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Vol. 11 No. 9 - September 3, 2011


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Contents

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Bear Creek Fire, Aug. 19-21

Below: On Aug. 19, about 100 regional firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the United States Air Force Academy, Black Forest, Fort Carson, Green Mountain Falls, Larkspur, Manitou Springs, Palmer Lake, Peyton, Tri-Lakes Monument, and Westcott fire departments worked to keep the Beaver Creek forest fire away from the houses at the west end of Bronco Drive and Green Mountain Drive. The wildfire, which started about 2 p.m., spread to over 60 acres in a very rugged upslope area above the houses at the west end of the Hay Creek Road corridor west of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. An Airtractor AT-802F single engine air tanker (SEAT) with a Fire Retardant Dispersal System (FRDS) delivered about 2,400 gallons of slurry as requested by the incident commander during three flights on Friday to help contain the fire (see www.airtractor.com/at-802f). A Monument Helitac Aerostar Type 3 helicopter dropped water from its dipping bucket directly on the largest flames. The firefighters used the rocky areas on the upslope face of the mountain range to contain the fire and were aided by winds that blew the fire uphill to the west. Cool weather and rain helped with containing the fire. A large Sikorsky S-64 Sky Crane Type 1 helicopter made several water drops on Sunday. Photo by Michael Foote.

Below: A Monument Helitac Aerostar Type 3 helicopter dropped water from its dipping bucket directly on the largest flames. Photo by Michael Foote.

Below: the Airtractor AT-802F single engine air tanker (SEAT) with a Fire Retardant Dispersal System (FRDS) delivering slurry to contain the fire (see www.airtractor.com/at-802f). Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Monument Police Department Sergeant Mark Owens directed traffic at dusk on Aug. 19 at the Beaver Creek Wildfire checkpoint set up at the intersection of Hay Creek Road and Tapadero Drive. Numerous emergency service agencies were involved in keeping this wildfire away from the homes at the bottom of Green Mountain. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Darkness reveals numerous hot spots remain on Friday night. Photo by Michael Foote.

Below: Photo by Michael Foote.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, Aug. 18 and 22: D-38 approves new contract with Monument Academy; enrollment down less than expected

Below: Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman presents engineer Ken Merola with an award for his energy audit of Prairie Winds Elementary School and consulting on other energy matters, which resulted in significant savings for the district. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education has approved a new five-year contract with Monument Academy (MA).

The board met twice during the summer to approve extensions of the contract as negotiations continued. The contract will be retroactive to July 1.

District Superintendent John Borman said that he, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman, and board member Robb Pike had met with MA Executive Director Dan Griffin and the MA principal over several months. Attorneys were present at some early meetings to expedite discussion, while the final meetings were between Borman and Griffin.

The two parties will continue discussions over the next six months, and they agree that communication must be a priority in the future to maintain the positive tone reached during the negotiations.

Pike agreed that there was a dramatic shift in the tone of the discussions as time progressed.

The board also passed a resolution to approve a contract to continue to provide food service to Monument Academy.

Enrollment down less than expected

Borman said that in budgeting for this year the board had assumed a decrease in enrollment of 120 students compared to last year. He said he was pleased to report that enrollment is stronger than expected, with 117 more students than anticipated for a net loss of three compared to last year.

Although the number may decrease slightly by Oct. 1, this represents a strong start to the year.

Borman said that he is constantly monitoring enrollment to determine where hiring of new teachers will be needed to limit class size. He added that class sizes at the sixth-grade level are a concern.

Food service agreement with St. Peter Catholic School

Wangeman reported that the district had been contacted by St. Peter Catholic School and asked to provide food service there. She said it would involve 20 to 40 lunches per day.

The cost of the lunches to the students would be higher than within the district because St. Peter is a private school and does not benefit from federal price supports. Parents would pay District 38 directly and the food would be delivered by a van. All district food preparation takes place at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Wangeman said that the state Department of Education approves of the agreement, as do the district’s attorneys.

Borman urged the board to approve the agreement as a measure of community outreach.

Due to the fact that district staff would not be doing the serving, there was a concern about insurance. Wangeman was asked to investigate further and the issue was tabled.

At a special meeting on Aug. 22, Wangeman presented an amended agreement stating that St. Peter accepted liability for handling and serving the food from the time of its arrival to the disposition of leftovers. In addition, St. Peter agreed to ensure that volunteers receive training from a public health department or a certified food safety instructor.

District Food Service Manager Katie DuBois said that the food would be delivered by the van on its way back to the bus barn from Lewis-Palmer High School. She said she was confident that the district could provide up to 60 lunches a day, resulting in additional revenue.

The board approved the amended contract.

Rescission of policy governance

During two retreats over the summer, the board and Borman agreed to rescind the use of "policy governance" as a management tool in favor of a more flexible, relationship-based model. A two-page draft of the proposed new system was distributed to the board.

Pike commented that the management method in use should reflect the personality of the superintendent. He added that the board will meet quarterly with the superintendent to refine the system over time.

Board member Mark Pfoff agreed to the need for a new method, saying that policy governance was too rigid and that the board should not be involved with day-to-day operations of the district. He suggested adding wording to the effect that the board will comply with any requirements of the state Department of Education.

The board passed a motion that it rescinds policy governance and will develop a system based on the beliefs and relationships in the school district.

Borman said that there should be a written document that the public can review. He stressed that the document presented at this meeting is a draft only. When a document has been finalized, it will be posted on the district website.

Bond matters

Financial advisor David Bell and Wangeman discussed with the board a recommendation to refinance bonds from 2001 and issue new ones. The bonds carried a 4 percent interest rate. The refinancing would drop the rate to 1.25 percent. The new bonds would have a five-year maturity.

Bell said that by taking this action, taxpayers would save about $500,000 in debt costs over the next five years. He also said that the funds realized from the sale of the bonds will not be available for use as part of the general fund.

The board passed a resolution to follow the advice of financial counsel.

Capital reserve carryover

Wangeman reported a carryover of $263,000 in capital reserves from last year. Approximately $65,000 will be required to complete projects begun during the last year, including paving and roadwork and fire control systems.

She requested that the remainder be applied to carpet repairs at Palmer Lake Elementary School and correction of the drainage at Palmer Ridge High School.

The district has also been selected to receive a $420,497 grant from Building Excellent Schools Today. This state program involves assessment of the condition of district assets and determination of which assets require priority attention.

Wangeman said that the state had been evaluating district records and properties over the past three years and agreed that a priority project in the district is the replacement of part of the roof at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Because state officials agreed with the priorities of the district, District 38 was sixth on the list of 50 grantees.

As part of the agreement, the district must seek bids before beginning work, and state officials must be granted access to inspect the work.

November election

The board passed a resolution to approve an intergovernmental agreement to participate in the Nov. 1 El Paso County election, with Vicki Wood acting as the district’s representative. Three positions on the board are up for election.

"Fun Raiser"

Amy Zarkovacki of On Eagles Wings presented information about the First Annual District 38 10K/5K/1-mile Fun Raiser to be held Oct. 1. The goal is to bring community together to benefit schools.

Thirty percent of registration fees will go to the school of a participant’s choice. The school that has the most participants will receive an additional 10 percent of the proceeds.

For information go to oneagleswings3.com and click on funrun.

Assessment update

Director of Assessment Lori Wagner gave a presentation on CSAP, ACT, and AP scores for district students.

District 38 students outperformed the state in all categories, coming in the top five in most categories.

The number of students taking advanced placement (AP) tests is growing rapidly, and new AP tests are being added.

Pfoff said that he was glad to see that middle school performance remains strong in spite of recent changes in configuration within the district. He said that the teachers are to be commended.

Borman said that as a result of last year’s test scores, District 38 has again been accredited with distinction.

No Child Left Behind Grant

Bear Creek Elementary School Principal Peggy Parsley said that the district has been awarded a No Child Left Behind Grant to help support students on free or reduced-price lunches. The district was required to provide data tables and narrative to support the application and was awarded a grant of $200,000.

Prairie Winds special education hiring

Borman reported that a new position has been created at Prairie Winds Elementary School to support students with dual diagnoses. He said that some students would otherwise have to leave the district to receive needed services and this action would involve less disruption for the students and lower cost for the district.

Superintendent update

Borman said that new teacher orientation had occurred earlier in the week and that all teachers seem excited and optimistic. Returning teachers welcome the additional preparation time offered by a later start, and principals agree that everyone is ready and optimistic.

Borman, Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman, and Wangeman met with the Palmer Lake Town Council to ask for an increase in cash in lieu of land payments in that jurisdiction. The rate in Monument is $1,200 per roof.

The rate in Palmer Lake was $300 per roof, and Palmer Lake officials agreed that the increase was reasonable. The Town Council approved the increase to $1,200.

The district is in touch with Education Funding Partners, a group similar to Advantage 3 that specializes in branding district assets to raise revenue. They will visit all campuses and present an estimate of potential benefits.

In examining last year’s School Improvement Plans, Borman said that schools were successful in addressing weaknesses in their programs.

The board passed a motion to approve such routine matters as minutes of previous meetings, resignations, retirements, lists of substitute personnel, contracts, implementation of compensation adjustments, and the authority to "lock in" diesel purchases for the 2011-12 school year.

Actions at Aug. 22 meeting

In addition to passing the resolution to approve providing food service to St. Peter, the board announced at the district’s convocation that teachers may receive additional compensation by providing documentation that they have received an advanced degree since their hiring by the district.

The board also distributed a longevity bonus to all employees during the convocation.

**********

The Lewis Palmer District 38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s administration building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Sept. 15.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Third education forum addresses community relations

By Harriet Halbig

On Aug. 16, the third in a series of education forums presented by Direction 38 addressed the topic of improving relations among District 38 schools, community populations, and elected officials.

Panels representing government, business, budget, and school administration briefly spoke about their roles, followed by discussions in small groups regarding promotion of cooperation between schools and communities and the issue of attracting and retaining good teachers.

The government panel consisted of state Rep. Amy Stephens, El Paso County Commissioners Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn, Monument Mayor Travis Easton, Stephannie Finley, president for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy from the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, and Paul Lundeen of the State Board of Education.

The school budget panel consisted of Amy Oliver Cooke, director of the Colorado Transparency Project; Leanne Emm, assistant commissioner, Public School Finance Colorado Department of Education; and Tom Gregory, chief financial officer for Academy District 20.

The School Choice Panel consisted of Mark Hyatt, executive director of the Colorado Charter School Institute; John Borman, superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38; Mark Hatchell, superintendent of Academy District 20; Walt Cooper, superintendent of Cheyenne School District 12; and Randy DeHoff, director of Strategic Growth for GOAL Academy, an online charter school serving at-risk youths.

In her opening remarks, Rep. Stephens said she encourages interactions between all levels of government as well as government-public interactions.

Finley said that the Chamber of Commerce is aware that the strength of the school system supports the health of the local work force. We want to train strong students who would wish to remain in the area and strengthen the local economy, he said.

Littleton said that the county commissioners are often concerned with land use issues and the interaction between developers and educators over land donated for schools.

Glenn said that this area is a very attractive place to live. We should strive to forge regional collaborations so that our children can to be nationally competitive but wish to stay here and keep the area strong, he said.

Mayor Easton stated that cooperation between government entities, businesses, and schools should be fostered.

Lundeen said that his children graduated from Lewis-Palmer high School and that recent superintendents in the area have done great things. We should now set a high standard for interaction between entities, he said.

Cook of the Colorado Transparency Project said that her organization strives to simplify explanations of school spending in order to make them more widely understood. She said that mill levy overrides often fail because their intended use is not explained in detail.

Gregory of District 20 agreed that public understanding of funding matters is critical. The public must keep asking questions until people are satisfied with the answers. Although they may not agree, the interactions must be open and honest. The websites for school districts offer lots of information, including financial transactions, he said.

Hyatt said that he had recently spoken with government officials in Wyoming who said that, although they now spend among the highest amounts per pupil, their achievement level has not improved. This confirms that spending is not the most important aspect of education.

DeHoff said that modern districts are not as homogeneous as they once were. Communities are now more mobile and connected in many ways to the outside world. The demand for choice in education is growing—the opportunity to attend college-level courses while in high school, part- or full-time online learning, home schooling, and other options are increasing in value.

Cooper said that District 12 has a long tradition of good communications with the community and a strong history of success in passing funding measures. He said that district officials make an effort to hold frequent summits to invite public input. The process of seeking input is valued, regardless of attendance at these summits.

Borman said that he values the willingness of community members to volunteer their help in the schools. It is up to the administration to let the community know when and where their help is needed. Whenever a need is made known, it is quickly fulfilled, he said.

An audience member asked whether laws would need to be changed to allow districts to benefit from the economy of scale in purchasing goods and services.

Cooper commented that a district of fewer than 5,000 students can support its community by outsourcing such services as mechanical support for a bus fleet or computer repair. District 12 contracts with a number of local companies for such things.

Stephens said that at the higher education level, institutions are now collaborating to realize the economy of scale.

When asked about the impact of the federal government on education, Lundeen said that there is a conflict of sorts. It is not always best to centralize power and standards. He said that districts 12, 20, and 38 are obviously doing things right to have such high scores and standards. In the attempt to improve education in weaker parts of the country, the federal government places a cumbersome burden by requiring extensive reporting on the use of federal funds, he said.

DeHoff agreed, saying that some districts will refuse federal funding to avoid the onerous reporting requirements.

The group broke up into six smaller groups, each with a varied representation of the panels, to discuss promotion of relationships between districts, government, business, and the public and the issue of attracting and retaining good teachers.

Borman commented that the Lewis-Palmer school district once had a great reputation for its decisions and actions, but the decisions of a few people in years past have caused a lack of trust among the public. He said it is much easier to lose trust than regain it. It seems to be slowly returning due to great efforts at transparency by the board.

Rep. Stephens pointed out to her group that the Legislature is unable to plan any large changes at this time due to general uncertainty in the economy. The unemployment rate is being closely watched.

When asked about attracting teachers to underserved rural areas, she said that perhaps there could be a program similar to the one encouraging doctors to serve in small communities for a specific duration in exchange for a break in school loans.

Easton commented that teachers love teaching and do not choose their profession on the basis of earnings. What they desire is respect and a degree of independence in deciding how to teach, he said.

After reconvening, the following ideas were reported:

  • Districts can share services such as physical therapy, special education, or other specialized services
  • Consider using a market-based approach to hiring teachers by paying more for more valued specialties. Tenure and retirement benefits may not be as valued as they once were because many new teachers do not intend to teach for their entire careers.
  • Online offerings may aid small districts by making courses available to them from other nearby, larger districts
  • School districts should take better advantage of private sector offerings in such areas as technology. These offerings may also ease recertification of teachers in those fields.
  • Districts may collaborate for fuel and natural gas contracts to lower costs.
  • Teachers and boards need time to share ideas and best practices. Teachers are given larger class loads and less time to plan, collaborate, and share.
  • Parents value relationships between students and their teachers.

**********

The fourth and final education forum will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Judge denies Donala’s request to use ranch water; district to hold town meeting Sept. 7

By John Heiser

At the Aug. 16 monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, district general manager, announced that on July 28, water court Judge Dennis Maes denied the district’s request to change to municipal use the water formerly used to irrigate the Willow Creek Ranch.

The judge ordered the district to continue negotiations with the Colorado State Engineer’s Office and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the sole remaining objectors to the proposed change in use. The parties were to report back to the judge by Aug. 28 on the progress of the negotiations.

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.

The district is hoping to obtain rights to about 280 acre-feet of water per year, which would cover about 20 percent of Donala’s current demand. If that is the final figure ultimately approved by Judge Maes then, under the terms of the ranch purchase agreement, the district will be obligated to pay Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, an additional fee of about $408,000.

Prior to the case going to Judge Maes, settlement had been achieved with all the other objectors. On March 8 and 9, the case was presented to 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.

One of the state’s main objections was that to avoid injuring downstream water rights holders, the district must replace non-irrigation-season return flows, that is, snowmelt and other water that historically flowed from the ranch during the winter months and fed the surrounding drainage ways. Since the district wants to reduce irrigation on the ranch, the return flows will be reduced. The state is seeking to have the district replace 94 acre-feet of water each year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. The district’s position is that during many years, 94 acre-feet is more than what is needed to prevent injury to downstream water rights holders.

As part of seeking ways to resolve the state’s objections, the board approved a 20-year contract with the Pueblo Board of Water Works for release of 250 acre-feet of water per year from Turquoise Reservoir.

District representatives are continuing to meet with representatives of the State Engineer’s Office and the CWCB to resolve the situation.

Community meeting planned for Sept. 7

Duthie said a community meeting will be held Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Antelope Trails Elementary School to discuss the district’s efforts to obtain renewable water, the estimated costs associated with that water, and the resulting tax and rate increases needed. Duthie noted that average water rate increases of 29 percent to 40 percent for 2012 are being considered and that additional rate and property tax increases are likely in subsequent years. Duthie encouraged all district residents to attend the meeting.

Connection to CSU scheduled for completion by Oct. 28

Duthie reported that the project to connect the district’s infrastructure to Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) pipes in the vicinity of Northgate Road is scheduled for completion by Oct. 28.

