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By Harriet Halbig
Several local citizens attended the Nov. 20 meeting of the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education to express their concerns about new assessments administered last spring.
Board Vice President John Mann sent a letter to the community reminding them that the board passed a resolution last spring stating its opposition to federal mandates and the state requiring implementation of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. Twelve states and the District of Columbia are involved in the partnership.
Mann’s premise is that the district is the best judge of what is needed for its students to continue to excel, and the district’s standards are consistently higher than those of the state. Nonetheless, refusal to participate in these assessments could have real consequences in terms of loss of grants and funding and a lowering of the district’s accreditation level.
For these reasons, Mann asked in his letter that the community continue to participate in the assessments because loss of funding could impact curriculum and loss of accreditation could impact local property values and the ability of graduates to gain admission to excellent colleges.
While the concern for loss of local control is real, Mann said in his letter, it is up to the state government to reverse the requirement to participate in these assessments.
The Board of Education held a meeting on the day before the board meeting and many parents came to discuss the issue. Several came to the board meeting to air their concerns.
The first of the citizens thanked Mann for his support of parent concerns but said that she had contacted several prestigious college admissions departments and was told that they place more stress on an individual student’s activities and achievements than on a district’s accreditation. She encouraged the board to take back local control.
The second person to speak was concerned about the confidentiality of records about students’ family and background information and the fact that such information could be made available to contractors and others outside the district and at the state level. She said she does not believe the assurances that personally identifiable information does not leave the district and felt that parents were given insufficient information regarding the use of test results and other information.
A third individual agreed that the board appears to value its accreditation above the privacy of individuals. She said that the only way to protect privacy is to refuse to take the tests or refuse to answer questions regarding family and other personal matters.
A Monument Academy parent said that he felt that the Common Core State Standards homogenize the country, while local standards are more stringent and deserve the support of local parents.
He suggested that schools are obligated to teach children, while the state is not required to implement the Common Core State Standards. He said parents can request a state opt-out form.
Mann responded that if many parents opt out of the tests (95 percent participation is required), the district could lose its level of accreditation. In that case, he said, some parents might choose to withdraw their children from district schools, thus reducing funding based on student count.
An unrelated parent comment involved the value of the Area Vocational Program, through which students can attend classes at Pikes Peak Community College to received college credit during their high school years and receive training in various fields. The woman’s daughter is receiving training in nursing and her son is pursuing criminal justice as a career. She commended the district for making such programs available.
Board President Mark Pfoff commented that the district provides a terrific education for its students and has told its teachers not to worry about PARCC but to teach as before, knowing that the district’s standards exceed those of PARCC. He said he is proud of how well-rounded the district’s education is.
Board Treasurer John Magerko commented that State Board of Education Chairman and state Rep.-elect Paul Lundeen had met with the District Accountability Advisory Committee the previous week and said that there is discussion at the state level regarding standards and privacy issues. People at the state level are aware of the fact that there seem to be too many assessments and are attempting to phase them in on a more gradual basis and perhaps consolidate some of them. (See related article on page 5)
Magerko also said that the Colorado Department of Education is addressing the privacy issues.
District Superintendent Karen Brofft reported that she was pleased with the attendance at a recent business leaders meeting. She said that a priority has been placed on creating internship opportunities for the district’s students and seeking experts who can speak about various careers.
Brofft also said that plans are being developed to hold a job or career fair where students could undergo mock interviews and learn to create resumes. A group of students is founding a group that could provide short-term interns to local businesses.
Brofft also reported that the schools have developed a good relationship with the Monument Board of Trustees and that a representative from each high school is participating in that body.
She reported developing partnerships with such local entities as the YMCA and the Arbor Day Foundation.
The Audit Committee found the district to be in compliance with all requirements, and the auditors thanked Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman and her staff for their cooperation and hard work.
The board decided to wait until the December meeting to approve the report, because intervening snow days could change some of the results.
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton presented the results of the spring Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) tests in social studies and science. These tests were administered for the first time last spring, with grades 4 and 7 taking tests in social studies and grades 5 and 8 taking tests in science.
The levels of achievement were "distinguished command," "strong command," "moderate command," and "limited command."
Benton said that these assessments are geared to post-secondary readiness rather than whether students are achieving at grade level.
The district exceeded the state’s achievement standards in all cases. The district ranked sixth for fourth grade, fifth in fifth grade, second in seventh grade and third in eighth grade for the state compared with other districts with more than 100 students. Benton said that the teachers were disappointed in the results and are looking for ways to improve the scores next year.
Benton said that achievement growth cannot be determined because the test has only been administered once.
Exceptional Student Services update
Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Ann Fleury reported that there have been good results in terms of improvement in scores by students with disabilities, notably an improvement in reading and math in elementary school, math and writing in middle school, and reading and writing in high school.
Fleury said data are difficult to compare from one year to the next because students enter and exit the programs.
The department received a $12,000 grant due to its improvement and expects an additional $73,000 to be allotted to the English Learner program, which serves 275 students.
Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported on efforts to improve the current communications program following discussions with students, teachers, staff, parents, and other community members.
The conclusions were to keep any messages brief, deliver any newsworthy information to the community, customize information based on the recipient, and make face-to-face contact with the recipient whenever possible.
