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Our Community News - Home Vol. 12 No. 8 - August 4, 2012

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Palmer Lake Historical Society sponsors powwow, July 21

Photos and captions by Bernard Minetti. Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

Below: At the July 21 Powwow sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society, Native American female active-duty Army veterans formed an honor guard to give tribute to those who serve and who have served. They are, from left, Denver National Guard Cpl. Shawna Dahl and daughter Cecelia Dahl, both Ojibwe, North Cheyenne Army Sgt. 1st Class Toni Eaglefeathers, stationed at Fort Carson, Navajo Army Staff Sgt. and Iraq veteran Cindy Littlefeather, also stationed at Fort Carson. This Sister Nation Color Guard is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Below: The U.S. Army Shield is shown on the backs of the Sister Nation Color Guard. See also the photo on page 1.

Below: Part of the entrance procession of Native American participants at the 2012 Powwow in Palmer Lake on July 21.

Below: Traditional dancer Paul Conquering Bear of the Lakota tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Below: Spiritual Leader Joe Toddy of the Navajo or Diné nation prays for all veterans living and dead in the opening ceremonies of the July 21 Powwow at Palmer Lake.

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Could your home be saved during a forest fire?

By Bernard L. Minetti

On July 7, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Bryan Jack invited OCN to participate in an exercise of evaluating the potential of selected homes to be considered for saving during a forest fire. The formula used to derive the eventual matrix rating is called the Structure Triage Matrix. Fire personnel used this rating during the Waldo Canyon Fire to instantly determine whether a house could be saved.

Houses with the "Easy" triage rating were most likely to be worked on by firefighter personnel for saving. Those rated, "Okay, With Work," would be determined at the time of the incident according to the personnel available and the work needed to save the home. Those rated "Hard" would more than likely be bypassed, allowing personnel resources to be utilized for the homes with a more workable matrix rating.

We proceeded to the western Tri-Lakes area to Red Rocks Drive. When we stopped and were determining which homes to evaluate, Ann Marsico came out of her home and questioned what the fire personnel were there for. She immediately agreed to a home evaluation.

Firefighters Rudi Gillette and Steve Buckner conducted the evaluation. Marsico’s home site received a matrix rating of 32, which placed it in the "Easy" to save category. Some actions were recommended to her to lower that rating even more. No records are kept by fire personnel for these requested matrix evaluations, because the one that counts is the one that is made at the time of a fire incident.

You can invite fire personnel to evaluate your home site at any time by calling Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911. The matrix number that is derived from the inspection of your home site is the evaluation for that time and place. If a matrix number is high, the homeowner can take appropriate action to mitigate the area from the fire destruction probability. If a forest fire occurs, a new matrix rating would be determined at that time.

Some of the items that make up the triage rating are: slope angle of the property to determine equipment accessibility; fuel type present, which includes such items as woodpiles and pine needle accumulations; fuel clearance, which is the proximity of the nearest trees to the home; aerial fuel, which is the density of the canopy of the trees nearest the home; the makeup of the roof, such as asphalt shingles or concrete tile; and they type of siding, such as wood or stucco.

Firefighters also note any other structures adjacent or close to the home that might intensify the incendiary properties of the site. They note whether the equipment access, such as driveways, is sufficient for fire vehicles. They also evaluate the exposed utilities and the closest water source. Finally, they check for the fuel storage facilities on the property, such as propane or diesel tanks, and other unnamed hazards that might increase the destructibility of the site.

The matrix rating is for a property owner’s information only. What is done with that information is entirely up to the owner. It will not be provided to any insurance company. Gillette and Buckner emphasized the need for homeowners to become proactive in recognizing the condition and taking any action necessary to decrease the matrix number to the lowest possible.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD meeting, July 5: Pocock says "Recall everybody"

By Bernard L. Minetti

An effort is apparently under way to recall five of the seven Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board members, board President Charlie Pocock said at the July 5 meeting, held on this date because the regular June meeting had been postponed. The recall is in response to last month’s firing of Chief Robert Denboske.

Pocock said he had sent an email to the board members regarding the pending recall and read out loud the response he received from Director Bruce Fritzsche: "I have given much consideration to your email. First, I encourage the recall. If Rob (Denboske) and the Sibells (Si and Dorothy) think I am unfit to serve on the board, then it is their right to recall. I voted my conscience, and I have no regrets. Second, to initiate an investigation after the fact gives the appearance that we are piling on. Rob is gone and will not return…. What will the community garner from the investigation? In my opinion, the recall will be unsuccessful. An investigation will just give the whole fire district a black eye."

After reading it, Pocock stated, "I agree with that…. I think what we really ought to do is drain the swamp and recall everybody," meaning the entire board, "so with your concurrence, I will file a recall petition on Bill (Ingram) and Rod (Wilson)," the two directors who are not included in the pending recall. "And we’ll just find some good candidates and see if we can come up with a whole new board."

Firing comment "taken out of context"

Director Bill Ingram told the board that, after the last meeting, "someone had heard that I wanted to fire everybody. Now, that statement was made and it was made to two board members … but it was taken out of context."

In that conversation, Ingram had been referring to the personnel manual that, he says, mentions that employees are part of the solution or part of the problem, so if employees do not do what is right, they should be fired.

Ingram continued, "I’m not asking to fire everybody or close down the district, or whatever.… As a result of that rumor, one of the folks involved … actually was belligerent and defied me to fire him or her and they would get a hold of their attorney, and the insinuation there was that they’d sue … to the point where the individual was rude. Again, that was not, at any time, what I was saying we have to do. It was taking our personnel policy manual, in hand, reading it, saying what had happened, where are we going, what do we need to do. That’s all."

Pocock then said that he was the one who had said Ingram wanted to fire people. "The reason I brought this up to the other people in the department, to the battalion chiefs, was because I thought that (firing someone) was creating a hostile work environment ... the notion that you should be responsible to bring this … to someone’s attention, if you noticed an infraction of the published rules and did not bring it forward, then you should be fired. That’s the way I interpret it."

Regarding anyone who wants to come forward to report infractions, Pocock said three attorneys have told him that under the constitutional right against self-incrimination, "you are under no obligation to bring forth any information that pertains to you or anyone else.… I wanted to protect the people so that they would know that they were not under any obligation to bring this forward."

Ingram injected, "Which was contrary to published policy."

Pocock said the board had "to change that so that it doesn’t say that anymore, because that’s constitutionally incorrect."

Focusing on the positive

"There are some fundamental issues that we must settle on if we’re to start forward, again," Pocock said. "First, there’s some things we must not do. We must not convey a defeatist attitude on the idea that replacing the chief was not a good (thing) or good for the department or the citizens of the district. Rather, we must always convey a positive public image by maintaining that we are good and we’re gonna get better." He cited some positive issues such as the citation for having the best EMT department in the state.

Pocock continued, "We must not do anything that would detract from our ballot initiative for an increased mill levy of 3 mills, which would amount to $2 a month per $100,000 assessed market value of our homes. We must never suggest that the recent unpleasantness with Chief Denboske was in any way predicated on our relationship with Donald Wescott (Fire Protection District) or Palmer Lake (Volunteer Fire Department). We should continue working on mutual assistance with Donald Westcott and Palmer Lake and continue working on defining our similarities or correcting any differences with them, but nothing more."

The approximate annual tax increase for a $400,000 home, using Pocock’s approximation, would be $96.

Pocock spoke about "positive things" that should be done. "(The) first thing is to redefine our organization structure, short term, medium term, and long term. I define short term to be from now to the November election, and medium term will depend on whether the voters approve our mill levy increase." Battalion Chief Bryan Jack is working on the two budgets—one that assumes the mill levy override would pass and one that assumes it would not, he said.

Budget update

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that through May, the district had received about $4.3 million, or 59.31 percent, of property tax revenues expected in the annual budget. The district has received $112,472, or 45.10 percent, of the annual budgeted revenue for the specific ownership tax. There was some concern over the ambulance revenues, which had reached only $200,684, or 36.49 percent, of the annual expectation. He noted that the month’s overall ambulance collections were 2.54 percent under budget.

Hildebrandt said administrative expenses were slightly elevated due to recent liability insurance premium payments and payment of maintenance contracts. He reported that gas for Station 2 and electricity bills for Station 1 continued to be high, along with water and sewer, but he emphasized that overall utilities were under budget. Overall expenses were 42.02 percent of annual budget and 0.36 percent over budget. "We’re pretty darn close to where we are supposed to be at this point in time," he said.

Pocock said only one candidate applied for a recent opening for a lieutenant, and he had asked a potential candidate why he did not apply. The man told him, "I see the crap the officers are taking; I don’t want any part of it," according to Pocock. "After we discharged the chief," Pocock said, "we had six people pick up packets" for the lieutenant position. "That kind of renews your faith in what’s going on and what we did."

Other matters

Pocock said several district firefighters who volunteered to fight the Waldo Canyon Fire could not do so because the "U.S. Department of Labor says that you can’t volunteer for somebody that you work for." Pocock said he told them that "we can’t pay you so you gotta go home." Eventually, the volunteers went to the Westcott Fire District and were able to offer their services there.

Regarding money-related issues:

  • "We need to give everyone a raise of pay of at least 5 percent, since it’s been a long time since our last general pay increase," Pocock said. The last pay increase, approved in November 2010, was a 3 percent hike effective in 2011. At the March 28 meeting, directors Hildebrandt and Pocock discussed the fact that benefit co-pays (contributions to pension and health premiums) needed to be examined since the district employees pay none. These two directors agreed that this needed to be reviewed in the context of cost cutting.

  • Pocock said that office manager Jennifer Martin deserved an extra $500 per month once she becomes administrative assistant to the board.

  • The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment awarded the district a certificate that provides a 5 percent reduction in insurance premiums. The letter also congratulated Martin for making risk management an important aspect of the district.

  • The district received two donations: a $425 cash donation from the Monument Red Hatters and the Girlfriendz Red Hatters to be utilized as the district sees fit; and $2,000 from the El Pomar Foundation for the purchase of fire shelters.

Pocock read two complimentary letters that had been received into the record. One referred to the outstanding job that Jennifer Martin had been doing in her position as office manager and the other from the Woodmoor Improvement Association thanking the district for assistance that it had received.

Warning from the insurance agent

A third letter was received from Jeffrey Cunningham, the agent for VFIS, the company that provides the district with its insurance needs. He wrote that board members should not be interfering with on-scene activities during exigent situations because it can endanger the chain of command and increase the probability of injury or accident to firefighters who are trained in what they are doing.

He requested that board members and other untrained citizens be restrained from any involvement with emergency and other dangerous operations. He said the state of Colorado would not provide any workers compensation coverage if employees are injured while being where they are not supposed to be. Board members and/or other civilians who have involved themselves in an emergency setting are inferring that they do not have confidence in their highly trained district employees, he said.

Cunningham summarized his complaint by noting that these board members or other civilians have the potential for causing a hostile or unsafe work environment for everyone. He added that the officer in charge is the only one on the scene who may issue orders and directions to the firefighters.

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD meeting, July 25: Union questions motives of two board members

Below: Battalion Chief Mike Dooley, right, presents the certificate for 15 years of service to Capt. Ty Rinaldo, who is accompanied by his wife, Nancy Rinaldo. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters has accused two members of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board of creating "animosity and disharmony within the district" in a letter it sent to the board that was read aloud at the July 25 meeting.

Director Bill Ingram read the letter, addressed to the district board members, which began by praising the efforts of the district and the firefighters that the union represents. Then the tone changed: "Although we are very pleased with the board’s decisions, we question the rationale and motives of Mr. Bill Ingram and Mr. Rod Wilson. They in conjunction with a very minor faction of the community seem to be working hard to continue to create animosity and disharmony within the District. Their actions and accusations present a negative image of our department, officers, firefighters and staff. We respectfully demand that this public disdain of our department stop immediately." There was no definitive explanation of the term "actions and accusations." And while the letter did not specify the actions of Ingram and Wilson, the two directors cast the lone votes against firing Chief Robert Denboske at a special meeting in June.

The letter continues, "Those who would tarnish our image do not represent the best interest of the district or our community. We highly encourage Mr. Ingram and Mr. Wilson to get on board with the direction that the district is heading or recognize that they no longer represent the best interest of this department or our community. Their inability to work towards providing the highest level of fire protection for the community has become clouded by their personal vendettas toward other board members, the battalion chiefs, and certain officers working very hard to right what has been wrong for many years. Our confidence in their leadership to provide the support this department expects is significantly diminished and questions their motives as a board member."

The letter describes the union’s perceived need for transparency in the district and requests a copy of the executive summary provided by the Mountain States Employers Council, which presumably details reasons for Chief Robert Denboske’s termination. The summary reportedly contains privileged testimony and the identities of those who gave that testimony, which would violate the confidentiality that district employees were promised.

The letter continues with an explanation of the union’s view of the district and its future. (The union supports passage of the 3-mill tax levy increase that voters will face later this year.)

The letter is signed by Roger Lance (son of district Director Roger Lance), president of Local 4319 and a Wescott firefighter; Jason White, vice president; Curt Leonhardt, secretary; Shannon Balvanz, treasurer; and Mike Rauenzann and Sean Pearson, both listed as members-at-large.

Ingram responds to letter

Following the reading of the letter, Ingram remarked in a reference to union members, "If any of them would have the courage to come forward and speak to me, I would appreciate it." If anyone in the district or the union has any questions about his vote, "I’d be more than happy to talk at length."

Ingram described his attempts to contact the signers of the letter and was only able to reach Pearson. But Pearson told him, "I don’t know what’s in the letter," Ingram said.

Ingram asked the board, "What do we do about this? Who’s running the show? The union?"

Director John Hildebrandt agreed. "The point is, who is running the show? I’m not a union person. I think that some of the public sector unions have ruined this country. Some of the things that they have requested and demanded of the public—and now their retirement is bankrupting a lot of places." He later added that he did not like being threatened by an outside source, apparently referring to the firefighters union, and that he thought Wilson and Ingram were doing what they thought was best for the district.

Pocock summarizes events

Board President Charlie Pocock reviewed how this all started. He stated that the three battalion chiefs approached him to come to a Saturday morning meeting because the "situation" (working conditions in the district) had become intolerable. He did not say why other board members were not present when he made a unilateral decision to have a third party investigate.

At a special meeting in May, the board approved $10,000 for an investigation by Mountain States Employers Council and later raised it to $12,000. Pocock did not mention that the board never authorized the investigation. He noted that every one of the 29 employees who would give a statement for the investigation signed a confidentiality statement so that they could say "everything that was on their mind without fear of losing their job."

In the planning stages of the investigation, it was determined that the cost of deposing 29 individuals would be too expensive, so they pared the number of witnesses to 14. Pocock said it was believed that this was a fair number to get an adequate representation "of what conditions were but everyone was still guaranteed confidentiality. And so when the final report came out, it was pretty darn damning, and that’s why we’ve been stonewalling the press, stonewalling the people who’ve asked for release of this."

Pocock said he has narrowed down the report into "five categories" and had hoped to get the attorney’s blessings on that and that "he would allow us to release that to the press and to the public ... tonight."

Wilson: "This is the worst I’ve ever seen it"

Director Rod Wilson said that he had been a member of this department for more than 22 years. He became emotional as he described how he started out as a volunteer and became a volunteer EMT, "one of the proudest accomplishments of my life." In 2006, he was approached by members of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District and its union to work on a problem," he said. The resolution of the problem was significant for the beginning of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. So, he said, "when I get a letter that they (the union) strongly encourage me to come around to their view … words can’t express what I felt."

"We need to come together," Wilson said. "I mean this is the worst I’ve ever seen it." He described some of the "old board meetings, when we were trying to bring the two departments together, (that) would last for three hours" where participants screamed at each other. He indicated that they persevered and worked together. "We need to do that now."

"The reason I voted ‘no’ on the termination of Chief Denboske," he continued, "was I felt that we needed an attorney’s guidance." Ingram made a motion, "it was brought up for a vote, and it was not passed." He stated that he had heard that certain members of the board did not keep him in the loop because they thought he would then talk to Denboske; Wilson said that was insulting to him. He said the board represents the constituents of the district and that they trusted the board.

"How does this look that we’re at each other’s throats, questioning each other’s ability?" Wilson said he is 100 percent for getting the union, the community, and everyone to move forward.

Wilson also said the board has to "put the brakes on the talks with Wescott (fire district) until we get our house in order," referring to a proposed merger between the two districts. He noted that the same evening (July 25) the Tri-Lakes Monument district would have an election of officers and perhaps a discussion of term limits because he believed the board needed new blood.

Pocock later said that the term limits issue had come up once before and that the public had voted it down. "To go back to term limits would be a step backward," Pocock concluded. There was no further discussion of the issue.

Pocock denies previous email

Ingram said that the discussion of the email that Pocock had sent prior to the July 5 meeting regarding the recall had been left out of that meeting’s minutes. Pocock then denied he had sent the email, and Directors Hildebrandt, Barbara Kelly, Lance, and Bruce Fritzsche all denied receiving an email. But this reporter’s tape recording of the July 5 meeting appears to note otherwise (see the article about the board’s July 5 meeting on page 1).

At that meeting, Pocock discussed an email that he had received from Fritzsche regarding the pending recall of certain board members. Pocock said, "… I sent out an email to, … let’s see, that went to Rog, Barbara, John, and Bruce and said well, it’s kinda up to you … you guys vote…" Pocock then said, "I’d like to read the answer to the email from Bruce."

Quoting Fritzsche’s email, he read, "Charlie, I have given much consideration to your e-mail. First, I encourage the recall. If Rob (Denboske) and (Si) Sibell think I am unfit to be on the board, then it is their right to recall." Fritzsche’s responding email dealt with the recall and his feelings about it. It appears that Ingram was correct in asking for a correction to the minutes.