The service agreement with CSU calls for a minimum of 100 acre-feet of Colorado Springs water to be supplied to the district in 2011. 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 has also paid $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. If 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. In 2010, the average rate paid in the district was about $5.60 per 1,000 gallons.

Duthie said that since the connection is being completed later than previously scheduled, it will be difficult for the district to draw the 100 acre-feet of water called for by the agreement with CSU. He said he will contact CSU to request that any water remaining from the 100 acre-feet required for 2011 can be drawn in 2012 in addition to the 200 acre-feet required to be drawn in 2012.

Other matters

  • Board President Tim Murphy announced that he is resigning from the board and that he and his family will be moving to Washington, D.C., for personal reasons. He noted that Donala has a great team and that he is proud to have been associated with the district. He added, "The average person has no earthly idea of all the work that goes on to provide clean, clear water. In general, public utilities in the U.S. are amazing organizations. People should be happy and proud of the quality of the service they receive."
  • The Donala Extended Water Supply Study (DEWSS) draft report is scheduled for completion Oct. 15, with the final document scheduled for completion by Dec. 15.
  • During the three months from May 1 through July 31, the district’s $3.78 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.39 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.05 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 8.9 months.
  • The district pumped about 50 million gallons of water in July, about the same as July 2010. Despite three inches of rain during the month, 64 single-family house customers each used more than 40,000 gallons during the month. The top water bill for the month was $1,246 for 132,000 gallons. Forty-three irrigation warning letters and four second warning letters have been issued.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Sept. 15 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of each month.

A community meeting will be held Sept. 7, 7 p.m., at Antelope Trails Elementary School to discuss the district’s efforts to obtain renewable water, the estimated costs associated with that water, and the resulting tax and rate increases needed.

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

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me.

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Triview Metropolitan District, Aug. 9: Promontory Pointe agreement signed

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 9, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors signed an agreement with Classic Homes that will provide additional tap fee revenue from sales of homes in the Promontory Pointe development on Baptist Road at the Gleneagle Drive intersection. Classic closed on the purchase of the foreclosed parcel on Aug. 31 and intends to start building homes in September.

This new revenue will be used to purchase an industry standard booster pump system that will ensure proper water pressure for the new houses in Promontory Pointe as well as elevate pressure for nearby Jackson Creek homes that continue to have lower than standard pressure.

Directors Steve Remington and Steve Hurd were absent.

Promontory Pointe contract approved

Classic Homes CEO Doug Stimple said that Monument Planning Commission and Board of Trustees hearings had been scheduled for Aug. 10 and Aug. 15 for a Final PD Site Plan amendment. (See the Monument Board of Trustees and Planning Commission articles for more information on this proposal.) Stimple was seeking approval of Classic’s proposed water infrastructure agreement that addresses water pressure and financial problems. Classic negotiated with Triview District Manager Mark Carmel and Triview attorney Chris Cummins of Felt, Monson, and Culichia LLC.

Stimple stated that Classic can build about 100 houses with negligible impact on water pressure in Promontory Pointe, but that would not "fix" the water pressure system problems in Jackson Creek. Those can be solved by a pump or the proposed new water tank in Sanctuary Pointe to the east, he said.

Classic’s existing inclusion agreement with Triview for Sanctuary Pointe requires the builder to provide a water tank and pay about one-third of that subdivision’s costs for the water tank, treatment plant, pump, well, and related water infrastructure up-front, with Triview paying the other two-thirds. Stimple said that neither Classic nor Triview has the money to pay for this water system infrastructure at this time.

Classic has agreed to pay a $1,000 water impact fee for each for the 267 taps needed for Classic’s amended plan for Promontory Pointe. This $267,000 in incremental revenue should be enough to pay for the Jackson Creek pump and booster for the northern low pressure zone in Jackson Creek and the other infrastructure in Promontory Pointe. Classic has also agreed to pay the full standard water tap fee of $9,600 rather than only $5,000 as was negotiated with Triview by a previous land owner.

Triview had also negotiated a tap fee exception that will continue to provide $6,465 of each Promontory Pointe tap fee paid to Triview until April 25, 2012, to VCW LLC, which is composed of members of the Vern Walters family. This transfer to VCW is part of a "water exchange agreement" with former developer John Laing Homes. The vacant parcel was called Walters Ranch before the first of three recent developers, Landco, purchased it. Kathy and Gary Walters had been members of the Triview board since it was created until passage of the term-limit law forced them out of office eight years later. Classic will pay $6,465 directly to the Walters firm for each tap purchased by April 25 and the rest to Triview.

The total of all Triview fees for each of the 267 lots will be $20,400. Stimple said Classic expects to pull its first 17 building permits by April 25. Payments of $109,905 to VCW LLC would reduce Triview’s total initial net from $346,800 to $236,895. The extra $1,000 water impact fee for each tap will generate an additional total of $267,000. The other 250 permits will generate $5.1 million for a total of $5,603,895.

The proposed water infrastructure agreement calls for Triview to install the water pressure booster pump system immediately. Stimple said the $267,000 in water impact fee revenue Classic has agreed to pay will be more than the estimated $100,000 cost of the booster system.

Stimple also stated that the proposed agreement sets up a "sinking fund" to pay for this water infrastructure. The sinking fund would receive $6,500 to be escrowed from each of the first 17 taps and $9,800 (the current Triview residential tap fee) to be escrowed from each of the other 250 taps after April 25. This will produce a total sinking fund of about $2.5 million that will be used to build the water tank and other water infrastructure in Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe.

Stimple said this agreement will provide sufficient financial certainty for both developments to ensure that Classic will be able to get construction financing. He added that Triview will not have to pay back about $1 million to Classic per the original Promontory Pointe inclusion agreement.

Classic consultant engineer Mike Applegate of Applegate Group Inc. and Jerry Novak of Classic’s development services group stated that they have done a preliminary engineering design for the booster pump system. The design is very similar to an Applegate design that is operating successfully in Breckenridge under "much tougher conditions" in a more difficult digging and rock environment.

"That’s a credible solution," Applegate said. "It is used widely along the Front Range. It is used by Colorado Springs … and virtually all the mountain towns." The system "will be designed to Colorado Springs Utilities standards."

Applegate and Novak answered several technical questions from board members. They noted that the dual pump system was used locally in similar circumstances in Briargate 14 years ago and in Peregrine 16 years ago. Pressure-reducing valves will regulate the new system’s pressure to a standard 60 pounds per square inch. Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth said the pressure in this booster system will be independent of the pressure in Triview’s existing trunk lines and will maintain pressure at peak monthly system demands.

Triview provided 37 million gallons of water in June. Applegate said the preliminary pressure test data already collected are very compatible with the proposed system.

Carmel stated that an outside engineer was brought in to do a peer review of the preliminary design as well. He noted that Classic has agreed to cooperate with Triview during the final design phase for placing the pump in the optimum site within Promontory Pointe. Final system design will take about six months. The system could be operational by June.

Triview water attorney Chris Cummins noted that Triview is still required to self-fund the Sanctuary Pointe treatment plant, water tank, well, and tank site plus another $1.3 million of infrastructure. He said that this agreement firmly identifies the revenue stream for the pressure booster system and gives Triview control of when and how it is built and when Classic must warranty deed its groundwater to Triview. There is no remaining reimbursement agreement between Triview and Promontory Pointe for construction and connection of well A8. Triview was never reimbursed by John Laing before it went into receivership, preventing any recovery in the future. There is no inclusion agreement with Home Place Ranch yet.

Cummins also noted that all Triview tap fees are classified as general fund revenues rather than separate capital inflows for a Triview capital fund for water infrastructure. He recommended an expert review of whether tap fees could be directed by accounting mechanisms to a specific capital fund for water infrastructure without violating TABOR restrictions or any district loan agreements or bond covenants.

Carmel noted that an additional $1,500 of any tap fee paid by Classic would be paid to Donala for its loan to Triview for the recently completed expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.

During public comments, a Jackson Creek resident commented on his continuing inability to get his six lawn sprinklers to pop all the way up to water his yard.

At the end of the discussion, board Chair Bob Eskridge told Stimple that the board would go into executive session at the end of the meeting to further discuss these negotiations prior to voting on approval.

Financial reports

Some of the items Monument Treasurer Pamela Smith noted during her report were:

  • Enterprise Fund revenues were down 19 percent through the end of June compared to 2010.
  • General Fund expenditures were under budget by 10 percent, or $163,000.
  • Capital expenditures for well and road improvements and the new Agate Creek Park were $117,651.

Triview received a July 28 notice from the Colorado Water Resources & Power Development Authority saying that it was out of compliance with the loan covenants for the 2006 and 2008 Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund loans the authority made to Triview. The authority’s notice stated that the authority’s audit of Triview’s most recently submitted quarterly accounting showed that Triview must raise its user rates within 45 days of this notice and be in effect within 60 days of this notice in order to come back into compliance with the covenants. The district must sustain cash reserves in the loan reserve fund equal to 110 percent of the sum of the four quarterly principal and interest payments made to the authority for the district’s loans.

Smith said she had shown the authority that the district already has the cash to pay this quarter’s loan. She said she had directed all sales tax revenues from the district general fund to the water fund to build the loan reserves. She said she had no other funds available to put into the loan reserve fund. Smith said she could bill constituents in arrears for water and make a budget restatement. This would show the additional money as an increase in reserves by crediting more revenue to the second half of 2011. She added that if tap fees are converted to capital revenues rather than water revenue, this loan reserve problem will be worse.

Carmel said he would work with the authority staff on solutions that meet proper accounting standards. Smith said she would analyze how much reported reserves would change under her proposed revised accounting method.

The board unanimously approved Smith’s financial statements.

Two payments over $5,000 were approved:

  • $7,099 to PSF Co. LLC for annual concrete work
  • $5,904 to Felt, Monson, & Culichia LLC for legal work

There was board consensus that all 20 firms that responded to Triview’s request for qualifications were qualified to provide one year of district management services similar to those currently being provided by the Monument staff under an intergovernmental agreement. The estimated contract cost is $600,000.

Operations report

Some of the items Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth discussed were:

  • Water production was lower than normal in July due to more frequent rain,
  • The Well 8 transient voltage surge suppressor has been removed and returned to the manufacturer for evaluation.
  • Water pressure on Saber Creek Drive and Greenrock Place is now being monitored and recorded to establish a baseline for future comparisons after the new Promontory Pointe pumps are installed.
  • A rebuilt blower will be installed at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility to replace one of the two blowers that failed recently. The other replacement blower will not be ordered until the causes of the failures are determined.
  • The work in Agate Creek Park has been completed.
  • Patch repairs to Lions Tail Road have been completed. A cap seal may be installed in the future.
  • A bid of $8,863 was received for restriping stop bars and crosswalks.
  • A bid of $26,300 was received for completing a sidewalk in Remington Hills.
  • Cages have been installed on sprinkler system backflow prevention devices in response to device thefts that caused leaks resulting in losses of about 400,000 gallons.

The board went into executive session at 6:40 p.m. to discuss negotiations with Classic.

After coming out of executive session, the board unanimously approved and signed the water infrastructure agreement with Classic for Promontory Pointe.

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The next Triview board meeting will be held on Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. in Town Hall. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: www.triviewmetro.com.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, Aug. 9: Garage construction postponed a year—or longer

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 9, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) made a final decision to postpone until 2012 construction of a $79,000 heated garage building. The Monument Sanitation District had asked that the project be deferred at the July 12 JUC meeting.

This postponement may be exacerbated by an incomplete sludge removal project that concluded at the end of August. Each owner district will have to pay a larger amount for sludge removal in 2012 than previously planned.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: Dale Smith from Palmer Lake, Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Jim Whitelaw from Woodmoor. Typically, several other district board members and the district managers also attend the meetings.

Monument Director Chuck Robinove filled in for Morgan, who was out of town.

Sludge removal delay limits amount removed

Facility Manager Bill Burks advised the JUC that there had been a significant change in the amount of sludge that would be removed from the facility’s facultative sludge lagoon during the scheduled biennial dredging operation. The start of the scheduled pumping and dewatering operation to remove about 450 tons of sludge was delayed for about a month by a coincident turnover in facility personnel. Three more days of pumping were lost due to a winch problem with the facility’s floating sludge pump that dredges the bottom of the sludge lagoon. Only 15 tons had been removed on Aug. 9.

Background: Wastewater is treated in aeration basins by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that consume the hazardous materials and then die off at the end of their life cycles. The treated wastewater is then pumped to downstream clarifiers. These clarifiers separate the solids from the treated wastewater water using gravity. Rotating scraper arms in the bottom of the clarifiers move the solids to other pumps that send them to the storage and treatment lagoon at the north end of the facility for storage.

The sludge lagoon is also aerated by separate air pumps to provide additional treatment by various bacteria that use the separated solids as food. The additional aeration and bacterial digestion further refines these separated solid wastes so that they settle and collect at the bottom of the lagoon. Water from the sludge lagoon is returned to the aeration basins for further treatment before being discharged as treated effluent to Monument Creek.

After two years, the accumulated solids at the bottom of the sludge lagoon are safe enough for direct land application as fertilizer. This concentrated sludge is pumped from the lagoon by a floating maneuverable pump to a holding tank and then to a mobile dewatering filter press set up at the facility every other year. The sludge is de-watered and pressed into a cake that is hauled to agricultural areas for direct land application. The separated lagoon water squeezed out of the sludge by the filter press is pumped back to the Tri-Lakes aeration basins to be mixed with influent wastewater from each of the three districts for more bacterial treatment.

Contractor changed

The previous sludge removal contractor, Parker Ag Services, had recently doubled its rates with little notice, which would have resulted in a need for each district to come up with much more money than the amounts included in their 2011 budgets to pay for this year’s project. Liquid Waste Management offered a significantly lower rate but still more than Parker Ag had charged in 2009, so each district still had to pay more in 2011 than the amounts they had already set aside in 2010 and the remaining amounts they had budgeted for 2011 to pay for this year’s project.

However, Liquid Waste Management had specified a termination date of not later than Aug. 31 for the Tri-Lakes project. This date could not be extended because the mobile dewatering filter assigned to the Tri-Lakes facility had already been contracted to another wastewater facility in Denver on Sept 1.

Because of the delays, the amount of sludge that would be removed this year will only be about 120 dry tons. Burks noted that the filter press was functioning very well.

If only 330 tons were to be removed in 2012 for a total of 450 tons, then another 450 tons would have to be removed in 2013. An additional 225 tons would be added to the sludge lagoon by the summer of 2012 and another 225 tons would be added by the following summer.

An alternative would be to remove enough sludge in 2012 to return to a biennial schedule that would allow sludge removal to be skipped in 2013. This would require the removal of the 330 tons not removed this year plus another 225 tons generated during the coming year. This alternative would require removing a total of about 555 tons next summer.

The actual amount of sludge generated gradually increases each year as new homes and businesses are constructed in the service area of the Tri-Lakes facility. However, the percentage each district pays each year for its share of sludge removal (and other facility operating costs) is fairly constant.

Budget issues for sludge need to be resolved

This schedule slip has also created some budgeting problems for the three owner districts. Each year, the districts usually set aside about half the money needed to pay their share of the cost of removal every two years, after making a budget assumption on what the costs will be in two years. District shares of the cost of sludge removal are based on the weight of the solid wastes removed from each district’s wastewater.

However, only about one-fourth of the planned 450 tons was removed this year. Now each district must budget for its share of the amount of money necessary for another filter press mobilization in 2012, the cost to remove about 330 tons in 2012, and the cost to remove the 450 tons that will be added to the lagoon over the next two years in 2013. Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the amount of operations money needed next year for sludge removal would be more than the amount saved this year.

This alternative would recover the lagoon to the original schedule for 2013 that was based on removing all 450 tons by Aug. 31. The unexpected cost for unplanned sludge removal by Liquid Waste Management in 2012 had not been negotiated.

Another alternative would be to remove enough sludge next summer to be able to skip sludge removal in 2013 to start a new biennial schedule. About 555 dry tons would have to be removed in 2012—the 330 tons left in the lagoon plus the 225 tons that will be added by next summer.

Garage tabled again

Burks noted that he had recently talked to the architect for the garage. He stated that construction could start in about six weeks after the garage goes out for public bids.

Smith said that Palmer Lake was ready to pay for construction this year, based on previous garage delays over the past two years. Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette said his district would prefer to "move forward with" the garage "if it needs to be built" while Woodmoor has money available rather than wait again for another year. Woodmoor has some very large budgetary issues coming up in a year or two for drinking water projects and may not have money for the garage at that time.

Wicklund stated that sludge removal is an operational cost, while building the garage is a capital cost that uses money from a separate capital fund. The current lull in housing starts has severely limited the capital income from tap fees for each of the three special districts. This reality will most likely make it hard for Monument to be able to pay its share for the postponed new garage in 2012.

Monument’s capital fund was drained of about $400,000 due to paying cash for two Wakonda Hills lift stations in 2010. These lift stations were not eligible for a "shovel-ready" American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) loan because the standard length of time required for the state’s 208 Plan review and approval process for a new lift station site plan and the associated engineering design proposal far exceeded the EPA’s "shovel ready" time limit. An additional $20,000 in direct district cost was incurred due to a two-month delay in the lift station engineering design review process by the Water Quality Control Division’s regional engineer.

