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Vol. 3 No. 10 - October 4, 2003


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Neighbors complain about paintball facility

View photos of errant paintballs

By Judy Barnes

Neighboring residents voiced concerns to the Palmer Lake Town Council at the Sept. 11 meeting about escaping paintballs and ongoing noise at Fusion Extreme Gaming, 797 Highway 105.

George Winnick’s house on Frontier Lane, across the street from the outdoor paintball gaming area, has been hit several times by wayward paintballs. The group presented petitions requesting that Fusion Extreme Gaming close at 5 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and all day Sundays. They also requested a ban on fully automatic firing of the rifles. The group will provide a written presentation for the trustees at the Oct. 2 workshop. Owners Tommy Fletcher and Brian Jennison, neighbor Wayne Bucholz, and some of the players spoke in defense of the business. They noted that steps were being taken to improve the containment of the paintballs and to stop the use of profanity by players. The paintballs contain washable and biodegradable paint.

OCN reporter Chris Pollard went to observe the paintball facility on Sunday, Sept. 28, while a paintball tournament was in progress. Standing just outside Winnick’s house, he said the noise was almost continuous—from the guns, the balls hitting the barriers, and the shouting from contestants and spectators. Every few minutes, when a new round of competition started, there would be a period of extended rapid fire. The point about escaping paintballs was brought home when one landed only a few feet away from where Pollard was standing. A quick survey of the area revealed that a commercial building to the northeast had been hit several times, a number of balls were scattered around the roads nearby, and one ball was found on the west side of Highway 105, indicating that paintballs could hit vehicles driving by.

A neighboring resident on Meadow Lane said the noise on that Sunday began at 7:45 a.m. and continued until 6:30 p.m. She heard not only the gunfire and shouting, but also the loud stereos from cars at the tournament. She noted that residents on Meadow Lane, Frontier Lane, Circle Drive, Hillview Drive, and even Westward Lane could hear the noise.

Other matters covered at the Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop and Meeting, Sept. 4 and 11

New business licenses

Speedtrap Coffeehouse: Peter Kavanagh plans to open a coffeehouse with Internet access, books, and magazines at 84 Highway 105, Unit 2.

Overby Real Estate and Kathy Allen, Broker: Joan Overby and Kathy Allen will each have independent real estate offices at 19 Highway 105.

Palmer Lake Riding Stables: Heather Simpson, at 80 Highway 105, will offer riding lessons, trail rides, workshops on the care of horses and equipment, and special rides such as hayrides and moonlight rides.

Other business

The new Town of Palmer Lake Business Directory is available at the town offices, 42 Valley Crescent.

An open house at the fire station is scheduled for Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Vision Committee will meet at the Lucretia Vaile Museum at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. The committee is currently working on its mission statement. All Palmer Lake residents are welcome to attend.

Town staff is collecting e-mail addresses of Palmer Lake residents so the office can send out agendas of meetings, details of town issues, and more. Call the town office, 481-2953, if you wish to receive such announcements by e-mail.

The council voted unanimously to remove Ballot Issue 1 from the Nov. 4 ballot, since there was no overage for the year 2002.

The council voted unanimously to accept Circle Road for town maintenance and to release the letter of credit. The road has been in existence for three years and has been maintained by the town.

The council voted unanimously to reduce the utility easement from 25 feet to 10 feet for Lot 4, Lake Shadows Subdivision. The reduction was approved by IREA, the only entity with utilities in the easement.

The council voted unanimously to approve the vacate and replat of a minor subdivision, Digby Crofts, at 711 Sunridge Circle.

The council voted unanimously to approve the minor subdivision of Sundance Subdivision, reducing the lots from four to three.

Trustee Scott Russell resigned due to the demands of his job. The town is seeking a replacement to fill the vacancy. Candidates need to be a registered voter, age 18 or over, and a resident of Palmer Lake for at least the past year. Call 481-2953 for more information.

Santa Fe Ridge dirt pile

Jim Fitzgerald, owner of the Santa Fe Ridge office complex on Highway 105, has been saving the large dirt pile on the property for use in the construction of an acceleration/deceleration lane required by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). He has been trying to have the highway reclassified, which would reduce the speed limit and, consequently, the length of the accel/decel lane. Reclassifying Highway 105 could take up to six months and would allow more driveways to have access to the highway, but CDOT could possibly lower the speed limit without reclassification. CDOT staff will conduct a speed study, expected to take two months. The council voted unanimously to require Jim Fitzgerald to move his dirt pile within 90 days or the town will move it and charge him for moving and storage.

View photos of errant paintballs

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District 38 and BRRTA reach agreement

By Judy Barnes

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education and the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board ended a 2½-year-old disagreement over a $100,000 fee that BRRTA had assessed Creekside Middle School, built within the BRRTA boundaries three years ago.

The two entities have agreed BRRTA will not charge Lewis-Palmer School District any fees or assessments on any of its facilities, whether within BRRTA boundaries as they now stand or within boundaries of all future BRRTA annexations. This applies to new construction as well as all additions or improvements made to any existing building. In exchange for these agreements, District 38 will make a one-time $34,000 donation, to be used for improvements on Baptist Road.

This decision was made at a two-hour meeting Oct 25, in joint executive sessions, at the District 38 Administration Building. In attendance for District 38 were school board members Hugh Eaton, Jeff Ferguson, Bob Manning, Tommie Plank, and Jes Raintree, and Superintendent Dave Dilley. BRRTA board members present were County Commissioners Chuck Brown, Jim Bensberg, and Wayne Williams; Monument Trustee Byron Glenn; and BRRTA manager Conner Shepherd. Monument Mayor Betty Konarski was absent. Both sides made several offers and counteroffers, with the school board leaving the conference room on numerous occasions to deliberate, or to allow the BRRTA board to deliberate, in confidence.

Attorneys for both boards will work out the legal document. The agreement is subject to the approval of both boards. It is intended that the agreement be ready for signing by the Board of Education at their Oct. 16 meeting. The BRRTA board is expected to sign it at their next meeting, in November.

When contacted after the meeting, school board member Tommie Plank commented, "I’m just relieved that this contentious issue is settled. It is time for the two boards to quit fighting and for everyone to get on with the jobs the electors put us in office to do." School board president Jeff Ferguson said, "In any negotiation, you win something and you give up something. We feel gratified that we were able to come to an agreement that exempts the school district from any and all future BRRTA fees. We’ve spent way too much time on this; now it’s time to move forward and get on with our real work, which is to educate kids."

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission Meeting Sept. 17

By Judy Barnes

The September meeting dealt with three items: Victoria Jamie’s request for an amendment to a PUD to allow child day care at her home on Pinecrest Way; Al Fritts’s request for a change within a PUD to allow an assisted care living facility, instead of a bed and breakfast conference resort (Inn at Palmer Divide); and John Bailey’s request to vacate a utility easement in Lakeview Heights. The commissioners recommended approval of all three items to the Town Council.

Jamie requested to have in-home child care for eight children, including one of her own, operating from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Commissioners Denise Hammond and Gary Coleman visited the site prior to the meeting, noting that Jamie had already fenced the yard. They asked Jamie if she would be willing to expand available parking if needed, and Jamie agreed. Three neighbors–M. Hutchings, Connie Buckiner, and Diana Mayfield–expressed concerns about various issues including noise, traffic, and a possible lowering of property values. Neighbor Mickey Campbell spoke in support of the child care business, noting that its impact would be very low compared to that of Pinecrest Activity Center, and that any increased noise would be over by 5 p.m.

Commission members discussed the fact that residents were, or should have been, aware that their homes were within a PUD zone, which allows businesses as long as the town approves them. The commission voted unanimously to recommend to Town Council the approval of the amendment to a PUD for in-home child care, with the following conditions: no more than seven children plus one of her own; hours of operation are 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday; and current parent contracts kept on file at all times.

Fritts requested to change the current use from a conference resort to an assisted care living facility. At this time, he plans no exterior changes. Interior modifications would include alarms, handicap accessibility, and elevators. There would be 24 assisted care units and 12 to 15 independent apartments. Adult day care and respite care would also be offered. Commissioners raised numerous issues, including accessibility for fire trucks and ambulances and loss of revenue to the town by not having a B&B conference resort. They also questioned whether an assisted living facility could succeed in Palmer Lake. A previous attempt at Pinecrest only attracted one resident. Fritts replied that the previous facility had only one resident because it could not get a license. He noted that if funding goes through, there is a possibility that the original project (Inn at Palmer Divide) could go forward. If the town approves the change to assisted living, then that project will go forward if the funding comes through. He assured the commission that the project will not go forward without financing in place.

Neighboring resident Denise Cornell spoke in opposition to the change, noting that this was the third time Fritts had come to the planning commission with a change. She also noted the long drive to Colorado Springs or Denver for medical facilities. She urged the commissioners to not recommend approval to the Town Council without a plan from Fritts. Kurt Ehrhardt, contractor for Fritts’ project, reviewed the project’s history. The original plan was for 25 rooms, but the financing institution wanted to expand to 39 rooms, so the plans were amended through the town. They broke ground three or four years ago, but the financing fell through. Since then, the economy has weakened. Local banking people seem willing to finance an assisted living facility. Meanwhile, 600 yards of concrete are sitting there, and they would like to see something constructed.

The commissioners passed a motion to recommend to Town Council the approval for the change to an assisted care living facility, under the stipulation that this is only for a change in use and not for the final plan. The owner must return to the town for any changes or other amendments. The vote was 5-1, with Coleman dissenting.

John Bailey submitted a request to vacate the common lot line utility easement between lots 6 and 7, and 7 and 8 in the Lakeview Heights Subdivision in order to form a conforming lot within an R10,000 zone. A motion to recommend to Town Council the approval of the request passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

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Special Monument Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 8

By Jim Kendrick

A special meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) was held Sept. 8 to consider emergency action to add a ballot question on participation by Monument in the funding of the Jackson Creek Parkway extension from Lyon’s Tail to Higby Road. Because of emergency ordinance hearing rules, a supermajority was required to pass the measure: A 3/4 ratio requires six of seven yes votes for it to pass. The 5-2 vote was not sufficient to authorize adding the ballot issue to the Nov. 4 election. Triview Metropolitan District is still obligated to build the road. All members of the board voted on the issue, though Mayor Betty Konarski was out of town and participated in the session via speakerphone. The next election where such a proposal could be considered is in two years. The board also agreed to move forward on the process of requesting a Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant for trail expansion in the region, despite concerns about when Monument Lake might be refilled.

Participation

Mayor Pro Tem Byron Glenn opened the meeting at 6:30 p.m. by noting that the agenda had been expanded from that announced at the regular BOT meeting on Sept. 2. A discussion of the town’s options for filling the now empty Monument Lake was added to the agenda because town water attorney Bob Krassa could not attend the next regular meeting on Sept. 15.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp suggested that attendance be recorded before proceeding further. Konarski then asked Glenn if he was going to solicit public comment. He did.

Local business owner John Dominowski spoke first, saying BOT members already knew his position against participation with Triview. He said that the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Monument and Triview defines responsibilities and that $2 million is a lot of money that would take 15 years to pay. He observed that the town doesn’t have a lot of money and would have none to help business owners who need the lights, curbs, and gutter improvements that would keep downtown competitive as big box stores are added to the area.

Local attorney Tim Schutz also presented views in opposition to the ballot issue, saying that he had spoken to the board on this issue before. He said the town newsletter inferred that the ballot issue was already a done deal. He reiterated that the IGA was a contract already in place between Monument and Triview and that the road would be built without participation. The town was under no obligation to pay. He reminded the board that the spreadsheet projection attached to the measure showed a 15-year net loss in revenue from other stores of $3.2 million and a participation cost of $2 million. This $5.2 million is only offset by a Monument share of Home Depot revenue of $2.6 million over 15 years. Hence, Home Depot causes a $2.6 million net loss with participation or a $600,000 loss if there is no participation—a loss either way, putting aside other revenue. He said this was a gift to Triview the town could not afford. The $2 million could be used to build a police station, a town hall, or parks, or to improve the lake.

Schutz then addressed two arguments offered in favor of participation. First, the argument that the whole town will benefit from participation was compared to an argument that the new Highway 105 exit on I-25 will eventually help the entire town—but that would not be a reason for Monument to pay for half of it by giving another $2 million to the state. Schutz said the second argument of letting the voters decide was also flawed in that Jackson Creek residents would certainly vote in self-interest to get more money for their development rather than consider the town as a whole. Schutz concluded by saying that allowing this vote to give away the town’s revenue was an abdication of the board’s responsibility. He said they should ask themselves if they honestly believe it’s right to give away $2 million.

Glenn asked Ron Simpson, general manager of Triview, what the implications were if they did not receive the $2 million. Simpson said it would increase their debt, that they got no money until the fourth year of the new agreement, and that participation had never been considered when they got new bond authority. Triview, he said, got their A rating for bonds from the grantor of their letter of credit without a single mention of participation. Then Simpson suggested deannexing and creating the town of Triview or Jackson Creek, since Triview provides everything except police and fire anyway. He said the town could let Triview go its own way so that there would be no more "us-them" discussions. He said that Schutz was right: The road will be built either way, and loss of the election option won’t matter.

Dominowski countered that Simpson had used the opposite argument of "We have an agreement," shaking the IGA on numerous previous occasions when the district needed help from the town. Dominowski added that originally the developers of Regency Park had pursued the IGA and annexation, knocking on Monument’s door, recognizing that the benefits of being annexed were worth the implied future Triview expense to the developer. He said Simpson’s words that Monument doesn’t play fair are offensive when Simpson now proposes to do the opposite of what he has done for years. Dominowski said he was asking for the same thing, as there are still no sidewalks on Washington or Mitchell Streets and there won’t be in the future if participation is approved.

Treasurer Judy Skrzypek provided some additional information on the projected balance sheet attached to the ballot question. The current IGA between Monument and Triview divides tax revenue generated within Triview in half. (Colorado collects sales tax and forwards Monument’s share to the town. Monument then forwards half of the revenue generated within the water district to Triview.) Monument would have kept only half of its 50 percent of Home Depot revenue under the ballot issue, increasing Triview’s share from one-half to three-quarters during those years when overall Monument revenues were projected to meet minimum cash-on-hand requirements specified in the last town audit and by TABOR. Skrzypek said these constraints—3 percent fund minimum as required by TABOR and a 10 percent minimum on average general fund revenues as recommended by the town’s auditor—precluded any payment to Triview in the first three years.

Projected losses in Monument revenue that were used to determine if these two thresholds would be exceeded were based on estimates of lost revenue from other town businesses due to Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and the closure of the former I-25 exit. Also, there was a contingency for missed projections, unexpected expenditures, and downtown enhancements. The projection for the ballot issue was also conservative in that no incremental revenue for Monument was projected from future commercial enterprises that may be built along a completed Jackson Creek Parkway within or near Monument Marketplace for the entire 15-year period. No water fund money was transferred to the general fund in the projections, though there is a large excess in that fund.

Trustee Glenda Smith asked if the spreadsheet assumed any tax increases for 15 years; Skrzypek said no, because a mill levy increase would require a ballot issue. Smith said that former Trustee John Bailey had told her that governments always vote for debt that others will have to pay later and that this looked like the situation he had warned her about. Skrzypek said this was accounted for sufficiently by not projecting growth at Monument Marketplace or ancillary revenue from other businesses along the finished parkway.

Trustee Doug Warner asked what would happen if there was insufficient revenue to pay Triview in year 5, for example. Could the year 5 shortfall be paid in year 6 if there was extra revenue available? Shupp responded that none of the $2 million might ever be paid. Simpson said that no interest would accrue if payments to Triview were late. Warner said he agreed in part with Dominowski but then said there would be enough revenue from other stores attracted by Home Depot to pay for downtown improvements.

Trustee George Brown said he was still wrestling with the idea of doing more than required with the existing IGA since the town had struggled for years to keep its head above water. Brown read a prepared statement.

Warner said the board was not committing the money, just putting it out to voters who would make an informed decision. He, too, was offended by the "us versus them" mentality, he added, saying participation provides a bridge for bringing people together. Let the people vote, he urged.

Trustee Frank Orten said others were putting a political spin on their comments as would he. He added that population shifts are happening everywhere, they are normal, and the board should let the people vote. Brown asked him why they shouldn’t stick to an existing agreement, adding that this position is not political as asserted by the others. Orten responded that contracts change. Smith responded that they were creating a debt that others would have to pay for 15 years and that she had a problem with that. She said participation was like a charge card debt, where the town would pay and pay and never get out of debt.