District is under budget

Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that through June, the district had received $2 million in revenues, or 68.61 percent of the annual budgeted amount. Normal for the first half of the year would be 50 percent, which puts revenues ahead of the budgeted amount by 18.61 percent at the end of June. Specific ownership taxes received were $135,996, or 54.54 percent of the annual budgeted income from this source, which puts this income level ahead by 4.54 percent. Ambulance revenues were 5.97 percent behind budgeted income levels; $242,171 had been collected through June.

Overall expenses were 0.81 percent under budget. Director Ingram requested that all cash balances and investments be made available to the board. The district bookkeeper said that information would be made available from now on.

In a discussion of methods of payment for fuel and the costs of fuel, Hildebrandt noted that fuel costs were under budget and costs were down.

Elections—and commotion

The election of officers did not change the makeup of the board. The officers are president, Pocock; vice president, Ingram; secretary, Wilson; and treasurer, Hildebrandt.

In the middle of the election process, some discussion in the audience prompted Pocock to shout, "Would you please be quiet!" He then stated, "The next one will be an invitation for you to leave." Audience members said something else, and Pocock ordered, "Go then, please." With that, Dorothy and Si Sibell and two others got up and left the room. A short discussion between Hildebrandt, Pocock, and Office Manager Jennifer Martin followed about the negative aspect of the comments that preceded the disturbance.

Mill levy increase proposal

During a discussion of the need for a tax increase, it was mentioned that the union would assist with funds to support the district’s efforts to obtain voter approval in November. Nothing was said about cost reductions the district could make. Nor was there a discussion about the fact that district employees do not contribute anything to their health and pension programs, which had been brought up at the March board meeting. Also, nothing was said about the 5 percent pay increase that Pocock had suggested in a previous meeting, which would follow the 3 percent increase approved in 2011.

Pocock suggested that following the Labor Day parade, literature advocating a mill levy increase could be distributed at the scheduled open house at Station 1

Firefighter publicity

The directors discussed how the actions of the firefighters could get more publicity. A recent Tri-Lakes area house fire in which the house was saved was cited as an example. At the time of the event, this reporter was never made aware of that fire. This reporter had been invited to participate in a fire mitigation matrix survey and did so. See the fire mitigation article on page 1.

Other matters

  • Acting Fire Chief Mike Dooley said three staff members had been deployed to a fire in Nebraska. They were Fire Marshal John Vincent, Fire Lieutenant and District Training Officer Mike Keough, and firefighter Rudi Gillette.
  • Dooley also reported that all fire equipment was up and running. He said the battalion chiefs had been making the rounds of the shifts to keep everyone updated. He noted that the battalion chiefs are reviewing all the contracts for updating and cost effectiveness. This followed a director’s earlier question about whether everyone who works on emergency vehicle maintenance is certified for that task.
  • The process of selecting a new chief will begin at the next board meeting. When asked whether in-house candidates would be considered first, Pocock stated, "We have the three most-qualified people that I can think of as our battalion chiefs."
  • Pocock acknowledged the accomplishment of Capt. Ty Rinaldo, who had achieved 15 years of service to the district. Dooley presented a 15-year pin to Rinaldo, and everyone congratulated and applauded him.
  • Martin reported that the district wished to thank Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library, Texas Roadhouse, and The Yarboroughs for Russell Stover Chocolates for their generous support of the district firefighters. Martin said she would attend the Monument Board of Trustees meeting to request a street closure from Mitchell to Beacon Lite on Second Street for the Labor Day parade of Tri-Lakes area emergency services. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. The open house at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, will begin after the parade and continue until 12:30 p.m.
  • Pocock said the district would no longer allow payroll deductions for billing by the Legal Shield Co. He said the company would have to bill the individuals.
  • The board approved the request by Ted Bauman to have his property included in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.


The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Local fire marshal describes Waldo Canyon experience

Below: Photo from Cascade to the Rampart looking North taken by Fire Marshal John Vincent while providing lookout duties above Cascade on June 24.

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal John Vincent provided this account of his experience during the Waldo Canyon Fire.

There were less than 30 firefighters who were responsible with providing structure protection to all of Cascade, prevent the fire from crossing Highway 24, and of course keep the fire away from Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls during June 23-25—and we did!

We could not stop the Waldo Fire from coming, but we would do our best to keep the fire from burning down homes. How do we do this with the type of flame length and height that the Waldo Fire was presenting us? We stay out of the way until the worst of it has passed and then move quickly to ensure no homes were on fire. It is very dangerous for a firefighter to get in the way of a fire that is taller than 4 feet from ground level. A firefighter with a shovel is not going to do much to this fire except get hurt or killed.

We had aircraft assigned to our Cascade Structure Protection Group. We had a light and heavy helicopter, a single-engine air tanker (SEAT) and a lead plane and heavy tanker. We prep the area with the heavies ... use the SEAT and helicopters to direct attack fire/spot fires. The slurry from the heavy and the SEAT do not put out fire ... it lowers the intensity of the fire so that you, the firefighter, can engage at close proximity to attack the fire. The light helicopter was used for spot fires. We had three spot fires inside the "paint"—slurry that the heavy tanker had applied to knock the fire down as it approached the eastern-most homes in Cascade.

You call in a description of the house— roof color, wall color. The division supervisor contacts the helicopter assigned to your division and you direct the helicopter to the target. The helicopter attacks the target until it is either out, or until firefighters can reach it.

Aircraft are prioritized for incidents. The higher-priority area gets the aircraft. The first few days was to protect values at risk (structures, watersheds) and ensure evacuation so all we had to do was focus on the fire and not rescue. Highway 24 was shut down for quite a few days. It really helped us that there was no civilian traffic on the highway. We would engage the fire and then have to disengage—then re-engage and disengage, etc.

Now I have to go back to work. I am off to the Mountain Shadows area today to observe and see what lessons can be obtained and brought back to agencies here in Tri-Lakes.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, July 11: June meeting held after postponement for wildfire

By Jim Kendrick

The regular district board meeting began at 7:15 p.m. July 11 because of a pension board meeting on the same night. This meeting was originally scheduled for June 27 but was postponed because of the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings was on vacation.

Chief Vinny Burns noted an expected extra expense of about $35,000 over the amount budgeted for Fire Station 2 on Highway 83. About $23,000 remains in the capital fund for the station to pay for the remaining extra cost. The board unanimously approved a motion to accept the May financial report as presented.

Burns said that the total number of runs through May were 30 percent higher than in 2011. The district’s summer safety fair attracted about 300 people, due in part to the good weather and excellent support from all those from other agencies, charities, and fire entities invited to participate in Wescott’s event. Engine 2 deployed for two weeks for a wildfire in New Mexico and a week of training at the Air Force Academy.

Wescott deployed an engine to the Waldo Canyon Fire in the first hour to Division Bravo, along Highway 24 from Manitou Springs to the top of Chipita Park. It remained deployed and fully engaged through July 2 to prevent the fire from jumping across Highway 24.

Board President Scott Campbell made extensive remarks on how well all the 1,300 firefighters performed and how much was achieved despite the unbelievably horrible and dangerous conditions. Burns echoed Campbell and emphasized lessons learned regarding teamwork with local area fire districts and the Air Force Academy during very unpredictable weather conditions and fire behavior. Several district firefighters than briefed the board on the highlights of their individual participation in fighting the fire––several very interesting "war stories."

Burns noted that firefighter Valery Marshall is about to complete all her paramedic training and should be promoted in the next two months.

Fire Marshal Margo Humes said she is now being inundated with requests from homeowners wanting Firewise inspections of their properties. She said that she would be educating district constituents on the ready-set-go program. For more information, see http://wildlandfirersg.org/learn/index.cfm?navItemNumber=500.

The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Pension Board, July 11: Pension fund remains sound

By Jim Kendrick

At the July 11 meeting of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Pension Board, figures showed that the pension fund was financially sound.

The pension board is composed of the district board and two volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters Lt. Bryan Ackerman and Lt. Tim Hampton presented the 2012 first-quarter Wescott volunteer pension fund report. The net balance in the fund increased by $42,659 to $881,820 in the first quarter.

The fund remains solvent even though there was a very slight increase in benefits paid each quarter––$8,550 in the first quarter of 2012. The district plans to again contribute $6,000 to the fund in the fourth quarter as in 2011. Administrative fees over the past four years average about 0.22 percent.

Director Harland Baker was absent from the meeting.

The recent free biennial state actuarial study of the pension fund also shows that the fund is actuarially sound. The district has aggressively sought 90 percent matching funds from the state when available to maximize deposits to the pension fund, and it has paid off. The fund is 68 percent overfunded for current benefits.

The pension board unanimously approved the following changes for 2013 to realign Wescott’s current benefits to the maximum amounts allowed by state law:

  • Increase the basic payment for a 20-year volunteer pension from $300 to $400 per month.
  • Increase the additional monthly payment for each full year over 20 years of service from $15 to $20 per month.
  • Increase the disability benefit for a line-of-duty injury from $150 to $225 per month.
  • Increase the long-term disability benefit for a line-of-duty injury from zero to $450 per month.
  • Increase the survivor benefit for a line-of-duty death from $150 to $225 per month.
  • Increase the survivor benefit for a death after a normal retirement from $150 to $200 per month.
  • Increase the survivor benefit for a death after a disability from a line-of-duty injury from zero to $225 per month.
  • Increase the lump-sum death funeral benefit from $100 to $800.

Even with these increased benefits, the actuarial study shows the fund will remain overfunded by $37,000 if the district continues to contribute $6,000 per year. The board unanimously approved continuation of the $6,000 annual contribution to the fund in the fourth quarter.

The board adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, July 24: Property tax revenues exceed projections

By Jim Kendrick

On July 24, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall told the board that through June, the district had received 97 percent of the property tax revenues budgeted for the year.

The absences of Directors Harland Baker and Bo McAllister were excused.

Financial report

Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall briefed the board that the district had received about $415,000 in property tax revenues in June. The total received through June of about $1.6 million was about 97 percent of the total amount budgeted for the year. The district had also received about $76,000 in motor vehicle tax revenues through June, about 51.5 percent of the $150,000 budgeted. The district made a profit of about $8,300 on the district’s deployment to the lower North Fork wildfire in Colorado.

The district paid $5,500 through June for the 2011 audit. Another $700 will be invoiced. A loan payment of $138,000 was also made in June. Vehicle maintenance expenses for two unplanned major repairs on Engine 1 and the ladder truck have exceeded the repair budget. Marshall suggested transferring $45,000 of reserved funds to cover these expenses. The consensus of the board was to wait until the end of the year to make the final fund transfers between lines necessary to reconcile the final budget.

The board discussed how funds are handled for wildland fire deployments to track actual profits realized. Marshall noted that the district deployed crews and apparatus to five wildfires in June.

The district received an invoice from Colarelli Construction for $23,000 for construction on the the new Station 2 on Highway 83. It was paid from the $22,000 left in the construction account and $1,000 from the construction reserve.

Another invoice from Colarelli for $79,000 for final expenses that was added to the original construction contract will be paid from the construction reserves. The total cost for the new station is about $2 million.

Marshall reported 152 calls in June, up 19 percent from June 2011.

The board unanimously approved adoption of the 2009 International Fire Code with the original proposed sprinkler system amendment removed. This was a compromise worked out between county fire districts and the Board of County Commissioners.

Chief Vinny Burns reported that the district had received a grant of $5,000 from the El Pomar Foundation. He also noted that Engine 2 was deployed to the Custer National Forest in South Dakota and may be there for two weeks.

Burns said the district would continue to work with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to optimize operational mutual support in responding to calls and planning for major emergency contingencies, but would no longer be discussing a merger at this time with Tri-Lakes or Black Forest.

The board unanimously approved changing regular board meetings for the rest of the year to the third Tuesday of the month. The one exception will be a meeting on Dec. 4.

Burns asked the board to support reactivating a strategic sustainability planning committee. There was consensus to restart these meetings.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.


The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 21 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Palmer Lake residents urged to mitigate fire danger

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: At the center in white shirts are Assistant Fire Chief Philip Beckman, left, and Fire Chief Mike Keough. Keough has a son who is a firefighter and district training officer in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. Keough senior recently was appointed fire chief.

Below: National Fire Protection Committee member and originator of Firewise, Keith Worley, discusses fire mitigation procedures and recommendations with residents of Palmer Lake. Photo by Bernard Minttti

By Bernard L. Minetti

About 50 people attended the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s Firewise presentation July 11. The program promotes awareness and proactiveness concerning the mitigation of the forest fire threat to residents of Palmer Lake and surrounding areas.

Speakers included recently appointed Fire Chief Mike Keough, Assistant Fire Chief Philip Beckman, and Keith Worley, National Fire Protection Committee member and originator of Firewise.

The speakers stressed the need for mitigation of the fire threat and the reduction of wildfire fuel on home sites and adjacent areas. The danger can be lessened by having a volunteer team from the Palmer Lake Fire Department perform a Structure Triage Matrix rating of a residence and to learn ways to mitigate any potential fire threat.

The structure ratings allow the fire crews to determine which home sites or other structure sites are savable. Anyone concerned about whether their home stands a chance of being saved by fire personnel during a wildfire get that rating to see what needs to be done, if anything, to mitigate the fuel potential of vegetation and/or items that are highly flammable.

Some of the general concepts of the Firewise program are to reduce the density of the surrounding forest, thin branches, clean gutters, thin tree and brush cover, dispose of slash and debris left from thinning, remove dead leaves, limbs, and other litter, maintain an irrigated greenbelt, mow dry grasses, prune branches to 10 feet above ground, stack firewood away from the home, and maintain 10 to 12 feet between tree crowns.

Highly detailed and direct mitigation procedures specialized for your property may be obtained by calling Fire Capt. Abby Vierling at 719-481-2902 to set up a time for the fire personnel team to visit. Vierling has indicated that their goal is to have each resident of the Palmer Lake area acquire a triage structure rating to provide a perspective on what needs to be done.

Speakers said that the Waldo Canyon Fire triage survey of Palmer Lake and vicinity showed that the area has a very high density of natural vegetation that could be a vicious accelerant to a wildfire. It was also noted that with a community that is cooperative with each other, overall mitigation can be effected rapidly and potentially reduce the fire susceptibility quotient.

During the presentation, there was a brief discussion of tax credits that are available to help lower the expense, if any, of the mitigation actions by a homeowner. Details can be obtained when the fire personnel come to your home or they may be obtained by calling the department.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, July 10: New officers elected

By Jim Kendrick

On July 10, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) elected officers for the next two years. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District JUC representative Jim Whitelaw was elected JUC president. Palmer Lake Sanitation District JUC representative Dale Smith was elected vice president. Monument Sanitation District JUC representative Chuck Robinove was elected secretary/treasurer.

The election followed the tradition of a six-year cycle that rotates each of the three JUC officer positions through the three owner districts every two years, after special district board elections are held. This year, it was Woodmoor’s turn to have its JUC representative become president. The outgoing president rotates into the vice president position to ensure an experienced person is running the meeting in the president’s absence. The outgoing vice president rotates into the secretary/treasurer position.

At this meeting, Whitelaw and Robinove were absent due to an out-of-state vacation and an illness, respectively. Smith, who had been president for the past two years, chaired the meeting as vice president. Director Tommy Schwab, Woodmoor’s alternate JUC representative, and Director Dave Joss, Monument’s alternate JUC representative, filled in for Whitelaw and Robinove.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: Robinove, Smith, and Whitelaw. Typically, several other district board members, including the JUC alternate representatives and the district managers from each of the three owner districts also attend JUC meetings to ensure in-depth knowledge of facility operations on the district boards and continuity of informed decision-making by the JUC.

Financial reports

Burks noted a bill for $4,431 for lining the interior of Monument’s south metering vault with a plastic material to protect the concrete walls and some internal measurement components from deterioration caused by hydrogen sulfide gas in the raw influent wastewater. Flow rates are continuously measured by the metering vault’s flume to automatically calculate the district’s monthly billing for wastewater treatment.

The JUC unanimously accepted the June financial report and the accounts payable lists for each of the three owner districts as presented. The JUC also unanimously accepted the facility’s final 2011 audit report as distributed electronically by auditor John Cutler. Cutler will forward hard copies of the now-accepted 2011 audit to the state, the facility, and each of the owner districts.

District manager reports

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund, Palmer Lake District Manager Duane Hanson, and Woodmoor District Manager Jessie Shaffer each reported that their district collection systems had been running smoothly for the past month and that there were no problems to report to the JUC. Wicklund noted that some asphalt repairs were being performed, under warranty, that morning to some roads that were upgraded in Wakonda Hills by Monument during the recent collection system expansion.

Plant manager’s report

Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks gave the monthly in-depth technical report on his treatment plant’s operating performance. He also discussed the staff’s monthly analysis of the districts’ influent flows and discharged treated effluent, particularly the highest-interest heavy metals, including mercury, sulfates, total phosphates and total nitrogen (which includes measurements of total inorganic nitrogen, nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia concentrations.

The average concentration of total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) in discharged treated wastewater effluent for May was 7.5 parts per million (ppm.) The TIN limit in the facility’s new five-year discharge permit, which expires at the end of 2016, is 23 ppm. In July 2013, the new TIN discharge limit that is being implemented by recently approved state Control Regulation 85 will drop to 15 ppm. No new capital expense will be incurred by this new Reg. 85 TIN limit.

However, the new interim value discharge permit limit in the recently approved Regulation 31 is 2.1 parts per million (ppm) for total nitrogen (TN), which requires an even smaller concentration of TIN. There is no technology available today that will allow the Tri-Lakes facility to comply with this Reg. 31 interim value discharge limit when this limit goes into effect in 2022.

The minimum capital upgrade cost for the currently available state-of-the-art equipment that could remove the maximum amount of TN possible is $15 million. The current value of the entire Tri-Lakes facility, including the land and all the buildings, is $6 million.