Wicklund typically budgets a very conservative $50,000 amount for annual tap fee revenue. Actual revenue has typically been more than double that amount for the past several years. However, 2011 revenue has only been $9,100.

Wicklund added that the new garage is still not "an absolutely necessary thing to be done right now" in this "dire economy." The garage is still just something "that is nice to have" with no real cost benefit for building now that will be gone in 2012. Wicklund suggested getting temporary storage containers.

Burks said temporary storage would not be needed until another blower, which would cost about $100,000, is purchased.

Wicklund asked the other districts to help out Monument and defer the construction to the 2012 budget to see if Synthes will eventually pay the $44,000 tap fee that it was expected to pay Monument last January. He noted that Monument has only received $9,100 in tap fees in 2011 and that there is also no evidence that the foreclosed Willow Springs project in the Monument district will be started any time soon. The two banks that have foreclosed on the property have asked that the county zoning and conceptual plan hearing be continued until Oct. 27. Wicklund said he would rather have Monument spend $30,000 on a new blower than the garage.

Current user fees cover Monument’s operational costs at this time and there is no reason to raise them at the present time, Wicklund said. User fees will most likely have to be increased to cover increased costs for additional nutrient and copper removal due to tighter restrictions when permit renewal negotiations with the state begin. Currently the state is three years behind on discharge permit renewals, and it is not clear when the Tri-Lakes permit will be renewed.

There was consensus "to table" a decision on construction of a new permanent garage until September.

The various written financial reports for July were unanimously approved.

Manager reports

Wicklund reported that Monument had received a copy of a letter sent by the state to Synthes directing the company to discontinue dumping discharges from their compressors to floor drains and transporting the slurry from their polishing and deburring processes in portable plastic tanks from an auxiliary building across Synthes Avenue to the main building’s pre-treatment area. The Synthes permit does not allow for that. He added that the new pre-treatment facility in the Synthes auxiliary building is already built but not hooked up because Synthes has still not paid the new tap fee to the Monument district.

Burks expressed surprise that Synthes had still not connected the new pre-treatment facility he and Wicklund and EPA inspectors had visited several months ago. Wicklund noted that dumping large tanks could create a "slug" of very strong waste that might be bypassed and released to the domestic wastewater service line and delivered to the Tri-Lakes facility.

Wicklund also discussed the closure of Monument Lake Road during the county’s installation of new stormwater culverts. Monument has a currently unused lift station force main that runs under the paved area and old Crystal Creek culverts from the Raspberry Point subdivision to a manhole at the intersection of Third and Front Streets. The old culverts were rusted and collapsing, and had created potholes in the road. It appeared that the county had taken sufficient care to protect the district’s force main that will remain buried below the new culverts.

Gillette said Woodmoor would start the last portion of this year’s program to rehabilitate district sewer mains in the second half of August.

Burks’ July Discharge Monitoring Report showed that the facility was operating at very high efficiency, particularly with regard to ammonia and total inorganic nitrogen. There was no detectable copper in the facility’s effluent. BOD and suspended solids removal exceeded 99 percent; the requirement is 85 percent removal. The average influent flow was 1.1 million gallons per day with a peak flow of 1.9 million gallons per day. The plant is designed for a maximum flow of 4.2 million gallons per day.

A large air line that feeds the whole plant failed in late July. A smaller air line failed in the first week in August. There was no permit violation but the plant performance numbers will not be as good in the August reports as they usually are.

There was also a temporary automatic control cable failure to the ultraviolet (UV) lights that disinfect the treated effluent. The failure disabled the alarm system for UV system failure. The problem cable was disconnected and replaced by a wireless signal connection between the UV building and the plant’s computer system in the main facility building.

A motor burned out in an automatic effluent sampler, so the staff performed manual sampling while the motor was being replaced.

Engineering consultant Tetra Tech Inc. will be setting up a pilot plant to test the design of the proposed new system for phosphorus removal in the secondary clarifiers. A permit for operating the pilot plant for three to four weeks is required from the state, but is not expected to be an issue. The preliminary estimated amount of ferric chloride to remove total phosphates will be about 1,000 gallons per week. Delivery trucks carry 4,000 gallons. There was relief among those in attendance that a railroad siding would not have to be constructed within the facility for ferric chloride deliveries.

A containment building for the new facility storage 6,000 gallon tank will have to be built, probably west of the administration building next to the interior road, with pumps for each clarifier, telemetry, and possibly a backup pump. A tentative location for construction of a fourth clarifier would be south of the administration building.

A separate engineering and far more expensive solution will still be required for total nitrogen removal when the new Regulation 31 discharge limits become effective in 2022.

Colorado Wastewater Utility Council representative report

Jim Kendrick, Monument Sanitation District Operations, reported on several of the issues raised recently during the numerous state regulatory meetings he had attended in Denver in the past month.

The new draft state Policy 96-1, Design Criteria, that regulates the engineering design of new wastewater plants and modification to existing plants expanded from about 80 pages to over 253 pages, drastically limiting the options professional engineers can use for the new far tighter wastewater treatment restrictions being proposed by the state and demanded by the EPA. Most of the standards listed by the state Water Quality Control Division staff engineers, who typically have never had any practical operational experience at an engineering firm, are referenced from state and federal documents, from East Coast states, that are 10 to 15 years old and thus obsolete as well as being inappropriate for Colorado’s climate and geography.

Kendrick noted that earlier this year, long before this draft was published, it took the state engineer two extra months using the criteria in the old policy to analyze whether to force Monument to increase the proposed diameter of the force mains for the two Wakonda Hills lift stations by 0.002 inch, a change that would result in less than 1 percent of increased peak flow capacity, even though a 50 percent safety factor had already been included in the proposed design.

This delay cost the district $20,000, roughly Monument’s share of the proposed cost of the new garage for the facility’s air compressors and manifolds. Had these lift stations been funded with ARRA grant money rather than the now depleted district capital reserves, it would have resulted in a big federal loan compliance "nightmare" violation.

Burks stated that Tetra Tech is aware of and reviewing the new numerous design criteria restrictions. Wicklund said that its engineering consultant firm, GMS Inc., was also reviewing the negative ramifications of the new policy. Kendrick added that the state staff will have many more problems checking all the new design proposals for the 274 plants in Colorado that will have to be modified in the next few years.

These delays will make costs rise even more, raising rates for operational and capital project costs at the plants. Right now the EPA will not consider requests for waivers of these new policies and regulations for reasons of economic hardship unless the average monthly single-family residential fees charged for wastewater exceed two percent of the median gross family income, before taxes, of a sanitation district.

Kendrick also noted that he had forwarded numerous email notifications from Denver to the districts the night of Aug. 8. "I just realized I’ve done to you what they do to me before every meeting that I go to in Denver. I sent you these emails with a fair chance that you couldn’t see them before the meeting. Unlike what they do to me before every meeting in Denver I’m going to read them to you rather than say your silence means you agree with these emails." He then read the emails that those in attendance said they had not had time to see in their email inbox.

The topics discussed were:

  • Is nitrogen a scientifically defensible limiting factor or not?
  • Is co-limitation by simultaneous total phosphorus and total nitrogen numeric limits necessary, effective, or broadly applicable for control of algae?
  • Is total nitrogen really toxic or is ammonia the only toxic component that needs to be regulated?
  • Why won’t the Water Quality Control Division open its databases for its new regulations for an independent scientific peer review as required by the EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Board?
  • The false claims of millions of dollars in additional daily revenue from angler and boating tourist revenue that will come to Colorado after phosphate and nutrient concentrations.

Kendrick noted that the aquatic life in Monument Creek at Baptist Road is identical to the aquatic life at the base of the Monument Lake dam as shown in sampling performed recently by ecological consultant GEI Consulting. This shows that the already low amounts of phosphates being added to the creek by the Tri-Lakes facility are not having any effect, much less a negative effect, he said. This preliminary evidence also indicates that there is most likely no need to add nitrate limits to the Tri-Lakes facility’s next discharge permit, he said.

The meeting adjourned at 11:35 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 13 at the Tri-Lakes WWTF conference room, 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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Monument Sanitation District, Aug. 18: Board wants to delay garage construction

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 18, the Monument Sanitation District Board of Directors confirmed that it no longer wanted to contribute to the cost of building a new garage at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility this year, but will budget for construction in 2012.

Board confirms construction delay request

Wicklund briefed the board on the discussions that occurred on Aug. 9 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee meeting regarding the planned construction of a new storage garage. See the JUC article details of this issue.

There was continued board consensus that construction of the garage should be postponed until next year due to the recent serious decline in the amount of district capital reserves.

Wicklund reported that the district’s new website was in the final stage of development and should be available to constituents in September.

Overhead power line dilemma resolved

Wicklund said he had contracted with Mountain View Electric Association to have it determine the cost of moving the overhead electric power line that provides power to the district building. This overhead line crosses the northeast corner of the adjacent lot to the south through a district access easement that has existed since the district building was constructed. MVEA’s fee for the preliminary design research was $200.

Both lots were vacant when purchased by the previous owner. The owner built the district building with a Second Street frontage and the adjacent doublewide modular building on Washington Street, and then leased them as rental properties. He created the prescriptive access easement for the overhead power line to the Second Street building through the rear of the Washington Street lot. This overhead power line is well clear of the modular building.

Recently, Rafael Dominguez, a member of the Monument Board of Trustees, purchased the Washington Street property. He plans to remove the vacant modular building and build two new buildings on this lot. The existing overhead district power line would interfere with the planned rear building.

Since he purchased this lot, Dominguez has complained several times during Board of Trustees meetings about problems caused by the angled parking in front of the district’s building. He has also stated to Wicklund that he will have the district’s on-lot tenant parking places to the east along the alley and to the west along Washington Street eliminated by the town.

The board unanimously approved a motion to have Wicklund provide a copy of the MVEA report to Dominguez and tell him that he will have to pay for moving the district’s overhead power line out of the district’s long-standing prescriptive access easement, if he still wants it moved out of the way of his new rear building.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:51 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in the district conference room, 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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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 22: Board approves Source Water Protection Plan

By Candice Hitt

At the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s Aug. 22 meeting, the Colorado Rural Water Association’s Source Water Protection specialist, Kimberly Mihelich, presented a final draft of the Source Water Protection Plan to board members. The board unanimously approved the plan, which can be viewed at Woodmoorwater.com.

The district’s participation is voluntary. The plan is considered to be a proactive approach to preserving and preventing contamination of water.

Recognizing potential threats to the water supply, the district has decided to have a formal plan to ensure clean, good quality drinking water sources for the community. The goal of the plan is to raise awareness of potential contamination sources, reduce pollution, increase education on preventing contamination, and promote good management practices to improve the drinking water supply.

The state Health Department awards a $5,000 grant to local water companies for promotion of the plan. The money helps to cover the cost of marketing.

Operations report

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said 99 percent of the water for July was accounted for and meter reading was back online. Wells 10, 16, and 17 are operational again. There were no construction or subdivision updates for July.

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The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Aug. 24: Building permit issued for new station; construction begins

By Jim Kendrick

At the Aug. 24 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, there was some relief that a building permit had finally been issued to Wescott general contractor, Colarelli Construction, that would allow construction to begin on the new fire station that is being built on the northeast corner of Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road. Colarelli had just begun concrete work for the station foundation. The building permit had been delayed until the district obtained its well permit for the five-acre property.

The total expenditure to date for the station, fire apparatus, and fire equipment is about $457,000. Expenditures are on track for about $100,000 per month for the rest of 2011.

In other financial matters, Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall said the district had not yet received federal reimbursement for the deployment of the district’s Type 6 brush truck to the Horseshoes and Los Conchos wildfires in Arizona/New Mexico and the deployment of the district’s only water tender to the Los Alamos fire in New Mexico. A total of about $25,000 will be received for use of these trucks.

Chief Vinny Burns noted the district’s participation in the Beaver Creek wildfire at the west end of Hay Creek Road about two miles west of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange starting on Aug 19. Burns said there had been good collaboration by all the fire departments in the North End Group. Director Bo McAllister noted that volunteer participation during this event had been very good. Overall, there were 172 alarms in July.

Burns reviewed the various 10-year anniversary 9/11 commemorative events that will occur at the America the Beautiful Park in El Paso County and the two stair climb events at the Qwest building and Red Rocks plus the Governor’s Event at Civic Center Park in Denver. The following weekend Wescott will participate in the parade for International Association of Fire Fighters memorial ceremony on the northwest corner of Memorial Park in Colorado Springs.

Burns noted that two Wescott teams had qualified for the World Combat Firefighter Challenge in Florida. The firefighters will be doing fund raising to supplement their personal expenses for participating in this event.

Wescott’s firefighters will also be collecting money for the annual Labor Day Weekend Fill the Boot campaign to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 in the Station 1 conference room, 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, Aug. 24: Property tax revenue expected to decline

By Bernard L. Minetti

During the Aug. 24 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors, Treasurer John Hildebrandt said that the district had received $3,095,878 (96 percent) of the budgeted property tax revenues for the year. His financial report represented 58.33 percent of the year’s budget.

Hildebrandt also noted that 2012 property tax revenue would decline by $291,208. Fire Chief Robert Denboske advised the board that this would require "belt tightening" for the upcoming year. Hildebrandt said specific ownership taxes received thus far amounted to $164,403 or 59.97 percent of the 2011 budget. Ambulance revenues amounted to $360,955, or 73.66 percent of the budgeted amount.

Hildebrandt advised the board that administrative expenses remain high due to the payment of liability insurance, county treasurer’s fee, and workers comp insurance. Ambulance collections and the county treasurer’s fees were high for the year to date because revenues were high. Medical expenses were higher due to the purchase of a maintenance contract and associated supplies.

All utilities expenses were in line with projections. Fuel costs were up 20.77 percent (up 15 percent in July) for fire and 24.7 1 percent (up 19 percent in July) for medical to date. Most payments over the annual budget are due to insurance policy payments and one-time contract payments

Hildebrandt concluded his report by stating that overall expenses were at 58.13 percent and 0.20 percent under the 2011 budget.

Officer Manager Jennifer Martin said the district’s firefighters will be supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association with the annual Fill the Boot event Sept. 1-3 to raise money for "Jerry’s kids."

Martin said that on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at 7:05 a.m., there will be an American Legion flag raising ceremony at Fire Station 1, 18650 Highway 105.

The Historic Monument Chili Cookoff will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 17 at Limbach Park. Community chili teams will compete for awards and prizes. The tasting fee is $5. District Board President Charlie Pocock will have a booth serving chili and salsa.

Denboske said total personnel training hours amounted to 361.5. Of that total, 224.5 were fire/all hazard specific, 129 were EMS specific, and eight were physical fitness hours. Denboske noted that this report compared favorably with previous reports.

The board then adjourned to an executive session to discuss negotiations with a local organization.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Martin at 719-484-0911.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 15: Promontory Pointe final site plan amendment approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 15, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved Classic Homes’ proposed amendment to the final planned development (PD) site plan the board had previously approved for John Laing Homes before the project went bankrupt.

There was only one public comment during the hearing, and that was regarding potential overcrowding at the D-38 Bear Creek Elementary School in Jackson Creek, rather than any detail of the Classic site plan. This was in stark contrast to the standing room-only crowds that attended Landco, Pulte Homes, and John Laing Homes site plan hearings to protest angrily.

The informational presentations by the following individuals were very similar to those they had made at the Planning Commission on Aug. 10:

  • Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services
  • Mark Carmel, district manager, Triview Metropolitan District
  • Doug Stimple, CEO, Classic Companies Inc.
  • Joe Loidolt, president, Classic Companies Inc.
  • Jerry Novak of Classic’s development services group

The questions asked by the trustees were very similar to the questions asked by the planning commissioners.

See the article on the Aug. 10 Monument Planning Commission hearing on below and the article on the Aug. 9 Triview Metropolitan District hearing for details of the proposed final PD site plan amendment and the conditions recommended by the staff and Planning Commission.

A condition was added that a basement of not less than 50 percent of the main floor square footage, not counting garage space, would be included in every home.

Larry Small, a former Colorado Springs city councilman, gave a presentation on recent developments for the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control, and Greenway District. This is a new large multi-jurisdictional district. He asked the board to support the activities of the district board.

The board unanimously approved annual liquor license renewals for:

  • Monument Liquor Mart, 15756 Jackson Creek Parkway
  • Safeway Store No. 1440, 624 Highway 105
  • Texas Roadhouse Holdings, LLC, 16196 Jackson Creek Parkway
  • King Soopers No. 77, 1070 W. Baptist Road
  • 7-Eleven Store 320308A, 283 Highway 105

Treasurer Pamela Smith presented the monthly sales tax report. The board unanimously approved two payments over $5,000:

  • $134,596 to Triview Metropolitan District for June sales tax ($127,714), July motor vehicle tax ( not to exceed $6,500), and July Regional Building Department sales tax ($382)
  • $5,000 to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for the town’s contribution to an investigation of the Southern Delivery System.

Staff reports and updates

Kassawara reported that three single-family residential land use permits were issued in July, all in Triview. The total for the year is now 15, with eight in Triview.

The closing on the Vistas Apartments in Jackson Creek was expected to occur by the end of August. The board has already approved this 177-unit apartment building complex, located by the Jackson Creek Crossing building on north Leather Chaps Drive. Construction could start as early as September.