Konarski said she was saddened by a discussion that appeared to pit Old Town versus Jackson Creek, adding that this project should be uniting the town, not dividing it. Brown responded, "I don’t know where you’re hearing that." She said that agreements constantly change and opposing participation was a shortsighted view, "but if that’s the view you’re going to take, then that’s the view you’re going to take." She added the community will move forward either way, but having the community think as one is an important goal.

Glenn said that he sees lots of changes called amendments, citing four recent amendments in the master plan where he works. He noted that Second Street had been extended for the good of the whole town. The parkway will also be built, be good for the whole town, and it would be a shame not to be part of it since the people of Jackson Creek will feel slighted.

Brown asked Shupp if Konarski could vote, noting Glenn had not been allowed to vote by phone at a previous BOT meeting. Shupp said his research showed there was no specific rule against it. Glenn said he couldn’t recall the details of his situation. Orten moved the ballot issue, and Warner seconded his motion. The vote was 5-2, with Smith and Brown opposing the ballot issue, hence the emergency ballot ordinance failed.

GOCO Trail Grant

Warner asked Konarski to help the board understand what she was seeking with her GOCO grant proposal. Warner repeated his concerns about building trails to an empty Monument Lake. Konarski said the town would need to get support from Woodmoor and Palmer Lake later in the GOCO grant cycle, but the step she was proposing to undertake now was only preliminary. Later in the process, there would need to be a unified show of support from every nearby constituency for the integrated trail system from Palmer Lake to Fox Run and from Woodmoor to Monument Lake.

Bob Krassa, the town’s water attorney, then said that he expected the lake would be filled by the time the town would begin spending money to connect the Santa Fe Trail to Monument Lake. The town would need to have a substitute water supply plan approved and should be able to fill the lake with augmentation water next year, weather permitting. He said there is time to work out the details for water before the next GOCO decision point early next year. There was consensus to make the trails proposal the fourth and last phase to be funded by the GOCO grant. This would help ensure that the lake would be filled before a final decision on trail construction. The board decided there was no need to go into executive session for further legal advice, based on Krassa’s statement that he had already given them sufficient legal advice during the public session to make a decision on initiating the GOCO grant process. There was unanimous concurrence to start the process.

The special meeting adjourned at 7:46 p.m., having completed its published agenda.

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Triview Cost Sharing Considerations for the Marketplace

Monument Trustee George Brown read this statement at the special Monument BOT meeting on Sept. 8.

Although the Triview Metropolitan District’s tax/cost-sharing proposals only consider the potential tax increase impact to the Town of Monument, I believe that we need to understand the potential loss to our existing retail tax base and the future impact of Wal-Mart. I’m in favor of sharing the infrastructure cost for the Marketplace, but would recommend a different cost-sharing approach to ensure our town’s continued financial improvement.

My concerns are:

  • Whether the projected tax revenues are correct for the Marketplace. Plus, I believe we can only base our considerations on Home Depot.

  • What happens if we enter into a cost-sharing agreement and the infrastructure improvements begin, but Home Depot either delays their opening date or cancels?

  • The impact of Home Depot on the town’s existing retail stores such as Foxworth-Galbraith, High Country Feed, and Mountain Farmer.

  • Wal-Mart’s impact on existing Monument retail stores that include the above plus Safeway, King Soopers, Radio Shack, the flower shop, gas stations, etc.

Based on the above, what will be the impact on the town’s existing tax revenue base:

My recommendation is that our cost-sharing contribution be calculated on tax revenues that are over and above our existing tax base in conjunction with proposal D, where the town is receiving tax revenues while satisfying a $2 million cost-sharing commitment.

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Monument Board of Trustees Meeting Sept. 15

By Jim Kendrick

Between initial statements about heat-of-the-moment deannexation proposals by a Jackson Creek trustee and impassioned concluding statements by each trustee regarding the defeated emergency ordinance on the proposed ballot issue on Jackson Creek Parkway funding, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) conducted routine business at the Sept. 15 meeting without controversy. Mayor Betty Konarski was absent.

Mayor Pro Tem Byron Glenn called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. The minutes for the special and regular Sept. 2 meetings were approved, but changes were requested in the minutes for the special Sept. 8 meeting. Approval of the latter was deferred until the next BOT meeting on Oct. 6. The hearing on the Comprehensive Update to Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances" was also continued to Oct. 6 due to the lengthy agenda.

Town Planner Mike Davenport summarized the application by Integrity Bank for a Final PD Site Plan for its new modular temporary building on Cipriani Loop, one block southwest of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. Davenport’s summary of the application details were unchanged from his presentation at the Monument Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 9. His summary is described in the article on page 8.

Jim Wyss of Integrity Bank spoke after Davenport completed his overview. Wyss said the structure would be the home office for this new community bank, adding that temporary structures are customary for a start-up. Depending on the Preble’s mouse situation at the nearby site of the bank’s planned permanent structure the bank will operate out of the proposed modular building for two to four years.

In response to questions, Wyss said there would be signage just north of the temporary building only. Regarding his exit plan and the timeframe, Wyss said they would remove the building and foundation and fill in the hole. He said the landowner, Randy Ottaway, wanted him to leave the asphalt for parking in place. Davenport added that after Integrity Bank filled in the hole, Ottaway would be required to maintain the installed landscaping and install bollard and chain barriers at the driveway entrances. The latter will preclude nuisance teenager parking on the preserved asphalt.

Mertz asked if any right-of-way would be deeded to the town to preserve access for the neighboring veterinary clinic. Davenport said no. Ottaway’s signature on the access easement across the north end of this lot is sufficient, he added, because the clinic is outside of the town boundary. At a later time, it would be preferable to have Cipriani Loop be the primary access to the clinic, however. Glenn asked if drainage issues had been resolved. Davenport noted that the town’s drainage consultant, GMS, had been satisfied. The site plan was approved unanimously, 6-0.

The board voted unanimously to accept the public improvements by the developer for the subdivision, Enclave at Monument on Montana Vista Lane, between Third and Fourth Streets. The required warranty bond is more than sufficient to pay for required but unfinished drainage improvements at Third and Montana Vista Lane, so the surety bonds will be released back to the developer on receipt of adequate plans and warranty security for the unfinished drainage improvements.

Unanimous approval was given for a street patching contract with Schmidt Construction Company for $139,070 and anticipated add-ons of $14,600. Glenn advised that the contractor be notified before work begins to "make sure they know there’s no room for changeovers." (Total 2003 budget authority for paving rehabilitation is $155,000.) Trustee George Brown said there were "scary differences" between the selected bid and the other two. Warner reiterated that it be clear to Schmidt that they can’t ask for more money later. Schmidt already has equipment in place for paving bike lanes on Mitchell Avenue, which substantially lowers their transportation costs for that heavy machinery. Only two manholes are to be built.

Unanimous approval was given for construction of two Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitats, totaling $83,371.60. The work is to be done at the Monument Lake North Beach and Dirty Woman Creek Park mitigation areas. Glenn noted that another $14,000 of mitigation work is required at the lake once it is refilled, which is not part of this project. Warner asked, "How will we get the mouse there?" Brown responded, "Build it and they will come."

The treasurer’s report and expenditures over $5,000 were approved unanimously. Treasurer Judy Skrzypek said Popeye’s Chicken (J Starr Enterprises), in the King Soopers shopping center, had been incorrectly paying a 2.5 percent sales tax to the city of Colorado Springs instead of 3.0 percent to Monument. They asked forgiveness of the 0.5 percent increase in taxes owed, as they had paid their sales tax in good faith and paying the difference in a lump sum would be a hardship. The board unanimously denied the request.

A brief recess was declared so Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg could establish speakerphone contact with Konarski, who was out of town. Konarski wanted to participate in the discussion regarding Trustee Frank Orten’s inquiry to Town Attorney Gary Shupp about deannexation options for the residents of Jackson Creek.

Triview Metropolitan District General Manager Ron Simpson asked the town to let Triview deannex at the Special Meeting on Sept. 8. The hearing was on the emergency ordinance to add a ballot question on participation with Triview for funding Jackson Creek Parkway construction to Monument Marketplace from Baptist and Higby Roads. Following that meeting, Orten was quoted by the Colorado Springs Gazette regarding Jackson Creek citizens’ desires to pursue deannexation.

Glenn opened the discussion by saying the Triview board had not asked to be deannexed and that he wanted to get the facts regarding deannexation out on the table. Skrzypek said that it would cost the town $1.533 million over the next 15 years if Triview deannexed. Shupp said the law does not appear to allow deannexation of improved land that has received town services over three years and that the Colorado Legislature would have to rewrite the law. Only unimproved lots over 20 acres contiguous with a city or town boundary are allowed to deannex. The intent of the deannexation law is that it would only apply to annexed land that had failed to be developed for a very long time and was a drain on municipal resources. He knew of no occurrence of deannexation by a subdivision; all those individual lots are not considered a tract of land.

Shupp’s memo to the BOT and town manager states: "C.R.S. 31-12-501 allows for the owner of a ‘tract of land within and adjacent to the boundaries of a city or town’ to petition the governing body for disconnection." He added the governing body can do so only if its best interests are not prejudiced and a tract is only land that has not been platted. His memo quotes a Colorado Supreme Court precedent: "No disconnection of land can be upheld which divides a town into two disconnected parts."

Smith asked if Triview could be dissolved while it had remaining debt. Shupp said the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) prohibits that. Former Mayor Leon Tenney agreed with Shupp. Glenn said the $2 million had nothing to do with the IGA and the vote on the participation ballot had taken away the right of the people to vote. A long discussion followed, with all trustees restating their positions from previous meetings at length. Smith and Brown said their votes were not divisive or politically motivated. The others disagreed. Konarski said the impassioned points of view have been aired, so let’s move on.

Brown asked what traffic impact fees are for and who pays them. Brown had asked the staff to provide an overview of the ordinance for board members. Glenn said the board should move on. Tenney asked if he could speak. He said Triview was allowed to be exempt from these fees passed in May 2001 only because they build all their own roads. There was an extended discussion about how the fee applied to Second Street and Beacon Lite Road extensions.

Konarski hung up as the discussion on speakerphone voting began. Smith said that the person on the phone cannot hear all the arguments surrounding controversial issues, which could lead to a lawsuit because those arguments might change the person’s position. Brown said the school district doesn’t allow it, and it is very unprofessional due to the equipment on hand, particularly because the listener can’t see presentations or handouts that are passed out. Shupp said that absentee participation should be a policy or else meetings could simply turn into conference calls with only the phone bank in the meeting room. He added that they should be considered so that the board could stay flexible around major deadlines. There was consensus that the staff should develop a policy for special circumstances and investigate better equipment designed for conferencing.

Davenport reported on Home Depot and Wal-Mart. If Home Depot’s spring opening is delayed because of mouse issues that could slow the Baptist Road bridge widening at Jackson Creek, the project will likely slide a whole year. If the delay on the bridge widening appeared to be only a few months, the board could consider letting Home Depot open without adequate roads under a "concurrency" concept as a policy decision. Currently the board has said Home Depot cannot open its doors until the bridge is widened. Wal-Mart’s mouse problems remain unresolved, and no construction decision is expected soon.

The next meeting will be Oct. 6 in Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.

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Monument Planning Commission meeting Sept. 10

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission held its first meeting without David Mertz as chairman on Sept. 10. Mertz resigned after being appointed to the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT). He replaces Trustee Christopher Perry, who moved to New Hampshire. Five of the six remaining members of the planning commission were present, including Mertz. Skip Morgan was absent.

The first order of business was to select a new chairman. Tom Donnellan nominated Bob Mooney, who said he’d accept the position. He was unanimously selected. (The town has advertised for volunteers to fill the seventh position until the election in April.)

Synthes Replat

Synthes Ltd. requested that seven of the platted lots, lots 2-8 (Block 2), in Monument Industrial Park (Phase 1) be replatted into a single lot. The current structure on the property at 1101 Synthes Ave. is on more than one lot. Davenport gave this background: "In 2001, the Board of Trustees approved an 80,000-square-foot building expansion to the existing Synthes facility. A condition of approval was that Synthes apply for a replatting of its property, since in several locations buildings extend across lot lines. This could cause future problems regarding easements, which usually run along lot lines. The application has been submitted to comply with that condition of approval. It involves no physical changes to the property."

Tim Hopple, whose residence is across Mitchell Avenue from the current Synthes lots 6 and 7 but not in Monument town limits, had submitted a written comment in response to the notice sent to neighboring property owners. He thanked the town for the notice. He said he spoke for his neighbors in expressing concern about traffic, specifically speeders and those who run the 3-way stop sign at the base of the hill by the property’s access to Mitchell Avenue. He said his dog has been run over and a number of times he has been almost hit by speeding Synthes employees as he leaves his driveway. He asked that the town consider limiting or eliminating Synthes access to Mitchell and asked for help in rectifying the running of stop signs at the Mitchell-Synthes Avenue intersection. He said later he had already moved his driveway to make his access to Mitchell safer.

Hopple also expressed a community concern about consolidation of the seven lots into a large industrial lot, which would make it more likely for a future zoning change from commercial to industrial—in violation of the town master plan. While he knew that Synthes was there when he purchased his lot, a zoning change to heavy industrial would harm neighboring residential properties across the road, just outside the town boundary.

Davenport responded by saying there were no comments during the proposal’s routine staff review from Public Works or County Roads. He noted that the property is actually zoned light industrial, and the change Hopple was concerned about would actually be one to heavy industrial. Based on the town’s history with concrete batch plants, Davenport said the likelihood of approving heavy industrial next to residential was nil. Hopple asked him what he should do if Synthes does apply for heavy industrial zoning in a few years. He said Hopple should comment again to Public Works.

Regarding the speeders, Hopple said he had gone to Monument Police and Synthes with the names and plate numbers of the reckless drivers, but to no avail. He also complained that the unshielded sodium lights around the plant preclude him from using his telescope.

Mooney asked if they could add a note to the new plat regarding the town’s requirement for downcast lighting. Davenport said no inspection is required or would be conducted for this process, as the replatting application only involves changing the drawings. (In effect, only pulling a permit will trigger inspections, not erasing the lot lines on a plat blueprint.) The town planning staff report did say, however, "Any new or replacement lighting (installed in the future) shall be downcast and shielded." Spence asked if the town could make them comply, but Davenport said changes in regulations are not retroactive. He said the commission could request that public works or the police department check for violations that are a safety problem, but lighting was not part of the replat application.

Davenport suggested making a direct reference to Hopple’s concerns in an amendment to the commission’s motion on Synthes, to make it easier to find an attached record of those concerns in the future. Donnellan asked if the town’s transportation consultant, TransPlan, could do an investigation. Davenport said the replat had no physical change that would trigger a traffic study. He added the replat should still show all the old easements for the seven lots in a corrected drawing, a drafting correction only, before the next Board of Trustees meeting. Shupp confirmed that lighting is a zoning, not a replat, issue and that the commission could only recommend a traffic study the next time there was a physical change on the property.

The motion, amended as suggested earlier by Davenport, passed 4-0-1. Larry Neddo, a Synthes employee, abstained.

Integrity Bank Final PD Site Plan

Davenport summarized the application package for this full-service bank building. Integrity Bank proposes to build a modular structure on lot 3 of Valley Vista Estates Filing No. 3 at 1430 Cipriani Loop, which is one block south, then west, of the intersection of Knollwood and Highway 105. The structure will be temporary, and the site should be vacated within three years. Integrity Bank had planned to build its permanent structure at the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood but encountered Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat problems that will take at least a year to resolve. Integrity still plans to build on that site as soon as the mouse situation is resolved, within three years.

Davenport noted that Integrity’s three-year application is the first such long-term temporary structure application the town has received; there is no precedent for the nonstandard "exit plan" for the site. Normally, escrow accounts for exit plans for temporary buildings are only for one year. The term "exit plan" refers to removing the extensive asphalt parking lot and foundation for the temporary structure in order to be able to build a residential structure at that time. If the building were abandoned, the town would be responsible for executing the exit plan using the escrowed funds.

Another unique concern Davenport discussed was a written comment by Dr. Eric Fountain of the neighboring Woodmoor Veterinary Clinic concerning the clinic "driveway" that runs across the north end of lot 3, parallel to Highway 105. The widening of the highway has left the clinic, which is not within the town boundary, landlocked with respect to the highway. However, this "driveway" is within the town boundary, requiring town involvement. Davenport said the clinic access issue was addressed at a meeting among the town, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the clinic owner, the bank, and the lot 3 landowner, Randy Ottaway. All attending this meeting agreed that an access easement from the clinic to Knollwood across the north end of lot 3 will be provided, codifying the existing dirt driveway to the clinic across the other landowner’s property. There are proposed provisions to the easement—to be reviewed when the bank vacates lot 3—that are designed to protect access to the clinic from Knollwood.