Furthermore, there are exceptions in Reg. 31 that would allow the 2.1 ppm limit to become effective as early as 2017 if changes are made in the next Arkansas River basin hearings regarding the existing impaired water classifications for Monument Creek.

The actual chemistry and biological uptake of total phosphorus and total nitrogen in aquatic ecosystems is quite complicated and not well understood, particularly the relationship between total nitrogen and algal growth.

This TN cost estimate does not include inflation over the next 10 years. Nor does it include the separate additional short-term cost of about $2 million for new equipment to treat total phosphorus (TP) to meet the new Reg. 85 discharge permit limit of 1 ppm, which will become effective in 2017.

The EPA has stated that it would prefer that the state immediately approve its warm water nutrient criteria—0.067 ppm for TP and 0.88 ppm for TN—but has not yet made these criteria a federal requirement or a mandate on the state. Neither of these EPA interim nutrient values can be achieved by any existing technology.

For more information on this issue, see:

The average hydraulic flow in May was 29 percent of the facility’s rated capacity of 4.2 million gallons per day. The average solid waste flow through the plant was 48 percent of the maximum organic treatment capacity of 5,600 pounds per day.

Monument had one very high influent copper reading of 380 parts per billion (ppb) in the south Monument vault. However, the average concentration of copper in the Monument’s influent for May in the south Monument vault was 131 ppb. The average concentration in the Tri-Lakes facility’s discharged effluent after treatment to remove copper was 7.5 ppb, well below the current discharge permit’s limit of 24.8 ppb. The maximum copper concentration in facility effluent during May was 8 ppb, well below the current maximum copper limit of 36.4 ppb. Burks noted that, in contrast, the copper limit for drinking water is 1,300 ppb. However, some forms of aquatic life in warm streams may be more sensitive to copper, but the existing data are not definitive.

Wicklund reminded the JUC that the most likely source for the infrequent spiked copper readings that occur in all three owner district collection systems is the prohibited use of jars of copper sulfate to kill tree roots. Two jars can cause a spike as high as 600 ppb.

He also noted that tree roots are most likely to infiltrate older privately owned vitreous clay wastewater service lines. These clay pipes are no longer authorized for new construction because they are more vulnerable than PVC piping to cracking, loose seals on saddles for connection of individual service lines to district collection lines, and less effective joint seals in the connection between two sections of pipe. Copper sulfate does not repair the leaks caused by cracks or defective joint seals in the clay pipes. It kills tree roots for only a very short time,

Copper sulfate can also kill the bacteria that treat wastes in wastewater plants and in private septic systems as well as cause toxic hazardous material discharges that can result in stiff fines for the district and septic system owners.

Wicklund stated that Monument constituents can come to the district office at 130 Second St. to obtain an alternative treatment compound to copper sulfate for treating tree root intrusion in private service lines.

As usual, Monument had the highest concentration of wastes in its influent, due to having the tightest collection system that minimizes dilution from extra groundwater infiltration collection line leaks and rainwater intruding through leaky manhole lids. Even though this groundwater and rain is not wastewater, the districts must still pay to have the extra water treated by the wastewater plant. Woodmoor, as usual, had the highest wastewater influent flows, having more than three times the number of customers of Monument and Palmer Lake.

Burks noted that the plant is operating very efficiently with 98 percent removal of solid wastes and suspended solids, a far superior performance than the permit limit of 85 percent removal for both.

Timberline, an engineering consultant firm, has upgraded the automated flow and data acquisition reporting telemetry equipment and added an ammonia monitoring system in the effluent flume building. The dedicated data recording network computer monitor has an added readout for the newly available ammonia information as well.

Regulatory report

Burks reversed his position expressed at the June JUC meeting on not joining the new monitoring group being formed by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) to initiate nutrient and metals monitoring in Monument and Fountain Creeks. He asked the JUC to support having Palmer Lake and Woodmoor reimburse Monument $500 each for the $1,500 check Monument had already paid on behalf of the Tri-Lakes facility. The payment goes toward one-time administrative costs of $15,000 for PPACG to legally create the monitoring group. This cost was shared equally by the 10 current participating wastewater entities.

Reg. 85 requires nutrient monitoring by all state wastewater entities to begin in November, and the monitoring group would standardize data sampling procedures and minimize costs for all participating entities. For now, the finances are being handled temporarily by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Burks also reversed his position on sharing all future monthly monitoring costs among the three owner districts on a flow basis and advocated dividing them equally, by thirds. He noted that other wastewater dischargers along these two creeks will be asked to participate in the monitoring group to get a more complete picture of the whole Fountain Creek watershed. Full participation also would reduce costs for each of the entities for supporting collection and reporting of the data to the state’s data sharing network.

The total cost for operating the new monitoring group has been estimated to be $60,000 to $90,000 per year. The cost-sharing formula has not been finalized yet. Ten wastewater treatment entities are participating in the monitoring at this time, and up to another 10 entities could be solicited to participate, plus other entities that are not part of PPACG or the Fountain Creek watershed but affect nutrient levels in the Arkansas River.

Burks, Wicklund, and Jim Kendrick, Operations, Monument Sanitation District, gave an hour-long technical explanation of the purpose and likely indefinite operational costs of the new monitoring group. The group is similar to the long-established South Platte Coalition for Urban River Evaluation (SPCURE) program. SPCURE has been in operation for over a decade and all its data are accepted by the state Health Department, the EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The annual cost for SPCURE operations is $115,000, but SPCURE monitors a longer stream segment.

They also explained failed state legislation to prevent or limit imposition nutrient limitations and the need for all wastewater entities in the Fountain Creek watershed to monitor background naturally occurring nutrient and metal runoff as well as source runoff from agricultural sources that dwarfs wastewater plant nutrient contributions to the watershed.

Kendrick reminded all in attendance that the Tri-Lakes facility is not a small facility even though the Tri-Lakes facility’s service region is perceived by most to be made up of small towns and a small residential subdivision. The Tri-Lakes facility is in the mid-range of the 45 largest plants in the state––actually in the top 10 percent––due to its rated capacity of 4.2 million gallons per day (MGD). State regulations define the 109 facilities rated at over 1.0 MGD as large facilities. There are 45 state plants rated at over 2.0 MGD. There are 391 wastewater treatment entities in Colorado, and most have a rated capacity under 1.0 MGD. Because Tri-Lakes is classified as a large facility by the state, the new monitoring requirement and its increased operating costs are permanent.

Furthermore, the monitoring data will always be necessary to apply for any future discharger specific variances because Monument Creek has a sandy bottom that does not support aquatic life. So the facility will always be well below the state standard for average aquatic life density, the metric that the state uses to determine if there are excessive nutrients in a stream.

The Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, about 3 miles south of Tri-Lakes, has a rated capacity of 1.75 MGD and would have been treated the same as Tri-Lakes under the initially proposed Reg. 85 exemption limit of 1.0 MGD, for small facilities. However, Gov. John Hickenlooper formally requested the Water Quality Control Commission to increase the Reg. 85 exemption threshold to 2.0 MGD and the higher exemption limit was adopted on June 11.

Tri-Lakes has an average flow of about 1.1 MGD and peak flows of about 1.5 to 1.6 MGD—over 1.0 MGD but much less than the Hickenlooper threshold of 2.0 MGD. Only a plant’s rated capacity is used to determine which parts of state regulations apply, because actual flows are so variable.

The original and Hickenlooper Reg. 85 exemptions are not included in Reg. 31. These exemptions will be superseded and voided when Reg. 31 nutrient limits take effect in 2022. This will aggravate the difficulty in getting discharger-specific variances for naturally occurring but still "deficient" Monument Creek aquatic life densities, necessitating data collection. Some exceptions could apply as early as 2017 if changes are made in the next Arkansas River basin hearings in early 2013 regarding impaired water classifications in the next revision of the basin Regulation 303D impaired stream segment list. This list involves waters that have excessively high levels of constituents that are deemed to be polluting in specific stream uses (such as fishing and wading.)

Even though the Tri-Lakes facility has no detectable arsenic in its effluent, adding Monument Creek to the 303D list at the spring hearing could allow the state to impose even tighter arsenic restrictions on Monument Creek and new unplanned capital costs on the Tri-Lakes facility for arsenic removal and additional in-stream monitoring for arsenic.

Smith and Schwab asked for a delay in the decision to reimburse Monument $500 each so they could present Burks’ request to their district boards.

Burks, Wicklund, and Kendrick asked everyone in the room, particularly the other district managers, to attend the next monitoring group meeting at PPACG on Aug. 9, to be better able to plan for the unavoidable monitoring costs that must be added to their 2013 budgets.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.


The next JUC meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at the Tri-Lakes facility’s conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, July 10: Steve Remington’s role clarified as "unpaid advisor"

By Jim Kendrick

During public comments at the July 10 meeting, the Triview Metropolitan District board clarified the role of the former board secretary/treasurer, Steve Remington, at the request of Our Community News (OCN) reporter Jim Kendrick. The consensus of the Triview board, after some discussion with Triview attorney Gary Shupp, was that his current title is "unpaid advisor."

At the end of the July 10 meeting, the Triview board interviewed his wife, Valerie Remington, in executive session a second time for the position of district manager, which has been vacant since mid-November. Valerie Remington was first interviewed in executive session by the Triview board members after one minute of open session during the June 19 special board meeting, as reported on page 14 of the July 7 edition of OCN.

All five board members were present at the July 10 meeting.

An article titled "When Public Entities Hire" on page 15 of the July 2012 edition of the magazine SDA News includes these statements about special district hiring of new employees:

    "The Open Meetings Law (OML) requires that gatherings of the district board … must be open to the public, with advance public notice. Realizing that full public access may not be in the best public interest in certain identifiable situations, the General Assembly made allowances for "executive sessions" behind closed doors. Interviewing job candidates is not, however, one of those situations requiring confidentiality."

    "The OML allows for the public body to meet in an executive session that is not open to the public to discuss "personnel matters," but this personnel matters exception does not extend to job applicants or others who do not have the status of a district employee."

For more information see: www.sdaco.org/news/when-public-entities-hire.

OCN public comment

During public comments on July 10, OCN reporter Jim Kendrick told the board he had elected to refer to Steve Remington as a Triview "consultant" in his OCN article on the June 19 Triview Board meeting. The board had never discussed what Remington’s role should be called during a public Triview board meeting after he chose not to run for re-election and had stepped down from being secretary/treasurer of the board in May.

Kendrick told the board Steve Remington had sent him an email after he read the article on the June 19 Triview board meeting. Remington expressed concern about Kendrick’s use of the word "consultant." In that June 19 article, Kendrick also noted that Valerie Remington was interviewed by the board in executive session. Steve Remington requested a correction regarding use of the word "consultant" to characterize his current role with Triview regarding refinancing of both CWRPDA loans.

Kendrick asked the board members what other title would be appropriate regarding Remington’s current role. When there seemed to be no consensus among the board members on what title should be used, Kendrick asked the directors if the correct term would be "agent" or "representative." Triview attorney Gary Shupp suggested the word "advisor." Board President Bob Eskridge said, "‘Advisor’ works." There was no comment or objection from the other directors. Shupp said the word "volunteer" should also be used.

OCN will now refer to Remington as an "unpaid advisor" to the Triview board.

Some of the things Remington wrote to Kendrick in his first email were:

    "I am not a consultant, I have no agreement with Triview, and I do not get paid by Triview. Prior to my leaving the Board, I volunteered to help get information on the refinancing. Since no one else was taking it on, I gathered some basic information and presented it to the Board at the last meeting. As you know when I asked them about any next steps, there was no answer and no direction. At this point, I presume I am done gathering information for them as there didn’t seem to be any interest in the information I provided. However, I certainly do not have any agreement with the Board for services of any kind. If the Board wanted my volunteer help at some point, I probably would."

    "With regards to Valerie; as soon as she expressed some interest to me that she might have an interest in the Director position, I recused myself of all conversations, decisions, etc. regarding the position. I have had nothing to do with it."

    "Your article seemed to imply by the tone that there was a connection. There is not, other than Valerie was aware of the issues and challenges I was dealing with on the Board and so she is aware of the matters Triview is facing."

    "I hope you will make the necessary corrections."

Kendrick replied in an email to Remington that he should consider writing a letter to the editor to clarify his position so that it would be "very clear to our (OCN’s) readers that the words are yours." When Remington expressed reluctance about writing a letter to the editor, Kendrick decided to clarify the title issue directly with the Triview board during its July 10 public meeting. Kendrick later decided to also publish Remington’s own emailed words, since Steve Remington did not attend the July 10 Triview board meeting as he said he might in his second/follow-up email in response to Kendrick’s reply.

Other public comments

Triview resident Lynn Myers followed up on her request to the Triview board, during public comments at the May 8 board meeting, to have the greenbelt area along Kitchener Way adjacent to her corner lot at the Bridle Ridge Drive intersection after 6 1/2 years of neglect and the district’s failure to retain and use the developer’s performance bond for this purpose.

Triview President Bob Eskridge told Myers on May 8 that newly hired Operations Supervisor Nick Harris would be solving the greenbelt rehabilitation problem, which is now funded with a separate line item in this year’s Triview budget.

For more background information, see: www.ocn.me/v12n6.htm#tmd

On July 10 Myers thanked the board for having the grass in the greenbelt area mowed and turning on the greenbelt sprinkler system. She asked about the status of the bids solicited by Triview to have a contractor upgrade the greenbelt and if the board had made any decisions on how to upgrade the greenbelt to make it "more pleasant," particularly the greenbelt areas on the east side of Kitchener Way that have no sprinkler systems. Eskridge replied that some bids had been submitted, though some were too "outrageous" to consider and the board would discuss what the district itself could do and what work could be contracted.

Triview resident Mike Quinn had additional questions on this issue. He asked if Eskridge could offer any "generic time line as to when you think this problem will be tackled" because people were getting impatient at the lack of information. Eskridge said a decision should be made in the next month and there would still be no point of contact for residents on this issue, other than the board during public comments, until the board hires a district manager.

The Triview district manager position has been vacant since Nov. 15, 2011.

Financial report

Monument Treasurer Pamela Smith, who also serves as Triview’s treasurer as a paid private consultant, said there was one disbursement over $5,000­­––$93,394 to Donala Water and Sanitation District for quarterly/monthly wastewater treatment services by the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Donala operates the facility, which is owned by Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District.

Smith noted that Triview’s share of Monument sales tax revenue received through May was $20,347 (3.8 percent) more than the amount budgeted. Total Triview sales tax revenues through May was about $551,000. She added that she would watch for any negative trending so Triview could make expenditure adjustments as necessary.

General fund revenues through May were about $496,000 (12 percent) more than budgeted due to collecting 61 percent of property tax revenue. Expenditures were under budget by $39,000 (3.8 percent.) A $1 million interest-only payment on Triview’s $48 million bond debt was made in May. The second $1 million interest-only payment is due in November. These bond debt payments will approximately double in 2013 when Triview will have to start repaying the principal to Wells Fargo as well as the interest.

Enterprise fund revenues were about $279,000 (13.7 percent) more than budgeted, due to the drought and high water production for irrigation. Expenditures were under budget by $233,000 (10.25 percent.) The first of two semi-annual CWRPDA loan payments, $258,000, was made in February. The next payment is due in August.

The net total surplus for all Triview funds through May was $1,173,761.

The financial reports were unanimously accepted as presented.

Operations report

Some of the items Operations Supervisor Nick Harris discussed were:

  • June water production was 37,830,000 gallons, a Triview record high.
  • Dennis Phillips, an additional Triview water operator, had started work on July 2.
  • All streets that had been recently chip sealed were swept again.
  • Total estimated costs for landscaping and irrigation costs for Kitchener Way between James Gate Place and Bridal Ridge Drive are $32,500, including an inch-thick layer of top soil over the existing gravel surface.
  • A buried "sleeve" for a power line is already in place under James Gate Place, but a cut will have to be made across Kitchener Way to get power to the east side of the greenbelt.

There was an extended philosophical discussion led by Director Robert Fisher about all Triview landscaping issues and options as well as unfulfilled developer responsibilities. He said that while the developer of the Kitchener Way greenbelt was no longer responsible, the board could exert pressure on this developer because he still owns other platted but undeveloped lots within Triview.

Director Steve Cox asked Harris to determine the cost of boring under Kitchener Way to avoid cutting the asphalt. Cox also asked Harris to determine how long it would take for the staff to install all required irrigation system components.

Smith said there was $245,000 in the park improvement line of the district capital improvement fund that was originally slated for 404 habitat permit expenses. During the mid-year 2012 budget restatement, some of this money could be redirected to pay for a contractor to install the irrigation system.

The board approved the plan, plus an additional $2,500 for top soil and trees.

Harris reported a problem of a 2 percent difference in influent and effluent flows at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. A contractor will be hired to find the cause of this difference and check the calibration of all the flow measurement equipment within the plant. There is also a problem of the plant blowers tripping offline when plant emergency generators are turned on to save power costs during Mountain View Electric Association’s peak demand periods. The analysis of this problem had not been completed.

Water attorney Chris Cummins asked Harris if any of the Upper Monument facility’s higher than average wastewater effluent would be sufficient to sell as water rights to downstream users along Monument or Fountain Creek. Harris said he would provide flow data for Cummins to analyze.

The board appointed Harris to replace Steve Sheffield as the approved Triview representative to the facility’s Operations Committee.

Groundwater levels in the A4 and A8 wells have been dropping and their water production has dropped from 300 to 250 gallons per minute (gpm). The wells are running 18 hours per day. As a result, the flow from the B water treatment plant had to be reduced from 1,000 to 920 gpm. The A7 well also requires close monitoring.

