital offered to match the first $1,000 raised and to give lifetime veterinary care for the dog, Penney. The event was also sponsored by Animal Dental Care & Oral Surgery, Papa John’s Pizza, Camp Bow Wow, Staples, and the Palmer Ridge National Honor Society. 

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Palmer Lake Easter Egg Hunt draws variety of ages, Apr. 23

Below: Easter egg hunters scoured the green in front of the Palmer Lake Town Hall in search of eggs with their delicious treats inside. Photo by David Futey

Below: Hyram Orcutt and Hailee Tafoya have fun with the the Easter Bunny, who was played by Mike Berreth.   Photo provided by Becky Orcutt.

Below: Cora Vine Maddox takes a break after hunting for her eggs.Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

On a chilly April 23 morning, folks of a variety of ages gathered for the annual Easter Egg Hunt in Palmer Lake. The egg hunt was organized by Palmer Lake Town Clerk pro-tem Tara Berreth, with Administrative Clerk Kathy Van Tuinen filling all the eggs with a variety of candies.

Firefighters from the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department also helped by manning a variety of games, such as a ring toss and spin-a-prize, that were set up in the Town Hall.

At the conclusion of the hunt, everyone adjourned to the Palmer Lake Town Hall for games, popcorn, and to see what treats from their catch they could devour.

Easter egg hunts were also held in Monument and other locations in the Tri-Lakes area.

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@ocn.me

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Community garden beds constructed in Lavelett Park

Photo by Leah Squires

As part of earning the rank of Eagle Scout, Ryan Daniel organized fundraising and construction of a community demonstration garden Apr. 23.

The purpose of the two garden plots that were constructed is to see if a community garden can be successful at Lavelett Park. If vegetables can be successfully grown there this summer, the Garden Committee, a group of citizens from Monument, hopes to establish more beds next year.

The garden beds would be used for growing food for food banks like Tri-Lakes Cares, and also the committee hopes to have plots for anyone who would like to grow vegetables for their family and who does not have a suitable place to garden where they live.

Daniel was assisted by Troop 6 boy scouts, parents, and others who helped plan and build this project. Rich Landreth and Ron Rathburn of the Monument Public Works Department volunteered their time and expertise and delivered materials and tools to the site.

Pictured are those who braved the rain, snow, and cold to build the garden.

Monument Principal Planner Karen Griffith said, "Town of Monument officials were very pleased with how the garden beds turned out. Thank you Ryan, and everyone who worked so hard on the garden."

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First Taste of Tri-Lakes, Apr. 26

Photo provided by Tri-Lakes Cares.

Over 275 attendees sampled delicacies created by area restaurant chefs using staples that are routinely found in client distributions within the Federal Commodities Program of Tri Lakes Cares (TLC). Attendees sampled such delights as cobblers, Shepherd’s pie, pork encrusted in potato puffs and black Bean soup. Aspen Point Café, Bella Panini, Folie a Deux, Fusion World Cuisine, Mamma Tina’s Catering, Oakley’s Bistro, R&R Café, and Texas Road House graciously lent their chefs to the challenge. Along with the tasting, local area businesses sponsored educational booths on a variety of topics related to programs of TLC. Businesses sponsoring booths were: Adventures in Travel; Create a Memory Studio; Health Advocacy Partnership; Turbo RV Service; Vitae Salon; Lorraine Sayer- Re/MAX Properties; TLC Computer Repair; Diana Jansen with American Business Benefit Association; Chris McDonald with My Coach & Consultant; Bear Creek Financial; and, Hangers Thrift Shop. Plans are in the works for a bigger and better event in 2012.

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Pine Forest Show, Apr. 28

Photo by Harriet Halbig

By Harriet Halbig

More than 50 vendors participated in the 35th Annual Pine Forest Antiques and Garden Show and Sale held April 30 through May 1 at Lewis-Palmer High School. About 1,800 tickets were sold.

The vendors offered a variety of furniture, jewelry, clothing, and household finds such as kitchen tools, china, and glassware. Jewelry and furniture appraisals were available, as were glass, clock and watch repair services. Raffles were held and food was available at the Bistro and the homemade bake sale.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC), organizers of the event, again offered beautiful potted geraniums for sale. This year, for the first time, there were also nine vendors of garden items such as plants and landscaping services. A series of gardening lectures was presented, offering advice on gardening in this challenging climate, floral arranging, and answers to questions.

Co-chairs of the event Carolyn Hodges and Kendall Vliet (pictured above) said the expansion of the show to include gardening was designed to attract a broader audience than antiques collectors alone.