Another concern discussed by Davenport was the CDOT recommendation that an escrow account be created for a Highway 105 traffic light at Knollwood. Though traffic studies show that the bank will not add enough traffic to cross the threshold for a signal at this time, there is concern that traffic on 105 may substantially increase when the I-25 interchange (exit 161) is completed. Traffic may currently be below the traffic light threshold because the congestion and backups that are routine may be causing people to avoid the area entirely. There was concurrence that the CDOT recommendation was prudent. If warranted, a new traffic count will be taken when construction is completed.

Davenport also noted that drainage issues identified by the town’s consulting engineer have been resolved. There had been questions regarding the detention pond in the original submission.

Mooney asked about the exit plan for removing the temporary building. Davenport said there would be another escrow account for the site restoration exit plan if the building becomes abandoned. He pointed out that the escrow amount wasn’t large enough to completely restore the site to its original, undeveloped condition, though the amount does comply with the minimum town requirement.

Davenport noted that the landscaping to be provided far exceeds that required, making the temporary modular structure more appealing to neighbors. Mooney observed that the floor plan provided by the architect was reversed and should be changed before the next BOT meeting, where the bank would be seeking final construction approval.

The site plan was approved unanimously, with the conditions that the exit plan and vet clinic access agreements be finalized before going to the BOT. Also forwarded to BOT was a recommendation that another traffic study be performed by the town’s consultant after construction on Highway 105 is concluded.

There was a brief discussion about minor map errors that were being corrected in the town’s new comprehensive plan. Davenport then reported on the presentation that developer Jack Wiepking gave to the Parks and Landscape Committee regarding alternative buffering on the eastern boundary of the Village at Monument Filing 2, along Old Denver Highway. Rather than a standard 6-foot wooden privacy fence, Wiepking will use split rail fence, numerous trees, and a variety of tall, hardy, drought-resistant ornamental grasses and spreading shrubs, similar to those used in the recent renovation at the Broadmoor Hotel.

The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m. The next meeting will be held Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m.

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Monument Parks and Landscape Committee Sept. 9

By Jim Kendrick

The members of the Monument Parks and Landscape Committee voiced their disappointment and frustration regarding the bad example the town is setting in not following its own requirements for maintaining its landscaping at parks and its facilities around town. In particular, they expressed dismay that there appears to be insufficient public works staff to execute budgeted but unfunded improvements from this and previous years. However, they decided to continue serving, declining the option to disband, as the Public Works Committee did earlier this summer. The committee also approved two proposals.

Synthes Ltd. Replat

As part of its approval of a recent building expansion by Synthes Ltd., the town directed the company to apply for a replat. The current property plat shows eight lots, and the building now lies on several of these lots. (See the planning commission article on the facing page for details.) In effect, the new plat erases the interior lot lines for seven of the eight lots. The landscaping plan for the 80,000-square-foot expansion had been approved by the committee before construction began. As there were no physical changes in the proposal, the committee approved the replat unanimously, 3-0. Monika Marky and Ed DeLaney were absent.

Final Plat/PD Site Plan for the Village at Monument Filing 2

Developer Jack Wiepking presented his request to change the landscape buffering for his new development just west of Old Denver Highway and south of Ranchero Valley Way, which he had presented to the Planning Commission on Aug. 13. The Parks and Landscape Committee had denied his written buffering change request on Aug. 12, saying it was too vague, but had also extended an invitation for Wiepking to present it at the September meeting for reconsideration. Wiepking told the board that wooden privacy fences deteriorate in five to seven years and are most often not well maintained by subdivision homeowners associations (HOAs). Also, the easements between the privacy fences and roadways often become overgrown with weeds, and the easement landscaping usually dies within a few years due to HOA neglect.

The residences he is building along Old Denver Highway are several feet below roadbed grade. He proposed buffering along the highway that uses small berms, where grading permits, and split rail fencing, with many trees, spreading shrubs, and tall drought-resistant wild grasses to enhance the immediate and long-term value of the property. He showed pictures of this increasingly popular alternative buffering method, which was used in the recent renovation of the Broadmoor Hotel. Feathered reed grass is particularly effective in this kind of landscaping, as it stays green through the winter.

He proposed a split rail fence because of the numerous buried utilities along the highway. Postholes must be dug by hand, and split rail requires only an 18-inch depth, while privacy fence posthole depth is 30 inches. Toni Martin asked him who would maintain the split rail fence, and he said the HOA.

Davenport noted that Wiepking had incurred considerable expense in planting numerous 20-to-30-foot Douglas firs and ponderosa pines throughout the development, far exceeding the subdivision landscaping requirement. Linda Pankratz noted that many of the trees along the Santa Fe Trails development were dead. Wiepking said that is usually the result of no maintenance, poor soil preparation, or no watering. Pankratz concurred, noting that all the ponderosas planted at the town’s skateboard park died within a few months. Chairman John Savage asked how many of these very large trees had been transplanted. Wiepking said 70 so far. Wiepking said he would prefer to build the buffering as the houses were built rather than all at once, as is often done with privacy fences, to prevent damage during construction. Savage asked if it wouldn’t be cheaper to build the buffer all at once. Wiepking said it would be hard to do so many tall trees all at once and expect them to survive. Davenport said the landscape bond could be rolled over as construction progressed.

Savage agreed that this was a much better idea than they had thought after reading his written proposal, and the results would be much more attractive. Martin agreed, as long as the longer-term nonstandard bonding could be worked out. "We’ve seen too many plantings die during or shortly after construction." The proposal was approved unanimously.

In other business, Martin asked about the status of using the very large culverts under I-25 by the Safeway to connect trails on either side of the interstate. Davenport said it would be shown on the new comprehensive trails plan as the north crossing trail. He had confirmed with Fish and Wildlife that it was not mouse territory.

Pankratz commented about the dying plantings in all the town parks and around town well buildings. She said weeds had grown to one-third the building height at Second and Beacon Lite, the main entry. "We are not in compliance with our own regulations." Davenport offered to have a letter to the Board of Trustees drafted for Savage’s signature. The committee concurred. Pankratz added that at least $8,000 had been spent on that building, and 70 percent of the plantings were dead or dying due to lack of maintenance. Davenport said this a townwide problem, as public works staff are continuously diverted to road, utility, and building maintenance—although that is not their primary function. Reiterating that "we’re not following our own rules and what we put in dies due to lack of maintenance," Pankratz agreed to sign the complaint to the BOT for Savage, who was leaving town the next morning.

A proposal to transfer the responsibility for notifying people to remove their beetle-infested trees from the committee to the public works department passed unanimously.

The postponed final presentation of the Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan by University of Denver graduate students will be given to the committee on Oct. 6. One of the students had an appendectomy and simultaneously contracted West Nile virus. Davenport said he has coordinated a 30-day extension, to Nov. 10, on the Greater Colorado Outdoors (GOCO) grant that is funding this popular study.

2004 P&L Budget

A listing of P&L projects for 2001, 2002, and 2003 was reviewed in a lengthy discussion. Priority was given to building restrooms in Limbach Park versus Dirty Woman Creek Park. Davenport said the hard part for these unfunded 2002 projects was figuring out how to pay for it, as park budgets are being cut nationwide.

Davenport noted that building parks in Jackson Creek is very difficult because of the expense involved. Middle school fields are not open to the public because of liability concerns and the difficulty of discerning responsibility for misuse, as various groups rotate through the facilities. The administrative difficulties make it easier for District 38 just to say no. The town would need to apply for a GOCO grant of up to $1 million to build an appropriate community park for Jackson Creek. There is no prospect for the town to have matching funds required for GOCO in the foreseeable future.

There was a brief discussion regarding the negative connotation of the name Dirty Woman Creek on grant applications and that it might affect grant approval. Savage and Pankratz said that changing the name of the park or not listing it on the applications was unacceptable. Davenport said the only parks grant that the town has received in the past four years was the one for the University of Denver Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan study.

Savage said the only way the town could move forward was to have a separate parks department with its own director: "Parks are always the last priority." Davenport said that combining the parks budget into the public works budget makes it more likely to pass, but diversion of parks personnel to road maintenance is the negative. The committee decided to recommend that there be one summer hire dedicated to parks maintenance and that future hires be designated for doing parks and landscape maintenance exclusively. Barring the latter full-time hire, the town must outsource to a private landscaper, to keep the town’s investments alive.

When asked by Davenport whether the committee would like to take the option to discontinue meeting, as the Public Works Committee had, they unanimously declined, while reiterating their frustration.

The next meeting is Oct. 8 in Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.

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Monument Police Advisory Committee Sept. 24

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Police Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting was not held because it was one member short of a quorum. In a follow-up phone interview, Chief of Police Joe Kissell discussed the information he would have passed to the committee:

  • The draft update of the Inter-Governmental Agreement with Palmer Lake is undergoing legal review. It provides more specificity on liability issues when covered individuals participate in police activities outside their jurisdiction.

  • Surveys for the upcoming police department strategic plan were to be passed out to members of PAC at the meeting. Also, members of the Board of Trustees, the town manager and treasurer, and all police officers were to receive survey forms on Sept. 25. The purpose of the survey is to gather suggestions to incorporate in this statement of major goals for the next three to five years.

  • Plans for the new police building, an update of a concept developed several years ago, are on hold. PAC members will be solicited for suggestions for interim solutions to issues with existing facilities.

  • Kissell, Sergeant Rick Tudor, and Officer Rob Stewart received commendations from District 38 for participation in the mentoring program.

  • The budget process for the town is beginning, with the police department proposal due on Oct. 15. PAC members will be given copies of the draft police budget to review. Comments will be due back to Kissell by Oct. 7.

  • Monument has submitted the names of two officers to attend Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-funded qualification training at Clandestine Lab School, Quantico, Va., in October. It would provide certification as first responders for illegal methamphetamine lab investigations. DEA selections for this school have not yet been announced.

The PAC’s next regularly scheduled meeting is in November.

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Triview metro board discussion includes Marketplace, Wal-Mart, deannexation, and condemnation

View photos of the Marketplace Groundbreaking

By John Heiser

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors held its regular meeting Sept. 24. Director Steve Stephenson was absent.

Monument Marketplace

Rick Blevins of Vision Development, Inc., reported that grading of the Home Depot site is under way. The groundbreaking ceremony was held Sept. 19. He added that the project is six weeks ahead of schedule. He later added that three other medium-to-small box stores and several restaurants have expressed interest in being part of the project.

Blevins said the drainage structures have been redesigned to reduce the cost. He said that part of the project is being put back out for bid.

Blevins reported that a prebid conference was held Sept. 24 for the wet utilities, asphalt, curb, gutter, and sidewalk. Bid opening will be Oct. 3. He said the goal is to start construction on the utilities in October. He added that clearance for Jackson Creek Parkway, the crossing of Jackson Creek, and Leather Chaps Drive was obtained from the regional floodplain administrator.

Due to the decrease from 9.15 percent to 7.96 percent in the residential factor used by the county assessor for determining assessed value from market value, the mill levy cap agreement approved last month increases the maximum mill levy from 54 mills to 62 mills. The change in the value of the cap does not change the current approved property tax rate for the district, which stands at 25 mills. The statewide Gallagher Amendment dictates the decrease in the assessed value factor. Blevins said the result is an estimated $4 million drop in the assessed value of property in the Triview district. The board unanimously approved a revised term sheet for the Phase G (Marketplace) funding reflecting the changes.

Wal-Mart

Regarding the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat issues on the proposed Wal-Mart site, Ron Simpson, manager of the Triview district, said, "I don’t know which way it is going to go." He said he thought it is unlikely Wal-Mart would mount a legal challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) findings. He also said he thought it is unlikely Wal-Mart would change locations. He said they might purchase the property and then work to resolve the issues.

Peter Susemihl, attorney for the Triview district, said, "I think they will try to get the lower level ruling reversed." He added, "If the landowner started doing construction, then the burden shifts to the Fish and Wildlife Service." He said, "There is no evidence there is mouse in there."

Deannexation

Simpson reported that the Monument Board of Trustees did not approve a ballot measure for the November election required for the town to change the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Triview and contribute $2 million to the cost of infrastructure improvements associated with the Marketplace. He noted that the district received a Sept. 23 letter from Jackson Creek resident and Monument Trustee Frank Orten, one of the trustees who voted in favor of the ballot measure, inquiring as to the possibility of Triview deannexing from the Town of Monument, what the process would be, and what the timeframe would be.

Susemihl noted that it is a complicated issue. He said town attorney Gary Shupp ruled it would not be possible based on statutes that relate to unplatted or agricultural land. Simpson asked, "Is Shupp’s determination the final word?" Susemihl replied, "No, but you won’t know until you go to court." He added, "This is a unique situation due to the IGA. The IGA gives Triview the right to deannex if the town violates the agreement. The district could file suit under the IGA and ask the court to deannex. The question is ‘Would the town fight it?’"

Jackson Creek resident and Triview director Martha Gurnick said, "We should explore that possibility." Simpson characterized it as a political decision. Gurnick said, "I don’t see it as political. It is just the tax money." Susemihl mused, "Can the district be the petitioner or should it be property owners?" Simpson said, "Advocates should form a citizens’ committee." He added, "Deannexation is the [Triview district’s] prime remedy, our safety net. What does this mean for our IGA? If this goes away, we have no out." He noted, "We haven’t declared a dispute and sought that cure."

Susemihl said, "It doesn’t apply unless there is a blatant violation of the IGA, and there isn’t one." He added, "I think you need a citizens’ group." Gurnick said, "The [homeowners’ association] needs a project." Jackson Creek resident and Triview director Linda Jones added, "They need to know we have heard them. It is not strong enough without our support."

Baptist Road Interim Improvements

Simpson reported that a meeting is scheduled in two weeks with FWS to discuss the interim improvements to Baptist Road required as part of the Marketplace approval by the town. The improvements are expected to be made within the existing right-of-way but would impact the surrounding mouse habitat.

When contacted later, Simpson said the project may require 4 to 4½ acres of mitigation habitat. He said funding for the project will be provided by the Marketplace developer. In the event Wal-Mart is approved, the Marketplace developer would be reimbursed for part of the cost of the Baptist Road improvements.

Homestead parks

Simpson reported that Tonya and Chuck Bjustrom raised $7,600 toward playground equipment for Homestead Park A. Blevins noted that two builders committed to contribute to the project but the district would be obligated to cover maintenance of the equipment.

WWTF expansion

The Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) is jointly owned by the Triview district, the Donala Water and Sanitation district that serves Gleneagle, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District that currently does not have any users. Simpson reported that Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala district, still wants to start design of the expansion of the plant in January 2004. Simpson said that Donala is proposing to provide all the funding. Simpson said that if the financing of Triview’s portion of the cost were amortized over seven years, the interest rate charged by Donala would be about 8 percent. If the cost were amortized over six years, the rate would drop to about 7 percent.

Wells A4 and D7

Simpson reported that Arapahoe aquifer well A4 needed for the Marketplace project is expected to be producing water in a few days. The cost for the well is to be paid from the Phase G bonds. He noted that the cost for equipping recently drilled Denver aquifer well D7 is $97,212. That is to be paid by developer Miles Grant.

Tap Fees

Simpson reported that Classic Homes has requested waivers from the Oct. 1 imposition of the new higher tap fees for nine houses that have closed on financing. The difference in total fees to be paid by Classic is $26,235. Jones and Gurnick said the waivers should not be granted. Simpson said that Home Depot has requested an increase from a 2-inch water tap to a 3-inch tap for water used inside the store. The 3-inch tap is equivalent to 19 single-family house taps. Home Depot is also requesting a 1½-inch irrigation tap.

2004 Budget

Simpson distributed a draft budget. Detailed discussion is scheduled for the Oct. 22 meeting.

Condemnation

The board went into executive session to discuss land acquisition. When the executive session concluded, the board unanimously voted to authorize Susemihl to initiate court proceedings for condemnation if an agreement cannot be reached with Miles Grant regarding easements needed for construction of Jackson Creek Parkway.

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The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 p.m., at the district offices, 174 North Washington St. The next meeting will be Oct. 22. Due to conflicts with holidays, the November and December meetings will be held Nov. 19 and Dec. 10. The regular schedule will resume in January.

For further information, contact the Triview Metropolitan District at 488-6868.

View photos of the Marketplace Groundbreaking

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Donald Wescott FPD Board meeting Sept. 17

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board (DWFPD) met on Sept. 17 with all members present. Unlike the August meeting, this session was routine, with no controversial agenda items or discussion. All board members were present.