After a lengthy technical discussion, the board members asked Harris to email them a proposal with options and costs for enhancing the appearance and landscaping around the A water treatment plant in the residential area between Oxbow Drive and Kitchener Way and to reduce noise. This issue was raised at the June 12 board meeting by Jackson Creek homeowner Peter Speiser. Smith suggested that Triview hire the town’s master gardener, Sharon Williams, to consult on making the A plant look more attractive. Harris will also prepare a cost comparison for painting by a contractor versus district staff with rented painting equipment.

Insufficient water pressure in the new Vistas apartments

Director Tom Harder raised a new water pressure issue that has emerged in the new Vistas apartment building complex. He said, "People are having to wash their hair in the sink." Harris confirmed that water pressure, particularly in third-floor apartments, is substandard, at about 50 psi to 55 psi instead of 65 psi. Harris said he would check the settings of the various pressure regulating valves in the various buildings. Water pressure in the adjacent Triview water mains is as much as 100 psi.

Booster pump decisions postponed again

Consultant engineer Barney Fix of Merrick & Co. updated the board on statistics regarding the proposed water pressure booster pump to be installed in Promontory Pointe.

Cox asked Fix if the cost would be justifiable to install 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm) booster pumps that would ensure adequate fire flows in Promontory Pointe and Homestead fire hydrants. Cox said the fire flow pumps would probably never run during the entire lifespan of the booster pump system. Harder and Cox added that they had found some 600 gpm booster pumps that might be more cost effective.

Fix showed the very restricted area of homes that would have water pressure during a fire without the fire flow pumps.

Fisher told Fix that all the combined costs of Merrick’s proposed booster pump system was well more than the top amount the district board was willing to pay to solve Triview’s water pressure problems. Fisher said he would rather spend that money on new wells and a new water tank for the future Sanctuary Pointe and Home Place Ranch subdivisions.

Fix said Classic Homes was planning to substantially revise the plats for phase 4 and phase 5 of Promontory Pointe. The Town of Monument has already approved all five Classic plats, and any major revisions would have to go through reviews by the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees. He said he would produce documentation and costs for an option that did not include fire flow pumps in the new Promontory Pointe booster pump system and email them to the board members.

Board officers elected

The board unanimously elected Fisher as president, Harder as vice president, and Eskridge as secretary/treasurer for the next two years.

The board went into executive session at 6:20 p.m. for personnel issues, pending litigation, and contract negotiations.


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

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Triview Metropolitan District, July 31: Valerie Remington selected district manager

By Jim Kendrick

On July 31, the Triview Metropolitan District board held a special meeting to select a new district manager. A quorum of three directors was reached at 5:07 p.m. The board unanimously approved the selection of Valerie Remington.

Valerie Remington is a former assistant vice president and banking center manager for UMB Bank and the wife of former board member Steve Remington.

Directors Steve Cox and Bob Eskridge did not attend.

President Robert Fisher stated, "We had a follow-up discussion with Valerie Remington following the last interview session we had." He added, "It’s as we discussed in executive session. Answered a lot of questions for her." Fisher then said, "There’s nothing left to resolve. It’s as we discussed in that executive session."

After a procedural briefing by Triview attorney Gary Shupp on how to carry out the hiring of a district manager legally, the board approved hiring Remington at a salary of $86,000 per year with standard district employee benefits, on a probationary status that would be dropped after six months. Remington’s employment started on Aug. 1.

Director Steve Hurd offered two motions under "old business." Neither item was listed on the agenda, and they were not discussed when the board approved the blank old business agenda item without changes.

Hurd’s first motion was "to approve that certain agreement dated June 14, 2012 and to authorize the former board president to execute said agreement and to approve the expenditures associated with that agreement." Director Tom Harder said, "I guess I’ll second." It was unanimously approved.

Hurd’s second motion was "to ratify all actions taken by the former board president in association with that certain agreement dated June 14, 2012." Harder seconded. It was unanimously approved.

Harder asked Fisher if there was "anything on the booster." Fisher said "There was an email today. I have the email. I haven’t had a chance to read it." Fisher then said, "With that, we’re ready for adjournment."

Before the board could adjourn, OCN reporter Jim Kendrick said, "I didn’t understand and I don’t know how to write it up in the paper. What was the first motion about?" When no board member would respond, Shupp said, "I’ll talk to him after the adjournment" to much laughter from the board members.

Fisher then said, "I’m going to adjourn this meeting at 5:14. Done."

After the meeting adjourned, Shupp provided OCN with a copy of the settlement agreement with former district manager Mark Carmel, who was fired by the board on Nov. 15 and had not been replaced until this meeting. Shupp said he could not comment to OCN about the agreement and added that this settlement agreement needed to be approved in a formal session.


The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Aug. 14 in Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, July 12: District’s emergency fire procedure discussed

By Candice Hitt

At the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board meeting July 12, President Barrie Town discussed that during the Waldo Canyon Fire, the district agreed to let the Fire Department use any and all resources to fight the fire. Consulting engineer Mike Rothberg said the district meets the fire flow requirements and it has an emergency plan to enhance water flows in areas if needed.

District Manager Jesse Shaffer stated that the district kept water tanks full during the fire. Shaffer also spoke to all district managers about special duties that would be needed if the fire reached Monument. Shaffer stated he would contact the Fire Department and Woodmoor Improvement Association to get information on any future community meetings to educate the community about fire protection. Shaffer will report his findings to the board in August.

Operations report

Shaffer said that Well 12 needs two check valves, one on the down hole piping and the other on the well house. Shaffer stated the pump and motor are fine. The well was scheduled to be reinstalled on July 17, after which diagnostic tests can be run to determine any needed repairs or if the well needs to be replaced. Well 12 is under warranty.

Shaffer reported that installation of a new roof and HVAC system for the district office was scheduled for completion on July 19. Shaffer also reported the Kum-N-Go gas station had submitted final plans to District Manager Zach Collins. Collins made a few changes to the plans and has resubmitted to the engineers for final review.

Joint Use Committee update

Director Tommy Schwab reported the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) was working on the requirements for nutrient Regulation 85. Shaffer stated that under Reg. 85, there is a 24-month testing period to collect data for numeric values of nitrogen and phosphorus in streams.

Shaffer said that the 10 entities that own wastewater treatment plants from Monument to Pueblo are working on a plan to cooperate in the process of stream data testing. Initial steps include a $15,000 plan by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG). The PPACG is stating that the annual cost of operating this data system will be about $60,000 to $90,000. Shaffer said this is an unexpected expense for the JUC, and the project would be beneficial to the district.

See page 15 for more information on the JUC.

Shaffer said the district’s financial figures for June were in line with the targeted amounts.


The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, July 18: Financial advisor defends bond issue arrangements

By John Heiser

During the public comment portion of the June 21 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Scott Peterson, a resident of Colorado Springs who said he is a retired municipal bond underwriter and had been involved in municipal bond issuance since 1975, commented on some aspects of the district’s December 2011 bond issue. The $7.3 million in bonds was issued to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements to handle renewable water.

In particular, Peterson said it was excessive that the bond issue involved five law firms, four in Denver and one in New York, and two financial advisers, one representing Donala and one representing the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA), which backed the bond issue.

He noted that the district put up over $750,000 for the cost of issuance and for a reserve fund. He said that for this size bond issue "that is very inefficient."

Peterson also objected to what he characterized as the lack of information in the official bond issue statement regarding the intended use of the funds and how much money the authority made in initial and ongoing fees for sponsoring the bond issue.

In a memo distributed at the July 18 board meeting, Joe Drew, the district’s financial advisor, responded to Peterson’s comments. Some highlights of that response:

  • "CWRPDA was established by the Colorado state legislature in 1981. Its sole purpose is to provide assistance in the funding of water and wastewater projects within Colorado. CWRPDA gets funding from primarily two sources. The first is general fund money from the state of Colorado. The second is federal funds distributed by the EPA. CWRPDA does not receive an upfront fee or make a spread on tax-exempt loans to borrowers."
  • "The money received from the state and EPA is then used primarily in three ways. First, CWRPDA subsidizes interest rates on tax-exempt financings for Colorado projects. Second, CWRPDA pays all, or a part of, the costs of issuance for qualified projects in Colorado. Third, some small issuers qualify for direct, non-tax-exempt financings at interest rates ranging from 0 percent to 3.5 percent. Most direct loans are at 2 percent."
  • "$596,805 was the cost of the debt service reserve (DSR) fund, but that is money that is retained by the district and can be used to pay bonds in the future. It is not an expense of the bond transaction. With the financial crisis of 2008, viable options for a DSR are limited, and in this case, cash funding of the DSR was the best choice. Not perfect, but the best available at the time."
  • "$158,175 was for costs of issuance … the entire $158,175 was paid by CWRPDA, and $0 was paid by Donala. That is a primary benefit of using CWRPDA in project financing, and the compelling reason for using CWRPDA on this financing. Additionally, the district does not have to pay annual trustee fees, or conduct periodic arbitrage rebate calculations. Those duties are the responsibility of CWRPDA."
  • "Unfortunately, the current environment in the securities industry necessitates the involvement of lawyers clearly absent of conflict of interest issues. We are post the 2008 financial crisis, and obviously this isn’t 1975 anymore. Issuing tax-exempt bonds is not as easy as it used to be. One lawyer (Petrock and Fendel) is general counsel to Donala, a lawyer that has an ongoing relationship with Donala and represents Donala in general legal matters. The second lawyer (Carlson, Hammond & Paddock) is the general counsel for CWRPDA, a lawyer that has an ongoing relationship with CWRPDA and represents CWRPDA in general legal matters. Sherman and Howard represented Donala regarding federal and state tax-exempt financing legal matters. Fulbright & Jaworski is the "red book" bond attorney responsible for rendering a state and federal legal opinion required of every tax-exempt financing, and represents CWRPDA since CWRPDA is the actual issuer of the bonds. Finally, Hogan and Lovells was retained to represent the underwriter, and their fee was paid by the underwriter."
  • "Mr. Peterson suggests that two financial advisors was inefficient. One to represent CWRPDA and one for the district. The obvious question to that is; can one advisor represent both without a conflict of interest? Again, the cost of both financial advisors was paid by CWRPDA, not by Donala."
  • "A detailed project description is contained within Appendix B of the official statement on page 19, and again on page 11 within the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP)."

Water consumption remains very high

Dana Duthie, Donala district general manager, reported that water consumption by district customers during June set a new monthly record of 75 million gallons. During June, over 165 residential customers used more than 40,000 gallons. The highest use during June by a single family was 86,184 gallons.

Mandatory irrigation restrictions apply from May 28 through Sept. 4. Irrigation is allowed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for odd-number addresses. Irrigation is allowed on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for even-number addresses. No irrigation is allowed on Sunday. For additional information, visit www.donalawater.org/water/irrigation-restriction.html.

Duthie noted that the district has issued over 100 first-warning letters and four second-warning letters for violations of the mandatory irrigation restrictions. He added that the district has now issued its first fine of the year.

Duthie noted that, as a result of the ongoing drought, more senior water rights are taking precedence and the district is unlikely to receive this year the full 280 acre-feet of Willow Creek Ranch water approved by the water court. However, the district has about 100 acre-feet of ranch water in storage and is drawing about 50 acre-feet per month through its connection with Colorado Springs Utilities at Northgate Road. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

In response to a question as to whether the district might run out of water, Duthie said use of the Willow Creek Ranch water has cut in half the amount of well production required. He added that the district has five wells in reserve; however, if the drought continues for several years, there could be problems.

Susan McLean, the district’s conservation/landscape manager, is continuing to work on landscape plans for customers to reduce irrigation.

Duthie said the district has established an award program for xeriscaping and will make its first award in September.

Other matters

Below (L to R): Donala board president Bill George congratulates Water Operator Randy Cain on being named Employee of the Quarter. Photo provided by the Donala district.

  • Randy Cain was named the employee of the quarter. The district recently hired Cain as a water operator. Duthie said, "Randy is going a great job."
  • During the three months from April 1 through June 30, the district’s $3.19 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.36 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.04 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 1.2 years. Davidson also separately manages $5.6 million in proceeds from the bond sale to be used to fund the infrastructure improvements needed to handle renewable water and $596,731 in a debt service reserve fund associated with the bond sale. Those accounts earned 0.19 percent and 0.10 percent, respectively, during the same period.
  • The work to upgrade the Latrobe booster pumps is scheduled to start in the next couple weeks. This is an initial part of the infrastructure upgrades needed to transport larger amounts of renewable water from the southern part of the district to the northern parts. As a second piece of that effort, a $186,585 bid by Global Underground to install a new pipeline along Baptist Road was approved by the board. Upgrades to other pipelines in the district are being planned. All the infrastructure upgrade work is to be completed by the end of 2013.
  • Duthie reported that the next meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) will be held Sept. 5. He noted that the Donala district and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District are negotiating leases to a farmers’ irrigation group of portions of their effluent discharged from the shared wastewater treatment facility. Duthie said the lease payments could cover the district’s cost for participating in the Transit Loss Model that measures and records the amount of non-native Fountain Creek watershed stream flows.
  • Duthie distributed copies of the regional stormwater study prepared by Summit Economics. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of coordinated efforts to address stormwater control, how those efforts will be funded remains a sticking point.
  • The 7-year-old pump failed in well 3A, one of the district’s wells in the Arapahoe aquifer. The board approved a $77,322 bid from Applied Ingenuity to replace the pump.

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


The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting Aug. 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month; however, no meeting will be held in November 2012, and the December 2012 meeting will be held Dec. 6.

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

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

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Monument Sanitation District, July 19: 2011 audit approved; new water treatment funding sought

By Jim Kendrick

On June 21, the Monument Sanitation District board continued to plan for additional nutrient regulatory costs imposed by the Water Quality Control Commission on June 11. All board members were present.

Treasurer’s report

The board unanimously accepted the June financial statements prepared by CPA consultant firm Haynie & Co. and the June cash flow summary, prepared by the district staff. The district’s emergency cash reserve had increased by $7,000 since the June 21 board meeting, but remains uncomfortably low.

District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the district will likely have to pay a large bill in a few months for treated solid waste removal from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility sludge storage lagoon. The high quality de-watered sludge is hauled off by Liquid Waste Management to be directly applied to local farm fields.

Wicklund noted that contractor John Westfall, owner of J&K Excavating, would be raising all the Third Street manhole lids to the level of the new Third Street asphalt overlay just installed between Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. Westfall will also make any necessary repairs to these manholes.

Wicklund stated that one of the four Wakonda Hills lift station positive displacement pumps had been damaged beyond repair, and the replacement cost would not be covered by a warranty. He added that one of the other lift station pumps is also showing higher than expected run times and may need repair or replacement as well.

JUC update

Wicklund said the Palmer Lake Sanitation District and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District will likely pay $500 each as reimbursement to Monument, which paid the full $1,500 invoice for preparation of legal documents to establish a new nutrients and metals monitoring group in the Fountain Creek and Monument Creek watershed. This monitoring group is being formed in response to new monitoring requirements imposed by the state Water Quality Control Commission on June 11. The Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor special districts own the Tri-Lakes facility in equal one-third shares.

Wicklund noted that there would be a new permanent operating expense to cover operation of the new monitoring group that will administer collection and publication of stream and effluent monitoring data regarding nutrient and heavy metals provided by various wastewater treatment entities that discharge to Monument Creek, Fountain Creek, and the Arkansas River. The annual cost for administering this program will be $60,000 to $90,000.

The group’s annual cost will be split by the 10 participating entities, though more entities may join the group later, and lower each member’s cost. Tri-Lakes Water Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee members Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District will equally split the Tri-Lakes facility’s share of this operating cost, about $6,000 to $9,000 per year, with each paying about $2,000 to $3,000 per year.

Under the new state nutrient regulations approved by the Water Quality Control Commission on June 11, monitoring by all affected state wastewater entities must begin stream and effluent monitoring for nutrients by November.

Wicklund said the cost of chemicals to operate the Tri-Lakes facility’s total phosphorus removal pilot plant next summer in one of the two aeration basins for just three months will be about $25,000. The total chemical cost for operating new permanent total phosphorus removal equipment in both basins for a full year would thus be about $200,000 per year. The initial capital cost for total phosphorus removal being required by the new Control Regulation 85 will be about $1 million. Direct operating costs, in addition to chemical costs, have not yet been determined but should be better understood next fall, after the pilot plant operations are concluded.

In other matters, the board gave policy direction to Wicklund regarding compliance enforcement for leases of district rental space and establishing a new district bank account at First Bank to keep the district accounts below the $250,000 upper limit for deposit insurance.

Budgets will be based on planned fee increases

Wicklund said that he was preparing three draft 2013 budgets based on monthly increases of $5, $7, and $10. He is waiting for firm figures that Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks will be using in his 2013 facility budget for capital, chemical, and other operating costs driven by the new nutrient regulations.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.


The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886 or the website addresses noted above.

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

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Direction 38 forum examines importance of teacher quality and assessment

By Kate Wetterer

"Teachers Matter," a Direction 38! forum on July 23, focused on potential methods to recruit, vet, and maintain the highest caliber of teachers in today’s school system. This included explanations and critiques of Colorado Senate Bill 10-191 dealing with teacher assessments.

Direction 38! is a not-for-profit organization of parents, teachers, and others in School District 38. It is not affiliated with the school district.

This second installment of the 2012 Get Educated! Summer Series was well attended, with current and former teachers involving themselves in the discussion. The speakers were Marcus A. Winters, author of the book Teachers Matter; Bill Jaeger, former teacher and member of Stand for Children Colorado; and Mike Wetzel, director of public relations for the Colorado Education Association. Each gave a summary of their views on teacher assessment and the best ways to provide students with quality educators and then took questions from the audience.

Winters emphasized the vital need for capable teachers in a child’s education. He said this is complicated by the current variety of teacher quality in schools. Winters suggested that schools need to consider a teacher’s "output" rather than their "input" when conducting assessments. He supports ranking teachers through their progress in reaching students and conveying material effectively rather than through degrees and experience itself, regardless of quality.