For information on the TLWC, go to tlwc.net.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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April and May library events: Libraries celebrate National Library Week, gear up for summer reading

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Girl Scout Julie Miller helped with a craft activity during Duck Day.

Below: D’Shae Ferguson brought a favorite friend to the Stuffed Animal Sleepover program. 

By Harriet Halbig

The Monument Library celebrated National Library Week by hosting a reception on Library Workers Day, April 12, and conducting a Snapshot Day, recording all activities at the library that day. It was an exciting time, and we thank you for all your kind words.

Other April events included a delightful Stuffed Animal Sleepover on April 8 and the ever-popular annual Duck Day on Saturday, April 9.

In late April and early May, Children’s Specialist Sandy Yates and other staff members will conduct school visits to promote this year’s summer reading program, which begins on June 1. Programs for elementary school students and teens offer special programs and prizes. Further information on the summer reading program and its special events will be in next month’s article.

Teens ages 12 to 18 are invited to volunteer a few hours per week to register younger children for the program and to award prizes. If they cannot commit to several weeks’ attendance, they can sign up for shorter commitments as substitutes. Rewards are the smiles of the children, gratitude of the staff, and a great party at the end of the program. A training session for volunteers will be held in late May, and the deadline for applications is May 10. Ask for an application at the circulation desk.

May’s Family Fun event will be Chick, Chick, Chickens on Saturday, May 14, at 1:30 p.m. Would you like to hold a chicken? How long does it take for chicks to become chickens? Learn about the fun of raising chickens from the Nesmith family. You can also learn how to make your own chickens—by folding paper!

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be held on Thursday, May 19, from 1 until 5 p.m. This is a driver refresher course designed for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required.

The Monumental Readers book group will discuss The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck on Friday, May 20, at 10 a.m. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

All regularly occurring children’s programs, such as Toddler Time and Tuesday story times, will remain on their regular schedule through May.

On the walls during May will be oil paintings by Jon R. Thompson. In the display case will be Singer Featherweight sewing machines owned by Monument staff.

Palmer Lake events

Palmer Lake’s Paws to Read dogs will visit the library on May 7 (Newfoundland Jax) from 11 a.m. until noon and on May 19 (golden retriever Kirby). Read to a dog to increase your fluency—and select a prize.

The May Family Fun event is a visit from Rowen Monks, the Tarantula Wrangler. Learn about large insects and spiders during this fascinating program on Saturday, May 21, at 10:30.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss Doctor at Timberline by Charles Fox Gardiner on June 3 at 9:00 a.m. New members are always welcome.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Apr. 21: Video provides tour of historic Black Forest

Below: Black Forest History Committee representative Terry Stokka presented a DVD video of a tour and history of many Black Forest locations at the April meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The April 21 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was highlighted by the presentation of a DVD video tour of the Black Forest area. The video tour was enhanced with a brief history of the various buildings, roads, and habitation. The presenter and narrator of the video was Terry Stokka.

Stokka is a member of the Black Forest History Committee. This committee, in conjunction with the Friends of the Black Forest Log School, produced the video titled "Historical Tour of the Black Forest." The tour starts at the intersection of Black Forest Road and Shoup Road, which for production purposes is designated as the center of Black Forest.

The video takes the viewer on a visual and historical tour north, east, south, and west of this point. The video may be obtained at www.blackforest-co.com/bfcc

During the meeting, society member Sally Green advised the group that she was working on a history project that covers several topics. These topics are the YWCA property in the Glenn, the location of the 1907 Higginson farm, the location of the Peter P. Blass home and his Columbine Park, and military encampments in Palmer Lake and in particular the one that was located behind the Martha Carter residence. Anyone who has information on these topics is asked to contact Green at 719-488-2462.

Historical Society member Laverne Kendall notified the attendees that American Legion Post 911 was conducting a flag retirement event on the June 14 at 7 p.m. at The Depot Restaurant in Palmer Lake. He advised that anyone with a flag that needs to be disposed of because of worn or tattered condition should bring it to The Depot Restaurant at any time prior to June 14. The actual retirement ceremony may be attended by anyone interested in viewing it.

Lynn Manzer, co-chair of the Chautauqua Committee, briefed the group on the progress of the event’s planning and execution. She emphasized that volunteers are still sorely needed to assist in the Aug. 4-7 event. Prospective volunteers may contact her at 719-661-1167.