President Bill Lowes discussed the need for DWFPD to be involved during consideration by Colorado Springs City Council of Classic Homes’ request to have the Flying Horse Ranch property annexed to the city. City Council will consider the matter on Oct. 14 and 28. Lowes said that the board must be represented at both these hearings. The 1,556-acre, $12 million parcel—currently unincorporated and unimproved county land—is part of DWFPD. The parcel lies west of Highway 83 from Northgate Road down to the Rampart Range campus of Pikes Peak Community College; its western boundary is contiguous with established developments east of Voyager Parkway.

Classic Homes has said it will not develop the land as proposed if the city does not annex it. During the first 10 years of development, the city should gain a minimum of $4.7 million profit in tax revenues over and above the cost of any city services provided and profit at an even higher average annual rate during the first 15 years of development. The Colorado Springs Planning Commission unanimously recommended annexation.

If, as is currently expected, the city votes to annex the parcel, DWFPD would continue to provide fire service to the area for several years, as the city has no fire resources it can provide in the near term. All property in the parcel would be taxed for fire service by DWFPD and the city for an indefinite period. DWFPD has a long history of relinquishing previously unincorporated southern district property, including its Station 1, as city limits have moved northward and subdivisions have been steadily annexed over the past several decades.

The three-school, 20-acre District 20 campus—to be built just southwest of the intersection of Northgate and Roller Coaster Roads—will be of immediate concern to the board, according to Chief Bill Sheldon. He has had introductory meetings with the district’s architects and the developer. These schools were to have been built on the Air Force Academy, but plans were abandoned after military security was greatly increased following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The middle school will open at the start of the 2004 school year and is expected to be immediately filled to capacity, before a single house is built in Flying Horse Ranch—hence District 20’s sense of urgency to begin and accelerate construction. The elementary school will be completed by the end of 2004 and will also be immediately near capacity. Sheldon said he has coordinated with the fire marshal for Colorado Springs, Brett Lacey, and anticipated no problems with routine construction fire inspections. The city will take the lead on conducting these inspections and DWFPD will accompany them to assist and also learn the building and fire detection system layouts. Sheldon said there are a number of revised state regulations that have to be complied with and this is an additional practical learning opportunity for his district.

Lowes said that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) merger with the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) was moving forward without problems. PLVFD will be setting a date for a special election after the regular November election. He noted the resignation of Palmer Lake Town Council Trustee Scott Russell, who had led the PLVFD inclusion process. Lowes said he had contacted Tom Conroy of W/MFPD to stay in touch on the merger. Lowes said that DWFPD would need to rework mutual agreements with W/MFPD after the inclusion of PLVFD. Similarly, DWFPD could not assess the need to increase its mill levy until after the inclusion election for Black Forest residents, scheduled for Nov. 4. He added that Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) has not expressed an interest in renewing merger discussions with anyone nor have they accepted any more petitions from the 13-square-mile Black Forest area subject to the November election. All paperwork for the DWFPD Black Forest inclusion election has been accepted by the county.

In other matters:

  • The new unified DWFPD policy and procedure manual is nearing completion. The draft will be distributed to board members and the district’s attorney as soon as it is completed.

  • Board member Joe Potter solicited information from DWFPD for regional homeland security contingency plans. Potter, a retired Air Force colonel, is also head of local volunteer command and control activities during national emergencies, which would be activated by the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Discussion of adding another bay to Station 3, near Gleneagle and Baptist Road, was deferred until the next board meeting.

  • DWFPD will have an open house at Station 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 4 during National Fire Prevention Week. This is one of many such activities held by regional fire districts throughout the area.

  • A new city police station has been approved on Powers Boulevard near Sky Sox stadium. It will have a radio tower that should dramatically improve communications for all police and fire agencies in northeast El Paso County.

  • Julie Lokken, assistant chief of PLVFD, wrote a letter to the DWFPD board thanking Nick DeSimone, Sean Pearson, Scott Ridings, Joe Seiberlich, Tim Hampton, Mike Badger, Kurt Leonhardt, and Shannon Baivanz for providing chipping service for wildfire mitigation assistance to 24 DWFPD homeowners. Lokken wrote the letter for the Pikes Peak Wildfire Protection Partners.

  • The monthly North End Group (NEG) chief’s meeting on Sept. 24 discussed combined training, communication, and preparations for Fire Prevention Week. New digital equipment should improve paging, and the new 800 MHz radio system will soon be working better when planned hardware and software improvements are implemented.

  • Sheldon said there was no discussion at the September NEG session of his proposal, announced at the August DWFPD board meeting, to expel TLFPD from the NEG voluntary mutual aid agreement until TLFPD’s cooperation and attendance at NEG meetings improved. TLFPD attended the September NEG meeting.

The next DWFPD board meeting will be on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.

CORRECTION

In the Sept. 6 article on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, there were three uses of the incorrect term "automatic mutual aid." It should have read "mutual aid." There are two types of aid between fire districts, automatic aid and mutual aid.

Automatic aid refers to the simultaneous dispatching by the county of personnel and equipment from fire protection districts other than the district with primary responsibility and taxing authority. For example, a fire or ambulance call in the Jackson Creek subdivision may result in the county dispatching not only the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District but also the Wescott district, since it is closer. Ordinarily, if Wescott arrives first, the operational command of the situation would be turned over to Tri-Lakes at an appropriate time.

Mutual aid is a voluntary agreement between North End Group fire districts that authorizes an on-scene commander to ask for voluntary assistance from another fire district, outside the automatic aid dispatch county protocol, if the situation requires additional support. This direct communication is simpler and more efficient and supplements the automatic aid county dispatch procedure.

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Tri-Lakes FPD board meeting Sept. 18

By John Heiser

At its meeting Sept. 18, the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board of directors discussed issues between the Tri-Lakes district and the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District and their coverage in the newspapers, status of efforts to gain county approval of fire station 2 on Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105, and a potential fire station 3 near the recently approved Monument Marketplace.

Issues between the Tri-Lakes district and the Wescott district

A letter was circulated from Wescott district board chairman Bill Lowes responding to suggestions by Tri-Lakes president Charlie Pocock (reported in last month’s OCN) that the two districts hold a joint meeting. In his letter, Lowes said, "The unanimous vote of our Directors was that based upon the actions of your Department and those of your Board of Directors, during the past few months, there would be no positive actions that could come of this meeting."

Pocock circulated copies of his letter of reply that read in part: "While we don’t expect we will always agree, your continual refusal to even discuss the issues can only lead to wider division between our Boards…. We remain ready to discuss common issues with anyone, but based upon your letter and your stated opinion of your Board Directors, we will not ask you again."

One of the issues between the two districts is inclusion of property east of Highway 83. Inclusion into the Wescott district will be decided by the vote on a Nov. 4 ballot measure. Several property owners within that area have petitioned for inclusion into the Tri-Lakes district and been accepted by the district. If the ballot measure passes, it raises the prospect that those property owners might be billed for taxes for both districts. John Bass, the county assessor, sent letters to those property owners notifying them of the possibility.

Pocock distributed copies of a letter he sent to those property owners assuring them that if the ballot measure succeeds, the Tri-Lakes district will agree to exclude them if the Wescott district will not exclude them.

Pocock was critical of newspaper coverage of the fire districts. He expressed dissatisfaction with all the local papers and then quoted at length OCN’s coverage of the Aug. 20 Wescott board meeting that ran in the September issue. In particular, he objected to Wescott Chief Bill Sheldon’s comments regarding three areas: The Aug. 5 structure fire in Jackson Creek, housing of Wescott trucks at the Tri-Lakes district, and participation by Tri-Lakes in the North End Group of chiefs.

Pocock reported that on Aug. 25, a general critique by all the agencies involved with the Aug. 5 fire was held. He said, "The allegations [by Sheldon] were found to be incorrect." For instance, in response to the allegation that the Tri-Lakes personnel were unfamiliar with their equipment, Pocock said, "There was a mechanical failure of an electrical connection. It had nothing to do with familiarity with the equipment." After giving a timeline covering an hour starting about 6 p.m. on Aug. 5 during which the district responded to three wildland fires, a traffic accident, a medical call, and the structure fire in Jackson Creek, he summarized, "To say we aren’t carrying our share of the load, I disagree."

Pocock noted that due to the exclusion of areas of the Wescott district within Colorado Springs, Wescott transferred one of its stations to the Colorado Springs Fire Department and so was looking for someplace to store two trucks. He added, "We didn’t borrow [the trucks]. They asked us to store them. We haven’t used them once."

As to the Tri-Lakes participation in the North End Group of chiefs, Pocock said, "Of the 12 North End Group meetings since August 2002, we have attended all except two." He added that Sheldon has missed several North End Group meetings.

Financial Report

Tri-Lakes district director and treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that property tax assessed values in the district are projected to increase about 3 percent, adding an estimated $30,000 to $35,000 to annual district revenue—despite a decrease from 9.15 percent to 7.96 percent in the residential factor used by the assessor for determining assessed value from market value. By contrast, he noted the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District is projected to see about a $40,000 decrease in revenue.

Pocock said the additional assessed value from construction of Home Depot in the Monument Marketplace will not be on the books until 2005.

Chief’s Report

Chief Robert Denboske reported that during August, the district responded to 108 calls, bringing the total for the year to 746, which he said is a 17 percent increase compared to last year.

Denboske noted that he is meeting with Sheldon at least once a week, and Captain Brian Jack is working with the Woodmoor-Monument district. He said the purpose of the meetings is to improve the working relationship between the districts at the operational level. He said, "I have good feelings about these meetings. Let the chiefs work on it. Let us come to you with a plan."

Denboske reported that there was a North End Group meeting Sept. 17. He said, "There was no discussion of removing us."

Lieutenant John Vincent reported on research into purchasing an initial attack truck. He described it as a cross between a pumper and an urban-wildland interface truck. It would have a short wheelbase, 4-wheel drive, and space for four to five firefighters. He said, based on the half-dozen manufacturers they have studied so far, prices range from about $192,000 to $325,000. The goal is to refine the specifications and develop an item for inclusion in the 2004 budget.

Denboske reported that Lieutenant Chris Mola is receiving an award recognizing Mola and the Tri-Lakes district’s participation in Project Adventure with Lewis-Palmer School District 38. The project helps young people through confidence-building exercises.

Station 2

Pocock reported that in order to satisfy El Paso County’s rule requiring 300 years of water availability, the district has an agreement to obtain shares in Great Divide Water Company, which owns the well adjacent to station 2. He described this as the "last hurdle" prior to seeking county approval.

Station 3

Pocock reported that he met with Rick Blevins of Vision Development Company regarding a potential fire station, referred to as station 3, near the Monument Marketplace project. It would be built on the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway north from Baptist Road.

Director and architect Rick Barnes added that he has been meeting with the developer and other interested parties. He said the current plan is for a combined design that includes an enlarged electrical facility to house equipment for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the Mountain View Electric Association, offices for the Triview Metropolitan District, a fire station, and possibly facilities for other public entities. In past discussions, Blevins has included a Monument police station as a potential part of the design.

Barnes said the developer would build the fire station and then lease it to the Tri-Lakes district. He said, "The developer is going out of his way to make this work for us."

Pocock said the plan for the fire station is expected to be similar to the design for station 2 at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105.

Hildebrandt said the increased property tax base resulting from the Marketplace development would contribute tax revenue toward staffing and equipping station 3.

Executive session

The meeting ended with an executive session to discuss personnel matters and strategy for negotiations.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district firehouse, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16.

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312. The Tri-Lakes district has a new web site: www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Woodmoor-Monument FPD Board meeting Sept. 22

By Jim Kendrick

Controversy continues to dominate the meetings of the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection Department Board (W/MFPD). At the start of the most recent open meeting on Sept. 22, the board was presented a letter expressing "no confidence" in Chief David Youtsey’s leadership. Nine full-time members of the fire department signed the letter. There are 14 full-time members of the department, including Youtsey. During the scheduled agenda, three of the 34 Monument business owners who signed a letter of complaint against former Fire Marshal Raymond Blake again expressed their serious concern about the way fire inspections may be referred to other agencies, despite Blake’s resignation. The public portion of the meeting board concluded with routine business before going into an unscheduled executive session to discuss personnel controversies.

Board President Robert Browning chose not to have the board discuss the surprise letter of no confidence, as none of the members had received advance copies to review. The letter’s signers were not asked to speak. Youtsey made no comment during the meeting.

The letter expressed "apprehension" about notifying the board of the signers’ concerns, asserted that Youtsey’s "inconsistent management style" was affecting morale by creating "a hostile work environment," and concluded that this was a cause for "high turnover of personnel," which is more than experienced by other area fire departments. There will be a special executive session meeting of the board on Oct. 6 to address the issues raised in this letter.

Youtsey submitted a written comment to OCN on Sept. 30: "Until the Board of Directors and I investigate and deal with the problems creating this no-confidence letter and formally respond, I ask that our constituents and customers rest assured that our mission continues to be providing the highest level of protection possible from the hazards of fire and other life and property threatening emergencies, through a progressive and professional system of personnel development, consistent with established standards and practices."

Regarding the letter of complaint against former Fire Marshal Raymond Blake about fire code inspections, Board Secretary Bob Harvey stated that his Inspection Process Investigation Report was not ready. His investigation to date shows that, compared to other regional fire districts, Blake had been quite lenient in application of the fire code and was also lenient in setting time limits to remedy reported discrepancies. The negatives he said he had found related to Blake’s delivery of findings and his personality. Harvey remarked that the uniform fire code contains good written guidance for fire marshals on interpersonal dynamics while applying the code during an inspection. Harvey concluded that Blake’s problem had been his method of delivering this information and that he had given opinions that were totally outside the realm of the fire code. Harvey said that suggestions by business owners that the fire marshal should not inform other county agencies about problems found would be a dereliction of duty.

Harvey’s complete recommendations will be published when he finishes interviewing all signers of the letter of complaint. He said he has already met with the principal signers, John Dominowski, Steve Marks, and Jeremy Diggins, who were in attendance at this meeting. He said his report will recommend that inspections emphasize load occupancy, egress, structure, and life safety. He will also recommend that W/MFPD outsource engineering and construction plan approvals due to lack of expertise in those disciplines. Another expected recommendation will be to involve members of all three shifts in inspections, to spread the additional experience across the department. Harvey will also suggest a list of inspection areas that every member of the department should be able to assess, and he will suggest appropriate correction time limits so there is uniformity and consistency of inspections. Browning asked Harvey if this was the approach used by the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and Harvey said yes.

Harvey added that he had worked out an agreement with Jim Wyss of Integrity Bank that there would be no storage in the crawl space of the bank’s new modular building, to be built southwest of the intersection of Highway 105 and Knollwood. Hence, there was no longer a need for the additional expensive sprinklers in that area that had been previously required by W/MFPD during the preliminary plan review. Wyss had expressed his dismay over this additional unanticipated expense to the board at its Aug. 18 meeting. Harvey said the compromise allowed the bank building to be rated "B-2, under 2000 square feet," and that this matter was now resolved.

Browning asked W/MFPD Captain Tom Eastburn if he was ready to take over the position of fire marshal. Eastburn said that he had the experience to do the job, which included 10 years as fire marshal for Palmer Lake and four years for Black Forest. He said he has all the certifications required and has worked many big projects during his career. Additionally, he implemented the 1994 and 1997 amendments of the fire code for the entire North End Group and will continue to coordinate with all districts.

During public comments, Dominowski, Marks, and Diggins spoke. Dominowski thanked Harvey and the board for their efforts and said that fire inspections were never an issue to him, that he welcomed fair inspections. He expressed dismay that Blake had made a judgment outside his area of expertise that his building had a significant structural deficiency after remodeling and that Blake’s structure and egress inspection results had been reported to other agencies such as Regional Building, opening Dominowski to needless intrusive subsequent inspections. Dominowski went on to say that Harvey had done an incredible job in performing a tough task and that he had total faith in Eastburn.

Marks complained about not being given prompt access to the board’s meeting room, which he wanted to photograph. At the previous public board meeting, Marks had asserted that these meetings violated maximum occupancy standards and that no maximum occupancy signs were posted—even though Blake wrote up many businesses for the same violation. There was no occupancy sign posted at this meeting either. Harvey said Marks should have made an appointment with W/MFPD.

Diggins replied that Blake had never scheduled appointments, so why was the board enforcing a requirement it had never honored. Diggins added that Eastburn was now making and keeping inspection appointments. Harvey noted that one type of inspection–for occupancy loading at points of assembly–needs to be conducted at known peak loads with no notice required. Harvey said that the district will schedule inspections with building owners and occupants in the future, as both need to know what the findings are. Browning reiterated his apologies regarding lack of appointments for past inspections, saying that business and building owners should be notified.