Winters proposed using standardized testing scores in math and reading to examine the progress of students, thereby ranking the effectiveness of their teachers. Teachers are the most important factor of a child’s education that exists within the school’s control, Winters noted, and a couple less-than-satisfactory teachers in a row can seriously impede a student’s progress, perhaps crippling their education permanently.

Winters said master’s degrees do not necessarily guarantee notable output from teachers, and that having such a degree may be of little to no importance in the classroom. For this reason, he suggested school systems should assess which teachers deserve tenure and higher salaries based on the progress of students in their classes. Winters believes teachers should receive benefits based on their abilities, to reward excellent work and encourage the development of outstanding teachers.

Winters was asked if the studies cited during his speech distinguished between types of master’s degrees. He said there was no differentiation. He said a master’s in one’s chosen teaching subject, or in classroom management and curriculum arrangement, could benefit a teacher more than a completely unrelated degree.

In response to a question about how one would measure relationships with students in order to adequately summarize a teacher’s impact on the classroom, Winters said effectiveness would be measured through an improvement in scores. If a teacher is helping kids improve, the progress would show in standardized testing.

Audience members also discussed the importance of teaching certification, some saying that the experience was invaluable and has helped them enormously in managing their classrooms and others saying it was a waste of time, jumping through mindless hoops instead of being given material to better themselves as educators.

Jaeger explained that the purpose of Stand for Children, Colorado is to help students graduate from high school prepared to enter a college or the workforce. Thus, he supports a plan to improve the performance of teachers who could be doing better in communicating/inciting improvement in their students. Jaeger conceded that it could be difficult for teachers and principals to be assessed. He suggested that the same people would be involved in both evaluations.

Senate Bill 10-191 states that teachers may, rather than must, also be permitted to grade their principals, keeping the system accountable from top to bottom. There is no test that serves as an absolute guarantee, from Jaeger’s perspective, but monitoring growth may be more promising and could be effective as a new focus.

Wetzel raised the concern that charting students’ academic growth through Colorado’s changing standardized tests may prove difficult. More factors are changing than simply the teachers, which could limit the reliability of the research. Still, Wetzel registered support for plans to encourage remarkable teachers, noting that implementing exams before a person becomes a teacher might benefit a school system, making the career more competitive and therefore serving as a significant accomplishment. Where Winters suggested opening doors for all people interested in trying their hand at teaching, Wetzel advised making the process of certifying teachers more selective.

Wetzel also spoke about the need to provide teachers with benefits outside of their salaries and/or other rewards. Competing for pay increases would not be beneficial among teachers, he said, because it takes the combined efforts of several teachers to hone the skills of a student. Ideally, educators would band together to improve a student’s skills and, therefore, rankings. Still, the process could prove difficult to balance, because, Wetzel noted, it is always important to make sure teachers are not simply training children to pass exams; there must be no loss of raw learning in favor of acing standardized tests.

Audience members also lamented the potential of neglecting other subjects, because the tests are inevitably limited. The possibility of students purposefully sabotaging teachers they are not fond of was also mentioned, and Wetzel noted that perhaps exams could come with actual stakes for the children instead of just the teachers being evaluated and having something to lose.

One attendee asked what would happen to teachers who fall below a certain percentage in these rankings. The speakers assured the audience that such teachers would not be fired automatically, but would be given a chance to redeem themselves. They might be put back on probationary status if their scores are consistently poor. The goal of the entire process, as Winters stated early on, is to arrange the school system to benefit students, encouraging student potential and hopefully providing children the tools they need to succeed in today’s world.

Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetterer@ocn.me.

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Monument Board of Trustees, July 16: Tri-Lakes Views receives Jim Moore Award

Below: At the Monument Board of Trustees meeting July 16, Tri-Lakes View received the Jim Moore Award for the group’s long and distinguished contributions to urban excellence, progress, and preservation in downtown Monument. Standing from left are Tri-Lakes Views representatives Betty Konarski, Tommie Plank, and Sky Hall. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below (L to R): Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk receives from Monument Mayor Trais Easton a plaque recognizing Shirk’s leadership during the Waldo Canyon Fire. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On July 16, the Town of Monument, with the assistance of the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA), honored the Tri-Lakes Views organization (www.trilakesviews.org) with the fourth Jim Moore award for the group’s long and distinguished contributions to urban excellence, progress, and preservation in downtown Monument.

Town Manager Cathy Green said the recipients of the award, a person or group, are selected by a group from HMMA and presented by the Town of Monument. The award recognizes people who make Monument a better place, a special place. The award is typically given for renovation and beautification of a building.

Mayor Travis Easton read a town proclamation that described the history and purpose of the award and presented it to Tri-Lakes Views President Sky Hall, who gave an "art-full" slide presentation on the six-year history of the group. Also recognized were former Mayor Betty Konarski, Tri-Lakes Views public relations representative, and former Trustee and HMMA representative Tommie Plank.

Shirk presented Waldo Canyon award

Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk gave a short briefing on outstanding cooperation his department received from numerous local first-responder agencies during the Waldo Canyon Fire, particularly the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department, the Donald Wescott Fire Department, the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and the Palmer Lake Police Department.

He also noted his department’s assistance in a "buy-bust" organized by the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation that recovered a large volume of stolen personal property looted during fire evacuations.

Shirk recognized Lt. Steve Burk and Sgt. Mark Owens for their many hours of planning and leadership throughout the town’s response to the fire, three evacuated Monument police officers, and one officer who returned from out of state, cutting his vacation short.

Shirk also displayed a historical map of all wildfires along the Front Range over the past 12 years and described the threat to the Monument area. A second fire probability map showed where the fire would have spread without the mitigation actions of the emergency responders.

Mayor Easton thanked Shirk for his constant communication throughout the Waldo Canyon Fire and presented him with a plaque recognizing his leadership for all citizens of the Tri-Lakes region during the emergency.

The board unanimously approved a resolution reappointing Don Smith, the chair of the Board of Adjustments.

The board unanimously approved the recommendations of Code Enforcement Officer Laura Hogan for the annual renewal of liquor licenses. Green said Hogan was filling in for Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman, who was attending town clerk school. The approved renewals were for:

  • Monument Liquor Mart, 15756 Jackson Creek Parkway
  • La Casa Fiesta Restaurant, 230 Front St.

Financial reports

The board unanimously approved three disbursements over $5,000:

  • $135,868 to Triview Metropolitan District, which included $128,581 for Triview’s share of May sales tax, $5,600 for June motor vehicle tax, and $288 for June Regional Building sales tax.
  • $22,316 to CIRSA Insurance for third-quarter workers comp insurance.
  • $14,167 to CIRSA Insurance for third-quarter liability insurance.

The town’s net sales tax collections through June were $100,000 (10.3 percent) more than budgeted.

General fund revenues in June were $294,000 (7.8 percent) more than budgeted, while expenditures were $333,000 (8.8 percent) less than budgeted. For the year, the general fund net balance was $627,000.

The board unanimously accepted the financial report as presented.

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish reported that asphalt paving projects on Mount Herman Road, Old Denver Highway, and Third Street have been completed. He also said new "No Swimming" signs have been posted around the shoreline of Monument Lake. Work on installing a generator hookup is continuing for the Well 7 water treatment plant, and upgrades to the automated water treatment controls are underway.

Tharnish invited the board members and staff to take a tour of the Second Street water treatment plant at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 6 before the 6:30 p.m. board meeting.

Public comments

Fitness advocate Clint Knox, www.spreeracing.com, asked the board and staff to consider sponsoring the swimming portion in Monument Lake for a "sprint triathlon" to be held next summer. The event would be sanctioned by USA Triathlon. He noted that the overall financial benefit for the event would be about $126,000.

Mayor Travis Easton said it would be a good idea. Town Manager Cathy Green asked Knox to contact her at her office to further explore his proposal.

The board went into executive session at 7:45 p.m. to discuss pending litigation.


The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 6 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 881-8017.

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

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Monument Planning Commission, July 11: Storage business improvements approved

By Jim Kendrick

At the Monument Planning Commission meeting held on July 11, Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, introduced new Planning Commissioner Brad Hogan, whose wife Laura is the town’s new code enforcement officer. He also introduced new Senior Planner Patricia Parish, who has planning experience working for Colorado Springs and El Paso County. Both were attending their first meeting in Town Hall.

Hogan, who grew up in Monument, replaced Becki Tooley, who moved to the Board of Trustees. His appointment runs until the end of 2012. Parish had been on the staff for about six weeks prior to attending this meeting.

Commissioner Glenda Smith was absent.

Electric Propulsion addition approved

Graeme and Martha Aston sought approval of a major amendment to the preliminary/final planned development (PD) site plan for their business, Electric Propulsion Laboratories. They plan to add a new 5,000-square-foot building for testing and assembly on the east side of their facility at 1040 Synthes Ave. in the Monument industrial park. The application also sought approval for a second 5,000-square-foot addition to this new structure to be constructed when the economy picks up.

Several trees will be added along the eastern boundary of the Electric Propulsion property to act as a visual buffer for the Trails End community. The new building and subsequent addition would have the same architecture as the current structure.

Neighboring homeowners Brandy Schwindt and Keith Hyatt of Trails End spoke in favor of the application.

The commission unanimously approved the proposal with two conditions:

  • An executed water deed must be recorded prior to the issuance of a land use permit for the new building.
  • Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by staff.

Upgrades to Foster’s Storage approved

Owner Scott Foster sought approval of a fourth major amendment to his final PD site plan to add outdoor storage of recreational vehicles behind Foster’s Storage’s existing storage facility. Foster’s application noted that the affected space had been planned to hold six to eight additional mini-storage warehouses, but Foster said there is an increased demand for outdoor storage. The vacant land at the rear of the lot will be paved for outdoor boat and RV storage. This area will include security lights and a fully fenced enclosure. Drainage will be handled by the detention pond at the west end of the site.

The outdoor storage area will not be visible from I-25 or Old Denver Highway. An extensive existing buffer of trees already visually buffers the west end of Foster’s lot.

The commission unanimously approved the proposal with no conditions.

The meeting adjourned at 7:36 p.m.


The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 in Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council, July 12: Trail maintenance, low lake water examined

By David Futey

At the July 12 meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council, the Colorado Mountain Club sought to collaborate with the town on trails and limiting off-road access in areas by the reservoir. Also, council members and residents discussed concerns about the low water level in the lake.

The absences of Water Trustee Michael Maddox and Roads Trustee Jerry Davis were excused.

Tom Mowle, a Colorado Springs resident and member of the Mountain Club, spoke about the Rampart East Roadless Area (RERA) and sought council’s support in a collaboration for maintaining trails in areas owned by the town. The RERA encompasses 30,000 acres in Pike National Forest. The area is designated as a road-less area by the Forest Service, the largest such area between Denver and the Arkansas Valley that does not have a wilderness protection associated with it.

Mowle said the club has been mapping trails in the area from Palmer Lake to Perry Park. He said, "It does not receive a lot of use except for day hikers" and hiking the Rampart Range is very difficult. It is an opportunity to bring in others for hiking. He is also interested in assisting the town with not allowing off-road traffic near the reservoir.

Mowle raised the following issues:

  • Pocket Pals Trail Guides is producing maps of the areas that will be available in 2013. Mowle said this is an opportunity to bring more visitors to Palmer Lake and create use of the area.
  • Illegal (off-road) motorized use is occurring in the Rampart Range, particularly up to the upper reservoir. This is causing damage to trails and resources. The club wants to work with Palmer Lake to "keep people from the upper reservoir and not coming down the old Winding Stairs road."
  • Oil and gas leases had been on hold for eight years but were recently lifted. For example, the area of North Monument Creek is under lease in 2014, and Ice Cave Creek and Cook Creek in 2015. Mowle provided a map that showed leases in the area and noted that the Sundance Mountain lease expires in 2019. Mayor Nikki McDonald thought the leases were not renewed. Mowle said the Bureau of Land Management website stated the leases had been lifted. Oil and gas leases are valid for 10 years but can be put on hold if litigation occurs.

Mowle also asked if the council would allow his group to perform trail repair on Ice Cave Creek trail, which is on Palmer Lake property. The existing alignment is not a recommended trail and the trail has eroded, becoming dangerous for hikers. He asked the council if "we can work with you to develop a safer and more sustainable route on the town’s property through Ice Cave Creek. By some miracle where the town property ends, the canyon gets less rugged and the trail needs less work on it." Parks and Recreation Trustee Bruce Hoover said he uses the trail, concurs that it has deteriorated, and he would like to see work on it.

Mowle said trail work is being done by volunteers. The club would need someone from a trail restoration organization, such as the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, to do the trail design. The costs to the town would be lending of tools and use of a town vehicle to move the tools to the site. Trustee Shana Ball wondered about possible liability involved if town items were used or if someone was injured while fixing the trail. Mowle said there is typically a liability release form signed by volunteers to cover such situations.

McDonald said Mowle would need to speak with Water Trustee Michael Maddox since the area involves the watershed. McDonald also said there have been conversations between Maddox and Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt about not reopening the road to the reservoir for hiking. It has been closed due to the Waldo Canyon Fire and has not been reopened. Mowle said he hopes the town decides to reopen the trail.

Palmer Lake resident Erika Peterhof said the reservoir road closure was not made public. McDonald said it was reported in the news. Palmer Lake resident Dan Edwards asked whether the town wants more people there when there is a lack of restroom facilities and concerns about camping and campfires. He said the council needs to consider the health of the watershed. Hoover said a new gate was installed three weeks ago just south of the upper reservoir to stop traffic. McDonald said Orcutt met with the Forest Service and was told to place it there.

Mowle said the Forest Service had a plan to close some roads and change access for others. The Mountain Club provided input into that plan in hopes of discouraging the use of some roads to prevent off-road use. He is not sure how successful the efforts were due to pending lawsuits. The club is not proposing new trails. The council gave authority to Mowle to contact Maddox for further discussion. McDonald said, "This is our backyard and we respect it" and will work to maintain it. Information on the area is at www.cmc.org/rera.

Low lake water, fire mitigation discussed

McDonald said she had discussed the low lake water situation with Jeff Hulsmann, coordinator of Awake the Lake committee. She said they talked about options available to address the extreme low water-level problem. McDonald also gave thanks to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department for being responsive and ready for fire issues related to the Waldo Canyon Fire. McDonald said, "We are blessed to have these volunteers in our town."

In a follow-up to the fire mitigation meeting held on July 11, Palmer Lake citizen Judy Harrington offered to assist with writing grants for fire mitigation. A state grant was available, with a submission due date of July 20. Harrington said there was time to complete the form by the submission deadline.

McDonald said the town received a commendation from the state on a local emergency operation plan developed by Town Clerk Tara Berreth.

Ball said she was visiting businesses throughout Palmer Lake. She said, "The consensus is, it has been a difficult summer regarding sales." Part of the sales problem is being attributed to the condition of the lake. Ball said the town needs to get storage rights. She wants businesses and citizens to know that "the town has not given up on the lake."

Ball said Sylvia Amos, owner of the Palmer Lake Country Store, is considering closing the store during the winter and reopening in spring as a result of reduced sales. The business depends on sales of fishing items related to the lake and general tourism. During the closure, Amos will be considering her options including closing the business for good. Ball listed events like the Taste of Palmer Lake as draws to the community but said "these events are few and far between to draw in out-of-towners." Ball said a bike shop might be coming into town, which could assist with tourism.

In Maddox’s absence, McDonald made a plea for citizens to conserve water. She stated that "120,000 gallons per day are used on average during the winter, but the town is now averaging 330,000 gallons per day and used 10 million gallons last month." McDonald said, "There needs to be diligence with water usage, and citizens should xeriscape when you can."

A number of citizens commented about the economic effects related to the low water in the lake, how no one is walking around the lake, playing volleyball, or doing other activities. Communication is needed so citizens understand what is being done and what can or cannot be done, like use drinking water from the reservoir to refill it. The council was asked to engage the Forest Service and other authorities in protecting the watershed to make the reservoir less vulnerable.

McDonald said she or Maddox would provide a letter for publication to communicate concerns about the lake with citizens. (See page 29 for Maddox’s letter). McDonald said mosquito controls are being placed in the water because there have been reports of West Nile virus in mosquitoes in the Boulder area and other parts of Colorado.

Palmer Lake Art Group vacating Lucretia Vaile house

The council tabled a discussion until its next meeting regarding the Palmer Lake Art Group’s (PLAG) interest in vacating its gallery and longtime meeting place, the home of the late Lucretia Vaile. In a document provided to the council, PLAG leadership stated issues in using the home, such as a lack of parking, difficulty in accessing it in the winter, and limited bathroom and kitchen space as reasons it no longer wants to use it.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said PLAG’s request is considered a "reverter" and he believes that if PLAG leaves the house it would revert back to the town. He added that the town has no obligation financially to share the proceeds if the house is sold. If sold, the council would have to use the proceeds to benefit the town. Gaddis said he would review related documents before the next meeting.

Property annexation approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved an ordinance that will enable the town to annex property adjacent to Affordable Stor-Mor, owned by Lynn Spears and located on Highway 105 by the trailer park. Spears asked that the property be annexed into Palmer Lake so he can expand his storage facility. Gaddis said the property being annexed was in the town at one time and Spears would need to deed to the town any water rights as a condition of the annexation.

Committee reports

Trustee Hoover said town staff trimmed branches in the Village Green and performed maintenance around the town office. Hoover said he would like citizens to contact him if they have ideas regarding the parks or related recreation areas around town. Funding permitting, Hoover said he wants to repair damaged fencing around Glen Park, perform some trail work, and repair the fence by the flower beds outside of Town Hall. He also announced that the Chautauqua will be held Aug. 3-5.

Police Trustee Bob Grado reported that there were 19 case reports in June. The town activated six police officers during the fire evacuation notice. Only one fireworks complaint was reported during the month. Overall there were 24 traffic summonses, two DUIs, 71 incidents dispatched from El Paso County, and a total of 233 calls for the month.