Note: The Aug. 25 Board of County Commissioners hearing on Willow Springs was continued to Oct. 27. The town will continue to emphasize the importance of Mitchell Avenue and the train blockages of Second Street.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported that the staff is monitoring water pressures throughout northeast Jackson Creek to establish a baseline before Promontory Pointe construction begins.

The meeting adjourned at 9:21 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 6 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 contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Monument Planning Commission, Aug. 10: Promontory Pointe major site plan amendment approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission approved a request for a major site plan amendment for Promontory Pointe by Classic Homes on Aug. 10 by a 5-2 vote. This hearing was far less heated and controversial than the numerous annexation and site plan hearings that preceded it over many years.

Three previous developers—Landco, Pulte Homes, and John Laing Homes—failed to develop the property. Landco has had problems associated with the new U.S. Olympic Committee building in Colorado Springs. John Laing Homes has gone bankrupt.

All seven commissioners were present.

On Aug. 9, Classic received approval for revising the water infrastructure agreement made by Triview Metropolitan District with John Laing Homes (see the article for details). After this meeting and the Board of Trustees hearing on Aug. 15 (see the article for details), Classic purchased the parcel on Aug. 31 from the bank that foreclosed on John Laing Homes. Classic intends to start building homes adjacent to Baptist Road in September.

Use the "exact phrase" button at the top right of the OCN home page (www.ocn.me) to search the phrase "Promontory Pointe" to review about 40 OCN articles that chronicle the history of the town’s annexation and site plan hearing for the former Walters Ranch property.

Amendment 1 hearing

Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Companies Inc., represented the applicant, MREC Classic Promontory LLC, in seeking a major amendment to the most recently approved Final PD Site Plan for Promontory Pointe. The land owners are David W. Isbell @ Hogan and Hartson LLP—Monument a1 Development Inc. and WL Homes LLC, doing business as John Laing Homes (in receivership).

The primary change requested was to eliminate the John Laing Homes architectural elevations that were incorporated into the final PD site plan recorded with the county. Classic does not build John Laing models. The Classic models proposed for this development are about 10 percent smaller due to prevailing real estate market conditions. The Classic models will conform to the design guidelines, but specific elevations and architectural designs are no longer being required in PD site plans by the town staff since former Mayor Byron Glenn resigned.

Some of the changes to the design guidelines that Classic proposed were:

  • The minimum square footage for one-story homes drops from 1,800 to 1,600, excluding basement square footage.
  • The minimum square footage for two-story homes drops from 2,000 to 1,800, excluding basement square footage.
  • Elevations facing a street or open space must have a minimum of 10 percent masonry (natural or cultured stone, brick, or other materials)—down from 25 percent.
  • Stucco is strongly encouraged.
  • Stucco and siding are still not allowed on the same building.
  • Not more than 60 percent of one elevation may be composed of garage doors, up from a maximum of 35 percent.
  • Minimum front porch zones are decreased from 50 square feet to 20 square feet.
  • The "no-build" zones along the eastern boundary have been revised to further minimize their visual impact on adjacent Kingswood lot views.
  • The number of construction phases increases from two to five.
  • A rear yard landscape plan must be provided to Development Services by the lot owner. The previous rear yard landscape requirement was "30 percent landscaped."
  • The number of building lots dropped from 274 to 267, recognizing that seven lots were not really suitable for houses, which will preserve attractive rock outcroppings.
  • The lengths of several streets were reduced to eliminate some steep grades and retaining walls in the Phase 5 at the north end of the project.
  • While not a factor that could be considered by any planning commissioner, home prices will drop from $300,000 to $400,000 to $270,000 to over $300,000.
  • The requirement for landscaping areas in the center of cul-de-sacs was eliminated due to problems caused for snow plows, fire trucks, and moving vans.

Some of the other significant issues noted in the staff report were:

  • The applicant was asked to contact the homeowners association for the Homestead at Jackson Creek subdivision to discuss the possibility of reintroducing a trail in the northwest portion of the site. The trail addition may be considered with regard to potential regrading of the lots in this area.
  • The applicants have coordinated with El Paso County Parks Department on the timing of construction of the regional trail that will run through the development.
  • Some rehabilitation of the abandoned infrastructure already installed by another developer will be needed.

Project information

  • Total acres – 117 acres
  • Net acreage – 91.8 acres
  • Gross density – 2.28 dwellings per acre
  • Net density – 2.91 dwellings per acre
  • Residential lots – 70 acres – 60 percent
  • Gross open space – 21.8 acres – 19 percent
  • Right-of-way – 25.1 acres – 21 percent

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, and Karen Griffith, principal planner, explained how the proposal met all the criteria in the review and approval criteria analysis. There were no significant referral agency issues.

The following conditions of approval were recommended by the staff:

  • All referral agency comments shall be addressed to the satisfaction of staff, including the Town Public Works Department including startup of dormant water and sewer systems, cleanup of the stormwater system and detention ponds, and treatment of noxious weeds.
  • The booster pumps for the potable water distribution systems must be addressed prior to the issuance of a land use permit for Phases 4 and 5.
  • The developer shall cooperate with the town and Triview to address existing water pressure problems in affected areas of the Homestead at Jackson Creek subdivision, if they can be remedied by a Promontory Pointe booster system.
  • If any negative effects on existing water pressure in Jackson Creek are noticed by the town or Triview, these must be addressed by the applicant before any further infrastructure development in Promontory Pointe can take place.
  • Approval is subject to the final approval of engineering plans by town staff for the remainder of the development not yet approved. This includes finalization of the drainage and grading plans, and plans for the rehabilitation of the partially completed infrastructure, which must be approved prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the first home in Phase 1.
  • Gleneagle Drive must be built to the northern limits of phase 3 and phase 4 to provide access to all homes in each phase.
  • Gleneagle Drive must be built to the northern limits of Phase 5 if Gleneagle Drive is extended all the way from Higby Road to the northern limit of Phase 5.
  • A site plan improvement agreement hall be approved by town staff and executed prior to recording of the final PD site plan amendment.
  • The developer and, ultimately, the homeowners association, shall be required to maintain the specialty pavement at the entrance to the development on Gleneagle Drive.
  • Adjustments to the home locations (building envelopes) on the eastern side of Promontory Pointe may be administratively approved to address Kingswood homeowners’ concerns.
  • Approval is subject to any necessary technical corrections to be approved by staff.

Triview District Manager Mark Carmel gave a presentation on actions taken by the Triview staff and board on Aug. 9 to ensure that all infrastructure, particularly water infrastructure, in Promontory Pointe is properly designed and adequately funded. He also noted that a new water tank would be installed for Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe before the start of phase 4. See the Triview article for details.

Loidolt and Classic CEO Doug Stimple gave the applicant’s presentation primarily explaining the marketing philosophy and related specifics that Classic believes are essential for homes to be sold in the current real estate market. Some of the specifics they mentioned were:

  • Laing’s models included a single garage that was perpendicular to a front-facing double garage, which they say has proven to be impractical and unpopular. Classic models with three-car garages have both doors facing the street that required an increase in the percentage for garage doors.
  • Several builders, including custom builders, will be constructing homes, but all will conform to the design guidelines in the PD site plan.
  • Large front porches are fairly expensive and homes without them can be very attractive. Models with large front porches will be offered by the builders.
  • Not all buyers want or can afford a full basement. All homes will have at least a half basement.
  • Quality will be the same, but sizes will be reduced slightly to achieve prices that are affordable.

During public comments, several citizens who live in or near Jackson Creek or Kingswood expressed concern about the new homes in Promontory Pointe being cheaper than the nearby existing homes in other subdivisions, which will lower surrounding property values and inhibit prompt resales as well as create additional growth problems for commuting, schools, and emergency services. An increase in foreclosures and short sales may result.

Most Jackson Creek residents complained about water pressure problems becoming worse and the grading already done by Laing, with most stating that they had no idea the lots would be so high relative to Jackson Creek.

Stimple and Loidolt agreed to new conditions that would make the maximum building height 30 feet for a one-story home and require all homes to have at least a half basement for adequate in-house storage.

The commissioners approved the final PD site plan amendment with the proposed and added changes by a vote of 5-2, with Commissioners Glenda Smith and Becki Tooley opposed.

The commissioners also unanimously approved two proposed revisions to the town code for the chapters on site plans and site development standards.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held on Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Aug. 11: 2010 audit approved

By David Futey

On Aug. 11, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved the town’s 2010 audit. There was a long discussion regarding the problems associated with horns being sounded when trains cross County Line Road.

Trustees Max Stafford and Dennis Stern were excused from the meeting.

Council approves 2010 financial audit

By unanimous decision, the council approved the financial audit presented by Dean Johnson, representing the accounting firm of Johnson, Holscher & Co. PC. During his brief presentation, Johnson presented a financial summary to the board. Among his statements, Johnson said that due to the loss of Town Clerk Della Gray, he and the town staff "had to pick up the pace to get the audit filed in time for the state." In his conclusion, Johnson said the "town was going in the correct (financial) direction."

Johnson highlighted certain 2010 end-of-year fund numbers. He said the General Fund had $660,493 in total liabilities and fund equity with $536,295 in total liabilities and $124,198 in fund equity. The Road Improvement Fund had a total of $274,669 in total fund equity. The Nonmajor Governmental Fund had a total fund equity of $196,215. The total net assets of governmental activities were $19,674.

The total revenue for the General Fund was $1,068,708, with a portion of that transferred to the water fund. Road improvement revenue was $379,573. Nonmajor Governmental revenue was at $42,604. The total taxes received in the General Fund were $1,014,361, with total revenue of $1,068,708. The General Fund revenue increased $19,000 over the 2009 actual revenue of $1,049,452.

Among other funds Johnson mentioned were the Conservation Trust Fund that had an ending fund balance of $57,130; the Drainage Fund had $1,619; the Lake Maintenance Fund had $1,684; and the Lucy Owen fund ended with $36,060.

Discussion on railroad quiet zone

After a discussion lasting more than an hour, the council voted 4-1 to provide conditional support for a railroad quiet zone at the County Line Road crossing, without committing town funds. Trustee Richard Kuester voted against the support, saying he was concerned that additional staff time and support would be used for searching and writing grants for this project. In subsequent discussion it was stated that staff time would not be used for such a purpose.

The support conditions provide, in part, that the council would have the opportunity to review any grant applications put forth by citizens and requiring municipal support, to determine if any funding or matches are required, and that the town would not be financially impacted in any way with this project.

In the discussion, Palmer Lake resident Jerry Davis provided an overview of the quiet zone where supplemental safety measures could be applied in lieu of train horn blowing. Davis initially approached council on this matter in March 2011. (www.ocn.me/v11n4.htm#pltc). Davis said if a safety zone were enacted, the train could still blow its horn for any safety concern.

Davis requested feedback from the council on meeting notes and a proposal from a meeting that occurred six weeks ago between citizens interested in the quiet zone and Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich.

Mayor John Cressman said that he "thought it looked expensive for a town that does not have a lot of money." Later, Cressman said the cost to redo the crossing would be "significant." Cressman said "I’d love to see a pedestrian bridge" because "I’m really concerned about people walking across the tracks and somebody getting hit one of these days."

It would cost $7,000 to $10,000 for a consulting engineer study alone, with Union Pacific wanting an additional $10,000 for its engineering review of any proposal. Thus a minimum of $17,000 is required to start the review process. Trustee Nikki McDonald said "the town does not have the money" to support a review or the crossing construction given all the other town priorities for utility infrastructure replacement. She said she "lives a block away and you get used to it." She has lived in town 32 years in the same location. She said she was open to residents raising the money for a quiet zone through citizen contributions and grants.

Davis said readings of 100 decibels have been measured across the lake when the horn blows. He also noted that the horn disturbs town events that occur in the vicinity of the lake and might have an economic impact. Davis said he enjoys the trains but not the horn.

Cressman restated that a major concern regarding the trains is people crossing the tracks, which is illegal. There is no pedestrian crossing between Monument and County Line Road. Davis said education could be applied to address the track crossing.

Other comments during the discussion:

  • A suggestion that grant funding from the State Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund, Union Pacific and other sources might be available. Trustee McDonald said, "If it can be done with grants, great! There are so many priorities in this town besides the aesthetics of the train horn."
  • Trustee Coleman said "the railroad has been here over 120 years, with houses intentionally built adjacent to the tracks." Coleman said he moved to Palmer Lake to be closer to the trains. Davis suggested Coleman is probably in the minority of those liking the horn.
  • Coleman said the existing two crossing signals cost $295,000 and the four signals required for a quiet zone, coupled with drainage mitigation issues, would be even more expensive. He added that the railroad would probably require a fence to be built on both sides of the track by the lake.
  • A town resident suggested that "some (homeowners) have been misled when buying a home regarding the train horn."
  • A lifelong resident of Palmer Lake favored the horn. She related her experience growing up in town and walking the tracks with the train horn acting as an early alert. She also said that to her the "horn brings comfort."
  • Davis said 40 percent of residents responding to the 2009 town survey said the train horn was too loud. Note: 37 percent of respondents said they felt a Partial Quiet Zone is needed at the County Line Road crossing. Davis suggested the other 60 percent probably tolerate it. (www.ocn.me/v10n3.htm#pltc)
  • A widening of County Line Road was ruled out because an island could not be installed due to trucks being unable to make the turn from Highway 105 to County Line Road without driving over the island.
  • Town resident Bruce Hoover asked, "How can citizens be heard on this priority (the quiet zone)? Because the concern is a lot bigger than the handful of citizens you see here tonight. It’s widespread. I can bring you a petition. This is quality of life, this is safety, this is health."

During the discussion it was brought up that a group of businesses was working on an initiative for a pedestrian bridge to be built over the tracks. This proposal was originally suggested and supported by the council two years ago but has not been brought up recently. Fundraisers are being conducted to support building the pedestrian bridge with a sidewalk.

Cressman said that "as a citizen and council member" he was for a pedestrian bridge for the "safety and well-being of the town." He said the horn is an annoyance. He also raised a concern that grant funding for either of these proposals, the quiet zone or the bridge, would most likely come from the same grant sources.

Subsequent citizen comment questioned whether both initiatives would be funded through the same grants as stated by the mayor.

There was consensus that additional research is needed regarding grant funding and whether a town matching contribution is required for any phases of the grants being "pursued."

Council approves two business licenses, denies one

By unanimous decision, the council approved the following business licenses:

  • The Traveling Sea, represented by Hilary Penner.
  • Bresnahan Appraisal Service, represented by Carolyn Bresnahan.

By unanimous decision, the council denied a business license for SECAM. Chris Szeremy, representing SECAM, was requesting a dispensary license in his medical marijuana cultivation facility. After a discussion and review of the town ordinance, the license request for adding a retail center within a cultivation facility was denied, since another cultivation facility already exists within 500 feet of SECAM’s cultivation facility. Establishing another retail location would violate this restriction in the ordinance.

Update on the Clean and Green Grant; extension and re-application approved

Leigh Holden provided the council with a status report on the Clean and Green Grant that was awarded to the town by the El Paso County Community Development Block Grant Program. Holden was hired to administer the grant and coordinate the construction activities.

In total, the town received 32 $1,000 grants for minor home repairs, energy efficiency improvements, and landscaping that were supposed to be completed by Sept 15. To date 18 projects had been completed, with reimbursement to contractors in process. Of the remaining projects, eight were expected to be finished by the end of August. There are problems with completing the other six projects, including preservation issues.

As a result of these problems, Holden requested a three-month extension. Holden also stated that applications for the 2012 grant cycle are due at the beginning of September. The town needed to decide whether it wanted to continue in the grant process.

By unanimous decision, the council approved:

  • The requested extension of the Clean and Green Grant for three months.
  • A motion to re-apply for the 2012 Clean and Green Grant.

Comcast franchise agreement

By unanimous decision, the council approved a new franchise agreement with Comcast. The new agreement will impose a 5 percent town franchise fee on Comcast bills for 10 years.

Request for adoption of Pikes Peak Regional Building codes

Pikes Peak Regional Building representatives Todd Welch and Jim Pepper requested that the council adopt the 2009 International Building Code with local amendments. The local amendments were put together after review of the international code and input from contractors and others. The request will be added as a consent item for the Sept. 8 council meeting.

Committee reports

Cressman asked Town Attorney Larry Gaddis to review the contract with Tetra Tech Inc. This engineering firm is requesting an additional $80,000 in fees regarding engineering on the water treatment plant.

Cressman also announced that Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt is going to dredge the "first reservoir" in September. Orcutt does not want any foot traffic going up to the reservoirs because the material being dredged will be spread on the hiking trail. This "construction zone" process will take "a couple weeks." No dates for closing the trail have been determined. The dates will be announced and posted.

Economic Development: Economic Development Trustee Michael Maddox said he called 40 Palmer Lake businesses and asked for input regarding the town. Thus far he had received a request to improve drainage on the streets and to plow dirt roads only when there are 6 inches or more of snow on them.

Maddox purchased the VisitPalmerLake.com website, which will have events, trail information, and coupons for discounts at certain local merchants. Related bumper stickers with VisitPalmerLake.com are being printed with coupons from four businesses on the backside. The advertising businesses offset the printing costs of the bumper stickers.