**********

The next Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 19 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. That evening’s presentation will familiarize attendees with the history of the "Women of Douglas County." The presenter will be Shaun Boyd.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

Palmer Lake Town Council has two vacancies

The Palmer Lake Town Council has two vacancies for the position of Trustee. Meetings are normally held on the first and second Thursday of the month. The term of the appointee will expire in April, 2012. To apply, please send a letter of intent with a brief summary of what you feel you can contribute to the Town of Palmer Lake in this capacity to: Town of Palmer Lake, PO Box 208, 42 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake, CO 80133. Info: 481-2953 or tara@palmer-lake.org

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Slash and Mulch season has begun

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here! Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps) will be accepted May 1 to Sept. 12. Mulch will be available, while supplies last, May 22 to Sept. 25. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5 to 7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The loader fee is $4 per bucket, approximately 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County, co-sponsored the Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners. The program’s purpose is to teach forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone 520-7878 or Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024.

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Meet Wescott firefighters and other emergency personnel, May 14

Firefighters and other emergency personnel of Donald Wescott Fire Department will hold their annual Safety Fair Day on Saturday May 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Wescott Fire Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Health professionals and local merchants with special offers will also be there. See firefighting and emergency equipment, the new Wescott ladder Truck (531), firefighting demonstrations, the Memorial Star helicopter, car seat safety checks, the Sheriff’s Office Mounted Patrol, the Smokehouse, YMCA lifeguards, a Cheyenne Mountain Zoo display, and more. Enjoy a free lunch grilled up by the firefighters. For more information, call 488-8680.

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El Paso County Begins Phase 2 of the Hodgen Road Safety Improvements, May 16

El Paso County will close the Phase 2 portion of Hodgen Road from just west of Farrar Drive to Highway 83 beginning May 16. This will begin the final leg of designed safety improvements. There will be an approximate three-week overlap where Hodgen Road will remain closed from just east of East Black Forest to Farrar Drive. All 3.8 miles of Hodgen Road will be closed to through traffic during this period. The Highway 83 to Farrar Drive segment is expected to be completed by approximately December 2011. Detours will be marked. Hodgen Road residents within the construction boundaries will be allowed to use a contractor-maintained route to regain access to an open segment of Hodgen Road at posted detour points. All commuter traffic on Hodgen Road will be redirected by a posted detour route. For more information contact Dave Rose, Public Information Officer, 520-6540, or e-mail DaveRose@elpasoco.com.

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Commissioners reschedule work session to review Woodmoor subdivision traffic to May 17

Woodmoor residents are encouraged to provide input on Doewood Drive options at a Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) work session May 17, 2-5 p.m., at the County Office Building at 27 East Vermijo, Colorado Springs, in the Commissioners Hearing Room, Third Floor. The session was rescheduled in response to area residents’ requests for more time to arrange their schedules and prepare for the discussion.

Formal action on Doewood Drive is now scheduled for consideration by the BOCC during its regular meeting May 24. For more information, contact DaveRose@elpasoco.com or phone him at 520-6540 or 337-9239 (cell).

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Art Hop is back, May 19

The third Thursday of each month, May throughSeptember, 5-8 p.m., the galleries, restaurants, and boutiques of historic downtown Monument stay open until 8 p.m. for a celebration featuring art openings, great food, live music, and other adult-oriented special events. For more information, call 481-3282.

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Sheriff’s Office announces Citizens’ Academy

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the seven-week Citizens’ Academy that will be held Thursday evenings, 6 to 10 p.m., June 9-July 21. The academy will offer participants a broad overview and unique insight into the various functions of the Sheriff’s Office. Participants will go on a ride-along with deputies to observe the variety of calls handled by the Sheriff’s Office and take a tour of the detention facilities to experience the challenges facing detention staff. Detectives will take them through the process of criminal investigation, and participants will also learn about use of force, vice and narcotics operations, and emergency services. The Citizens’ Academy is a pre-requisite for the Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol (SCP) volunteer program. The SCP Academy will be held July 28 to Sept. 29. There is no charge to attend the Citizens’ Academy, but seating is limited to the first 40 completed applications received. Applications must be submitted by May 19, 5 p.m., and are available from the Sheriff’s Office website at http://shr.elpasoco.com/ or from Cathryn Richards, 520-7216.

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Pikes Peak Library District’s Mobile Job and Career Development Services

The library will offer a series of classes on utilizing PPLD’s employment resources. Librarians have created a mobile computer lab with virtual collections, wireless technology, eReaders, and netbooks. They will offer two three-hour classes, allowing time for one-on-one assistance. The first class will provide help with resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and some word processing tips. The second class will provide help with job searches, identifying employers, and networking. The classes will be held May 31 and June 2, 9 a.m. to noon, at The Little Log Church, 133 High St., Palmer Lake.