Town resident Edwards asked if regular patrols are occurring at the reservoir. Berreth said there is at least one patrol a shift. Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster, who lives on the road, said "there is a significant presence."

Kuehster reported that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department responded to 46 calls in the month, reaching a total of 175 calls for the year. Volunteers logged 3,716 hours for the month and have logged 16,592 hours for the year. Volunteers logged 2,775 hours toward the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Regarding the Waldo Canyon Fire, Kuehster read a lengthy summary regarding the support the Fire Department provided toward the response effort. The department was placed on standby on June 23, had the engine and tender assigned to structure protection at the Air Force Academy, performed structure protection triage sheets on Palmer Lake structures, and performed other duties until being released on July 5. Kuehster said the department thanked Berreth for providing food, water, Gatorade, and "other goodies" to assist the firefighters stationed throughout this period.

Kuehster said the Fire Department will help elderly people with mitigation around the home. He said the "town needs a citizen mitigation community so neighbors can help neighbors. Palmer Lake has a lot of fuels that need to be dealt with." McDonald said the needles and materials under the trees are the big problem. Fire watch plan grants are available for citizens to apply for and, if interested, they should contact Berreth.

McDonald said dust control requires a lot of water and as a result, some roads have not been sprayed due to the water shortage.

Town Accountant Linda Ousnamer said, "The town collected over 69 percent of projected revenue for the year." This high percentage is partially due to property tax collections. Overall, departments are 2 percent over budget and "they need to be careful given the budget situation."

Ousnamer said the auditors indicated a problem with 2010 numbers that needs to be resolved before completing the 2011 budget. The budget must be presented to the state by the end of July. The auditors intend to present the budget to the council at the August meeting.

Medical marijuana license transfer approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a transfer of license for a medical marijuana facility pending review of the new location by Palmer Lake Police Department Chief Kieth Moreland. Susan Benz, owner of Mile High Holistics, said she has to move by July 20 because Wells Fargo Bank is taking over ownership of the building she is presently leasing. The new location is the welding shop located at 198 County Line Road. This location is industrial and zoned for a medical marijuana facility.

Gaddis said the council would need to transfer the license to the new address. Benz said she was recently licensed by the state and that many of her patrons are local.

At the conclusion of the regular meeting at 8:42 p.m., the council went into executive session. There was no public announcement following the executive session.


The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

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A Perspective on Our Community: Palmer Lake water issues: A note to our citizens

Below: Even after heavy monsoon rains, Palmer Lake showed more lake bottom than water on July 16. Photo by David Futey.

Palmer Lake Town Council Water Trustee Michael Maddox issued this letter on July 16.

It seems that a few Palmer Lake residents are perplexed as to what is happening to our namesake body of water. Given that two-thirds of the U.S. is experiencing the worst drought in 24 years, and that this past year is the hottest on record since 1895 (CNN), it should be apparent to all that our disappearing lake is the cause of conditions beyond the control of the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees.

CNN reports in a July 13 story, "Drought stretches across America, threatens crops," that authorities have declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural disaster areas. As of Tuesday, July 10, 61 percent of land in the lower 48 states was experiencing drought conditions—stretching from Nevada to South Carolina. In Indiana, with water reservoirs at low levels, a mandatory water ban was issued in Indianapolis in hopes of saving an additional 25 million gallons a day.

Weather forecasters are predicting a hot, dry summer. It does not appear that drought conditions will be relieved anytime soon. Just as Palmer Lake Trustees were proactive in canceling the July 4 fireworks before the Waldo Canyon Fire, your Town Council again prioritized the health and safety of its citizens by enacting outdoor watering restrictions at the very outset of an apparent drought. No, it was not a popular decision, but one that was needed to help ensure that during July, August, and September, Palmer Lake residents would have water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Therein lies the dilemma for our residents who live around Palmer Lake, and many of our businesses in the historic district. Some have questioned why water cannot be transferred from the reservoir to the lake. To do so would definitely jeopardize our water supply, most likely causing shortages in the days to come. Should our water supply be protected for the health and safety of all of our citizens, or should it be utilized for mostly aesthetic purposes? The vast majority of Palmer Lake residents hold with trustees and town staff that our reservoir should be protected in order to carry us through the drought.

Neighboring towns are observing the same precautions, as attested by the following quote.

"Considering the extremely dry weather patterns and the lack of precipitation along the Front Range, water purveyors continue to work diligently to supply potable water to customers as a matter of public health and safety as the highest priority. With the cooperation of our customers, water conservation measures and demand management practices have made it possible to meet the daily demands placed on our water system."—Randy Gillette, assistant district manager, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District No. 1.

Another neighboring community recently encountered severe water problems. With surface water and storing capabilities virtually nonexistent, they were totally dependent on their well. As the water table continues to drop, they found themselves having to go another 220 feet deeper into the well, in order to tap into water. The drop in the water table is another reason for Palmer Lake drying up.

Even with the protection of our reservoir, in the hopes it will carry the town through the drought,

Palmer Lake residents are still consuming water at alarming rates. There is much our citizens can do to help the situation. This is serious business.

It would do us well to follow these simple guidelines:

  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
  • For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
  • Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
  • If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model.
  • Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.
  • When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They’re more water and energy efficient.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you could save up to 150 gallons per month.
  • Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.
  • Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.
  • When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  • Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
  • Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and you can save 140 gallons a week.
  • Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to our region.
  • Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.

The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees and staff members would like to thank each and every one of our citizens for observing these guidelines. Getting through this current drought is a team effort, with each one of us performing up to our potential. Thanks, too, for exercising understanding and patience during this difficult time, which affects us all.

Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you have any questions or concerns. We are here to serve you.

On behalf of your Board of Trustees,
Dr. Michael Maddox
Water Trustee

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A Perspective on Our Community: Highway 105 improvements moving forward

By André P. Brackin

For many years now, the dispatch phone at the El Paso County Public Services Department has stayed busy taking calls from residents concerned about Highway 105. The concerns include everything from traffic signal problems, congestion, and unsafe conditions at intersections to steep grades, poor drainage, maintenance problems of all kinds, and, as you may imagine, a range of traffic problems during inclement weather. (And yes, I’ve responded to drivers during snow events many times and have experienced the conditions on all the roads in wintertime in northern El Paso County.)

In conjunction with all the challenges this department has with maintaining this roadway, we have listened carefully to public comments and have started this project to begin addressing these many issues. Nearby Baptist Road was widened to four lanes recently, but neither Baptist Road nor future improvements to County Line Road will relieve the traffic and other problems that 105 is now experiencing or will experience as traffic needs increase over time.

A little history is in order. Until a few years ago, this roadway was maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The county inherited this road into our system through a swap agreement with the state, in which the county swapped its maintenance responsibilities for Powers Boulevard, and received this roadway along with several others in return (which made sense, as Powers is becoming a freeway and is now State Highway 21). So the county is now addressing the increasing traffic issues as traffic increases on 105—which was never designed to carry the traffic it presently experiences.

I was pleased with the outstanding attendance and interest at the July 10 meeting! This was the third in a series of public meetings designed to gather citizen input from those who drive, live near, or have businesses adjacent to the highway. Also present were CDOT traffic engineers, who were available to answer questions about the planned improvements at the intersection of Highway 105 and State Highway 83, which is funded construction next year.

Any improvement descriptions presented for 105 at this point are concepts to take forward. There remain plenty of public input opportunities as we get into preliminary design, hopefully next year. The project’s continuance is dependent on either federal funding or the passage of the next round of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s (PPRTA) list of projects by public vote.

This project is like many other road and bridge projects in that the needs here are brought to this department by citizens: It is a citizen-driven project. My responsibility is applying current design criteria in its planning and design, ensuring that street and highway safety standards are adhered to, and that the funds expended on the project are utilized as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Anyone interested is encouraged to check the county’s website, elpasoco.com, for updates or call my office at 520-6460.

André P. Brackin, P.E., county engineer for El Paso County and a civil engineer with 25 years’ experience, has worked in private business, state and local government, and the U.S. Navy.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, July 25: Residents show renewed interest in fire mitigation efforts

By Harriet Halbig

On July 25, the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board discussed concerns about fire danger in the wake of the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Forestry Director Eric Gross said that homeowners have expressed their concern in many ways. There were more requests for Firewise lot evaluations in the last few weeks than in all of 2011, and residents have also requested a second chipping day in the fall.

Gross and Firewise Chairman Jim Woodman have invited John Vincent of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department to speak on the subject of "Why the Mountain Shadows home destruction can happen in Woodmoor." Vincent has since been called out of town but there will be a substitute speaker. Slides of lots in Woodmoor will be used as examples during the presentation.

There was a brief discussion of funding for fire mitigation work in Woodmoor. Gross had said at June’s board meeting that the association had not received a Firewise grant for reimbursement of 50 percent of homeowner expenses for 2012. He said that the application for the 2013 grants had been submitted on July 20. The rules governing the grants change from one year to the next. Funding received for 2013 can be used over a three-year period.

Gross said that grants last year did not include El Paso, Douglas, and Teller counties, but were confined to national and state forest land. He said that the success of mitigation efforts in Cedar Heights may result in a change in emphasis to more populous areas.

Gross pointed out that homeowners may receive tax credits for doing mitigation. He said the present concern about the subject may be short-lived, and he hopes to find a way to sustain it.

Gross also reported that he continues to assess the condition of common areas and seeks bids for the removal of dead trees and slash from these areas. WIA must follow the same rules as individuals and remove dead trees within 30 days of their identification.

Finally, Gross reminds homeowners that dead trees on private property should be reported to the Covenants Committee rather than Forestry.

President Jim Hale thanked Woodman and Gross for arranging the fire prevention program. He said that covenants regarding the number of vehicles allowed in a driveway and the duration of stay of RVs and trailers were restored as of July 15. These covenants had been suspended during the Waldo Canyon Fire emergency so residents could offer shelter for evacuees without penalty.

Other matters

Reporting for Homeowners Association (HOA) Manager Matt Beseau, Hale said that 700 signatures are still required for ratification of the association’s governing documents. Beseau is also interviewing for a new employee to administer the covenants.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association continues to be under budget on expenditures and doing well in terms of revenue because all offices in the Barn have been rented.

Public Safety Director Paul Lambert reported that Woodmoor is now under a Stage 1 fire ban, which prohibits open burning.

Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that there have been many reports of bear sightings in the past month, including a mother with two cubs, a mother with one cub, and an individual male. He said that WPS officers shoot the bears with paint balls when a report is received.

Nielsen also said that the Division of Wildlife is responding to the frequency of sightings by patrolling the area and issuing citations to homeowners who leave a garage door open or put trash out the night before it is to be collected. Repeat offenders will receive a summons to appear in court.

There will be a parade involving first responders in the Tri-Lakes area on Labor Day. Two WPS vehicles will participate.

Covenants Director Darren Rouse reported that the primary causes for complaints in June were barking dogs, exterior maintenance, noncompliant signs, and slash. There were 20 pre-HOA inquiries involving sales of homes in Woodmoor.

Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported that the committee has a new member and that the design for the WPS garage has been approved.

Common Areas Director W. Lee Murray reported that mowing and noxious weed control are taking longer than anticipated due to high fire danger and high temperatures. The chemicals used for weed control cannot be used at high temperatures.

Mowing in South Woodmoor is complete.

Bids are being sought for repair of the roof, siding and deck of the Barn. A new janitorial contractor is also being sought.


The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month in the Association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be held on Aug. 22.

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

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July Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures were again above average for July, but not at the record levels of June. Fortunately, we made up some ground in the precipitation department, with most of us receiving slightly more than normal amounts. Most of this came during the second and last weeks of the month as the Southwest monsoon made several brief intrusions into the area.

The month started off with temperatures still firecracker hot, with low 90s each afternoon through the 4th, about 10-15° warmer than normal. In addition, quiet weather each morning gave way to afternoon clouds, scattered thunderstorms, and a few rain showers. Hopefully, the monsoonal moisture that has begun to affect the region will continue to deepen and allow for some cooler weather with nice soaking rain and help to alleviate some of these deep drought conditions we’ve been experiencing for the last few months.

Just when we thought cool, wet weather would never return, we were proven wrong. After a continued hot and dry spell to start the month, relief finally moved in starting on the 6th. Higher levels of moisture, some of which was associated with the beginning of the North American monsoon or Southwest monsoon, began to affect the region just after the Fourth of July. This combined with an unstable atmosphere to produce thunderstorms and brief heavy rain starting on the afternoon and evening of the 6th.

Cooler air continued to work into the region over the next few days with temperatures falling to below-normal levels on the 7th and 8th. Highs were held in the 70s both days, and moisture continuing to stream into the region from the southwest and rain was common. Some of this rain was heavy at times, resulting in some flooding along the Front Range, especially in and around the recent burn scar areas. This will continue to be a problem in the area for several years. Some areas around Black Forest received over 3 inches of rain over the two-day period, with just about everyone getting a nice soaking.

Just when it seemed we had finally broken the drought and changed the weather pattern, warm, dry air moved back in over the region. The monsoon plume that brought cooler temperatures and plenty of moisture from the 6th through the 9th shifted just to our west for the majority of the next two weeks. This brought plenty of rain to the high country and Western Slope, but left us high and dry for the most part. Temperatures warmed from below average 70s on the 9th and 10th to above average upper 80s and low 90s from the 12th through the 22nd.

We got a couple quick shots of rain over the region with afternoon and evening thunderstorms on the 16th, 17th, and 18th. But this was barely enough to wet the ground for most of us. Instead, the region continued to dry out and heat up.

Higher levels of moisture began to affect the region during the last week of July, bringing much needed moisture for most of us. The week of July 23 started off warm and dry however, continuing the trend that had been prevalent for most of the middle of the month. Temperatures reached into the upper 80s and low 90s on the 23rd and 24th. These were about 10° warmer than normal. But this week of July is on average our warmest week of the year. The Southwest monsoon moisture plume began to shift slightly to the east over the next few days, allowing for frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms to develop across the region. With the more extensive cloud cover, temperatures also cooled back to normal and slightly below normal levels, with 80s common from the 25th through the end of the month. The heaviest rain occurred from the afternoon of the 30th through the early hours of the 31st. Several areas received over an inch of rain with this round of storms, with reports of hail up to quarter size.

Although this rain is very welcome in the Tri-Lakes region, the same can’t be said over the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar. The recent fire there has led to extremely high runoff and frequent debris flows and flash flooding. This, of course, has caused problems along the U.S. Highway 24 corridor and the base of the mountains in the areas. It will continue to be a problem in the region for the next few years until the vegetation is able to grow back and stabilize the soil.

A look ahead

August is the last true "summer" month for the region. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant mornings that turn into afternoon and early evening thunderstorms. Highs during the month range from the mid-80s at the beginning of the month to mid-70s at the end. Temperatures at night get more comfortable as well, often dipping into the 40s, making for better sleeping weather.

July 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 86.5° (+3.6°) 100-year return frequency value max 87.6° min 75.3°
Average Low 51.7° (+1.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 56.2° min 46.9°
Highest Temperature 93° on the 2nd
Lowest Temperature 47° on the 13th
Monthly Precipitation 3.44" (+0.34" 10% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.03" min 0.98"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 3.44" (+0.34" 10% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1 (-28)
Cooling Degree Days 129 (+38)

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

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Letters to Our Community

The kindness of strangers

To the Tri-Lakes community: I wish to express my utmost gratitude and appreciation to you for the support you gave to the fire evacuees and the American Red Cross during the Waldo Canyon Fire. As the manager of the Red Cross Emergency Shelter at Lewis-Palmer High School, I witnessed firsthand this amazing support.

At 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, as the fire raged through the Colorado Springs community, I received a call to open the shelter site at LPHS. As part of the Red Cross proactive planning, the site had already gone through the approval process, and the staff of School District 38 and the area Red Cross volunteers were waiting for my call. I arrived at LPHS within 10 minutes and was greeted by many members of the community ready to help. These volunteers, the D-38 staff, and trained Red Cross volunteers sprang into action and had the shelter ready to receive clients by 8 p.m. The first evacuees arrived at 8:10 p.m. A total of 81 clients were served over the life of the shelter.

A steady stream of these spontaneous volunteers flowed through the shelter all night and for the next five days, offering their time, talents, and treasure to support the evacuees. They worked hand-in-hand with the Red Cross volunteers maintaining the shelter, manning the kennels, answering phones, or sorting the multitude of donations that other citizens brought to the shelter. Not only did many individuals support this relief effort, but many restaurants, businesses, and local churches (too many to list here) stepped forward to serve.

It is indeed through "the kindness of strangers" that we all serve our fellow man. Thank you, Tri-Lakes. I am proud to call you my home.

Jeanie Ahrens
Tri-Lakes Shelter coordinator
Pikes Peak Chapter American Red Cross

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Criticism and praise for D-38 board

Many who attended the regular June meeting of the Lewis-Palmer District 38 school board were disturbed to hear Board of Education Vice President Mark Pfoff scold the audience, telling them that it is inappropriate for a citizen to ask questions about the school district budget.

Of all the money collected by the state of Colorado in revenues, 43 percent is spent by local school boards on pre-K-12 education. When did Americans lose the right to publicly and respectfully question elected officials about documents they use to make multimillion-dollar decisions? The questions from the citizen concerned where the money is being spent and asked for clarification about potential discrepancies.

On a much more positive note, I would like to commend the board members in their appointment of John Magerko to the board. Magerko has the reputation as someone who listens to all points of view in seeking the best solutions. Hopefully incidents like the one described above will not be repeated and will now be a thing of the past.