Next, Director Tom Conroy updated the board on the Joint Working Group. The written agreement for inclusion of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) has been finished, but the review and coordination has been slowed by the resignation of Palmer Lake Trustee Scott Russell. Russell resigned Sept. 10 and is moving from Palmer Lake to take a new position near Denver with the Republican Party. Trustee Susan Miner will take over coordination of the inclusion process on an interim basis. Although no petition is required, Conroy said that the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees would like to get about 200 signatures, to be sure the inclusion has sufficient resident support before arranging for a special election. The deadline for adding ballot issues to the regular Nov. 4 election has passed. A successful election is required to create a mill levy on Palmer Lake residents equal to that of W/MFPD at the time of the inclusion. Conroy added that the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) remains interested in pursuing a merger, but Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District has no interest in merger.

Browning said the inclusion of PLVFD would mean no loss of firefighter positions for either department. He added, "At this time we expect more firefighters would be needed. Merger is the only way to go practically, economically, and safely." He noted that a rough road lies ahead and that DWFPD will need some time to work on increasing their mill levy to match W/MFPD. Conroy agrees that a merger is best, saying better planning, training, and deployment of resources are in everyone’s interest, as is eliminating the currently chopped-up district boundaries to improve response times.

The board then discussed a salary survey and projections for pay increases in next year’s budget in the face of continuing turnover. The consensus was that W/MFPD should be competitive with like-size departments in the region, but could never compete with large city departments like Colorado Springs or Denver. Director Si Sibell asked, "Why are we losing people?" Director Russ Broshous said that the low end of the pay scale needs to be raised. Youtsey said that this board was new since the last salary survey. Harvey noted that the Colorado Springs Fire Department is looking at a one-year or two-year pay freeze, while W/MFPD is looking at a significant pay raise. Sibell asked if the concerns in the "no confidence" letter have an impact and noted that exit interviews only reveal a preference for more money, a career ladder, and more opportunity. Broshous said the board needs to look at the total compensation package and new hire costs. Youtsey observed that the department pays full cost of health benefits—no longer a common benefit in the region—worth $800 a month for family coverage. Harvey said that only people who like smaller departments can be retained. Browning concluded by saying that the department cannot compete with Denver or Colorado Springs as the economy begins to cycle up.

In reviewing response time figures for the past month, the board agreed that the dispatch log times provided by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office were not sufficiently accurate and that another internal method must be used for accurate analysis of actual reflex time performance. Harvey said the city has similar problems with times provided by their police department. All agreed that some sort of consistent accurate stopwatch system needs to be implemented to at least compare to the sheriff’s data. Harvey said the board should notify Sheriff Maketa of the board’s concerns now and also of any plan for recording reflex times internally that are developed in the future.

Youtsey noted that board members had received his budget proposal for 2004 in their meeting package. The budget proposal will be discussed at the next board meeting.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Oct. 17, 8 a.m.

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Lewis-Palmer School Board meeting Sept. 18

By Tommie Plank

At the Sept. 18 meeting, the District 38 Board of Education voted to adopt and appropriate the final budget and resolution for the 2003-2004 school district budget. Joe Subialka, executive director for Financial Services, explained that there were minor changes since the June board budget action, including actual expenditures for the last fiscal year (rather than the projections used in June) and enrollment figures for this year. Enrollment at this time shows an increase of 3.9 percent; official enrollment figures for funding purposes will be determined by the October count. The total appropriation of all funds is $54,033,694, with a year-end fund balance of $7,102,173. At Subialka’s recommendation, the budget includes a 2.3 percent reserve account for salaries, in the event the Colorado Department of Education issues a rescission of part of the state equalization budget given to schools last year.

Chuck Holt, principal of Monument Charter Academy, presented preliminary plans for adding a high school to the current kindergarten through eighth grade charter. A four-year liberal arts high school is planned, focusing on three tiers of students:

  1. Students with no desire to go on to college

  2. College prep classes, with six to eight Advanced Placement courses

  3. An International Baccalaureate Program

The high school will have a 500-student capacity, which would make it a medium-sized 3A school, as classified by the Colorado High School Activities Association.

The board and administrators discussed the Professional Learning Communities concept, which is being implemented districtwide. This method of involving adults at all levels to improve student achievement is being met with excitement by principals and teachers. A district mission statement will be developed this fall to act as an umbrella for all the schools.

Slight revisions to two policies were approved. The Colorado Association of School Boards recommended the adoption and changes. Policy DAB, "Financial Administration," was held over for a second reading from last month. This policy, in response to the financial difficulties experienced by two Colorado school districts last year, will not substantially change the financial operations of District 38. Policy BEDH, "Public Participation at Board Meetings," was fine-tuned on the advice of legal counsel. The policy discourages personal complaints in a public session against school district employees or a specific student; it is generally preferred that such discussions be held in executive session.

Mary Ann Wiggs distributed a comprehensive report of District 38 student achievement and highlighted "Points of Pride" and "Points of Caution." She emphasized that no single assessment measure should be viewed in isolation; that other information, such as class grades and teacher evaluations, should also be used to determine how well students are performing.

Pete Heinz, president of the District Accountability and Advisory Committee, reported that 23 people attended the first meeting of the year. They discussed the board’s charge and heard reports from Dan Lere, executive director of Employee Services, on hiring, enrollment, and construction. On Oct. 9, the committee will host Meet the Candidates Night, a forum for the public to meet and hear the school board candidates (Steve Corder, Lou Ann Dekleva, Guy Harris, D.J. McCormack, Steve Plank, and Jes Raintree). It will be held at Creekside Middle School starting at 7 p.m.

Several items were approved in consent agenda, including an inter-school district agreement between the transportation departments of Districts 38, 20 (Academy), 49 (Falcon), and 11 (Colorado Springs). The agreement recognizes that in times of emergency, cooperation between the transportation departments of various districts would be in the best interests of each district. Such instances would include disasters, such as a rapidly spreading forest fire, where school evacuations might become necessary. The agreement establishes guidelines and procedures for the implementation of a simple notification and bus dispatch system that assures the quickest and most efficient evacuation of students.

On the recommendation of Ted Belteau, executive director of Student and Community Services, commendations were presented to community agencies that participated in the successful Referred Student Adventure experiential program. Amy O’Dair, coordinator of the program, and Jeff Ferguson presented awards to the Monument Police Department, Woodmoor Public Safety, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Tri-Lakes Fire Department, Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, and Frontier Village Foundation. Teacher Rebecca Carson, program facilitator, also received a commendation, as did Nan Graber, art teacher, and Don and Jan Rheinheimer, who were instrumental in obtaining funding for the program that served 56 students.

The board’s next regular meeting will be Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Grace Best Elementary School.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association meeting Oct. 1

By Chris Pollard

County Commissioner Wayne Williams

County Commissioner Wayne Williams was invited to attend the meeting to address a list of issues given him by Director of Public Safety, Paul Lambert. These issues mainly covered traffic and public safety and some concerns about the Walters’ project.

Williams was introduced by Lambert and WIA President, Sue Cooley.

Property Taxes: Williams said this had come up in conversation when people complained about the lack of snowplowing. He said that if the average house was paying about $1,700 in property taxes, only around 10% of that actually goes to the county government. He said the majority goes to the school district, Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation department. In an effort to explain how frugal the county is, he pointed out that Douglas County has a mill levy generating approximately three times as much revenue.

Williams noted that in the upcoming Nov. 4 election, the county has two issues on the ballot. One of those, Referendum 1A will add 1 mill ($25 on an average house tax bill) that will go to the developmentally disabled. This is aimed at addressing disabilities early for children and also for helping adults get jobs. Currently, El Paso County has the longest waiting list in the state for the developmentally disabled.

Referendum 1B deals with the anomaly that the County cannot accept state funds because of the TABOR limit – if it gets a grant then it must reduce other county funds to compensate. Referendum 1B will exempt state grants from the TABOR limit.

Law Enforcement: Sheriff Maketa worked out an agreement so prisoners can be deposited at the Falcon police station at the north end of Colorado Springs and deputies do not have to drive to the south of the Springs to deliver arrestees. This represents a considerable time saving. Additionally, five staff members have been moved from desk jobs to outside work. Response time for category one crimes has been reduced by half. Because of the change in staffing, traffic tickets have increased by 33% and warnings by 50%.

Williams noted that the county gets around $500,000 in tax revenue from homes and businesses in the Woodmoor Sanitation district. Approx one-third of the budget goes to law enforcement – about $160,000. Williams said he thinks the area is getting reasonable support for that amount.

Transportation: Williams reported that BRRTA has reached an agreement with the school district over payments (see front page article) and at some point BRRTA is due to improve Baptist Road.

Snow Removal: Williams said the county reviewed the priority road system for plowing and made a few changes regarding Woodmoor street priorities. He noted that if a mailbox is knocked down or broken by a snowplow the county will help replace it.

Transportation improvements: Williams was optimistic that traffic flow around Highway 105 will improve once all the construction is finished. He noted that the string of stoplights will be properly timed at some point in the future. He commented that the I-25 and Woodmen bridges are scheduled to be fully open by January 2004. The new contractor, Lawrence Construction that is building the Monument Bridge, has brought the project back onto the original schedule.

Williams noted that Powers Boulevard will be extended to Highway 83 and this may have some effect on travelers heading to the east side of the Springs.

Members of the WIA board raised issues regarding traffic and safety in the local area and in particular about traffic through Woodmoor to reach other destinations. Williams’ said his understanding is that Jackson Creek Parkway will have to be constructed for the Marketplace development and that a condition of Wal-Mart coming in is that they would help construct the extension of Struthers and improve the width of Baptist Road to Leatherchaps.

Cooley said these improvements were all to the South of Woodmoor and did little to address the issue of people driving through Woodmoor to get to that area.

Paul Riesling, a resident, asked about speed bumps and whether these could be used for traffic calming. Williams replied that this had to be coordinated with the county department of transportation, though it remains an issue as to whether such roads can then be plowed properly. Williams noted that the county has added a third truck-sized snow blower for future large storms.

For County funded projects: Williams said the two highest ranked projects in the Tri-Lakes area were to fund the bridge to extend Struthers Road and to establish a Baptist/Hodgen Road connection. He said he thought long-term east/west mobility had to be addressed.

Development: Williams said that because the Walter’s project had to come up for review he would not be able to make any direct comments about that. He did note that on Monday a sketch plan was turned in to county planning for the project. He made the point that if the developer had chosen to build apartments, which could have been built at three times the density of the town homes, it would not have needed to go to the board of county commissioners for approval because the land was already zoned that way. Because of the individual ownership of the proposed town homes, the project will now have to be reviewed at public hearings and in turn the developer will have to pay school, drainage, and park fees, which otherwise would not have been the case. He added that the county must approve any traffic plans before the project can proceed.

A number of WIA residents and members of the board reiterated their desire to reduce the number of units in the Walters’ development. Williams noted that property owners have the right to build. He said that just because they were last to build they cannot be held back because other areas built up first and created other traffic flows. He suggested that people who wished to make comments on the project should address their e-mails to KenRowberg@ elpasoco.com

The Walters’ property

The meeting then turned to WIA’s response to the plans that have been submitted to the county and could possibly be the subject of a hearing in December.

Cooley said she wanted to finalize the list of issues that still needed to be addressed before talking to the developers and then submitting an official WIA position to the county planning department.

Cooley asked for comments from the floor. Paul Riesling, a resident living near the proposed development had canvassed his local neighborhood and more than 30 people signed a petition he submitted in favor of the board supporting the conservation easement. He said he thought the vast majority of residents supported the conservation easement to retain the existing green space and that most people would see this as a gift to the community. He had a significant concern that the board would not get the easement and people would then be very concerned if houses were subsequently built on the area.

John Ottino said he did not want to be held hostage by the conservation agreement in regards to meeting the WIA requirement. Cooley commented that the Walters’ property owners say that if agreement is not reached by the end of the year then the conservation easement might not go through and potentially all the land would be built on.

The submitted traffic study shows that developer will have to put in turn and acceleration lanes and shows that traffic limits meet acceptable standards for the county for 20 years.

A few people spoke against the development, mostly through concerns over the extra traffic and the sheer number of houses.

Mike Smith, WIA’s director of the Architectural Control Committee, then reviewed the main concerns the committee had in rejecting the application. He said the major problems occurred in four areas:

  1. Retaining walls – The latest set of plans show retaining walls with four of them that are from four to nine feet high and one other wall that is 18 feet tall and over 100 feet long. Smith said he thought the smaller walls could be built as two staggered lower walls but the large wall would be an issue.

  2. Parking – ACC requirements are that there must be three parking places to include the garage. He said that based on this formula, the proposal is 91 spaces short. He added that separate parking areas are not acceptable to the ACC because they would not directly serve the units.

  3. Building Separation – Many of the units are closer than the average height of the building. Buildings are 30 feet tall but are not that far apart and could be as close as 20 feet.

  4. Cuts and Fills – The first set of plans showed where four feet of cut and fill was exceeded A review of the new plans showed they were still exceeding the limit. It was conceded that the areas where they exceeded the rules had been reduced in area.

Smith added that the recreation areas are still deemed inadequate.

There were also comments from the board that the well site had been moved off the planned area and what was to become conserved area had been shown as a temporary construction service area.

House and Yard Maintenance

Cooley reported that she recently toured Woodmoor and noted there were a number of properties with obvious deficiencies in house and yard maintenance. Having been informed of these deficiencies, a number of people had an adverse reaction. Paul Lambert pointed out that the grass cutting rules were the same as those for the county.

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Oct. workshops on county road plan

Where is future growth likely to occur? What transportation corridors are needed to serve that growth? What roads are priorities for development as major corridors?

El Paso County transportation planners are inviting people living and working in El Paso County to discuss these and other questions about the county’s transportation system at three public workshops in October. Dates and locations are:

  • Oct. 14, Mesa Ridge High School Cafeteria, 6070 Mesa Ridge Parkway, Widefield

  • Oct. 21, Falcon Middle School Cafetorium, 11955 Highway 24, Falcon

  • Oct. 23, Lewis-Palmer Middle School Cafetorium, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

The workshops start at 6 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. During the first part of the workshops, people will have the opportunity to study project information and speak with county staff and consultants to learn about today’s transportation network and where growth is likely to occur. In the second half, participants will work in small groups to identify priorities for how we travel in the future.

These workshops are the first in a series of activities to involve people in updating El Paso County’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan. The plan, adopted in 1987, describes priorities for the county’s transportation network. El Paso County Department of Transportation Project Manager Jude Willcher says, "We need to hear what people think about traveling in the county today and what their priorities would be for transportation investments for the future. Our goal is to make this plan fit how residents and business people want to see the county grow."

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For more information, contact Willcher, El Paso County Department of Transportation Project Manager, (719) 659-3941. Up-to-date information on the Major Transportation Corridors Plan is also available on the project Web site, www.elpasoMTCP.com.

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Letters to Our Community

Monument Express’ions

Hear, Hear to Tim Watkins’ Letter to the Editor "Travelin’ Time"! I, too, believe that we need to use alternative transportation in order to alleviate the traffic on our roadways and to help keep our cities and state clean and beautiful. That is why I ride the Monument Express Bus. This bus service runs round-trip routes Monday through Friday from Monument to Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, and Tiffany Square. It was established under a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant sponsored by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

I find it surprising that only a handful of people are using this service when, according to the Springs Transit, they received responses, all positive, from 10 percent of the residents when our area was polled before the bus service started. This is the highest response they have ever received to a poll, and yet no one is using the service. Is it because no one knows about it? There are posters at the Park and Ride and around town, and brochures will soon be distributed in the grocery bags at Safeway and King Soopers. If the ridership does not increase, we may lose this service.

The lack of riders tells me that maybe our city is not ready for alternative transportation. Although many in our city complain about the traffic and pollution and profess to a healthy lifestyle, maybe no one actually wants to consider alternative transportation because they are afraid or have some kind of misconception about public transportation. I believe if no one uses our bus services, then light rail will most likely not be considered.

Therefore, I challenge the people of our city to try the Monument Express Bus. Once you ride and experience the stress-free drive into and home from work—and once you read, work, or even nap in the comfortable reclining seats while someone else does the driving for you—I think you will change your mind about public transportation and being so dependent on your cars. I challenge you to try the bus service, and if you
don’t like it for any reason, contact Springs Transit. They want your feedback and are willing to consider route times and schedules in order to make this service work.

Help keep our area beautiful and help push for better alternative transportation such as bus services and light rail. Ride the Monument Express Bus!

Julie Troudt

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I am writing in response to Tim Watkins’ letter "Travelin’ Time." I agree completely with Mr. Watkins’ evaluation of Americans and our automobiles, the illogically planned highways, and especially the heavily traveled roads.