Maddox, along with Alicia Gatti of The Depot, American Legion Post Commander Jon Maucher, and Fine Arts Center Board Trustee Vic Tise, are planning a variety of events in November to honor veterans.

Maddox is planning a major arts conference with various Palmer Lake businesses. The conference, which will include art presenters, musicians, authors, and breakout sessions, is tentatively scheduled for March 2012.

Police: Police Trustee McDonald said an estimated crowd of 20,000 attended Fourth of July events in the town. The Police Department received very few calls for the use of illegal fireworks.

Cressman said that citizens have expressed concerns about drivers not stopping at stop signs. Town Clerk Tara Berreth said ticketing for that violation has increased.

Roads: Cressman read the Roads report. Of note, grading and dust control has been completed on Walnut, Virginia, Corso, Milton, Dixie and High streets.

Fire: Fire Trustee Richard Kuester said volunteer hours totaled 2,276 for the month, with a total of 13,192 hours year-to-date. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department currently has 18 active members and 13 candidate members. Cale Lohman and Chris Richey became the newest members at the August business meeting.

Town staff reports

At the request of Berreth and by unanimous decision, the council passed a motion to place a lien on the Inn at Palmer Divide, owned by Al Fritts, for $13,017 in delinquent bed taxes. Berreth had made arrangements with the owner for back tax payments, but the last check received by Berreth was on May 5.

Berreth asked the council to consider providing the Fireworks Committee with one sum of money, possibly $5,000, because the "in-kind" contributions of staff time, fences, and signage from the town for Fourth of July events is estimated to exceed $10,000. The Town of Monument also provides $5,000 but gets reimbursed for Monument police staff time.

Bookkeeper Linda Firth said, in effort to simplify accounting, she consolidated bank accounts, closing six accounts to date, after talking with the auditor. She has also consolidated 10 of 20 town funds. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for auditing services has been posted and sent to five auditor firms. As a probable result of seeking another auditing firm based on the RFP, Firth said the council should expect that the "audit dollars will increase considerably." She will be starting meetings with trustees for formulation of the 2012 budget.

The meeting adjourned at 8:59 p.m.

**********

The next regular council meeting will be Oct. 13 at 6:30 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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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Aug. 5: $800,000 settlement with THF Realty ratified

Below: A portion of the plans for the Timbers development showing I-25 and the prior Baptist Road Interchange, the THF property including the former hardware store, now removed, and the planned access to the property via proposed private roads. For details, see Proposed Timbers Development.

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 5, many months of contentious negotiations regarding a lawsuit with THF Realty coupled with numerous Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) executive sessions on establishing negotiation positions came to an end.

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker, of the Grimshaw and Harring PC law firm in Denver, gave a succinct history of the THF matter and recommended formal ratification of a previously negotiated and signed "full and final settlement" of $800,000 to THF for loss of road access to its former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store property due to elimination of the Struthers frontage road on the northeast corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

The board unanimously ratified, without discussion, the settlement that Hunsaker said it had approved "two weeks ago" by email after the July 1 BRRTA meeting.

The BRRTA board is composed of three El Paso county elected officials and two members of the Monument Board of Trustees. The current membership is:

  • District 1 County Commissioner Darryl Glenn
  • District 4 County Commissioner Dennis Hisey
  • County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams
  • Monument Mayor Travis Easton
  • Monument Trustee Jeff Kaiser

Denise Denslow, of R.S. Wells L.L.C. in Greenwood Village, provides district manager services. Carrie Bartow, of Clifton Gunderson LLP, provides accounting and financial management services.

Williams and Bartow arrived after the meeting started at 2:30 p.m. because of the routine daily afternoon traffic delays on I-25 from Exit 150 to Exit 163. There was board and staff consensus that Glenn and Hisey must continue to be advocates for adding a third lane to I-25 along this corridor and that this needs to remain a high priority for the Board of County Commissioners, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Background

BRRTA was created to provide a funding mechanism for the design and construction of improvements to Baptist Road, an El Paso County road. However, BRRTA’s road use fees can be collected on a property only one time—at the start of new construction. These meager fees are the only source for BRRTA’s operating revenues and are currently sufficient to cover little more than consultant, administrative, legal, and accounting costs. BRRTA collects no property tax.

BRRTA paid for the four-lane engineering design to widen Baptist Road east of I-25, exhausting all the capital reserves it had built up from road use fees over BRRTA’s first 10 years of existence. The other 95 percent of the $10.7 million construction cost for widening Baptist Road was made available to BRRTA by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA). The construction contract for widening Baptist Road was administered by county staff.

County staff also administered the construction of the new four-lane segment of Struthers Road that replaced the now abandoned old segment of the two-lane county frontage road south of Baptist Road. This new four-lane section of Struthers that connects Northgate Road to Jackson Creek Parkway was also paid for with PRRTA funds.

Actual funding for BRRTA’s subsequent expansion of the state’s I-25 Baptist Road interchange and contract management by a consultant engineering firm was provided by private investor purchases of $21.5 million in BRRTA tax-exempt sales tax revenue bonds after BRRTA’s constituents approved a temporary 20-year one-cent sales tax to pay back the interest and principal for these bonds in November 2006. The state had determined it would have no funds for the interchange expansion until 2019 at the earliest and accepted BRRTA’s offer to hold an election for creating this sales tax.

BRRTA’s timing locked in much lower construction costs for the state. The state promised to reimburse BRRTA for the construction costs when road improvement funds become available in annual budgets. The state avoided having to pay any of the interest for BRRTA’s revenue bonds. BRRTA constituents got to use the expanded interchange 10 years ahead of the state’s long-term schedule.

Other road improvement projects in the Baptist Road corridor have been identified for construction funding through PPRTA’s 10-year capital funding program. They include the now-completed extension of Hodgen Road west from Highway 83 to the Baptist Road intersection with Roller Coaster Road, the future widening of Baptist Road west of the I-25 interchange, and the future design and construction of a bridge over the railroad tracks at the west end of Baptist Road. PPRTA-funded improvements to Hodgen Road east of Highway 83 are already under construction as well.

A county election has been proposed to extend the life of PPRTA’s capital improvement program for 10 more years, through 2024, by retaining the full one-cent temporary sales tax throughout that period. If approved, this would greatly increase the probability of PRRTA funding support for widening west Baptist Road and building the bridge over the railroad tracks.

THF settlement unanimously approved

The most exasperating problem BRRTA faced in expanding the Baptist Road interchange was obtaining needed right-of-way from adjacent landowners on three corners of the interchange. The Schuck Corp. promptly provided right-of-way on the southwest corner of Exit 156. THF Realty, ADK Monument Developers LLC, Valero Energy Corp., and Phoenix Bell created monthly issues for years that required extreme workarounds by the interchange contractors.

Valero and Phoenix Bell finally settled their right-of-way issues when the Town of Monument paid for a wastewater service and collection line for Valero’s Diamond Shamrock truck stop, which had a completely failed septic system that would have caused a severe health hazard to construction workers. ADK went bankrupt. THF Realty’s unresolved dispute with BRRTA lasted nearly four years until being resolved this August.

The THF property lost its primary access on the original frontage road portion of Struthers Road, north of the Baptist Road intersection. The new wider northbound on-ramp from Baptist Road to I-25 at Exit 156 was constructed in the town’s Struthers Road frontage right-of-way. The county’s frontage road portion of Struthers Road, just south of Baptist Road, was also eliminated. The new wider northbound off-ramp was constructed in the county’s Struthers Road frontage right-of-way.

The THF parcel is currently "landlocked" because of Struthers Road being eliminated adjacent to the former access to hardware store parking lot. The THF parcel is now bounded by the I-25 interchange fence to the south and west and the parcel formerly owned by ADK Monument Developers LLC to the north and east. This still-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 never recorded the Timbers site plan before it went into bankruptcy, and this property was foreclosed by Community Bank. For some of the details on how this THF-ADK impasse with BRRTA evolved, before most BRRTA discussions of THF were reserved to executive sessions, see:

The town had approved of a Planned Development sketch plan for the Timbers at Monument retail center that included a condition of approval that there would be internal roadway access to the east side of the THF parcel to Timbers entrances on Baptist Road, west of the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection, and on Jackson Creek Parkway at the Blevins Buckle Drive intersection, near the O’Reilly auto parts store.

THF was negotiating to purchase the approved Timbers site from ADK, which would have resolved the access problem. Now that ADK is bankrupt and THF no longer appears to be trying to purchase this property from ADK’s lender, Community Bank, there are no current plans to sell or develop the Timbers property or build the internal roads needed by THF for access to Baptist Road and/or Jackson Creek Parkway.

Note: When vagrants took up residence inside the vacant former Foxworth-Galbraith building and were heating the building with internal campfires, THF had the building demolished—to limit liability—and have all the debris removed in just a few days. Access to its property and the abandoned hardware store building did not appear to be a problem for THF during demolition and cleanup.

BRRTA built a cement curb cut on the right side of westbound Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and this northbound on-ramp for a temporary replacement access construction road through the adjacent former ADK Monument Developers LLC property to the east. THF rejected BRRTA’s offer to build this construction road from this temporary Baptist Road access to the east side of the THF property. BRRTA rejected THF’s demands that BRRTA build the proposed internal roads in the Timbers site plan shown above. THF then sued BRRTA and CDOT for loss of access, leading to this proposed settlement.

Hunsaker summarized BRRTA’s payment of $800,000 in cash as a "business decision" to "cap this and be done and move on." He said this payment is a "full and final settlement" of all issues related to the pending THF lawsuit and the Aug. 21, 2008, memorandum of understanding between THF and BRRTA for transfer of some THF property for needed interchange right-of-way.

Hunsaker added that this settlement has been recorded against the THF property by the county so a subsequent property owner is on legal notice that there are access issues and there has been an indexed settlement agreement with payment made to THF to resolve these access issues.

Note: The "Release and Settlement Agreement" signed by attorneys for THF Monument Development, LLC, BRRTA, and CDOT in mid-July states that "THF further promises and agrees that it will never institute any lawsuit or action at law or equity against BRRTA or CDPT by reason of any Claims." THF, BRRTA, and CDOT "shall forthwith execute a stipulated motion to dismiss with prejudice Case No. 2010CV5054 and this Release shall be an exhibit thereto. This motion shall request that this release be made a part of the Order dismissing the case."

Also, "THF agrees to have this Agreement recorded against the Property (Lots 1, 2, and 3, Higby Subdivision, El Paso County)." Higby Subdivision is the name given to the THF property by former owner Mike Watt, as he noted during the Monument Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 11, 2006 (www.ocn.me/v6n2.htm#monpc).

There were no public comments. The board unanimously ratified this settlement agreement. Hunsaker said he would write a "lessons learned" memorandum to the board after the settlement ratification paperwork has been completed. Glenn thanked Hunsaker saying, "I appreciate the hard work. I know how frustrating this has been for everybody and I’m very curious about the lessons learned."

Financial reports

Denslow reported that BRRTA had received a request from Dan Hunt—CDOT’s project manager for coordinating the Baptist Road interchange expansion with BRRTA and the county—for an invoice for a $3 million payment toward the capital cost of the interchange. She sent him an invoice for $3 million on July 18, along with "about 780 pages of paperwork to document the expenditure."

BRRTA voters passed a temporary one-cent, 20-year sales tax on Nov. 7, 2006, to pay for private funding of the interchange expansion with $21.5 million of general obligation revenue bonds. CDOT has promised to reimburse BRRTA $15 million to $16.5 million, the estimated capital cost of the interchange expansion at that time, if and when Colorado Senate Bill 1 funds become available. This $3 million is the first installment of CDOT’s promised long-term repayment.

BRRTA’s actual interchange expansion costs have risen to a little over $16 million. There was some discussion about whether the state was obliged to cover the additional million dollars. To date, the total BRRTA bond principal for the I-25 interchange expansion has only been reduced to $21.435 million.

When all the BRRTA tax-exempt revenue bonds and bond-related administrative and consultant fees have been paid off, BRRTA’s temporary one-cent sales tax will end. The temporary BRRTA sales tax will end after 20 years even if sales tax revenues and CDOT principal payments are insufficient to pay back all the bondholders. Williams reassured the newer board members that the citizens in BRRTA would have no obligation or responsibility to reimburse the remaining bondholders for their privately assumed long-term risk after 20 years if state repayments plus sales tax revenue were insufficient to pay off all the bond debt.

In other matters, the following payments were unanimously approved:

  • $5,414 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for accounting services
  • $4,527 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for district management services
  • $23,626 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services

This month’s legal costs were much higher than usual due to the litigation with THF.

The board also unanimously accepted Bartow’s draft June financial statement and cash position summary. They were marked "draft" because the audit had not been completed on these documents.

Williams noted that BRRTA only met once a quarter for years, until the construction projects began. He suggested returning to this kind of schedule as soon as possible to minimize consultant operating costs.

Bartow noted that she continues to work with the Colorado Department of Revenue on resolving the chronic issues regarding remission of sales tax to BRRTA by all businesses within BRRTA’s boundaries. She said there are still 15 unresolved items that need to be discussed with the state. Sales tax revenue is projected to be less than the $1.151 million in the 2011 budget, although revenues are 4.7 percent higher at this point than in 2010. Total sales tax revenues were about $22,000 higher than budgeted in 2010. Traffic impact fees may be higher than the budgeted amount for 2011 if new construction starts in Jackson Creek and Promontory Pointe.

Some of the other cash figures, dated July 27, that Bartow noted were:

  • The general fund balance was $699,955.
  • The debt service fund balance was $2,761,283, which includes the mandatory $2.15 million reserve. This fund provides the principal and interest payments to BRRTA’s bondholders.
  • The capital projects fund would drop from $2,362,558 to $1,562,558 due to the proposed $800,000 settlement with THF Realty.
  • Total cash on hand after the THF settlement would be $5,023,796.

Hunsaker reported that Triview had not resolved the issue of what utility’s subcontractor had bored a hole in Triview’s sanitary sewer collection line that runs under the expanded Baptist Road interchange. BRRTA’s estimated reimbursement to Triview for this puncture was expected to be about $7,500.

Once the final legal costs for the THF settlement are determined, Denslow and Hunsaker will transfer as much of the $3 million received from CDOT as possible to the debt service fund. This money will then be used to pay off some BRRTA bonds early to minimize total interest costs and the risk of default on the longest term bonds. A condition in each of the series of BRRTA revenue bonds issued allows BRRTA to pay them off early, with no pre-payment penalty, whenever BRRTA receives a CDOT reimbursement. Bartow said she would research the options available to Denslow and Hunsaker for early bond payoff.

The board unanimously approved a motion that authorized Denslow and Hunsaker to make these early bond payoff payments prior to the next BRRTA meeting.

Status of possible West Baptist Road improvements discussed

Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that there would be a county committee meeting on Aug. 25 to evaluate submissions to a request of qualifications from design engineers as the first step toward evaluating options for making previously proposed improvements to Baptist Road west of I-25. Kassawara stated that the county wants to keep these planned future improvements on the PPRTA’s "A-list" and show some progress on this project to enhance the success of a vote to extend PPRTA’s capital portion of its one-cent sales tax for road improvements another 10 years.

Williams also noted that there has always been a presumption that money from other funding sources would be supplemented by PPRTA for improvements planned for Baptist Road west of I-25. These improvements were expected to be made prior to the conclusion of PPRTA’s 10-year capital improvement funding lifespan at the end of 2014. The developers of the Forest Lakes and Willow Springs subdivisions would be expected to contribute to these improvements, as would BRRTA.

The size of the improvements would depend on the total funding available. BRRTA’s and PPRTA’s plan was to start the west-end improvements last so that as many developers as possible would be available to contribute to the project. Development at the west end has not started and BRRTA has no legal obligation to do anything on the west side of I-25 without other funding sources providing support. Williams concluded that it remains BRRTA’s next project.

Williams said that West Baptist Road has always been the county Highway Advisory Committee’s top priority primarily due to fire safety issues. West Baptist will be the sole evacuation route for planned homes in the Forest Lakes and Willow Springs subdivisions and the existing homes in the Hay Creek Road corridor recently threatened by the Beaver Creek wildfire. The safety issue is compounded by frequent trains blocking passage of emergency service vehicles at the at-grade railroad crossing by Monument Creek.

2010 draft audit report conditionally approved

Bartow briefed the final draft of the 2010 audit report submitted to the board for review. She advised the BRRTA board that she expected no substantive changes in the current wording. Bartow recommended that the board approve the 2010 audit report subject to a final unqualified/"clean" result and no major revisions. The board unanimously approved the audit with these two conditions. The board took this step because it was not clear when the next board meeting would be held.

Family of Christ Lutheran Church included

The board unanimously approved the inclusion of the Family of Christ Lutheran Church property, 675 W. Baptist Road, without discussion. Hunsaker briefed the board on how all required procedures for posting and prior notifications of the inclusion hearing had been accomplished. There was no public comment on the inclusion.

This property had previously been annexed by the Town of Monument and included by Triview Metropolitan District. Both were required for the church to be eligible for desired water and wastewater service from Triview.

BRRTA financed the construction of the new frontage road that extends from Leather Chaps Road to the church parking lot. The county standards for a major four-lane collector with a median prohibited all the existing individual driveway accesses to the original unimproved two-lane rural collector road that served the church and the residential lots to the east of the church on the south side of Baptist Road.