Stephen Boyd

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Incorrect comment about water use led group to pull garden proposal

Palmer Lake Community Garden (PLCG) presented a proposal to the Palmer Lake Town Council at the council meetings on June 7 and 14. PLCG’s proposal came from an interest in reaching out to Palmer Lake citizens by offering to design, plant, fund, and maintain a beautiful, water-wise, and edible garden in a portion of the existing flowerbed in front of Town Hall.

Our idea, inspired by Denver Botanic Gardens, was to improve this highly visible area by planting a combination of flowering, edible, perennial, and annual plants using water requirements similar to what is currently in place. The proposal included using the 20-plus PLCG local gardening enthusiasts to provide the ongoing maintenance of the flowerbed.

During PLCG’s presentation to Town Council, Jeff Clibon incorrectly interjected that the garden would require more than 120 gallons of water per week, as was reported in the July 7 issue of Our Community News ("Police officers converted to individual contract status; fireworks canceled; water crisis developing"). Unfortunately, the Town Council and Clibon misunderstood the proposal as growing a vegetable garden like one might plant on a farm or in one’s back yard. PLCG withdrew its proposal at the conclusion of its presentation due to the adverse reception by Town Council.

PLCG continues to grow food, share knowledge about sustainable gardening practices, and build community in the four established community beds located at the end of the parking lot in front of the fire station.

Rebecca Angelo-Duke
Donna Wood
Palmer Lake Community Garden

Editor’s note: In the July article reference above, OCN incorrectly identified Pam Cooley as the director of the Palmer Lake Community Group. She was one of three members making the presentation at the July meeting about designing, funding, planting, and maintaining an edible garden. In addition, their proposal is not related to the already existing four blue planters at the end of the parking lot, which were incorrectly identified in the article as the topic of discussion.

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Witness to accident sought

Were you the person who saw my car get rear-ended at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26? I was heading west on Highway 105, coming up to the light at the Highway 105 and I-25 South intersection. My white Subaru Outback with "A Tranquil Mind Hypnotherapist" decal on the back window was rear-ended.

I believe you have shoulder to mid-length blond hair, are in around your 40s with a young, possibly teenage daughter. About an hour later, you approached me in the Vitamin Cottage to ask if I was okay. I indicated that I was not, and you discussed the speed the driver was going. You indicated that that car was driving fast and did not attempt to stop.

The car that hit me was a dark Lexus ES300 driven by a young man who had a young male passenger.

I am injured and wish to speak with you, as you were a witness to this accident. Please call me at (719) 321-9600. Thank you.

Roberta Brunner

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Colorado’s great outdoors

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Late summer and early fall are among the best times to get outdoors and enjoy our beautiful state. Whether you prefer hiking, bicycling, walking, or driving, there are books to guide you to well-known sites and to hidden, out-of-the-way places.

Touring Colorado Hot Springs, 2nd Edition
Contributors: Carl Wambach & Susan Joy Paul (FalconGuide) $16.95

Touring Colorado Hot Springs provides detailed descriptions, easy-to-read maps, and firsthand information for 32 of the best hot springs in the state. Descriptions are spiced with historical information and hot springs trivia that give insight into the area’s past. This entertaining and informative new edition will lead you to world-class family resorts and lesser-known hidden springs in Colorado. It includes fully updated and revised text, new photos, and GPS coordinates of all the hot springs.

Road Biking Colorado: The Statewide Guide
By Michael Seeberg (Westcliffe Publishers) $24.95

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for new challenges, or a visitor in quest of the highest and most scenic paved roads in the U.S., this guidebook covers nearly every stretch of pavement recommended for road biking in Colorado, as well as its famous mountain biking trails. For each of the 208 routes, you will find: route directions; elevation profiles; route difficulty rankings; services, terrain, and mileage information.

Best Hikes with Kids Colorado
By Maureen Keilty (The Mountaineers Books) $19.95

From the ghost-like hoodoos of Paint Mines Interpretive Park in the east to the triple 60-foot waterfalls of the Coyote Trail in the west, Keilty has found a hike for the Colorado kid in everyone. Her book gives detailed information for 100 boot-tested trails throughout the state, ranging from easy walks in the foothills of the Front Range to more challenging hikes up majestic 14,000-foot peaks. Great getaways feature nearby campgrounds, additional hikes, and fun outdoor activities. The book includes tips for hiking with children and engaging them with their wilderness surroundings and gives turnaround points for younger children.

Colorado Mountain Passes: The State’s Most Accessible High Country Roadways
By Rick Spitzer (Westcliffe Publishers) $23.95

This unique guide for Colorado road trips includes: panoramic views from the top of the state’s most accessible passes; travel information with maps, directions, and highlights; tips for traveling safely in Colorado’s high country; points of interest along the way; ghost towns and mining history; and railroad lines past and present. Beautiful color photographs and sidebars with pertinent information make this an enjoyable as well as a useful book.

Walking with Dinosaurs: Rediscovering Colorado’s Prehistoric Beasts
By Anthony D. Frederick (Johnson Books) $16.95

Did you know that Colorado has more dinosaur fossils and more dinosaur sites than any other state? If you want to literally walk in dinosaur footsteps, Frederick takes you to 11 sites in our state where this is possible. This guidebook features unique insights, wry observations, fascinating information, compelling science, and amusing stories, and includes detailed driving instructions and information on all the sites.

Pike National Forest Colorado: All-Activities Guidebook
By Outdoor Books & Maps (Adler Publishing Co. Inc.) $19.95

This comprehensive field guide for all-season activities features 111 Pike National Forest trails. Included are detailed descriptions, trail distances, GPS coordinates, elevation ranges, trail elevation profiles, difficulty ratings and trail access details, plus wilderness areas, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Guide to Colorado Historic Places
By Thomas J. Noel (Westcliffe Publishers) $27.95

Thanks to the Colorado Historical Society, over 600 buildings, sites, and districts all over the state have been restored and preserved for generations to come. This guide directs you to 606 historical sites, including 528 photographs and 165 towns. Complete with the stories behind the sites and their restoration, the author takes you to Colorado’s most historic locations and chronicles the efforts to save them.

"‘Tis a privilege to live in Colorado." Sadly, the summer wildfires have temporarily damaged some of our natural surroundings, but the majority of our state is intact with breathtaking scenery that beckons visitors and residents alike, especially at this wonderful time of year. Grab a friend or a relative, get outdoors, and savor the beauties of Colorful Colorado.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Blue-gray gnatcatcher: Poliopitla caerulea

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

The blue-gray gnatcatcher is one of the smallest songbirds on the Palmer Divide. Because of its speed, delicate song, and diminutive size, it is easy to walk past a flock of them without seeing even one bird.

Description, diet, and habitat

The blue-gray gnatcatcher is found at the edge of pine forests in tall trees or in underbrush like Gamble’s oak or elderberry shrubs. Pete Dunne, in his Field Guide Companion, describes the blue-gray gnatcatcher as "a tiny sliver of a bird that seems to dance more than forage through the canopy." This "waltzing twig fairy" is about twice the size of a humming bird. As its name implies, it is an insectivore that eats gnats and other small insects and spiders.

It is often regarded as a flycatcher but is in a class of its own with 20 species, some of which are called gnatwrens. Similar to a flycatcher, these dainty birds will glean insects in midair, but like a warbler they restlessly scurry along a branch or through dense foliage searching for insects. They move like a warbler but they flick their tails like a wren.

The male gnatcatcher is blue-gray on top from its head to its tail. Females are gray. The under body is white or a light gray. Its long tail is half the length of its body, and the outer tail feathers are white. It has a perfectly round black eye encircled by a white eye ring. The edges of its secondary wings are white, but overall it’s a gray little bird. Breeding males may have a small black eyebrow. Gnatcatchers have strong toothpick-thin legs and a narrow sharply pointed beak that are black.


In April, blue-gray gnatcatchers begin their migration from the subtropical regions of the Gulf of Mexico. They fly north to breed in forested regions across much of North America and Canada. During non-mating season they flock, but in the spring they leave the flock and establish territories. The males arrive here before the females to establish territories and make a buzzing sound when another male intrudes into their territory.


When females arrive, pairs form and the male shows his mate possible nesting sites. The female chooses a site and together they gather materials and cooperatively build a tiny cup-shaped nest. Nests are located in the nodes of a branch and camouflaged. The nest is well made from bits of lichens, mosses, and plant fiber and attached to a branch with webbing. Reportedly nests are found near the top of tall trees, but I’ve only seen them in the lower branches of a Gamble’s oak.

Nests contain four or five pea-size eggs, and the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs. The chicks hatch in about 12 days and are featherless and totally dependent on their parents. Parents take turns feeding and tending to the nest for about 15 days until the chicks fledge.

The fledglings stay close to the nest until August, when they join a flock and prepare for migration, which begins in September. Depending on the weather and other environmental factors, gnatcatchers may raise a second brood.

Blue-gray gnatcatchers are feisty little birds that aggressively defend their territories. Both male and female will dive upon intruders, snapping their bills at them. They don’t like to share their territory with other birds and will chase off non-predatory birds such as robins as well as predatory birds like the western scrub jay and red-tail hawk.

The importance of birding with an expert

This little bird might have escaped my attention if I hadn’t been in the company of two more experienced birders who recognized its distinct buzzing song as we walked the upper loop trail in Castlewood Canyon State Park. The soft buzzing sound escaped my attention until they said "gnatcatcher in the scrub oak about 12 feet up the trail, 2 o’clock, mid to upper branches." When I looked in that location, I noticed movement and was able to focus my binoculars on this busy little bird.

This is an excellent time to find an expert as fall migration is underway. Shorebirds, tanagers, orioles, grosbeaks, and hummingbirds are on the move. Many local, regional, and national birding groups and tour guides offer opportunities to bird with an expert.

Local birding opportunities

Beginning Aug. 16, Ken Pals will offer a class appropriate for anyone interested in birding. It includes three Thursday evening classes at Bear Creek Nature Center and three Saturday morning field trips in various locations. I’ve taken all of Ken’s classes more than once and consider the time and small fee as investments. Pre-registration is required (520-6387).

Other very good field trip opportunities are offered by the Aiken Audubon Society (www.aikenaudubon.com) and Frank Dodge of the Wild Bird Center (548-9863).

Regional birding opportunities

Five state parks are within easy driving distance from the Tri-lakes area: Cheyenne Mountain, Castlewood Canyon, Cherry Creek, Chatfield, and Lake Pueblo. Each of these parks has unique habitats where a variety of unusual birds can be found. Field trips and educational opportunities are listed for each of these parks at the Colorado state park website (www.parks.state.co.us).

National and international birding opportunities

When traveling, I contact the local Audubon Society (www.audubon.com) to ask where the best birding is to be found. Often members offer to guide me through some incredible birding spots.

Many birders travel around the globe to add a bird to their list and often rely on professional tour guides to help them find the bird they seek.

Tom Bush of Front Range Birding Co. in Littleton offers national and statewide birding tours. (www.frontrangebirding.com or 303-979-2473).

Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (www.rmbo.org) in Fort Collins offers education and a variety of birding trips lead by well-known ornithologists.

The American Birding Association (www.aba.org) is a good resource for information, locating tours, and buying everything a birder could possibly need.

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

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Art Matters: Celebrate Colorado in the Tri-Lakes area

Below: From left, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Gallery Chair MaryAnn Gunter and Director Dr. Michael Maddox are pictured as they prepare to set up the new Celebrate Colorado exhibition. Shown are works by front range painter Michael Baum. The show opens the first week of August. Photo by Janet Sellers.

By Janet Sellers

I visited the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) recently and spoke with MaryAnn Gunter and Dr. Michael Maddox about the upcoming show, Celebrate Colorado.

Originally, they had planned another art show for the summer schedule. But, given recent tragic events in central Colorado and locally, the TLCA staff and Gallery Committee changed the schedule in order to feature a show that "celebrates the landscapes of Colorado as an incomparable U.S. treasure."

The show was opened up to all mediums, with paintings and stunning photography in large measure. The TCLA decided to celebrate the greatness and extraordinary beauty of Colorado in art, and invited all artists, professional and amateur, to submit artwork on that theme.

"The rest of Colorado’s nature and wide-open spaces are still beautiful, in spite of the recent fires...." Maddox said, relating to the recent tragedies that have beset the state. He shared his ideas on how we can celebrate our great Colorado natural beauty to help raise our spirits again and enjoy our state’s landscapes in art. The idea is to share that it’s still a great place to live and to visit, and it is still awesome, grand, and beautiful.

As we looked out the windows, away from the immense body of about 80 artworks brought in by nearly 20 artists, we could see the green of the mountains and the blue of the sky. Palmer Lake was dry, another shock for us all for this year; it is no longer able to reflect the blue sky and white clouds we all love, yet we look forward to when it can be full of water again.

But turning back to the art, the eternal memories in art of mountains, forests, lakes, and skies lit up the room. Each piece has the keen eye of the artist about it. Each has a sacred memory, a story, in it that only an aesthetic visual form can tell in the years to come.

The Celebrate Colorado art exhibit is open through Aug. 25. The opening reception is Aug. 10, 5 to 8 p.m., to coincide with the Friday Night Art Walk on monthly second Fridays.

Friday Art Nights

Second Friday Art Night will be on Aug. 10, 4:30 to 8 p.m. This fun evening out, complete with artists demonstrating their talents live, focuses on our local art scene of Tri-Lakes from the Monument "art quarter" to Palmer Lake and the TLCA. Actually, Second Friday Art Night will eventually offer venues throughout the community, so be sure to get your map—you can print it from the website. It is sponsored by Monument Arts, a local community of artists and galleries that meets several times each month to plan the Art Night and the wide variety of art, artists, and festive art tents you’ll see up just for that evening. Check it all out at www.MonumentArts.net.

Art Hop

Third Thursdays Art Hop will be on Aug. 16, 5 to 8 p.m. It’s an artsy evening for traditional and non-traditional venues, and is sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association. The event is free, and many places offer complimentary refreshments. Free maps for the monthly event are at local merchants, or visit www.arthop.org for more details.

Call to artists

Monument Arts, a group of artists, studios and galleries, is offering a unique opportunity for artists to sell their work at the Second Fridays Art Walks. Artists and artisans living in Colorado are especially encouraged to apply. There is no fee, but a signed agreement per venue site is required. To request more information, please contact Monument Arts directly at info@monumentart.net.

So, grab a friend and join us at local arts events this August. It’s the last hurrah of summer, you know!

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

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Local artist receives commission for 23 frescos at national monument

Above: Anthony Archuleta and wife, Rhoda, stand next to a study that was prepared to crystallize the theme of prayer and meditation for frescos that he is completing for placement at the Capilla de San Juan Bautista located in La Garita, Colo. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

Anthony Archuleta, local artist, painter, and proprietor of the Secret Window Art Gallery, received a commission for 23 frescos depicting religious meditation scenes. These pieces are to be placed in a prayer walk next to the Capilla de San Juan Bautista, which is just northwest of the town of La Garita, Colo. The Capilla, or chapel, was placed in the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980 because of its significance in religious and architectural presentations in the historical venue of the area.

The "buon frescos" are an unusual form of art in that they must be completed in three hours. The work is done on wet plaster and must be damp to be completed properly. Painting is done on freshly laid wet plaster with pigments dissolved in limewater. In making a true fresco, the artist must start applying the colors on the fresco as soon as it has been prepared and laid on the medium. The wet plaster can then absorb the color. When it dries and hardens, the pigments become one with the plaster. To be technically correct, the plaster does not "dry" but rather a chemical reaction occurs in which calcium carbonate is formed as a result of carbon dioxide from the air combining with the calcium hydrate in the wet plaster.

Archuleta has begun the work in his gallery and has been commissioned to complete 23 pieces ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet in height. They are to be placed in a meditational walk next to the Capilla. The site will encompass an area the size of a football field.

Archuleta learned his skills in this field from renowned Russian buon fresco artist Ilia Anossov. Archuleta has a master’s in business administration and has an art undergraduate degree from Colorado State University. He has a Spanish/Apache heritage, and he says much of his talent in art is derived from that lineage.

Archuleta has centralized the project in his gallery here in Monument, but will travel to La Garita to complete the larger pieces. The work and its progress may be seen at the gallery, 47 Third Street in Monument. Archuleta and his wife, Rhoda, invite interested residents to view the work and its progress.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

WMMI celebrates 30 years

Photos by David Futey.

Below: Steve Berry operates a 1920 Osgood steam shovel.

Below: Staff from the Hidee Mine, located near Central City, processed gold ore through the museum’s 10-stamp Yellow Jacket stamp mill.

By David Futey

On July 14, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry celebrated 30 years of educating its visitors on history and continuing contributions of mining to the American West at the North Gate property. The museum was originally started in 1970 at a location on Voyager Parkway.

At the celebration, more than 300 people feasted on cake, watched the operation of the stamp mill, and learned about the history of burros in the mining industry through museum interpreters and the museum’s mascot, Nugget. Members of the museum were given a golden railroad spike to commemorate the day.

Upcoming events at the museum are at www.wmmi.org.

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Artists display range of talents at Art Hop, July 19

Photos and captions by David Futey. He can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

On July 19, Monument Art Hop artists displayed their array of talents, including quilt-making, mystery writing, photography, multimedia art, and unique jewelry design. The Art Hop is held on the third Thursday of each month, and the next one is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Below: At Bella Casa, Gayle Higgins is shown with one of her watercolor works, Crabapple. Higgins started out as a colored-pencil artist and eventually "got hooked" doing watercolors after taking a course. Her art can be seen at www.gaylehiggins.com.

Below: Santa Fe Trail Jewelry owner Marylee Reisig shows off a few of her pieces she had on display during the July Art Hop.

Below: Members of the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild talked about quilts and their organization at Crafty Laine. The guild is composed of members from Denver and the Tri-Lakes area. At far right, Stephanie Ruyle’s Tail Wind hangs behind her and other guild members.