Like Mr. Watkins, I, too see the tension and sometimes deadly results on our overcrowded daily commute to the Springs. This morning, as I rode into town, I looked at every car that passed. Each vehicle had only one person in it, and most were on a cell phone. Some drivers had a death grip on the steering wheel. Other drivers were eating breakfast. One man was reading the paper spread across his steering wheel as he drove down the interstate at 70-plus miles per hour!

There is one alternative to this daily madness that is in place right now. I have chosen to make this alternative part of my lifestyle. I am a regular, devoted rider on the Monument Express.

The Monument Express offers several runs a day into Colorado Springs and back. It is a big coach with individual reclining seats, not your usual city bus. The Express runs on compressed natural gas, not regular gas. The cost of a monthly pass is $75, a weekly pass is $20, or daily fare is $2.25 one way. That is cheaper than the cost of fuel for a month for my SUV.

Cost, comfort, and less smog are logical reasons for riding the coach. The most valuable benefit of all is...no stress. Some passengers read the paper, do work, talk on their cell phones, visit with each other, or have a quick nap. I used to believe that the daily commute didn’t affect me. Since I have been riding the Express, I have found (and my family will agree) I have so much more energy when I get home in the evening and I am in such a good mood. Any way you look at it, the Express is a relaxing, comfortable ride into town, with economic, ecological, and mental health benefits for all.

The Monument Express is the alternative that is available now. However, this service (currently operating on a federal/state/local [Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality] grant) is in danger of being suspended. Why? Because only a few of us ride it! The average number of people on the 7 a.m. coach into town is only five!

I am asking the people of the Tri-Lakes area to give the Express a try.Give up your car and ride the coach once or twice a week. If the current Express schedule or pick-up area doesn’t work, call Springs Transit and let them know your needs. I have found them to be very courteous and accommodating.

I’m inviting you, the people of the Tri-Lakes area, to be part of the solution offered to help alleviate the polluted, overcrowded, and dangerous highway in our part of the county.

Theresa Chambers

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It’s 7:30 a.m., and I’m on the Monument Express bus, watching the Academy-Woodmen traffic jam. Instead of becoming frustrated in my car for the next half hour, I can read the paper, call some clients, or just simply sleep a few extra minutes. The seats lean back, and the Monument Express feels more like a professional charter than a bus. As if things couldn’t get any better, I know I’m not putting miles on my car, wearing out my brakes, and using up gas. I’m riding a bus that doesn’t pollute and provides citizens with an alternate form of transportation.

There are so many good reasons to ride the Monument Express. I encourage others to make a difference and to give it a try!

Matt Spidell

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Why not use what we have?

I recently read that Front Range communities are upset by the congestion on the commute to and from the ski areas. I also read the possible ways around that and the budgetary constraints. Of course, the cheapest is widening the highways. Studies consistently show that this is the least effective because the added lanes fill up before they are completed. There are lots of expensive ideas. The main thing, in my thinking, is don’t waste money: Be proactive in modifications. Make it something that lasts a long time and carries lots of people. There are already railways in place. Could there not be passengers as well as freight to fill up the rails and alleviate pressures on our overly crowded highways? Just an idea!

Tim Watkins

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Fire inspection questions

I have been watching the stories of a number of business owners in the Monument-Woodmoor area who are disgruntled with the fire safety inspection practices of Fire Chief David Youtsey. Their complaints have raised several questions that I would like to submit to these business people and your readers.

  1. Have these businesses asked their patrons how they feel about doing business in a place that does not meet minimum fire safety codes?

  2. Have these businesses posted warnings to their patrons and employees that the business is not up to fire safety code, and may represent an unsafe place to shop, or to work?

  3. Have these business owners published their names and addresses so that all present and future patrons may know where they are safe or unsafe when they shop for goods and services?

  4. Have these businesses informed their insurance agents that they do not wish to conform to the minimum fire safety standards according to the Uniform Fire Safety Code? (I wonder what kind of increase in premiums these businesses are looking at when their insurance carriers find out that they are not willing to meet minimum fire safety codes.)

  5. Have these business owners considered the consequences, financially and legally, if a patron, employee, or firefighter were to die in their place of business due to their negligence by willfully disobeying fire safety codes?

  6. Would their insurance carrier cover the claims for wrongful death due to the intentional malfeasance of the business owner that refused to conform to minimum fire safety codes?

  7. Why is it that these few business owners are complaining about the cost of keeping their employees and their customers safe? Isn’t that part of the cost of doing business? Doesn’t upgrading their businesses add to the overall value of their business?

I believe that there are only two reasons that any business owner would not readily comply with fire safety codes: 1) the business owner did not analyze all of the costs of doing business and is grasping at anything that will reduce costs to stay financially viable; or 2) the business owner is only concerned with keeping as much of the net revenue as possible—and if employee and customer safety has to be circumvented to pad his or her pocket, so be it.

Recently, Suzanne D’Innocenzo painted a nice picture of a healthy community, titled "A Story about Buying Local and Supporting Your Business Community," in the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Newsletter. What happens if one of those businesses in her story burns to the ground and an employee, some customers, and a few firefighters die in the process—or some adjacent businesses are lost in the blaze? All because the business owner wanted to reduce overhead or line his or her pockets. Not such a pretty picture anymore, is it?

Steven Steele

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The Paintball Situation

First, I would like to make clear that I am not against paintball in general. It is one of the country’s fastest growing "extreme sports," a burgeoning industry surpassing snowboarding in popularity with nearly 1,000 facilities nationwide and 67,000 paintball guns sold per month. Despite their growing popularity and rapid growth, paintball facilities are a new type of business enterprise whose long-term affects on communities have yet to be determined. It is up to the citizens and elected officials of Palmer Lake to determine how these business enterprises can interface within our unique community, minimizing the impact on our existing aesthetic, public safety and financial landscapes.

I can only assume that the council was as unaware as I was of the affect the facility at the corner of Frontier Lane and Highway 105 would have on the surrounding neighborhood. I had heard that a facility was going in but that it would be housed in a metal building. I was surprised and later shocked as I experienced firsthand the negative impact of an open-air facility on a neighborhood. I saw stucco homes being permanently stained, stray paintballs and casings littering the street, the irritating noise of repeat-fire weaponry, and the unsightly, unkempt grounds of a space clearly too small to adequately house such a facility. A young man from outside our neighborhood, dressed in makeshift war garb, came to my door looking for work to gain admission fees.

In retrospect, it is easy enough to see the inappropriateness of a business that caters to fatigue-clad, gun-carrying customers less than 100 feet from a family neighborhood with over 20 children under the age of 18. One council member admitted after the Sept. 11 meeting when the issue was discussed that it was not looked at closely enough before the business license was issued.

I am confident that once the council has a chance to reassess the situation, they will take whatever means possible to rectify the decision to issue this business license. Working together, citizens and council members need not only reevaluate the location of this particular facility but also take a wider view to build a high quality business district that will strengthen our image, property values, and tax revenues for years to come.

DeAnn Hiatt Green

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Fusion Extreme Gaming is a business that was not appropriately zoned nor befitting my neighborhood. It is polluting this end of Palmer Lake with its paintballs and noise.

Paintball is a continuously loud activity. There is constant firing of weapons. Team members are aggressively yelling and sometimes cursing. Loud music from cars can be heard. I live two blocks away, and it sounds like I live in a battle zone during business hours. The noise from this sport has invaded my yard and my home against my wishes. We can no longer enjoy our own property. We rarely eat outside anymore. My dog barks at the commotion on the paintball field. There are times I’ve had to turn up the TV or stereo over the noise of paintball wars.

My neighbors’ homes and businesses are being hit by paintballs escaping the netting. Elementary schoolchildren need to pass the paintball field every day during business hours to return home from school. I do not feel safe letting my child walk past this facility, as paintballs escaping the netting pose a threat to his well-being.

The paintball guns are specifically marked "Not a Toy." Some can fire effectively well over 150 feet, and all have adjustable firepower. Most safety precautions are user-enforced. The possibility for accidents is high, if exacting standards are not met. How will the Town of Palmer Lake enforce these standards? Or will it be up to the business—which has already shown disregard for several Palmer Lake ordinances, regional building codes, and its neighbors?

Did anyone on the Planning Commission or Town Council of Palmer Lake (TOPL) listen to the guns before they accepted the business? Did TOPL listen from different points of the surrounding neighborhood? Did TOPL come out to the neighborhood since the Sept. 11 meeting to hear guns, yelling, etc.? On a weekend? During the tournament Sept. 28? Did TOPL visit any other paintball facilities in neighboring areas before it granted Fusion Extreme Gaming its license? Did TOPL investigate county and state noise abatement laws?

In several instances, TOPL has asked new business license applicants to inform all neighbors in nearby residential areas in writing of their intent to open businesses such as day care centers and foster care. Can they explain why they felt a six-to-eight-child day care center would impact residents enough to warrant this action, but a paintball facility would not?

I’ve heard from several residents in all parts of town: "I never heard about a paintball business being considered." Could the town perhaps use large hinged signs similar to those advertising Palmer Lake Motors to post TOPL information and new business requests? Something like this would be more visible, portable, inexpensive, and could hopefully be posted in all areas to help citizens stay informed.

I can only hope that Palmer Lake will investigate the negative aspects of this business on its neighbors and reconsider its decision to allow an open-air paintball facility at this location. I believe enclosing the paintball field in a soundproof building might alleviate the most serious noise, safety, and litter issues, while allowing the business to function. I don’t feel the peace and sanctity of my home nor my neighbors’ should be invaded by Fusion Extreme Gaming indefinitely.

Suzanne M. Coons

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I am addressing the intolerable and unconscionable decision that was made by granting a business license to Fusion Extreme Gaming in our town. I know that you take your responsibilities as political leaders in our town seriously and am assured that you will also take the rights of all of its citizens just as seriously.

One of the reasons that the above-mentioned business is intolerable is due to the noise. The hours of continued rapid repeat gunfire, explosive sounds as the bunkers are hit, and voices yelling are offensive, unnerving, and disruptive to the peace of the surrounding neighborhood. It brings about an automatic human response of fear or flight. It has been said that train noise is comparable. Residents here were fully aware of the train when they purchased their homes. The train does not go on for hours at a time. The sound of a train does not bring about the same automatic response of fear or flight, but rather an association with being in a small, rural town called Palmer Lake. It is a violation of the rights of any resident to have to tolerate these violent and continual sounds.

Another major reason this gaming facility is intolerable is that paintball does not fit in with the moral character of Palmer Lake. Fusion Extreme Gaming and community residents have been quoted as saying that the business is one that supports good, clean, family fun and is a place to get kids off the streets. Residents have gathered information from the game that refutes this. All the videos, magazines, and marketing catalogs associated with the industry that have been gathered are explicitly violent and full of sexual innuendoes. Paintball gaming goes against the public peace, morals, and safety codes and ordinances of Palmer Lake.

Granting a business license and allowing Fusion Extreme Gaming to operate in the town of Palmer Lake is unconscionable. In the past, the effects of granting a request for a business license, zoning, or any variance have been carefully scrutinized and debated by the town council and residents. Precedence has been set that if a business, signage, or event would have a negative impact on the town and its residents, the venue was denied. In the past, public input has been actively sought and used to make such decisions; for example, the requests for a dog kennel, using Estemere for a wedding venue, and closing down the Ben Lomond Gun Club shooting area.

Palmer Lake has always been known as a "little piece of heaven," yet our governing body has decided to take away the right of many of its residents to enjoy the peace and serenity that the town offers.

Patricia A. Atkins

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I would like to ask Palmer Lake Town Council members and Mayor McDonald to address the following possible code violations as they pertain to Fusion Extreme Gaming, a paintball gaming park and game room and Fletcher’s Well Drilling. I implore you to read carefully each code that is listed below for the intent of the law.

In order to have ground space in which to erect the paintball park and game area, Fletcher’s Well Drilling moved their big trucks and equipment from the rear to the front of their building and into the street for parking. Palmer Lake Town Council has disallowed other businesses to park their large trucks in the front of their buildings; such as, towing companies. Equipment parking, employee parking, and patron parking are now shared. A parking lot that meets the following codes and ordinances should have been required. Lighting, curbs, planters, etc. should also be installed along with the appropriate number of spaces. There is not room for the equipment, vehicles, and trucks at this site as it is plotted now.

  • 5.02.070 Use of streets

  • 17.60.01 Off Street Parking

  • 17.60.040 Loading Requirements

  • 17.60.020 Number of Spaces

A single porta-potty is not sufficient sanitation for the public at this facility. Restrooms with running water should be provided. Buffering between commercial and residential areas is also lacking. Fencing or landscaping does not exclusively do buffering, but distancing is also an option.

  • 17.38.080 Outdoor Storage and Buffering

  • 17.44 A 01 Recreational Zoning Area would have been better suited for a paintball park

Noise is an obvious complaint our neighborhood has with the paintball park. It is generated from the gunfire which is automatic sounding with 10-30 shots per second capabilities from these guns, coupled with the 10-30 target hit noises per second, times 10 participants in a game, which makes the noise very intense and explosive at times. Shouting offensive and defensive instructions between team members during play is added to the firepower of the sport. All in all, the noise level is a nuisance to neighbors and businesses. Vulgar language can be heard blocks away during play. Neighbors on both sides of Highway 105 have stated this.

  • 8.04.010 Nuisance Defined

  • 8.04.030 Notice to Abate

  • 9.32.020 Disorderly Homes

  • 9.40.020 Indecent Language

Paintballs, both exploded and still intact, litter our streets, lots, and ditches. Paintballs are hitting cars, homes, and businesses within all directions of the gaming facility. Containment is a real issue that needs attention. Netting covering the playing area is absent, allowing paintballs to leave the playing field, littering our neighborhoods.

  • 8.08.020 Litter Defined

  • 8.08.030 Litter in Public Places

  • 8.08.03 Litter on Occupied Private Property

  • 8.08.060 Owner to Maintain Premises Free of Litter

  • 8.08.070 Litter on Vacant Lots

  • 8.09.090 Sweeping Litter into Streets Prohibited

It is also important to know that over time the currently used netting surrounding the playing field of a paintball facility, becomes weak and paintballs can and will go through it. This is why distance buffering is a common practice for paintball parks in order to protect surrounding people and property. Also paintballs that are old become hard. Players of the game are known to freeze the paintballs so they hurt more when they hit opponents. A six-foot security fence around the play area and parking lot would deter loitering and playing on the game field, while the facility is closed.

The Warnings on paintball boxes are as follows:

These paintballs are intended only for use in the sport of paintball; Follow all the rules for safe paintball play. Goggles, facemasks, and ear protection, designed specifically for use in paintball games, are mandatory at all times for all persons who are within paintball gun range. Failure to follow the rules for safe paintball play, and the instructions and recommendations printed here, may result in bodily injury including face, eye and ear injury, blindness or deafness. Do not shoot paintballs at a speed in excess of 300 feet per second (90 meters per second). Do not ingest. STORAGE: Failure to follow these storage instructions may adversely affect performance and quality and increase the possibility of injury. Keep paintballs stored between (59 degrees to 89degrees F). Relative humidity should be at or below 50%. Do not allow paintballs to freeze.

Warnings given on paintball gun packaging:

This is not a toy. Misuse may cause serious injury or death. Eye protection designed for paintball must be worn by the user and any person within range. We recommend at least 18 years old to purchase. Read the owner’s manual before using this product. 14 years old with adult supervision or 10 years old to use on ASTM F 17777-97 paintball fields.

Paintball guns are a 68-caliber gun with an 800 rounds per minute capacity and they have a 70-yard effective range. This means that children playing, people walking and driving by, along with homes and businesses are all well within gun range.

You have observed the business, heard the noise, and are aware of the complaints and issues that surround the paintball park. I respectfully hope that you will do the right thing and insist on an enclosed building for the play area, or move the playing field to a location that is less disruptive and dangerous to the community.

Our neighborhood finds the lack of containment for public safety, the disruptive noise, and vulgar language intolerable. I expect these issues will be addressed soon at this level in order to avoid legal action.

Gary Atkins

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Protect Our Wells

Protect Our Wells (POW) was organized about a year ago in response to rumored efforts to reduce El Paso County’s 300-year water rule and indications that the City of Colorado Springs—which until then had not tapped the groundwater system—would initiate a large high-volume water well drilling program along the north side of the city. Another factor was the ongoing explosive "city lot" development in the Peyton and Falcon areas, which apparently have inadequate groundwater supplies. Now we hear rumors that Douglas County may be considering a series of high-volume wells north of the county line.

Our concerns are threefold: (1) that continued development may deplete the available water supplies, leaving us high and dry; (2) that our interests as small domestic well owners would not be given sufficient weight in water supply planning; and (3) that our water supplies might be prematurely drained by nearby high volume gathering systems.