Librarians will also bring netbooks and eReaders available for checkout. The eReaders are pre-loaded with helpful books on employment like Knock ‘em Dead 2010: The Ultimate Job Search Guide and No-Nonsense Cover Letters. It is recommended that you bring: a flash drive, your library card, resume (if you already have one), information on your past jobs, and paper and pen. Registration is recommended, but walk-ins are welcome if space is available. Call 531-6333, x1304 for registration and more information on these programs.

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Palmer Lake Clean and Green Home Improvement Grant, May 7 & June 4

The Town of Palmer Lake has received a grant from the El Paso County Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) to institute a program called the Clean and Green Home Improvement Grant. The program provides a one-time grant of up to $1000 to low- and moderate-income homeowners for improvements such as minor exterior home repairs, energy efficiency improvements, and landscaping. Specific projects that might qualify include: exterior painting; porch and wheelchair ramp repair; installation of energy efficient windows, exterior doors, or exterior lighting; installation of sod, mulch, flowers, or trees; trash and debris removal.

Eligibility for the grant program is determined by the annual gross income and size of the household. For example, a two-person household would be eligible with an annual gross income up to $45,200 and a four-person household would be eligible with an annual gross income up to $56,500. Applicants are required to be the homeowners and occupants of the property for which the proposed project is submitted. Information sessions are scheduled for May 7 and June 4, 1-3 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. For more information, contact Leigh Holden, 338-9643 or e-mail plcg2011@gmail.com.

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County Board of Adjustment seeks volunteers

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking volunteers to serve as associate members on the Board of Adjustment. Applications for the open positions are due by May 20. The Board of Adjustment hears and decides on issues of physical variances related to the county zoning code. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Hooked on Palmer Lake Kids’ Fishing Derby, June 4

This popular community event features many prizes, give-aways, and awards as well as fishing instruction for kids 16 and under. It’s at Palmer Lake June 4, 8 a.m.-noon. A limited number of free poles will be available. If you received free gear in the past or have your own please bring it. Recommended bait includes salmon eggs and worms. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult, no exceptions. No child will be denied admission for lack of ability to pay. Tickets are $2 in advance and can be purchased at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce (481-3282), or $3 at the lake. For more information, call 481-3282.

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Tri-Lakes Cruisers 10th Anniversary Car Show, June 12

The annual car show, a benefit for Tri-Lakes Cares, will be held June 12 in Historic Downtown Monument, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Come one, come all—fun for all ages! Enjoy classic/collectible cars, DJ oldies music, games, trophy presentation, and more. See an Air Force falcon demonstration noon-2 p.m. Each car entrant gets a free breakfast. The club has donated approximately $14,000 to Tri-Lakes Cares. For more information, contact Dan, dano@process.com; or Bill, 481-2465, or visit www.tlcruisers.org.

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Host an exchange student

Host Families are needed for international exchange students for the 2011-12 school year. All kinds of families can host—two-parent households with young children or teenagers, single-parent families, families with adopted children, foster parents, as well as couples and single people who do not have children or who have grown children. One of the most important characteristics of a host family is being eager to share your family life and activities while providing the same kind of care, support, and comfort as you would to your own child. The exchange students come with medical insurance, all their shots, and spending money. They are not allowed to smoke, nor use alcohol or drugs. They must have passed an English speaking and grammar test. The students begin arriving in early August in time to get settled for the coming school year. Now is the time for potential host families to start the process. A family can request a student from a specific country or with a certain language. Contact Duane Slocum at 599-8955, cell 440-7402, or e-mail slocumduane@hotmail.com if you would like to learn more about the program or start looking at student profiles from around the world.

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Multiple sclerosis support group

A multiple sclerosis (MS) group is forming for the Tri-Lakes and surrounding areas. If interested, please contact Susan at susan@tinybrook.com.

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Griffith Golf Tournament, June 27

Bring your friends, family, or business associates to the Golf Club at Bear Dance in Larkspur, June 27. Shotgun start is at 8 a.m. Play a challenging course, enjoy great food, and have a chance to win prizes while you help the Griffith Center change the life of a child. For more information, contact Jamie Sachtjen, jamie.sachtjen@griffithcenters.org or 303-350-2736, or visit www.griffithcenters.org.

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Save the date: The 2011 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua, Aug. 5-7

The Palmer Lake Historical Society presents The 2011 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Aug. 5-7, in and around Palmer Lake. The weekend begins with the Friday Night Opening Ceremony and Square Dance. Saturday features Vintage Baseball and Ice-Cream Social, and Sunday’s events include an Old-Time Church Service. Watch for additional events and details in upcoming issues. For more information, call 661-1167.

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