Below: Laura DiSilverio, left, and Robert Liparulo were the featured authors at Covered Treasures Bookstore. DiSilverio authors three series based on a mall cop, ballroom dance mysteries, and a private investigator based in Colorado Springs. Monument resident Liparulo authors two series, one for young adults and an action book for adults, with his latest work titled The 13th Tribe.

Below: At Bella Art & Frame, photographer Dave Brandt displayed images of sandstone formations carved by water from winter trips to the Page, Ariz., area.

Below: Jan Cashman provided a demonstration using fresh flower and silk arrangements at Wisdom Tea House.

Below: Lynn Lee posed with one of her many botanical illustrations she had on display at the Wisdom Tea House (www.commonwheel.com).

Below: Mattie O. displayed a variety of styles, including acrylic and gold leaf on canvas and acrylic with tissue paper at the Wisdom Tea House (www.mattieo.com).

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Gleneagle Golf Club gives firefighters free golf for a day

Photos and captions by Bernard L. Minetti

Below: From left, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board Director Bo McAllister and Wescott firefighters Wayne Krzmien and Brian Crawford enjoyed a free lunch following a free round of golf July 23 at the Gleneagle Golf Club. The club expressed thanks of a grateful community for the courageous firefighting efforts of the men and women involved in battling the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Below: Firefighter Mo Ayala of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District takes part in a free lunch and round of golf at the Gleneagle Golf Club.

Below: Firefighters James Krupp, left, and Zach Haslett, both from Security play a free round of golf at the Gleneagle Golf Club.

Below: Firefighters Brian Gardner from Station 8 in Colorado Springs, left, and Keko Kotcher from the Air Force Academy firefighting force enjoy a free round of golf and lunch provided by the Gleneagle Golf Club on July 23 for all the heroes of the recent Waldo Canyon Fire.

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Blood drive bus visits Monument

Photos by Kate Wetterer

Below: The TLC blood drive bus, poised and waiting for volunteers.

Below: Student nurses help organize volunteers for the blood drive.

Below: Volunteers ready to donate inside the blood drive bus.

By Kate Wetterer

The Penrose/St. Francis Health Services blood drive bus pulled up in Monument again July 24, because there is always a need for donors to keep a steady supply of blood ready for those in need. The bus is available off Jefferson Street every eight weeks, and usually 30 or so volunteers show up to donate to the Tri-Lakes Cares blood drive.

While there is no desperate shortage of donated blood in Monument today, volunteers could help save some lives and make others easier, so participation in the blood drive is appreciated. To give blood, one must bring a valid ID and pass a basic health survey/examination.

July 24’s blood drive was assisted by student nurses from the Beth-El School of Nursing, who guided volunteers through the registration/health assessment process and helped those interested through a video presentation and project about health and exercise. Those below a certain weight or at a particular risk of contagious diseases are advised not to donate blood. Otherwise, contributing a bit of blood could make a world of difference to fellow area citizens.

There will be another blood drive at Tri-Lakes Cares on Sept. 18, at 3 p.m. For information, call 481-4864.

Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetterer@ocn.me.

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Pinz Bowling Center holds Rodz Car show, July 28

Photos by Stacey Paxson except the aerial shot below was taken by Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department Captain Kris Mola.

Below (L to R) Pinz owner Al Palmonari, owner Gloria McCartan, and bar manager Matt McCartan.

By Stacey Paxson

On July 28, Pinz Bowling Alley hosted its 5th Annual Rodz Car Show. Nearly 70 entrants from the ­­Tri-Lakes area, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo participated in this year’s event. Two local car clubs, The Tri-Lakes Cruisers and Fatal Creations, collaborated with Pinz to bring in the highest number of entrants to date. The event was open to the public with entrants as well as spectators voting on their favorite vehicles in eleven different classes. Public education for visitors at the event was provided by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

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Concerts in the Park concludes 2012 series, Aug. 1

Below: The July 11 Concerts in the Park series featured Barbara Ernst with Mistura Bela. From left, Luke Tripp (violin), Jill Fredicksen (drums), Barbara Ernst (vocals and guitar), and Ken Walker (cello). More information regarding this band can be found at www.misturabela.com. Photo by Stacey Paxson

Below: On July 25, Wayne Hammerstadt of the jazz-rock fusion band Hammerstadt, is spotlighted by the setting sun while performing on the Limbach Park stage in Monument. Hammerstadt was joined by fellow band members James Dikes, Dewey Steele, and Paul Haller as they played to an appreciative audience (left). Photo by David Futey.

Below: On Aug. 1, Woody Woodworth (left) and Sweet Revenge closed the Concert in the Park series for 2012.

Below: As their parents and guardians listened to the concert on the Limbach Park stage, children spun the evening away on the merry-go-round. Photos by David Futey.

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Garden Club considers ways to share its harvest

By Kate Wetterer

The Palmer Lake Community Garden Club met on July 9 to discuss the group’s progress and the state of the garden. Most of the plants were flourishing, and those that had been doing poorly may be replanted or replaced. A topic of concern was the possibility of harvesting available herbs now, as they grow, to avoid wasting plants that are ready for consumption. These include herbs that are ideal for seasoning as well as flowers that can be used for tea.

A possible solution could be to host an herb harvesting event, so attendees can learn the proper way to gather herbs without harming the plant, while fetching something fresh for their own kitchens. This idea was still in the works.

The club also debated potential methods to share food grown in the garden with other Palmer Lake residents. A popular suggestion involved choosing a "host family" that could benefit from a little extra produce and encouraging them to help in the garden, cultivating their own food. Some vegetables would be reserved for interested club members but it is important to the club that something be given back to the community.

Other topics mentioned included the desire to provide better identification for the plants in the garden, perhaps artful signs offering additional information about the vegetables. As some of the beds employ "partner" gardening, where plants are arranged in sets of complementary species, it was suggested that a sign explaining partner gardening and the specific tactics utilized could benefit those so inclined to investigate.

The club has also renewed its grant application and is considering what it can provide in the future. Classes for the next couple months were also discussed, the next being a casual discussion of food preservation on Aug. 15.


Meetings are planned for the second Monday of each month. The next general meeting will be Aug. 13 in front of the gazebo near Town Hall. For information: dwoodhockey@comcast.net or 963-3242.

Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetterer@ocn.me.

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July and August Library Events

Below: At the Summer Reading Program Party, from the left, Ashley and James Jackson enjoy hand bells and Christopher Yates is a fierce knight in the castle. Photos by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The library’s Summer Reading Program party on the Village Green in Palmer Lake was a great success. Hundreds of young patrons and their parents came to enjoy the cookie walk and a challenging obstacle course.

Special guests included the state champion robotics team from Coronado High School, the Cougars Gone Wired, agility dogs Hula and Hondo, and mascots from Texas Roadhouse, Wendy’s, Chik-fil-A, the Air Force Academy, and Soccer Buddies.

The library thanks the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library for its sponsorship of this event, Schwan’s for the delicious ice cream sandwiches, and the many teen summer reading volunteers for their help with the games, face painting, and countless other details.

By July 27, almost 2,000 children and 675 teens in the Tri-Lakes area had registered to participate in the program.

Children’s programs

The August Family Fun program in Monument is based on the Olympic Games. We’ll hold our own version of the Olympic Games, learn some Olympic facts and do an Olympic craft. This program, on Aug, 11 from 1:30 to 3 p.m., is appropriate for school-age children.

The Lego club will meet from 10:30 a.m. until noon on Aug. 18. Lego enthusiasts are welcome to join in the fun, and it’s open to all ages. We provide and Legos and you provide the creativity. Please do not bring your own Legos. Be sure to bring your camera to record your creation—all pieces used to make projects remain the property of the Pikes Peak Library District.

Teen programs

Book-Eaters and Crafty Teens will return in September.

Adult programs

In August, the Monumental Readers will discuss The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway on Friday the 17th at 10 a.m. All patrons are welcome to this monthly book club.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18. This is a driver refresher course designed for motorists age 50 and older. Participants may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount on their premium. Charge for the four-hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required.

On the walls during August will be Art Over 50, juried art work by local older adults.

In the display case will be works by the Pikes Peak Decorative Painters.

Palmer Lake library events

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun event, a partnership with the 2012 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua, will be the annual Ice Cream Social on the Village Green on Aug. 4 from 2:30 until 4 p.m. Come enjoy ice cream from the Rock House and listen to some old-fashioned band music. This event is geared toward multi-generational groups and is sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library, the Town of Palmer Lake, and the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

The Palmer Lake Knitting Group meets each Wednesday from 10 a.m. until noon. Knitters of all skills are welcome. Bring your projects and enjoy the company of other knitters. Call 481-2587 for further information.

Research has shown that young readers who read to a calm and attentive dog can increase their fluency. Read with Misty, the tiny sheltie, on Thursday, Aug. 9, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Read with Kirby, our golden retriever friend, on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 11 until noon. Read to a Paws to Read dog and select a prize.

Photography by Laurisa Rabins is displayed on the library’s walls.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
August Menu

    Aug. 8­––Italian sausage sandwich, potato salad & pickle
    Aug. 15
    ––Tuna on a croissant, avocado & chips
    Aug. 22
    ––Baked lasagna, salad and dinner rolls
    Aug. 29
    ––Lemon chicken over rice & salad

Rolls and butter are served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert is also provided.

An activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership. Meals are provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.

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Fifth Annual "Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua," Aug. 3-5

The Chautauqua movement, 1874 to 1930, was the first mass educational and cultural movement in U.S. history. The Town of Palmer Lake was the home of the first Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly in 1887 and continued holding Chautauqua activities until 1910. The Palmer Lake Historical Society will recreate the types of activities that might have been experienced by these early Chautauqua-goers. Aug. 4 activities begin with a hike at 8:30 a.m. and a nature walk at 9 a.m. from Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. See a vintage baseball game and listen to the 1890s Band at Centennial Park beside the lake, 10 a.m. The library will hold an ice cream social in the town hall at 2:30 p.m. On Aug. 5, a history walk leaves from Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. and an old-time church service will be held at the Little Log Church at 10:30 a.m. The activities and events are free. For information and a complete schedule of events, visit www.palmerlakechautauqua.org or pick up a schedule at one of the local businesses in the area.

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Stage I fire restrictions are in effect

Stage I fire restrictions are now in effect for El Paso County. During Stage I restrictions, open burning is prohibited, except for fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds and charcoal grills and wood burning stoves at private residences in areas cleared of all flammable materials. Also prohibited are the sale or use of fireworks, outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. A full copy of the ordinance can be seen at elpasoco.com and clicking on County Ordinances near the bottom. Violations of Stage I fire restrictions may result in a fine up to $600.

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Art Evaluation Committee members needed, apply by Aug. 31

The Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) Board of Trustees will accept applications through Aug. 31 to fill four vacancies. Art Committee members review works submitted by local amateur artists for exhibit at all 12 PPLD galleries. To be considered for appointment, submit a letter of intent with credentials to: PPLD Board of Trustees, c/o Carol Brunk Harnish, P.O. Box 1579, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1579. For more information, call 531-6333, x2332 or email charnish@ppld.org.

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Monument Celebration Festival, Sept. 3

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce has rescheduled its Street Fair for Labor Day, Sept. 3, to take the place of the one cancelled on the Fourth of July due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. Start the day with a pancake breakfast, 7-10 a.m., at St. Peter Catholic Church, 55 Jefferson St. At 10 a.m. watch the parade down Second Street (from Mitchell to Beacon Lite) honoring our Tri-Lakes Emergency Services. After the parade stroll the street fair down Front Street and visit Limbach Park for live music, a beer and wine garden, and fun for the whole family until 5 p.m. Also following the parade, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will be an open house at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District 1, 18650 Highway 105. For more details phone the chamber, 481-3282, visit www.trilakeschamber.com, or email office@trilakeschamber.com.

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Save the date: Wine, Roses and More, Oct. 27

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club will present Wine, Roses and More, its fall fundraising event, Oct. 27. The evening features celebrity wine servers, fine wine tasting, great local chefs, a raffle and silent auction, and more. Proceeds benefit the Tri-Lakes community. Watch for details next month.

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Handbell ringers needed

The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir is looking for some new ringers to begin in the fall, preferably experienced ringers or people who can read music, high school through adult. If you are interested, please contact Betty Jenik, 488-3953, or email ljenik@comcast.net.

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Reverse 911

With the heightened concern for fire danger along the Front Range, many people want to sign up their home or cell phone for reverse emergency notification. The El Paso-Teller E-911 Authority Emergency Notification System is used to notify residents of any potential emergencies in their neighborhood. To sign up, go to https://elptc911.onthealert.com.

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Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District seeks board members

Do you love your local library? Would you like to help preserve and promote Pikes Peak Library District? The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District is looking for new Board of Directors members. To apply, go to www.friendsppld.org and click on the Board of Directors application. For more information, call 531-6333, x1008.

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Slash-Mulch season is still going strong

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here. Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps, roots, weeds, grass, lumber trash, etc.) drop-off ends Sept. 9. Mulch pickup ends Sept. 22 or when mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The loader fee is $4 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County, co-sponsored by the Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners. The program’s purpose is to teach forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information visit bfslash.org or call Ruth Ann Steele 495-3107, Carolyn Brown, 495-3127, Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878.

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Important information for 17-year-olds
who want to vote

Teens who will be 18 on or before Election Day are encouraged to register in advance of this year’s elections to be eligible to vote. They must be registered 29 days prior to the election even if they will not be 18 until Election Day, Nov. 6. Colorado law allows for pre-registration for individuals who are 17 years old a year prior to the election in which they want to cast a ballot. Here are two ways to register to vote:

  • Online at www.GoVoteColorado.com
  • In person at any of the four Clerk and Recorder’s Office locations: North Branch—Union Town Center, 8830 N. Union Blvd. (Research Pkwy. and Union Blvd.)

More information can be found at http://car.elpasoco.com/election. For additional information, contact Alissa Vander Veen, 351-9626 or email alissavanderveen@elpasoco.com.

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Multiple sclerosis support group

A multiple sclerosis (MS) group is forming for the Tri-Lakes and surrounding areas. If interested, please email Susan, susan@cvscorp.com, or visit http://cvscorp.homeserver.com/ms/.

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Get volunteer help for your nonprofit

Due to popular demand, the Lewis-Palmer School District is adding a list of volunteer opportunities to its Youth Activities Directory online. Many students are required to participate in community projects for credit and others are just looking for ways to serve. If your nonprofit has a need for volunteers for a one-time project or an ongoing effort and can use volunteers under age 18, obtain a directory listing form at http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101174229838-940/YAS+directory+form.pdf. Nonprofits may list their volunteer needs in the directory free of charge. For more information, contact Robin Adair, P.O. Box 40, Monument, CO 80132; call 785-4223 or email radair@lewispalmer.org.

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Master Gardeners help desk summer hours

Colorado Master Gardeners volunteers are ready to assist you with your lawn and gardening questions Monday-Thursday during the following hours: Monday, 9 a.m.–noon and 1-4 p.m.; Tuesday, 1-4 p.m.; Wednesday, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.; and Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon. If the new hours don’t match your schedule, you can call and leave a message any time at 520-7684, or email your questions to CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.

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Volunteer drivers needed for seniors transportation service

Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. It is the only transportation service in the Tri-Lakes area to take seniors to medical appointments, the grocery store or pharmacy, the bank, legal appointments, senior lunches, shopping, and to the many activities offered through the senior center and our community. The program is in need of additional volunteer drivers. Volunteers are provided with an orientation after criminal and driving records have been screened. Mileage is reimbursed if volunteers use their own vehicle. The program operates Monday-Thursday and is flexible; volunteers can be involved as much as they choose to be. For more information or to request brochures, email browneyesmlk@hotmail.com or call Mary Ketels, 481-2470, or Faye Brenneman, 481-2527, or leave a message with the dispatcher, 488-0076.

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Attention Tri-Lakes residents with medical conditions

If you have a medical condition or a physical disability, please contact Jennifer at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 484-0911, to register for emergency assistance if evacuation is required.

Black Forest Animal Sanctuary needs volunteers

Black Forest Animal Sanctuary was founded in the late 1990s as the Charlotte & Arthur Romero Wildlife Sanctuary, an all-volunteer and not-for-profit 501c3 that helps all animals. The sanctuary is getting dozens of calls and emails every day begging for it to take in unwanted, neglected, and abused horses and other livestock animals, dogs, and cats from the Front Range area. Its goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and retrain horses and find them permanent loving homes. It is in immediate need of funding for feed and veterinary care and significant shelter improvements to continue its work. To volunteer, adopt an animal, or make a donation, contact 494-0158, bfasfarm@aol.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.

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Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Monday through Friday and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m.; National Mah-jongg, Fridays, 1-4 p.m.; line dancing, first and second Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m.; bridge, second and fourth Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.; tea time, third Tuesday, 1-3 p.m.; bingo, third Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.; crafts, third Thursday, 1-3 p.m.; no-cash/no host poker, second and fourth Fridays, 1-4 p.m. Also available at the center are ping-pong, Wii video games, various puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table. For more information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free!

Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in Monument. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center. There are articles and notices of events geared toward senior citizens. To subscribe to the free newsletter, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesHAP.org.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District offers a free senior safety program to all Tri-Lakes seniors. The program includes smoke detector evaluations, home safety assessments, vial of life, and fire prevention. For more information, call 484-0911 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Check out energy savings at local libraries

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) recently started a program allowing consumers to check out "Kill-A-Watt" meters, plug-in energy meters, from local libraries and Book Mobiles in MVEA’s service territory. Kill-A-Watt meters can help consumers assess how efficient appliances really are. This program provides a free way to identify the real energy abusers and reduce energy use. People who have used the meters report unplugging appliances that weren’t being used to save energy. For more information, call MVEA, 1-800-388-9881, ext. 2602; or Monument Branch Library, 488-2370.

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Free gun-lock kit

The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gunlock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For more information, phone 481-3253.

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