Most of the groundwater produced in northern El Paso County comes from the various formations of the Denver Basin—in descending order, the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills formations. The Denver Basin is a north-south elongated oval basin that extends from near Greeley on the north to Colorado Springs on the south. It was filled with porous sands and shale 60 million to 70 million years ago. For the most part, the water now in these sands entered them long ago. It is "fossil water": It is not being actively recharged, and once used, it will not be replaced in our lifetimes. We are, in fact, mining a finite resource, and this fact is recognized by the state in legislation on which the 100- and 300-year rules are based.

Upon investigation, it became apparent to POW that no one really knew how much water was being produced from the basin, where it was coming from, or how much producible water still remained. The Colorado Division of Water Resources nominally administers groundwater resources, but only in line with previously passed legislation based on somewhat fragmentary technical data. Their records are very incomplete; they don’t even know how many wells there are in the basin. The U.S. Geologic Survey and the Water Resources Division monitor the water levels in a number of wells in El Paso County, but the present sampling density is inadequate to show the effects of high-volume producers. The 100- and 300-year water rules are based on state legislation, which recent drilling—specifically the Kiowa Denver Basin Core Project—indicates may be overly optimistic by 30 percent.

Under these water rules, developers in unincorporated El Paso County are required to have a 300-year supply of water (100 years in the rest of Colorado) dedicated to the proposed development before they can proceed. However, the Denver Basin Rules governing these evaluations, which the state is required by law to review every five years, have not been revised since January 1987 due to a lack of funding. The state engineer has put a caveat on water resources documents that states: "Water supply based on wells in the Denver Basin may be less that 100 years due to anticipated water level declines." The Denver Basin can be looked at as a big saucer of water. When the saucer is full, there is plenty of water everywhere. If we deplete half the water, there is still plenty of water in the center, but the area along the flanks will be bone dry. Many of us live on those flanks.

The county apparently wants nothing to do with the problem. The El Paso County Water Authority, although concerned, is a private group dominated by large water suppliers and cannot be expected to have the best interests of the adjacent small well owners in mind. We are, however, working with them on the monitoring project.

About a year ago, the City Utilities Department, activated by the drought, announced a major program in which they planned to drill up to 46 high-volume water wells in four gathering systems along the north side of the city. Production will be from the Denver, Arapahoe, and probably the Laramie-Fox Hills formations. They gave a concession to the small well owners in that the Dawson, where most of the residents of northern El Paso County produce their water, would not be tapped. However, a major percentage of the residents along the south and west margins of the basin, east and west of I-25, get their drinking water from the Denver, as the Dawson is thin or absent along the basin margins. It is expected that homeowners will be forced to deepen their Dawson wells into the underlying Denver as the Dawson is depleted.

As now planned, the city will complete five wells in the area centered on Middle Creek Parkway and Voyager, within a mile or so of homeowner-owned Denver wells to the north and east. Some of these wells will produce from the Denver, and the city wells are projected to produce a total of 2.5 million gallons a day. To put this in perspective, 2.5 million gallons equals 7.7 acre/feet a day, or a total of 912 million gallons a year, while the average homeowner uses about 1/2 acre/foot or 163,000 gallons a year. You can see these homeowners’ concerns about possible drainage problems.

POW is working with the El Paso County Water Authority and several other groups to design and propose an adequate well monitoring system to get a better idea of what is actually happening in the basin. But this is only the first step. We are also trying to stay on top of the various development projects as they come up and then working to influence planning department decisions where the projects seem to lack independent water supplies. We also want to pressure the Legislature to bring the whole evaluation system up-to-date.

POW is your chance to have some voice in these matters. Ask yourself, how much would your property be worth if your well ran dry? With enough support, we can and will be able to influence government actions and postpone that day of reckoning. POW annual dues are $25 per household, and you can download a membership application from our Web site, http://www.blackforest-co.com/~pow, or write to our mailing address. Completed applications and checks, made out to Protect Our Wells, should be mailed to P.O. Box 88241, Colorado Springs, CO 80908-8241. For further information, visit our Web site or contact us by e-mail at pow@blackforest-co.com.

The POW Board

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Perspective on Our Community: Don’t shoot the messenger

By John Heiser

As reported in this issue of OCN, at the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting Sept. 18, board president Charlie Pocock took issue with the newspaper coverage of statements made at the Aug. 20 meeting of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors. In particular, he read from OCN’s article detailing that meeting (page 16 of our Sept. 6 issue).

Pocock said statements made by Wescott officials including Wescott Chief Bill Sheldon were incorrect. Pocock defended the Tri-Lakes district’s handling of the Aug. 5 house fire in Jackson Creek; said the two Wescott trucks are parked at the Tri-Lakes station as a favor to the Wescott district; and reported that the Tri-Lakes district attended all but two of the recent North End Group meetings.

Pocock’s view and that of other members of the Tri-Lakes board was that OCN should not report statements made at meetings unless the truth of those statements can be corroborated.

That view misconstrues what OCN does. While other media may characterize what they do as investigative reporting or "getting to the bottom of the story," OCN has a much more straightforward role: We act as the eyes and ears of concerned citizens. For most of our articles, we go to public meetings and report what happened. Our goal is to give our readers the information they would have gotten if they had gone to the meetings.

Throughout the ages, judges, juries, and philosophers struggled with how to discover the truth. Within OCN’s role, truth amounts to accurately reporting what was said and done. To omit from our articles statements made at public meetings because the reporter may question the basis for those statements would be biased reporting. Occasionally, our volunteer reporters follow up after a meeting to get more information or to obtain a reaction from those with opposing viewpoints. But that is the exception, not the norm.

Instead of being upset with OCN’s coverage, Pocock and the other members of the Tri-Lakes district should take up their concerns with their counterparts at the Wescott district. If OCN had not reported the statements they found so offensive, they might not have known what had been said.

Which brings us to the real issue, and this applies to all levels and forms of government: Public officials need to think carefully about their public statements. A public meeting should not be a forum for blowing off steam. Having public officials taking verbal potshots at one another through the press is not a good way to iron out difficulties.

In short, we look to our public officials to be accurate and constructive in their statements. Above all, don’t shoot the messenger just because you do not like the message.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Really, It’s True!

By Judith Pettibone

On the rather lengthy list of the pleasures of working in this bookstore will appear the discovery of the joy of reading nonfiction. I had been almost exclusively a fiction reader, always thinking that magazines and newspapers gave me just about as much "truth" as I could absorb. Discovering the pleasure of the beautifully written and often intriguing delights of nonfiction has been eye-opening and a great deal of fun.

Here are several of our store’s more popular nonfiction titles:

Seabiscuit ($15.95) Seabiscuit: Collector’s Edition ($29.95)
By Laura Hillenbrand

In a certain way, the first sentence of the preface for Seabiscuit is a summary of the entire book and is, what one calls, a grabber. "In 1938, near the end of a decade of monumental turmoil, the year’s number one newsmaker was not Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hitler or Mussolini. It wasn’t Pope Pius IX, nor was it Lou Gehrig, Howard Hughes, or Clark Gable. The subject of the most newspaper column inches wasn’t even a person. It was an undersized, crooked-legged race horse named Seabiscuit." And Hillenbrand proceeds to tell the engaging and inspiring tale of three larger-than-life men (owner, trainer, and jockey), a surprising horse, and most certainly, an unforgettable era.

After the astonishing success of the original book (including numerous awards), and now the critically acclaimed movie, Hillenbrand was offered the chance to publish a collector’s edition of her book—with more than 150 candid and professional photos—as well as to write a new introduction. For her many fans, this book is the perfect follow-up of the original book.

(As a side note, Hillenbrand’s own story is a compelling one, as she wrote Seabiscuit while nearly completely disabled by a severe case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her account of her illness and the writing of Seabiscuit appears in a summer issue of the New Yorker.)

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary ($14)
By Simon Winchester

A national best-seller with a super subtitle, this book was simply terrific. William Safire is quoted on the cover as saying the book "is the linguistic detective story of the decade." It took 70 years to complete the OED and the details of that process are fascinating. Add to that underpinning the fact that one of the most prolific contributors to this effort was clinically insane and locked up in one of England’s harshest asylums for the criminally insane, and you really have a tale.

The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey ($14)
By Linda Greenlaw

Greenlaw begins her introduction, "I have been fishing commercially for seventeen years, and up until 1997, no one cared." In 1997, you might remember, came the smash hit The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, and life changed for Linda Greenlaw. She was the captain of the Hannah Boden, sister ship to the Andrea Gail, which went down during that storm of the century. With Junger’s book came great interest in her life as a sword captain, and out of that interest this book. Greenlaw is an excellent writer who chronicles one 30-day trip, filled with adventure and backbreaking, nonstop work. It is a peek into a world of which most of us are completely unknowing. Greenlaw followed this New York Times best-seller with a second book called The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island. In this book, she has retired from her sword boat and is now a lobster fisherman. She also discovers the delights and the foibles of life on her very tiny home-island off the coast of Maine.

Under the Tuscan Sun ($15)
By Frances Mayes

This charming book about Tuscany, written in 1997, created quite the unexpected literary stir and went on to become a New York Times best-seller. The cover describes it as a love letter to Italy, and it certainly is that. This combination travelogue and ode to the "thrills" of remodeling an ancient house while delighting in the pleasures of small-town Italian life (with many nods to the food and wine) makes for a delicious read. (Note: The preview for the movie of the same name makes me wonder if the screenwriter could have possibly read the book.) Mayes followed this book with Bella Tuscany, which celebrates the joys of restoring her ancient garden and olive grove and continues her love affair with Tuscany.

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History ($14)
By Erik Larson

In September 1900, Galveston, Texas, was nearly destroyed by a hurricane of epic proportions. Nearly 10,000 people were killed, with most of the deaths resulting from extreme flooding. Erik Larson creates an amazingly vivid account not only of the storm but also of life in turn-of-the-century Galveston as well as the country as a whole. At times, you wonder if this account has been embroidered by Larson’s desire to create a more compelling story. However, no embellishment was necessary; the story stands as dramatic as any fictional piece. Isaac Cline was the head meteorologist for Galveston in the early days of scientific weather monitoring. In fact, it was the hubris of the era and the fledgling weather agency that helped create the tragic aftermath of the storm. Larson followed this success with his more recent Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. In this book, another best-seller, he chronicles the creating of the Chicago World’s Fair and the serial killer who lived next door. What a combination!

Until next month, happy reading!

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Festival at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Oct. 25

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake will host a fundraiser festival on Oct. 25, featuring award-winning and popular local performing artists Phil Volan, Joe Uveges, Jim Sokol, Joleen Bell, and Jennifer Griffis. These musicians are known for their talents individually, and this festival brings them together for a rare and fun evening to raise funds for the center. Admission at the door is $15 for members and $18 for nonmembers. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Springs residents voted Phil Volan Best Male Singer and Best Folksinger two years running in the Gazette and Independent newspapers. In 2002, Volan placed second at the prestigious National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kan. He is an experienced recording artist with five CDs, including the recent Live at the Black Rose Acoustic Society, featuring Volan, Uveges, and Sokol in a tribute to Crosby, Stills, & Nash.

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization with a mission of creating community partnerships for demonstrating, teaching, exhibiting, and promoting the arts. The center is located in the historic Kaiser Frazer building at 304 Highway 105. Check their Web site, www.trilakesarts.com, regularly for upcoming performances, classes, and exhibitions. Call 481-0475 for more information.

Left to Right: Jim Sokol, Joe Uveges, Jennifer Griffis, Phil Volan, Joleen Bell

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Reflections: The Protractor Factor

By Judith Pettibone

It came as no surprise to me that this little guy (or one very much like him), a capuchin monkey, confirmed what most parents could tell you: A sense of fairness appears to be hardwired in our brains. As reported in September’s issue of Nature, scientists from Emory University inform us that capuchin monkeys will refuse to work if their reward is a cucumber slice when they see a buddy receiving the much more desired grape half. Now I ask you, really, is this at all surprising?

Face it, many of you have just finished a summer with school-aged children. "It’s not fair" echoed across the land. Summer probably registers more real and imagined violations of the "Family Fairness Doctrine" (never actually defined by any court due to fraidy-cat judges) than any other time of year.

In our home, I can remember the summer calendar sporting a series of colored dots—one daughter owning blue, the other yellow. The dots might have been used to determine a weighty issue like who would get to choose which fast-food restaurant we might visit. In truth, the dots were used to keep track of whose week it was to ride in the front seat. I can remember sitting in the driveway, the car running, waiting for one of them to run in and check the dot.

Honestly, though, my girls were amateurs compared to my dad and his brother. Those two put The Doctrine to the challenge. One Thanksgiving Day, as my grandmother served her much-sought-after pumpkin pie, the two boys began to argue over the size of their pieces. My grandfather marched his engineering self over to his desk and pulled a large protractor out of the drawer. He very seriously, and with much effort, measured each boy’s slice. Finding them equal to the degree, he silently laid the tool on the table. Family lore has it that henceforth, at every Thanksgiving, right next to the good silver pie server, sat the protractor.

Really, wouldn’t a protractor be useful as we decide what’s fair and what isn’t? If, in fact, a sense of fairness is hardwired and not whispered from bassinette to bassinette, why is determining fairness so difficult? If monkeys understand such a basic kindergarten playground "rule," then why don’t we?

At the very least, one’s eyes cross when contemplating fairness and the real world. The latest financial brouhaha is a nutshell summary of the past couple of years on the business page. Richard A. Grasso, chairman and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange, recently resigned under pressure due to his pay package and conflict of interest issues. Thirty-five years ago, he began as a clerk in the exchange making $85.50 a week. He resigned when it was disclosed that this year he would receive $140 million. My grandfather’s protractor shivered. What’s wrong with the NYSE’s Board of Directors’ protractor and, indeed, Mr. Grasso’s personal one?

Capuchin monkeys get it. Kids with colored dots get it. And my Grandpa got it. I’m all for a protractor being on everyone’s dinner table. Who knows what might happen then?

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What to do before lightning strikes: Data protection for the casual computer user

By Michael Lines

From power blackouts to new viruses, the threats to your personal computer grow greater every day. Even if you were lucky enough or had taken the proper precautions to avoid getting hit by the recent Sobig or mBlaster viruses, there is always the threat of lightning or power surges that can travel through phone lines, cable connections, and power lines. You can forever lose the data on your PC if you don’t take the proper precautions to back up and prepare before disaster strikes.

Why don’t most people back up their data? Some don’t expect anything will happen to them. Others might be lazy. Most people, however, don’t know how to do it or are intimidated by the technology. Well, take heart: The solutions are easier than you think and won’t cost you an arm and a leg or take hours of your time.

If you are not running a PC with Windows 2000 or XP, I suggest that now would be a great time to upgrade your operating system or your whole computer. The security and stability advantages to using the new Windows operating systems are too great to be mentioned in this article. Suffice it to say that if you are not using them, then data backup is probably the least of the problems you are facing.

Assuming you are running either 2000 or XP, the first critical component, a decent backup program, is already available for free with the Microsoft Backup utility program. If you are using XP Home as opposed to XP Professional, Microsoft has made your life a little more difficult, as this program is not installed by default. However, it is not hard for you to do. To install the backup program, put the Windows XP installation disc into your CD-ROM drive and open it in Windows Explorer. Navigate to \VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP. In the NTBACKUP folder, double-click ntbackup.msi. This will install the program. Once you install the backup program, it will appear in Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools. The help file is pretty comprehensive, and the program is very simple to use. If you want more information, go to http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;308422. In addition, you can schedule automatic backups with this utility, a very important feature I will get into later in this article.

Now that you have a backup program, your next step is to decide what to back up. For most users, I recommend just backing up your data files as opposed to doing a complete backup of your computer. Data files are usually stored in the My Documents folder; make sure that all the files you want to keep are being stored there. While this sounds like heresy, the reasons are simple. If a backup takes too long, take too much media, or is too hard to do, most people won’t do it. So back up the stuff that is really important to you, whether it is your digital picture albums, the great American novel you’re writing, or your finances, and don’t worry about the applications and operating system. Your backups will go much more quickly and probably take up much less space. In the event of a computer disaster, you are probably going to get a new one anyone, so why bother backing up what you probably will never need to restore?

Next, you have the choice of what media to use for your backups. This will depend in large part on how much data you are backing up and your budget. To find out how much data you are backing up, right-click on your My Documents folder, select Properties and then the General Tab. You should then see the amount of data that is stored in the folder. It will say something like Used Space: 35 mb which is approximately 35,000,000 bytes of information.