For more information on the Family of Christ property, see www.ocn.me/v11n7.htm#bot0606.

At the end of the meeting it was agreed that there would be two more BRRTA meetings this year. One meeting would be for a discussion of engineering design plans for improving the west end of Baptist Road and one for approving the 2012 budget. The staff will determine when those meetings should be held.

The meeting adjourned at 3:35 p.m.

    **********

After this meeting, the scheduled Sept. 2 meeting was cancelled. The next BRRTA meeting had not been scheduled when this edition went to press.

Jim Kendrick can be contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Aug. 24: Residents urged to help protect water sources

By Harriet Halbig

Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette of Woodmoor Water and Sanitation addressed the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board Aug. 24 regarding the district’s new Source Water Protection Plan, which identifies streams that ultimately enter our drinking water. While the threat to the district’s wells is fairly low, the surface water from Monument Creek is vulnerable and is a major source of water.

Gillette said that there are ponds and trails in Woodmoor’s common areas and that pet feces pose a threat to the water supply. He asked permission of the board to post signs saying "Please Pick Up After Your Pet" at trailheads in the common areas.

Woodmoor Water has also consulted with the golf course regarding the fertilizers and pesticides used on its property and with the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding chemicals used on the roads during the winter and herbicides used to treat noxious weeds on the roadsides. An additional source of potential threat is the railroad.

Colorado Rural Water, a consortium of small districts, aided Woodmoor Water in getting a $5,000 grant to support the water protection program.

The board gave permission for Woodmoor Water to post the proposed signs at no cost to the WIA and in compliance with the covenants regarding the size of the signs.

Capital improvements

Director of Common Areas W. Lee Murray reported that mowing activity is near completion and spraying for noxious weeds in common areas is complete.

Three picnic tables have been ordered for use in the Twin Ponds, North Park, and Toboggan Hill areas.

Murray said that the walkway to the Barn is cracked and in need of replacement. The railroad ties bordering the area are also badly weathered. To complete these improvements would cost the association around $8,800 based on bids sought by WIA Manager Matt Beseau.

Board President Chuck Maher requested that Beseau and Murray return next month with drawings and a proposal for the improvements.

The board voted to authorize the resealing of the Barn parking lot for up to $6,500. Funds for this project had been previously budgeted.

Other reports

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association is 2.6 per cent below budget on expenditures for the year. He also reported that the $20,000 compliance deposit placed by Pulte for the Woodmoor Park development has been refunded.

Beseau reported that all information requested by the IRS has been provided.

The annual audit of the association has been completed and is being analyzed.

In the absence of Covenants Director Kirsten Reimann, Beseau reported that there were 148 covenant violations during July. Predominant violations were slash piles, dead trees, trailers parked for over 72 hours, and vehicles parked off of driveways.

Sixteen properties in Woodmoor were sold during July.

Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that the number of bear sightings has declined. He said that his department is checking the condition of all roadways in the area and will send a report to the country. Primary concerns are potholes and washed-out shoulders.

There have been a few vehicle break-ins, primarily in South Woodmoor. In all cases, the vehicles were not locked.

Forestry Director Jim Woodman reported that his committee continues to be concerned with control of scrub oak in common areas. Several techniques, including herbicides and pulling by the roots, have been attempted. The latest technique is to mow down the trees with a heavy-duty mower. The committee will observe how long it takes for the trees to recover.

There have been very few reports of mountain pine beetle outbreaks, possibly due to recent rains.

Board Secretary Craig Gaydos reported that the board has received about 45 votes approving the governing documents as a result of mention of the documents in the August association newsletter. Over 1,000 votes are still required.

Gaydos said that he will supply Beseau with a list of those members who have not voted. Maher suggested that the association may wish to retain a call center to notify members of the need to vote. Gaydos said that he will consult the association’s attorney to determine whether a voice vote is binding.

**********

The board 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 in Monument. The next meeting will be on Sept. 28.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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August Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Warm temperatures and frequent thunderstorms were the story for most of August. Several days saw record highs, with mid- to upper 80s common on numerous afternoons. This resulted in temperatures well above normal for the month, with precipitation right around normal.

Monsoonal moisture continued to affect the region during the first few days of August, with thunderstorms and brief heavy rain at times. Highs reached well into the 80’s on the first day of the month, but a cool front and generally unsettled weather kept things cooler on the 2nd, as highs only managed to reach into the 70s. This is quite a bit cooler than normal for this time of the year, but it helped to keep down the instability in the atmosphere and therefore prevented stronger storms and heavier rain from occurring.

Afternoon and evening thunderstorms were an everyday occurrence from the 1st through the 4th, with a little drying on the 5th, only to see more storms again on the 6th. For the week, most of the area received 1-2 inches of beneficial rain. Temperatures stayed around normal to slightly above for the week, with highs only hitting the 70s from the 2nd through the 4th, with low to mid-80s the other afternoons.

The weather pattern quieted down during the second week of August as the monsoonal plume of moisture that had been bringing consistent moisture to the region shifted away from the region. Temperatures warmed into the low and mid-80s for the week, with one exception. A cold front allowed upslope flow to bring in a cooler air mass and a little moisture during the middle of the week. Temperatures barely reached 70° on the afternoon of the 10th, with morning fog and afternoon showers. Conditions quickly dried out as we headed into the weekend with sunshine in the morning and scattered afternoon clouds.

It was an average week of weather from Aug. 15th through the 21st, with a few afternoon and evening thunderstorms and otherwise sunny skies. Temperatures were at or above normal however, with low to mid-80s reached each afternoon. Most of us received another 1-2 inches of rain for the week, with the most widespread and heaviest rain occurring on the afternoon of the 16th and evening of the 20th.

The pattern of above-normal temperatures and isolated to scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms continued throughout the rest of the month. Each afternoon reached into the 80s for highs, except on the 29th, when a cooler air mass kept temperatures below normal, as highs only reached the low 70s. Thunderstorms were most numerous on the afternoon and evening of the 26th. Drier air worked into the region over the last couple days of the month, and gusty winds allowed temperatures to return to above-normal levels.

A look ahead

September is a transition month for the region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change by the end of the month as well and three out of the last five Septembers have seen at least a trace of snow. Last September was extremely dry and warm, with only a trace of precipitation recorded and no morning with subfreezing temperatures. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time.

We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later in the month. Our first subfreezing low temperatures usually occur during the second or third week, so prepare those tender plants. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm.

August 2011 Weather Statistics

Average High 81.9° (+3.7) 100-year return frequency value max 83.9° min 72.9°
Average Low 50.6 ° (+1.5) 100-year return frequency value max 55.2° min 46.8°
Monthly Precipitation 3.07" (-0.07", 97% of normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.94"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Highest Temperature 87° on the 25th
Lowest Temperature 44° on the 8th, 12th
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 6.27" (+0.06", 102% of normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 18 (-57)
Cooling Degree Days 58 (+18)

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm.

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

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the view of OCN even when the letter writer is an OCN volunteer. Click here for letter guidelines.

Rabbi’s Corner disappoints

Our Community News is a great gift to our community. I treasure it every month, as it is chock-full of news about what is happening in the Tri-Lakes area.

I was surprised, however, with "The Rabbi’s Corner" (advertisement titled "ChriSlam," OCN, Aug. 6, 2011, page 39), which insults not only himself and his great religion but Christianity and Islam. There is no doubt that there is lots of mud to throw around, but all three religions have also had great positive effects through the centuries.

I praise the four Christian churches that are trying to bring peace and reconciliation, and I wish them well. I am not a member of any of these churches, Christian or Islam, but I applaud their spirit of forgiveness.
David Stang

Editor’s note: "The Rabbi’s Corner" is an advertisement paid for by the Aliyah Congregation in Monument. It is not a column written by OCN staff.

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Foundation accepting grant proposals

The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Its mission is to serve as a resource for the club in providing financial support to the Tri-Lakes community of northern El Paso County and its youths.

Monument Hill Kiwanis Club projects focus primarily either on raising funds for club operations or on contributing sweat equity in support of many of those same causes, some of which assist the community directly while others earn funds that are provided to the foundation for direct granting. Grant recipients of these funds have included District 38 special needs children, Tri-Lakes Cares, the Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference, and the Emily Griffith Center, to name just a few.

Beginning this year, except in unique cases, grants will be on an annual "call" basis. That is, requests for grants may be made by interested parties starting Aug. 15, and they will be due by Oct. 1. The requests received as a result of this call will be evaluated, and requestors will be notified privately of the results pertaining to their requests. Those the foundation are able to support financially will receive the funds as requested and as they become available.

If you are interested in requesting a grant, please see our website: monumenthillfoundation.org. Along with more details regarding our granting program, a grant request form is available online at the Grants page on the site. It can be completed on the requestor’s computer, and the completed form, along with supporting information, can be submitted electronically to the foundation Granting Committee.

Bill Kaelin
Director of Granting
Monument Hill Foundation

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Firebreak along Mount Herman Road would be beneficial

An open letter to the director of the Pikes Peak Ranger District:

The location of Mount Herman Road provides an excellent, and relatively easy and inexpensive, opportunity to establish a firebreak between the private properties and Pike National Forest on the south side of the road and the heavily wooded residential lots and portions of Pike and state forest lands on the north side.

Mount Herman Road is approximately 30 feet wide. If the 15-foot easement on both sides of the road were clear-cut from Mitchell Road to Red Rocks Ranch Road, this would provide a 60-foot-wide firebreak with relatively little effort and expense. Additional effort by the Forest Service and private property owners (to thin and trim up pine trees and cut back scrub oak) along this stretch of the road would provide an additional buffer against the spread of a wildfire. The Forest Service and the Monument Tri-Lakes Fire Department could enlist volunteers (Boy Scouts, concerned citizens like myself, etc.) to assist in the effort.

The areas that were clear-cut, perhaps with a bit of grading, could be planted with natural, low growth height grasses to prevent erosion and the spread of a ground fire. Sheep fescue would be a good choice.

An additional benefit of this effort would be that it would provide an avenue for the establishment of a trail from Mitchell Road along the side of Mount Herman Road to trailheads in the Pike National Forest. Such a trail along Mount Herman Road could be linked from the Santa Fe Trail through largely existing open space, such as Dirty Woman Park, to the Mount Herman trailhead, with relative ease and low expense.

Shilling Avenue is also a good candidate for creating a firebreak, to help isolate a fire in this area. Shilling is heavily wooded, with stands of scrub oak on both sides of the road in close proximity to the paved surface.

John Sidor

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Bauman lauds D-38 and community

Retired again for three months, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the past year while I was interim superintendent. The 2010-11 Lewis-Palmer school year was productive.

First, I am thankful for a supportive community that welcomed and encouraged me. The community task force, which sought ideas to cut costs and save dollars, was very successful. I also compliment the administrators, teachers, and staff for their unwavering trust as we shrank the district and cut nearly $3 million in order to not lose teachers or make cuts at the classroom level.

It is gratifying to see a renewed enthusiasm in teachers and staff. Salary freezes, supply cuts, class sizes, and discouraging state financial news have not diminished their commitment and dedication to our children. Every day, they work so our kids can succeed and be challenged in their academic endeavors.

Finally, I appreciate the five school board members, who deliberately and conscientiously kept children first, doing what was best for students through their thinking and decision-making. Working with this board, I saw them treat others with dignity and respect. They encouraged purposeful creativity and innovation among administrators and teachers, and they actively worked to preserve and promote District 38 excellence.

The upcoming school year looks promising. A new school calendar provides numerous ways to economize—i.e., transportation, utilities, personnel—while promoting exceptional learning opportunities. Overall, CSAP scores showed slight gains, with some exceptions needing attention. Enrollment figures so far may exceed earlier projections made in May. Superintendent John Borman is enthused about leading the district to new heights.

With these accomplishments, I hope the three school board members up for reelection in November will run again. Another term for each of them will provide stability for the school district and new superintendent. It will promote a consistency that has been lacking in the board for some time. I found that the current board is thoughtful, takes time to make decisions, and is willing to do the hard work and planning necessary to provide for this community’s students. Working with the board last year was indeed a privilege and pleasure.

It is time for me to again step aside and watch great things happen in District 38.

Dwight "Ted" Bauman
2010-11 interim superintendent
Lewis-Palmer School District 38

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D-38 board needs fresh thinking

Three of the School District 38 board members, John Mann, Mark Pfoff, and Robb Pike, announced last winter they’re running for re-election, and it looks like the campaigning began at the district employee convocation on Monday, Aug. 22. Pfoff, the board treasurer, surprised teachers with a white box of bonus checks. He also announced that those teachers who’ve earned "horizontal" moves on the salary schedule (having obtained degrees or credentials over the past three years without reimbursement due to the pay freeze) would receive their new pay level (without back pay).

Although this well-deserved and long-awaited movement on the pay schedule—actually affecting few employees right now—and the bonuses (ranging from about $35 to $600) are the right thing for the district to do, it comes at a campaign-enhancing moment for the incumbents. How interesting that a board that has spent money so recklessly it had to impose the most severe pay freeze across the Front Range would suddenly find money as they are looking to be re-elected.

Patrick Lencioni identified the "Five Dysfunctions of a Team." The absence of trust in an organization brings about the fear of conflict and an accompanying artificial harmony (lack of creativity). Because of this, there is little commitment on the part of employees, creating an avoidance of accountability leading to lowered standards requiring an inattention to results. How much more could D-38 achieve beyond CSAP bragging rights while building on all that students bring from the contributions of their parents?

There is a reason why citizens across the U.S. have made a decision to not re-elect incumbents who formerly were a shoo-in. Now we realize that protecting the status quo is nothing more than business as usual, while what we need are fresh ways of thinking and people who are not afraid to look for real solutions.

Stephen Boyd

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When will the piper need to be paid?

As we begin the 2011-12 school year, it’s time to examine some of the recent decisions made by our School District 38 leaders.

Two years ago, district revenue increased by $360,000. Despite this increase, our school board approved an employee salary freeze and a reduction of 15 full-time teachers. Last year, district revenue dropped by $1.7 million. So, our school board approved the reconfiguration of our middle and elementary schools, a reduction of an additional 31 full-time teachers, and another employee salary freeze.

This June, our school board approved a budget for the upcoming school year that indicated district revenue will drop by an additional $2.7 million and employee salaries will be frozen for a third straight year. But in August, teachers were given start-of-the-year bonuses and told that our school board had approved salary increases this year.

So, what is going on? If the district can afford to provide bonuses and salary increases while facing a $2.7 million reduction in revenue this year, why were the salary freezes and teacher cuts of the past two years necessary, and what price are the current teachers in our district paying for these past decisions? If the salary freezes and teacher cuts of the past two years were really required to handle past budget reductions, how can the district afford to provide bonuses and salary increases this year when budget reductions are even more severe? What price will our current teachers be required to pay in the future for this decision?

Can we really trust this school board to manage our taxpayer dollars effectively? These are questions every member of the D-38 community should be asking!

David J. Cloud

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Back-to-school books to share

By the staff at Covered Treasures

September is a time of beginnings—the beginning of fall, the beginning of college or a career, maybe the beginning of the empty-nest years. One of the most important beginnings for young children is easing back into school and learning. Following are some books to help make this transition fun.

Emily’s First 100 Days of School
By Rosemary Wells (Hyperion) $7.99

Miss Cribbage makes learning the alphabet, singing, reading books, dancing—and even counting—fun. "When we reach one hundred days, we will have a big party," she says. One hundred days feels very far away, but day-by-day, Emily and her classmates see they’re getting closer. As the lessons they learn add up, their world expands, and they experience the joy of learning.

Alphabeep, a Zipping, Zooming ABC
By Debora Pearson (Holiday House) $17.95

This inventive alphabet book takes kids from A to Z in a colorful collection of cars, trucks, and machinery. Children will enjoy the ambulance whooshing by, the delivery van dashing, the garbage truck squishing, crunching and grinding, and the dump truck going clatter, crash, ka-boom!

Clifford Goes to Dog School
By Norman Bridwell (Scholastic Inc.) $3.99

Clifford was too big for regular day school, and when Emily Elizabeth’s aunt said she would train Clifford herself, she was in for some big surprises. Clifford is no ordinary dog, and maybe not the best-trained dog, but to Emily Elizabeth, he’ll always be the best dog in the world.

My Big Activity Work Book
By Priddy Books (St. Martin’s Press) $12.95

Children can practice writing and number skills, spelling, math, and many more essential learning activities over and over again with this colorful wipe-clean workbook. Included are two wipe-clean pens, and the book is spiral bound for easy use by young children.

Llama Llama Misses Mama
By Anna Dewdney (Viking) $16.99

When Llama goes off for his first day of school, he’s overwhelmed by all the new faces and places, but most of all, he misses his mama. The other animals soon convince Llama that he should stop worrying, enjoy playing with them, and know that his mama will come back at the end of the day—and sure enough, she does.

Pete the Cat
By Eric Litwin (Harper Collins) $16.99

Pete the Cat is back, and this time he’s rocking out at school. Pete discovers the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and lots of other cool places at school. And no matter where he goes, Pete never stops moving and grooving and singing his song.

Lemony Snicket: 13 Words
By Maira Kalman (Harper) $16.99

Using colorful, amusing illustrations and 13 intriguing words, Kalman weaves an imaginative tale about a despondent bird, a goat that drives, a dog that paints, and all kinds of cakes. This book is sure to tickle the funny bone of children and adults alike.

Zoola Palooza
By Gene Barretta (Henry Holt & Co.) $16.99

Playing a variety of musical instruments, an all-animal touring concert group introduces words that are spelled the same but sound differently and have different meanings, such as "tear" (to cry) and "tear" to rip. Zoola Palooza brings homographs into the spotlight for a show-stopping good time.

The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town
By Mary Casanova (Farrar Staus Giroux) $16.99

When outlaw Dirk Yeller arrives in Cowtown looking for something to take away his cat-scratch fever, young Sam knows just what this dangerous and jittery criminal needs to calm him down. Artfully illustrated by Ard Hoyt, the pair behind One-Dog Canoe team up again for this rollicking Wild West adventure that celebrates the power of books.

The beginning of every school year is an exciting time of new friends, new books and new learning. But it is also a time of adjustment—leaving summer behind, getting to bed and waking up earlier. Make this transition more relaxing by reading aloud together at the end of the day.Until next month, happy reading.

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

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High Country Highlights: September gardening

By Woody Woodworth

Now that the heat of the summer is basically over, your flower gardens and pots go through a remarkable change. The cooler nights allow plants to send more energy to the flower, and the result is longer-lasting blooms of magnificent color. The cooler weather makes flower color more vibrant, and because the buds take a longer time to develop, the blooms will be larger and more perfectly formed.

By adding a blooming liquid fertilizer to your annuals and perennials once each week, you should have more blooms with brighter colors until frost.

Composting your gardens is a good idea and is commonly done during September. There are many benefits from using this marvelous soil conditioner, but keep in mind that compost is often not very high in the nutrients that plants use and need. Compost as a measure of weight is not high in the essential nutrients (N-P-K and Ca), so be aware that there usually is a need for supplemental feeding. Humus is the most beneficial aspect of compost use. The humic acids act upon soil particles to help free the nutrients naturally present in existing soils. Think of composting as feeding the soil, not feeding the plants.

The general rule of thumb when adding compost is based on two questions. How long since the last application of compost, and how has the garden been treated in the past? If the garden has been treated organically for years, the soil microbial life will be abundant, and the levels of humus in the soil from previous applications of compost will be high with a large reserve of humus being degraded into materials that will be available to the soil and the plants that year.

If the soil has not been organically maintained, and has a low level of humus and organic material in it, the levels of compost must be greatly increased over a few years. The soil will appear darker and the workability of the soil will be noticeably increased, showing that the humus has worked its way into the soil structure, opening the clay soil or binding the sandy soil. The soil will at that time be easily maintained by additions of compost or other bulk organic matter at regular intervals.

Add the compost directly on the soil in the area to be worked. Then work it into the soil to a depth of six to eight inches or sometimes as much as a foot for larger plants. For new vegetable gardens, add four to six inches before each new planting. For established gardens, two to four inches before every planting is adequate. For new trees and shrubs, add a five-gallon bucket for each two gallons of size. For pots, add one-fourth by volume sifted compost with a good potting mix.

Now is a good time to apply mulch. How is mulch different from compost? Basically, mulch is spread on the soil surface under the plants to keep transpiration and evaporation at lower levels. Compost can be used as mulch, but usually in Colorado we use bark or forested mulches for that purpose.

Soil Pep is a finer forest mulch material that is easily applied at depths of three inches. Evenly distribute it around the plants near the root system, but be sure to keep it away from the stem of your plant. Cedar mulch is generally offered in small, medium, and large bark varieties and also in a shredded form that binds together well. The wind and heavy rains have a difficult time lifting the shredded variety, and it seems to hold in place well.

By combining fertilizing, composting, and mulching, your plants will be noticeably healthier, have more resistance to disease, and will need less water to survive.

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. Woody Woodworth can be reached at woodywoodworth@ocn.me

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Ruby-crowned kinglet: Regulus calendula

Below: A drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Fall migration has begun, and September is a good month for birders. Many species of birds migrate along the Front Range Flyway, including songbirds, shore birds, waterfowl, herons, egrets, cranes, and hawks.

One songbird that comes to the Palmer Divide late in the spring and leaves in early September is the diminutive ruby-crowned kinglet. If you’ve never seen this bird, you are not alone. It is a hyperactive energetic tiny bird with a thin bill that flicks its wings. It is primarily an insectivore so it doesn’t frequent feeders, it nests in the tops of tall conifer trees so binoculars are needed to see it, and it moves so fast that when one is spotted, it may be only a brief glance.

General description

Slightly larger and stockier than hummingbirds, ruby-crowned kinglets are small birds, less than 4 inches in length with a 16-inch wingspan. They are very active and always seem to be moving around a tree trunk or hopping along branches. Their underside is a light olive buff color and they are gray on top. Their wings are dark with two white wing-bars.

Kinglets have a round eye with a distinctive broken white eye-ring. Male and female look alike, but the male ruby-crowned kinglet has a bright red crest that is difficult to see unless it becomes excited or agitated. When an intruder comes too close, the male kinglet will raise the red feathers on its crest similar to a dog raising the hair on its hackles.

Song

For its size, the ruby-crowned kinglet has a big voice! Its song is loud and musical. I generally hear a kinglet before I see it. It has a three-part song composed of a high-pitched tzee-zee-zee followed by two to five low trills (turrr-tur) and a repeated three-note rapid phrase (tee-da-leet tee-da-leet). The vocal range is easily recognizable even though there are slight variations among individual birds.

Habitat

Ruby-crowned kinglets breed in high altitudes at the edge of mature coniferous forests usually near water or wetlands. I sometimes see them in the tall ponderosa pines on the west side of Monument Lake. They nest way up near the crown of mature conifer trees, so I have to bend my head back and use my binoculars to get a glimpse of them. Apparently there are plenty of insects there because I rarely see them in the lower branches.

In winter they move to lower elevations and are easier to spot because they congregate in lower branches and while they are still busy little birds, they aren’t as flighty as when nesting. I had an opportunity to see them in Arizona this past winter where I observed colonies of ruby-crowned kinglets about eye level in scrub oaks. Several males flashed their red crests as I approached and were not deterred by my presence. The kinglets stood their ground and I was able to observe them without the aid of my binoculars.

Diet

The kinglets’ summer diet consists of insects and spiders that provide the protein necessary for breeding activity and feeding their young. Typically kinglets hover above a branch flapping their wings to scare up a caterpillar, aphid, wasp, beetle, or spider. Because kinglets weigh so little, they are able to pick larvae off tender twigs and leaves with their needle-like beaks. They help to keep trees healthy by gleaning insects and larvae from the bark, stems, cones, leaves, and needles. In winter, kinglets also eat dried fruit and sap.

Nesting

Ruby-crowned kinglets form pair bonds and are monogamous for one breeding season. New pairs form each year, which may in part be due to the high mortality rate during migration. Many aspects of the ruby-crowned kinglet breeding biology remain poorly studied, and questions about their courting behavior remain to be answered.

The female builds the nest in a concealed location near the crown of a mature conifer tree. She constructs the outer wall of the nest by weaving together needles, moss, twigs, spider web, grass, and roots, and then lines the nest with soft material such as feathers, hair, and plant down. She attaches the top of the nest to sturdy twigs so it will suspend below a big horizontal branch that conceals its location and protects the nest from predators like crows.

Ruby-crowned kinglets have the largest clutch related to its size than any other American passerine. Nests can have as many as 12 eggs but average five to nine cream-colored eggs with brown splotches. Eggs are small, about the size of a small jelly bean.

The female incubates the eggs for about two weeks while the male brings her food. When hatched, the chicks are altricial, which means they are blind, naked, and unable to lift their heads. The female broods the helpless chicks for a few days while the male continues to feed her. She digests the food and feeds the chicks.

Once the chicks begin to grow feathers and can hold their heads up to accept food, both parents work from sunrise till sunset foraging for insects to feed their young. The chicks fledge within 16 days. The female then leaves the nesting territory while the male remains with the fledglings.

Migration

During migration, ruby-crowned kinglets occupy a variety of habitats and don’t avoid contact with humans. I’ve never seen one in my yard, but some readers have emailed photos for me to identify. Kinglets are attracted to bird baths and fruit trees and are often seen with the red-breasted nuthatch. So if you see a little brown bird flapping its wings, it may be a kinglet.

Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. Email her at elizabethhacker@ocn.me to share bird pictures and stories.

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Art Matters: Enjoy the outdoors and art together

By Janet Sellers

There aren’t a lot of galleries where you could walk out the door and take a walk through the woods, a walk to a lake, or even catch sight of wildlife on the premises. Yet that’s just what we have here in our Tri-Lakes community. Obviously, most art communities are filled with people, but here we share ours with a wide variety of creatures.

Taking in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) can include a waltz through the main gallery, the Lucy Owens Gallery (more intimate and special shows), the gift shop, and sometimes, if we’re lucky, the artists’ studio area. On top of that, step out the door and take in the grand view of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Palmer Lake, and endless horse ranch vistas, and stroll down the street to a variety of eateries and little shops, many with creative contents.

We can join the fun of the Historic Monument Art Hop and, while the gorgeous flower beds explode in their summer colors, we are at once aware of the enormity of the Front Range behind the scene, as well as the endless blue skies filled with thunderheads reflecting the pinks and yellows of the sunset. And this happens every day. The art and the galleries are fun to visit, yet nature joins us in the fun with her colors and spectacular views. And, reflected in the three lakes of our hometown, we have double the colors and beauty. It’s so inspiring, let’s all rally to the cause and get out and paint something!

In fact, this summer I have been teaching the watercolor plein air classes right in the water. Yep. From the shore or from the kayak, we’ve been painting the local scene with gusto. We wade in and sit on the shoreline or perch on a boulder and get started; fill our water jug with water and paint away. I do wish I could get us all up and going for the perfect artist light the mountains offer at dawn, so we can see the wildlife at the water, or at the long twilight the mountains offer us every evening. Alas, most people have supper at twilight time, so we haven’t painted the sunsets yet.

Just like the song, summertime has had the living easy, the fish were jumping, the water was still and the mountains, reflected in the lake, colored the view with double the scene. I do think this place is growing on me yet again. I tend to go to the sandy shore "beaches" every morning just after dawn to paint or just to look. Evenings, too, have their beauty, and the images I’ve gotten with my camera and videos are stunning—but may be impossible to paint. You see, the deep purple and indigo of the water, combined with the fiery reds and oranges of the skies with the puffy clouds are a beautiful sight, yet hard to put into paint.

Of late, the TLCA is on a roll, everybody. Last month, I was absolutely awestruck with the women’s show. As group shows go, it was well curated and the aesthetic flow was on target. If you didn’t get to see that show, you missed a gem. I went on a free afternoon so I could take in the art and the artists’ stories about the pieces. My favorites were the watercolor portraits, of which there were many. The inspiring stories truly complemented the superb technically skilled works.

Likewise, I am very excited about the next show at TLCA. I saw some preview images online, and they are beautiful. Here’s the scoop:

The TLCA announced the "Immortal Art" exhibition, which will feature the work of Michael DeVore and Cecilia Thorell. The show will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, with the opening reception scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m. The free reception will also include hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Both artists were trained at The Florence Academy of Art, and Michael and Cecilia’s paintings are reminiscent of the Old Masters and the Renaissance. The TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more details, please call 719-481-0475 or go to www.trilakesarts.org.

Technically, our last Art Hop of the year will be on Sept. 15—so you can still enjoy the friendly, muscial, artful evening fun one last time. Remember to keep an eye out for our outdoor sculpture park on Second Street and the other works around town, and do say hello to the gallery owners and venues in person. They’ll be glad to know you enjoy all their hard work getting things ready for you on Art Hop night.

See you there from 5 to 8 p.m.—and bring your checkbook! Few places have such great deals on good art, and almost no place has the gorgeous backdrop like our town to shop for art.

And last but certainly important, the Front Range Open Studios event is scheduled for Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 18. The website has a lot of information on the eight artists who are participating this year, and you can view a lot of information at the site as well. Here is a link to the map for the event: www.frontrangeopenstudios.com./map.php.

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

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Next-to-last Art Hop, Aug. 18

Photos by David Futey.

Below: At Gloss, metals artist Rebekah Valentine wears two of her handmade creations, a copper leaf necklace and copper and brass bracelet.

Below: Outside La Casa Fiesta, oil and watercolor artist Deb Bartos was demonstrating painting techniques.

Below: Rock hound Sean Kidd displayed a collection of nature’s art, gemstones such as topaz, amazonite, and petrified wood, at Nationwide Flooring and Design Center.

Below: Inside The Love Shop, Roxanne Lingle had her leather and sterling wire wraps on display.

Below: Outside, musician Jason Bennett played a variety of originals and cover songs. Bennett recently produced Positively Pikes Peak, which was selected by The Independent as Best CD for 2011. The CD contains 13 Front Range musicians playing the songs of Bob Dylan.

Below: At Bella Art and Frame, Dolly Rickerman displayed works demonstrating her life-long passion for horses and the West. Rickerman said she has been drawing horses since the age of 3.

Below: Mary Lou Pape demonstrated painting with oils outside Bella Art.

Below: Front Range Open Studios (FROS) artist Nancy Bonig shows a before-and-after kiln glass creation. On Sept. 17 and 18, eight artists within this collective will be opening their studios for tours. Information is at www.frontrangeopenstudios.com.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Chautauqua returns with a fresh taste of history, Aug. 5-7

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: From left, Irene Walters, Linda Case, Pat Schill, and Jean Sanger of the Monument Homemakers’ Club exhibited vintage kitchen items and aprons.

Below: Cathleen Norman portrayed local figure Lucretia Vale and represented the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

Below: Diane Bates demonstrated wildflower arranging.

Below: Sharon Jarnagin promoted the Historical Society and its activities.

Below: Sandy Yates, Kandiss Horch, and Libby Theune of the Monument Library were among the scoopers at the ice cream social.

Below: Terry Wages demonstrated chair caning.

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Sgt. John Slatton, a member of the Fort Carson Color Guard, sits astride a horse that is part of the unit. Slatton demonstrates the various activities of the guard at the 2011 Chautauqua in Palmer Lake.

Below: Carey Holm plays Edelweiss for the guests at the Friday evening 2011 Chautauqua.

Below: Kenie, left, and Don Simpson played several pieces for violin and cello at the Friday evening Chautauqua in Pinecrest. These included Minuet in G by Beethoven, Waltz by Brahms, and the Gavotte by Martini.

Below: The Legendary Ladies depict memorable women who have had a part in the history of the West. From left, baseball player Maude Nelson is portrayed by Judy Winnick; the announcer is Kyle Neidt; educator Emily Griffith is portrayed by Linda Gleichmann; newspaper reporter Nelly Bly is portrayed by Gisele Denton; Mother Cabrini is portrayed by Julie Villalovos; and author Anne Ellis is portrayed by Joyce Nelson. For more information about the Legendary Ladies, call 720-335-7852.

Below: Foreman of the Three Eagles ranch, Dulces Granados, leads a pair of American Milking Oxen at the 2011 Sunday Chautauqua.

Below: Rollie and Paula Johnson, owners of the ranch, invite interested parties including school classes to make an appointment for a guided tour of the ranch. Call (719) 481-9376 for information and scheduling.

Below: Professional square dance caller Gregg Anderson, at right, directs the dancing at the 2011 Friday evening Chautauqua.

Below: Retired Navy Chief Dean Sigman explains Indian lore to 2011 Chautauqua fair visitors.

By Harriet Halbig

The third annual Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua on Aug 5-7 included a vintage baseball game, demonstrations of historical skills such as chair caning, beekeeping, and spinning, and exhibits of vintage kitchen tools and a model railroad setup.

The event, sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society, also featured musical performances, an ice cream social, and performances illustrating late 19th-century residents of the area. Walking tours of historic Palmer Lake and a nearby reservoir were also offered.

New to this year’s event were a 3rd Colorado Cavalry Regiment Encampment and a Native American Teaching Lodge near the lakeside.

The Chautauqua movement, consisting of gatherings lasting from a few days to weeks, began in New York in 1874 and in Palmer Lake in 1887.

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TLCA hosts art show with a woman’s perspective

Below: Julie Kirkland, Rita Salazar Dickerson, Maria Battista, Arlene Scaroni, Kathryn Hart, Paulette Triplett, Debi Story Maddox, Ronny Walker, and Sarah Boardman were among the 13 artists with works in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts show I Am Woman. All the featured works in this August show provided a representation and perspective of women through sculpture, paintings, sketches, and illustrations. In the Lucy Owens Gallery, the Collaboration of Photographers held its annual show with Charles Lehman’s Morning Along the Hozu River receiving Best of Show. Photo by David Futey.