Depending on how much data you are backing up, I recommend the following options:

  1. Less than 3mb of data: Use floppy discs or a USB flash drive. USB flash drives are small devices that fit on a key chain, can be purchased inexpensively, and can hold from 16mb to over 1gb of data. They plug into the USB port into your computer and show up as another disc drive. Backup is as simple as drag and drop.

  2. Less than 1gb (1,000mb) of data: Use the CD burner in your computer along with the Windows Backup program. If you don’t have a CD burner, you can purchase one for around $100 and CDs that hold over 600mb of data, can be purchased for less that 25 cents each in bulk.

  3. Greater than 1gb of data: Use an external USB hard drive. These can be purchased in sizes of up to 160gb for less than $200. Like the USB key chain drives, these attach via your USB port and appear as another disc drive. Some drives come with their own backup software that makes backups as simple as pushing a button. Tapes used to be recommended for this backup size range. For most home users, the expense and complexity of tapes, tape management, and tape drives does not justify their use.

For most users, I recommend making a complete backup at least every month to be sure you are protected. Store your backups in your safe deposit box or your desk at the office. Don’t keep them with your computer, because if your house burns down, you’ve just lost all of your backups. If you are using the USB flash device, just stick it on your key chain or in your purse or briefcase. If you are using an external USB hard drive, I suggest purchasing two. Although the expense is doubled, you are truly protected. Just periodically switch which hard drive you use for making your backups.

Finally, be sure and test your backups. By occasionally using the Restore feature of your Windows backup program or whatever other backup software you are using to restore a file or folder, you will get to understand how the software works. Then you can get your files back when you need to, and, more importantly, you will be testing to see that the backup actually occurred successfully.

That’s it! While it seems like a lot of work, once you have your backup system in place and are using it regularly, you will gain peace of mind knowing you are protected.

Michael Lines is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Chief Information Officer for a Colorado financial services company. He can be reached at mlines@computer.org

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Popular ‘Empty Bowl’ dinner Oct. 15

By Elizabeth Hacker

On a spring morning 12 years ago, Linda Pankratz was leafing through one of her husband’s pottery magazines and noticed an article about a community that sponsored an "Empty Bowl" dinner to raise funds to feed the needy. She called Anne Shimek, and together the two of them planned and organized to create the first Tri-Lakes Empty Bowl dinner. After the first one, members of the community pitched in to take over this project and made it grow over the years. Linda believes there are some ideas that are so strong they take on a life of their own, and are so meaningful that they bind a community. Empty Bowl was one of them.

The Empty Bowl concept that was first conceived by high school art students in Michigan in 1990 is now held in communities around the world and collects millions of dollars every year to help the needy. The bowl is a symbolic reminder that there are needy in the community. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Empty Bowl go to help them.

Twelve years ago, Monument’s first Empty Bowl dinner was held in the Mennonite Church, where 250 people raised $3,000 for Tri-Lakes Cares. Linda Pankratz, Liz Elliot, Nita Gingerich, Anne Shimek, and Sharon Williams organized that event. After three years, the crowds became so large that the event was moved to the high school, and the Sertoma Club took on the task of organizing it and selling tickets. While Monument was the first community in Colorado to sponsor Empty Bowl, other communities—including Pueblo, Glenwood Springs, Castle Rock, and Grand Junction—now hold them, too.

Last year, more than 700 people from the Tri-Lakes area lined up to help stamp out hunger in the community, pick out a handcrafted bowl, meet their neighbors, listen to some entertainment, and consume bountiful amounts of delicious appetizers, soups, breads, and desserts. The pottery and food were courtesy of local artists, businesses, grocery stores, restaurants, and churches. Although the lines stretched the entire length of the school, they moved rather quickly thanks to the energetic volunteers from Lewis-Palmer High School’s Serteen Club. Within two hours, 120 gallons of soup, 800 loaves of bread, 2,000 beverages, and 1,500 desserts were served and consumed. All leftovers were donated to the Marian House Soup Kitchen in Colorado Springs, which feeds 450 people a day. Monument Hill Sertoma President Glenn Scott presented a check to Ray Hamilton of Tri-Lakes Cares for $10,000, a $2,800 increase from 2001.

This year’s Empty Bowl Dinner will be held Oct. 15, at the Lewis-Palmer High School Commons area, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $15 per person, which goes to Tri-Lakes Cares. As always, the price includes a handmade pottery bowl. There are only 650 tickets, and they must be purchased in advance from the following locations: Covered Treasures Bookstore, Petal Pushin’, Pankratz Studios & Gallery, Rock House Ice Cream & More, Salon 105, Tri-Lakes Printing, and Tri-Lakes Tribune. For more information call Gloria Ingram, 487-8713.

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Moran named HAP Volunteer of the Year

Mary Anne Moran, right, received the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) award for volunteer of the year at a volunteer recognition party on Sept. 18. The award was presented by Liz Slusser, pastoral nurse. HAP is a community health coalition that joins community members, the faith community, and health care. It provides several community programs in the Tri-Lakes area including Step by Step Reading Literacy for elementary students, a macular degeneration and low vision support group, a foot care program for seniors, a respite program for caregivers, an anti family violence program, and a pastoral nurse who does resource and referral work regarding access to care. HAP needs volunteers. For more information about HAP programs, call Liz Slusser at 488-8639. Photo by Judy Barnes

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Library celebrates 100th Anniversary, seeks bond issue

View photos: Library Bike Tour stops in Monument

By Chris Pollard

Jos­é Aponte, executive director of the Pikes Peak Library District, made a 100-mile bicycle ride on Sept. 20 to visit all 12 libraries in the system. No stranger to long-distance riding, Aponte is the current duathlon champion in his age group. He rode with Tom Herd, library board chairman, and Dick Bursell, a librarian. There were small welcoming parties at each library, with plenty of enthusiasm.

The reason for the event was primarily to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the district and demonstrate the link between the branches. The Pikes Peak Library District has the advantage of what is called a "floating inventory": All books in the system are available to be loaned out at any other branch. A motorized courier system runs daily to move transfers between the branches.

The bike ride also brought attention to the bond issue in the upcoming Nov. 4 election. If you look on a property tax assessment, the mill levy for the library is set currently at 3.27; this would increase to around 4.4, about a 35 percent change. In financial terms, the actual tax increase seen by local property owners would amount to less than $12 per year per $100,000 of actual value on the assessment. The library district is working this into the campaign as "a buck for books"—less than one dollar per month for books.

Over the past few years, the Monument library has seen two major expansions in terms of facility size and hours of operation. Other libraries in the system have not been similarly expanded. The district is now in the position of having a completely full system; no more shelf space is available. When new books come in, a comparable number have to be removed to allow room.

In addition to expanding the size of some of the current libraries by an estimated 91,000 square feet (a net increase of 43 percent), the bond issue will also fund six new libraries. While most are to the south and east of Colorado Springs, a 22,000-square-foot branch is proposed somewhere in the Briargate/Gleneagle area. This would give the Tri-Lakes area access to a larger library without having to go all the way to East or Penrose libraries. Some other minor funding will be available, if the bond passes, to make technology and other upgrades to Monument and Palmer Lake libraries.

The new branches will bring the district in line with other library districts in terms of space and total collection per capita.

View photos: Library Bike Tour stops in Monument

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Special Events and Notices

Palmer Lake Fire Station Open House

Sit in a fire truck. See the Flight for Life helicopter, Smokey the Bear, and a Junior Firefighters presentation. It’s all being hosted at the firehouse by the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Oct. 4, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. For information call 481-2953.

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Donald Wescott Fire Station #3 Open House

Hot dogs, sodas, and giveaways as well as the Flight for Life helicopter and Smokey the Bear plus American Medical Response, Air Force Academy Fire Department, and El Paso County Sheriff’s Department apparatus and displays, and a Pikes Peak Fire Prevention Association display. It’s all being hosted at the firehouse at 15415 Gleneagle Drive, across from Antelope Trails Elementary School by Baptist Road, Oct. 4, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. For information call 488-8680 or check www.wescottfire.org.

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Brews and Bluegrass at the Bistro

Come to the Villa Oct. 4 for a beer tasting to benefit Christmas Unlimited. The event is from noon to 5 p.m. at The Villa World Bistro, 75 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. The cost of $18 includes a free event glass and unlimited tasting of Colorado microbrews. Enjoy live bluegrass music, a silent auction, food, and fun. For information, call 481-2222.

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Christmas Crafts Festival

The 30th Annual Christmas Crafts Festival, sponsored by the Palmer Lake Art Group, will be held Oct. 4, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Oct. 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. The juried show is limited to 40 exhibitors; this policy assures high quality, eliminates overcrowding, and has earned the annual event an excellent reputation. A wide variety of items will be available for purchase—jewelry, ornaments, stained glass, pottery, and much more. Proceeds are used to fund scholarships for TriLakes area students continuing their education in art. The Palmer Lake Art Group, a nonprofit organization, is the oldest art group in the Tri-Lakes area. For information, call Marcia Edwards, 4810365.

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Flu shots in Tri-Lakes

On Oct. 4, stop in at the Palmer Lake Town Office, 28 Valley Crescent, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and get a flu shot. Phone 481-2953 for information. There will be a Mile High Flu Shot Clinic on Oct. 8 at The Quilted Cottage in Monument, located at the northwest corner of Third and Front Streets, from 10 a.m. to noon. Call Karen at 481-4887, to reserve your flu shot. Pneumonia and tetanus shots will be available as well. Medicare will be accepted. There will be additional flu shot clinics at the Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd St. on Oct. 9, from 11 to noon and Oct. 22, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Phone 884-8017 for information. The cost is the same at all the clinics: flu vaccines, $18; tetanus, $25; pneumonia, $30.

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Craft show

Creative Crafters’ Showcase is holding its annual craft show, featuring more than 100 crafters, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Oct. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School on Higby Road in Monument. Admission is $3. For information, call 488-3046.

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Annual Fall Festival in Downtown Monument

Monument’s third annual fall festival–Oct. 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.–will feature fun activities for the entire family in historic downtown Monument. See the whimsical scarecrows on display throughout town and vote for your favorite. Things to do include:

  • Pumpkin decorating at High Country Store, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Hayrides from High Country Store, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Scarecrow making at The CatBird Seat, 12:30 and 3 p.m. (Reservations in advance, 481-8401.)

  • Pottery workshop at Pankratz Studios & Gallery, 10 a.m. to noon. (Reservations in advance, 481-3108.)

  • Fall home decorating ideas at Petal Pushin’, 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Come in for cider and pumpkin desserts throughout the day.

  • Ceramic workshops for kids at Two Watts Creative throughout the day.

  • Photographer signing at Covered Treasures Bookstore, 10 a.m. to noon. Todd Caudle, Colorado landscape photographer, will sign books and calendars.

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Tri-Lakes Empty Bowl Dinner

This year’s Sertoma Empty Bowl Dinner will be held Wednesday, October 15 at the Lewis-Palmer High School Commons area, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The all-you-can-eat dinner consists of appetizers, soups, breads, and desserts. The cost, $15 per person, will go to Tri-Lakes Cares and includes a handmade ceramic bowl. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are sold at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Pankratz Studios & Gallery, Petal Pushin’, Rock House Ice Cream, Salon 105, Tri-Lakes Printing, and Tri-Lakes Tribune. There are only 650 tickets for this popular event, so don’t wait. For information call Gloria Ingram, 487-8713.

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Library Channel airs local program

Adelphia cable channel 17, the Library Channel, will air "Tri-Lakes Today," a 30-minute public affairs program featuring news and information about the Tri-Lakes area, on Oct. 17, 18, and 19 at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 11 p.m. "Tri-Lakes Today" normally airs the third weekend of each month.

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55 Alive Program coming to Monument

On Oct. 21 and 22, noon-4 p.m. each day, the Monument Police Department will sponsor the eighthour AARP 55 Alive Driver Safety Program for Monument residents at the Town Hall. You must attend both days to complete the course. The $10 cost includes all class materials and workbooks. Learn defensive driving tech­niques, new traffic laws and rules of the road, and how to safely adjust driving to com­pensate for agerelated changes in vision, hearing, and reaction time. Class size is limited to 30. Call Chief Joe Kissell at the police department, 481-3253, to register.

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Fundraiser features an evening of music

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts will host a fundraiser on Oct. 25 featuring popular award-winning local performing artists Phil Volan, Joe Uveges, Jim Sokol, Joleen Bell, and Jennifer Griffis. Colorado Springs residents voted Phil Volan "Best Male Singer" and "Best Folksinger" two years running in the Gazette and Independent newspapers. In 2002, Phil placed second at the prestigious National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Winfield Kansas. Admission is $15 for members and $18 for non-members. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.com.

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Safe Trick-or-Treat

Merchants in historic downtown Monument will be handing out treats to children on Oct. 31, from 4 to 6 p.m. This will be the last day to see the creative scarecrows on display throughout town.

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Baking contest at Monument Branch Library

Tri-Lakes bakers are invited to bake a cake, pie, cookies, or bread and compete for great prizes! The Battle of the Cooks is at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Categories include old-time recipes, birthday cakes for the library’s 100th year, children to age 12, teens to 18, family favorites, and Best in Show. Entrants must share their recipes with library patrons. For information, call 488-2370.

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New art exhibit to open in November

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts presents the "Black, White & Other Colors" show, an exhibition juried by Gwen Fox, a nationally recognized artist. The exhibition will be on display Nov. 7-26. The show’s opening celebration will be held on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.com.

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Wine and Roses II is coming to Monument in November

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is sponsoring a wine-tasting benefit and silent auction, with proceeds going to charitable and educational organizations serving the local community. Highlights include food samplings, celebrity wine servers, and silent auction. The event will be Nov. 13, 6 to 9 p.m., at Pinecrest Event Center, 106 Pinecrest Way, Palmer Lake. Order your tickets now for $30; they’re $35 at the door. Make checks payable to TLWC and send to P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. Visit TLWC’s web site at www.tlwc.net for more information.

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Volleyball Leagues Starting at Soc n’ Roll for Youth and Adults

The Nike Thundercats Volleyball Club—a local volleyball club that competes in Rocky Mountain region tournaments and qualifiers for nationals in the 14-18-year-old divisions—is offering a variety of volleyball opportunities at Soc n’ Roll in Monument.

Competitive youth volleyball clinics for players between the ages of 12 and 18 are planned Oct. 25, 9-11 a.m. and Oct. 27, 6-8 p.m.; and for ages 15-18 on Nov. 1, 8-10 a.m., and Nov. 3, 6-8 p.m. Costs for the clinics are $10 per session or $30 for all. The T-cats have also added specialized clinics for 15-18 year olds on hitting, defense, and transitions on Oct. 5, 12, and 19. Tryouts for the teams will be Nov. 1, 2, and 9.

Registration forms and details of all clinics and tryouts can be found at www.Thundercatsvbc.com. A parent information meeting will be held Oct. 23, 7-9 p.m. at Creekside Middle School.

Younger players ages 11-14 can be part of the Nike Thundercats inner squad. These non-travel teams will practice on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning Dec. 1, under the direction of coach Greg Ramakulas. Players will get 63 hours of play, two Thundercats shirts, clinics, and inner squad match play. Tryouts are Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-noon. Two more teams have been added for 12- and 13-year-olds.

Also, a new adult volleyball league is forming for competitive and recreational players. Register now for the league, which begins Nov. 3 and runs through Dec. 15. For details, contact Soc ‘n Roll, 487-8572 or visit www.thundercats.com.

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Volunteer opportunities with HAP

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) needs volunteers for several community programs. The foot clinic, at the Tri-Lakes fire station on the third Friday each month, needs pedicurists to clip toenails for seniors. Call Sue Meiler at 535-2749. The Respite Program, which provides rest for in-home caregivers, needs volunteers. Free respite training is available. Phone Liz Slusser at 488-8639 for more information.

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Monument author’s book named Colorado Book Award finalist

Writers of the American West: Multicultural Learning Encounters (Teacher Ideas Press, 2002), an educational book by John Stansfield, a storyteller and writer from Monument, has been named a finalist for this year’s Colorado Book Awards (CBA). The awards, given annually in 13 categories to Colorado authors, will be presented Oct. 16 during a gala at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Judges for the Colorado Center for the Book, the CBA sponsor, selected the 40 finalists from among almost 200 books published in 2002. Directed toward educators and students in the middle grades, Writers of the American West utilizes childhood and young adult autobiographies of 10 of the West’s most intriguing writers to present oral and written language arts and social studies learning experiences. The book received the CAL Award for Specialty Writing from the Colorado Authors’ League earlier this year. CAL Award judges called it "a great combination of instruction on the writers, as well as storytelling and insights into the history of the West."

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