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Finnders and Youngberg at TLCA

Below: On Aug. 12, the Finnders and Youngberg Band brought the feel of the Grand Old Opry and old-time radio to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) stage. Using just one microphone during their performance, band members performed original music along with some old standards from bluegrass greats such as Flatt and Scruggs. Mike Finnders said the band’s March CD release, FY5, is No. 1 on Colorado independent radio and No. 24 on the folk chart nationwide, a possible sign that they might soon find themselves on a larger stage. Photo by David Futey

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First Music by the Creek, Aug. 18

Below: Morgan Brown, Coffee on the Go co-owner, and his daughter, Cayla, and Jeri Brasch singing Coffee on the Go’s theme song Little Red Caboose. Other performers included the band Io Atlas, with Tiffany Achenbach and Kira Boshinski, who performed new techno sounds. Jeri Brasch brought tears to everyone’s eyes with her rendition of Desperado by the Eagles. Sam Summerfield brought down the house, so to speak, with her guitar and the eerie sounds of her original songs. Maureen Caldwell and a student wowed everyone with their Tai Chi for Seniors demonstration. Classes are held at the Senior Center at Lewis-Palmer High School. More than $100 was raised for a village in Uganda. Coffee on the Go co-owner Marlene Brown said, "We have requests for more dates including a Saturday morning. We have Sept. 15 already scheduled and look forward to more events in the future." Photo provided by Marlene Brown

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Palmer Lake restaurants raise funds for lakeside improvements

Photos by Candice Hitt.

Below: The Speedtrap coffeebar and internet cafe.

Below: Guests enjoy ice cream samples at the Rock House.

By Candice Hitt

A warm, sunny day provided the backdrop for the second annual Taste of Palmer Lake hosted by Palmer Lake restaurant owners Aug. 27.

More than 400 guests strolled the streets in Palmer Lake visiting restaurants to sample what Palmer Lake has to offer. The restaurants who participated in the event were Bella Panini, The Depot, La Zingara, MoZaic, Speedtrap Coffeebar, Rock House Ice Cream, Pinecrest, The Flying Pig, and O’Malley’s Pub. Each restaurant provided food samples and live music. The Speedtrap also had fresh roasted coffee available to guests. For information: palmerlakedining.com.

The annual event raises money for improvements at the lake.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me.

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August and September Library Events: New experiences await as summer winds down

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Lee Harmon and his grandsons Jack and Cole enjoy the Village Green in Palmer Lake.

Below: Children’s specialist Sandy Yates reads to the children during Dewey’s birthday party Aug. 16. More than 130 attended Dewey’s party.

Below: (L to R) Children’s specialist Sandy Yates with Elena Henry in front of Dewey’s paper birthday cake.

By Harriet Halbig

August began with one of our favorite library-sponsored treats—the annual Ice Cream Social on the Village Green in Palmer Lake. Long lines of folks of all ages waited patiently to indulge in Rock House Ice Cream with their favorite toppings. It was lovely to see so many multi-generational groups in attendance, and the hot, clear weather made it a perfect day for ice cream.

Thanks to the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library for their sponsorship of this and so many other events.

The Aug. 16 birthday party for our celebrity fish, Dewey, was attended by more than 130 excited people. Children gathered around for fish stories, songs, and games, followed by a delicious cake with Dewey’s portrait on top. It was a great last hurrah for summer vacation.

September promises new and informative activities at the library.

The Family Fun program in Monument is on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 1:30 p.m. Come meet Animals from Everywhere with Kathy Beers. There will be hedgehogs, turtles, lizards, and others. Make an animal bracelet to take home.

The Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Council is partnering with the Pikes Peak Library District to present two workshops on grant seeking and writing. Amy Rodda, reference librarian/coordinator of El Pomar Nonprofit Resource Center at the district will present information about this sometimes confusing process. Reserve your place in these free workshops by calling the Tri-Lakes Chamber at 481-3282.

The workshops are:

  • Grant Seeking. Learn how to identify foundation and corporate giving programs using free online databases accessible through the Pikes Peak Library District. Search the Foundation Directory Online, the Colorado Grants Guide, and other databases. This workshop will take place on Thursday, Sept. 15, 9-11 a.m. at the Monument Library.
  • Grant Proposal Writing Basics. An introduction to the fundamentals of grant proposal writing for nonprofits. Participants will learn about the process of grant writing and elements of a proposal, with tips from foundations. This workshop is geared to novice grant writers. This workshop will take place on Thursday, Sept. 22, 9-11 a.m. at the Monument Library.

The Monumental Readers will discuss Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on Friday, Sept. 16, at 10 a.m. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club. Hunger Games is one of the district’s All Pikes Peak Reads selections for 2011.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 1 to 5 p.m. This is a refresher course for drivers age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the four hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Art on the walls for September will be Up Close, photographs by Tom Damon. In the display case will be works by Pikes Peak Decorative Painters.

Palmer Lake Library events

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun event for September is the Heavy Equipment Rendezvous. The Town of Palmer Lake has agreed to show off its heavy equipment for this special library program. Come get a close-up look at road maintenance equipment. The program will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on the Village Green.

Children are encouraged to come to the library and read to one of our Paws to Read dogs. Increase your fluency by reading to a patient and quiet companion.

Read with Misty, the sweet and tiny Sheltie, on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Read to Misty and then select a prize.

Kirby is a quiet golden retriever who wants you to read to her. Meet Kirby, read her a story and collect a prize on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 11 a.m. to noon.

The Palmer Lake Knitting Group will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until noon. Bring your knitting project and enjoy the company of other knitters. Cheri Monsen, expert knitter, will be here to answer questions. Call 481-2587 for more information.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski on Friday, Oct. 7, at 9 a.m. New members are welcome and registration is not required.

Laurisa Rabins’ Expressions of Beauty-Shared photographs can be enjoyed during September.

Please note that all library facilities will be closed on Labor Day, Sept. 5.

We hope to see you at the library!

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Aug. 18: Colorado’s historic houses tell stories

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Doris and Tom Baker, owners of the Filter Press publishing company in Palmer Lake, presented an overview of Patricia Werner’s book The Walls Talk: Historic House Museums of Colorado. The presentation included brief histories of the residents of some of these house museums and descriptions and histories of the museums.

Below: Dan Edwards, a local author and historian, presents the paper he wrote about the Glen Park Association and the biography of the founder of Palmer Lake, Dr. W. Finley Thompson, to the attendees at the August meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. Both items are available at the Vaile Museum in Palmer Lake and all proceeds are dedicated to the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Aug. 18 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was highlighted by a presentation on a historical book titled The Walls Talk: Historic House Museums of Colorado. The presenters were Palmer Lake’s Filter Press publishers, Tom and Doris Baker. They began their talk by telling the Society attendees that when Patricia Werner, the author of the book, learned she was gravely ill, her immediate thought was of the book project that she had worked on for six years. She told her doctor that she needed until the end of summer to finish it and find a publisher.

Doris Baker said Werner was granted those extra months to wrap up the 37 stories she wanted to tell. Filter Press saw the merit in her research and writing. The Walls Talk guides the reader into the homes and the lives of settlers, traders, trailblazers, adventuresome professionals, merchants, and silver kings.

Tom Baker continued by describing how each museum in the book was an actual dwelling place, is now open to the public, and represents the life of the people who lived there. The book describes the architecture and history of each house, and brings to life the inhabitants through their stories.

Doris Baker stated that Werner said, "I wrote this book so that I could know the people who lived in these dwellings. I hope you enjoy knowing them, too."

Sadly, Pat Werner did not live to see her efforts turn into this book. Her passion for our state’s history lives on in these pages. She, like the house museums celebrated in these pages, brings Colorado’s past back to life.

Tom Baker stated that some of the names are familiar, such as the Tabors, Molly Brown, and William and Elizabeth Byers. There are also the not so familiar such as Lee Humphrey and Pearl DeVere. Humphrey commuted from Evergreen to Denver in a Model T for 30 years in order to live in the house he loved and that is now preserved as a historic house museum. In Cripple Creek, visitors can tour DeVere’s "parlor house" in the red light district where she ran her successful business.

Doris Baker noted that Werner included only those sites that are open to the public, that were actual dwellings, and whose furnishings represent or were owned by the people who lived in the houses. Beyond the intriguing family stories, The Walls Talk is a tribute to the passionate commitment of museum volunteers and to the work of community historical societies throughout the state that preserve their local treasures.

On of these treasures, Doris Baker noted, is the MacGregor Ranch in Estes Park, which offers a window into the past for its visitors. It is a step back in time when a visitor walks through the front gate. Percheron draft horses and ranch hands still work the hay meadow. The main ranch house, now the museum, is warm and inviting, welcoming children’s groups and summer visitors.

The MacGregor family lived continuously from 1896 to 1970 in what is now the Ranch House Museum. It first opened to the public in 1973. The ranch has 42 buildings, 28 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Doris and Tom Baker may be contacted at 1-888-570-2663 to obtain more information about the book and Werner.

Dan Edwards then gave a short talk noting that the Historical Society has just published its Occasional Paper No. 3, titled The Glen Park Companies and Their Chautauquas. Edwards, who wrote the paper, is a summer resident of Palmer Lake. He has also written a biography of Dr. W. Finley Thompson, who founded Palmer Lake and built the Estemere House, the town’s landmark residence.

He noted that the Glen Park Association was the first of four companies set up to develop Glen Park, platted in 1886 within the town boundaries of Palmer Lake, as a summer resort for the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assemblies. Edwards said that this 73-page paper with many illustrations is based on old newspaper articles, land deeds, and archival records. It details the efforts to manage Glen Park and organize the Chautauqua programs that were held from 1887 to 1910.

Edwards said that a leading figure of the Chautauqua was Forrest M. Priestley, who came to Colorado from Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1888, became president of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Co. in 1893 and president of the Glen Park Improvement Co. in 1895.

He said the paper and the Thompson biography are available at the Vaile Museum in Palmer Lake or from the author, who can be contacted at danedwardsdwe@aol.com. All proceeds go to the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

**********

The next Palmer Lake Historical Society event will be on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The presentation that evening is titled, "Two Wheels and a Path." The presenters, Annette Gray and Johanna Harden, will guide the attendees on the 1890s bike path as it winds its way south of Denver.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Mining museum hosts gold panning championships, Aug. 5

Below: The Western Museum of Mining & Industry hosted the Colorado State Gold Panning Championships Aug. 5-7. The competition has been held at locations across the state each year since 1974. The championship was presented by the Gold Prospectors of Colorado (GPOC) and sponsored by the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mine. GPOC Trustee and Historian Dianna Anderson said juniors, Old-timers, teams and men and ladies were the different competition categories in speed, skill, and dry panning events. Photo by David Futey

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Mining museum celebrates burro birthday, Aug. 13

Below: On Aug. 13, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry held a birthday party for the museum’s burro mascots Oro and Nugget. Besides a meet-and-greet with the burros, visitors had the opportunity to see the operation of machines, tour the museum and hear two bluegrass bands, Acme Bluegrass (pictured) and Mountain Holler, that played in the museum’s rustic barn. Photo by David Futey.

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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.

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red - September Menu

    Sept. 7: Special notice: No Sept. 7 lunch
    Sept. 14:
    Chicken dijon, garlic mashed potatoes, and salad
    Sept. 21:
    Swedish meatballs over noodles and salad
    Sept. 28:
    Roast pork, roasted potatoes, and applesauce

Rolls and butter served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert also provided. This is an activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Associates. Meals provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.

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Monument Citizen Police Academy, Sept. 6-Oct. 27

The free eight-week academy meets Tuesdays, 7-10 p.m., at Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., and is open to all who live or have a business in the Tri-Lakes area. Learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, use of force, computer forensics, internal affairs, community policing, tactical considerations; have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons; and much more. For more information and applications visit www.monumentpd.org and click on the Community Services button, or pick up an application at the Monument Police Department, or phone 481-3253.

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Fight to End Hunger, Sept. 9-19

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Organizations across the country will honor those who were lost and those who rose in service in response to the tragedy by participating in the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 is sponsoring a food drive Sept. 9-19 with Black Forest Fire & Rescue, Black Forest Jeweler, Nizhomi Health Center, Black Forest Financial & Accounting Services LLC, R & R Coffee & Cafe, Rockin’ B Feed and Supply, Paws N Tails Hydrotherapy Pool, and the Black Forest Postal Service and Convenience Store. Food and donations will be given to Black Forest Cares Food Pantry in support of the national Drive to End Hunger. Persons interested in contributing to the community through the Black Forest AARP chapter membership may contact chapter President Chuck Karlstrum, 749-9227. All are welcome.

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Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, Sept. 20

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive Sept. 20, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. No appointment is needed, just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For more information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864, x103. The next blood drive is Nov. 15.

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HEROES grants available for Monument-area organizations

UnitedHealth Group has announced that grants of up to $1,000 are available to Monument-area organizations and schools looking to create health-focused programs for youths. The HEROES grants can be used to create hands-on, interactive service-learning programs that reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. Previous grant recipients have used the funds to plant community gardens, build fitness tracks, develop healthy cookbooks, and more. To obtain an application and find out more, visit www.YSA.org/HEROES.

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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens

A group is now forming for teens. Successful living is no accident; join now and learn how. Come for the food—stay for the fun! Call 330-4256, Sandra Vergez, M.A., N.C.C., L.P.C.

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Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction, Oct. 12

Monument Hill Kiwanis proudly presents the 2011 Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction Oct. 12, 5-7:30 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. Thanks to the generosity of several area restaurants and businesses, guests will enjoy a variety of delicious soups, wonderful breads, and mouth-watering desserts. Guests may also select a beautiful complementary bowl handmade by regional artists. They can bid on a large selection of silent auction items provided by area businesses. The auction is sponsored by Tri-Lakes Cares volunteers. Come and enjoy a fun evening; fill your bowl and fill a community need. Proceeds go to Tri-Lakes Cares, a 501(c) (3) organization that helps those in need in our community. Cost: $20, which includes one child under 12 free, checks payable to Monument Hill Kiwanis. Tickets are available at the door and in area stores: In Monument: High Country Home and Garden, Covered Treasures Bookstore, Rosie’s Diner, Hangers; in Palmer Lake: Rock House; in Jackson Creek: Tri-Lakes Printing. For more information call Mark Zeiger, 488-5934.

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Stage I Fire Restrictions lifted for unincorporated El Paso County

Effective immediately, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has lifted the Stage I Fire Restrictions for unincorporated El Paso County that have been in place since June 16. Sheriff Maketa thanks the citizens for their cooperation in helping to keep El Paso County safe during the restriction period, which included the July 4 holiday. He also urges everyone to continue to use caution to avoid the possibility of an out-of-control wildland fire. In spite of the recent precipitation, the fire danger still exists and could increase should the hot and dry conditions return. Fire officials will continue to monitor fuels, weather, and the number of human-caused outside fires to determine when the restrictions may be needed again.

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Upcoming Fall Volunteer Opportunities at Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD)

PPLD offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, both short term and long term, for adults and teens. For details, visit ppld.org, click "jobs," then the "volunteers" tab. For more information, call 531-6333, x1251.

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Library district accepting applications for Board of Trustees member

Citizens interested in serving on Pikes Peak Library District’s Board of Trustees may now apply for a vacancy on the board. It is a seven-member volunteer board responsible for setting library policies and the library’s budget, and hiring an executive director to oversee the operation of the library district. The term of office is five years, and will begin Jan. 1, 2012. Board members are appointed jointly by the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Commissioners. Applications are available at PPLD’s website at ppld.org (scroll down under "What’s New") and must be postmarked by noon, Sep. 15. For more information, call PPLD Executive Director Paula Miller, 531-6333, x2010.

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Monument Hill Foundation accepting grant applications until Oct. 1

The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Its mission is to serve as a resource for the club in providing financial support to the Tri-Lakes community of northern El Paso County and its youths. Grant recipients have included District 38 special needs children, Tri-Lakes Cares, the Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference, and the Emily Griffith Center, to name just a few. Requests for grants are due by Oct. 1. To request a grant, visit monumenthillfoundation.org and click "Grants" on the menu on the left. For additional information, e-mail williamkaelin@gmail.com.

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Volunteer needed for El Paso County Citizen Outreach Group

The Citizen Outreach Group needs individuals from commissioner districts 1, 2 and 5, as well as at-large members. Commissioner District 1 includes the northwest portion of the county north of the U.S. Air Force Academy, including the areas of Monument, Palmer Lake, and Black Forest. Applications for the open positions are due by Sep. 9. The volunteer application is located at elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, visit elpasoco.com or call 520-6436.

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Slash and Mulch season ends this month

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season ends in September. Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps) will be accepted through Sept. 12. Mulch will be available, while supplies last, through 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 by 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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County seeks final public comment on Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP)

The MTCP identifies future transportation needs of the County, project costs, sources of funding, and how transportation projects will be prioritized. It is not too late to have your comments considered in this important planning process. The final public comment period is Sept. 2 to Oct. 2. Citizens can review the MTCP final documents and submit their comments at www.2040mtcp.com.

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Handbell ringers needed

Handbell ringers are needed to play in the Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir. Experienced preferred, adult or high school. If interested, please contact Betty Jenik, 488-3853.

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Attention artists and crafters

Bring your arts and crafts to sell in the Holiday Boutique and Bazaar Dec. 3, a fundraiser for St. Peter Catholic School in Monument. For information and participant forms, call Susan at 488-3308.

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Multiple sclerosis support group forming

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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Parting Shots

Below: Debbie Hudson donates blood at Tri-Lakes Cares July 19. The next blood drive at Tri-Lakes Cares will be held Sept. 20, 3-7 p.m. Photo by Candice Hitt.

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