It was decided that it would be useful to consolidate the various calendars available and make sure that district staff is kept apprised of all developments. In the near future an online survey will be made available.
The board recognized the Lewis-Palmer High School Girls Volleyball Team for their state championship. This was the second consecutive championship year for the team, which has the best record in the country.
The board commended a number of high school students who received commendation as National Merit Scholars.
The board congratulated Lewis-Palmer High School counselor Larry Clouse for being honored by the Colorado Council on High School/College Relations for his work.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D-38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Dec. 18.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On Nov. 11, Don Smith, president of the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, noted that the meeting was taking place on Veterans Day and thanked all military veterans in attendance and all those that support the military. The JUC tentatively approved the fourth draft of the 2015 Tri-Lakes budget. However, due to unresolved cost-sharing issues regarding the new total phosphorus treatment clarifier expansion, it remains to be seen if the boards of each of the three districts that own the facility will approve the 2015 facility budget.
The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD). The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: Don Smith of Monument, Ken Smith of Palmer Lake, and Rich Strom of Woodmoor. Tri-Lakes accountant Jackie Spegele of Numeric Strategies LLC attended to better understand the technical and cost-sharing issues that affect the 2015 budget. Several other directors of the owner district boards, Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund, Palmer Lake District Manager Becky Orcutt, and Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette also attended the meeting.
Final draft 2015 budget reviewed
No members of the public were present for this advertised and posted budget hearing. The open portion of public hearing closed without public comment.
Tri-Lakes facility Manager Bill Burks proposed a one-time pay raise for an operator to replace compensation for mandatory overtime performed over the past 10 years that will be going away in 2015 when another employee is hired after April. Strom and Ken Smith objected to replacing this regular and expected part of the operator’s pay for a decade. Mandatory overtime was budgeted and spent the last 10 years to cover at least one and one-quarter hours of operator presence every weekend day as mandated by the federal Clean Water Act. Burks plans to create a flex time schedule with three staff operators to provide daily coverage within a 40-hour schedule for each of the three operators.
Wicklund noted that this one-time-only annual pay raise was $2,291. After a lengthy defense of his proposal to the Woodmoor and Palmer Lake district directors and managers, Burks’ pay raise request was cancelled at the direction of Strom and Ken Smith. There was JUC consensus to grant only a cost of living increase to the staff based on the Denver/Boulder index.
A related discussion was initiated when Ken Smith stated that a comparison of Burks’ regular annual plan for giving operator bonuses to bonuses offered "in the real world" was required. Burks defended bonuses for his people because they are currently required to work full 40-hour work weeks plus overtime on weekends at a high level of responsibility under threat of severe EPA and state Water Quality Control Commission fines plus license revocation and prison time. Wicklund reviewed all the regulatory changes that have made running the facility increasingly more difficult and complex and Burks’ professional reputation throughout the West for running the facility in a superior manner for two decades.
Ken Smith stated that he wanted to review the third operator to be hired before Burks makes a job offer. Burks noted that this has always been part of his supervisory discretion. Burks reiterated that the need for backup of all duties through hiring a third operator has existed for a long time, and will be even more necessary during total phosphorus treatment expansion project construction, particularly during sludge removal.
Burks reported that the three bids for the new storage building ranged from $157,750 to $199,180, considerably higher than the $85,000 estimate from the consultant architect. The JUC rolled over the 2014 line item for construction of the new storage building to the 2015 budget. Burks was directed to terminate the contract with architect Rick Barnes. The storage building will become another bid option proposed by Tetra Tech for the total phosphorus tertiary clarifier expansion project.
The proposed storage building will house a crane for installing/removing heavy sludge pumps as well as large equipment like a tractor and it should have a lifespan of many decades to match the intended lifespan of every other existing facility building.
A motion to approve the proposed 2015 Tri-Lakes facility budget, as revised by the JUC-directed amendments regarding limiting salary increases and postponing construction of the storage building another year, was unanimously approved. A separate motion to approve the corresponding 2015 appropriation resolution with the JUC-directed amendments regarding salary and the storage building was also unanimously approved. However, each of the three district boards must formally approve their 2015 district budgets, which contain their individual shares of the annual facility cost, before the 2015 JUC facility budget is finally approved.
The 2015 budget was based on splitting construction costs in thirds for the new chemical total phosphorus removal tertiary clarifier expansion. However, the amount that each of the three owner districts will contribute to pay for their ownership shares of the new total phosphorus constituent plant expansion, as well as the method used to determine their separate shares of future phosphorus chemical treatment operating costs, was still being negotiated in separate private inter-district meetings that do not involve the JUC.
Monument’s position, as stated at previous JUC meetings, is
that each district should pay the same percentage of the cost of expansion for
removing the influent constituent total phosphorus as the amount of currently
owned treatment capacity for treating hydraulic flows and removing biosolid
wastes and that each district should own this same percentage of the new
chemical total phosphorus treatment capacity of 280 pounds per day. This
allocation of owned hydraulic capacity and biosolids treatment capacity is
specified as follows in the Joint Use of Facilities Agreement which controls
facility operations and funding plant expansions for new constituents:
Monument also believes it is fairest to all ratepayers in the Tri-Lakes facility service area if the three owner districts receive these same percentages of the $1 million state grant for design and construction.
Woodmoor’s position is that each district should pay one-third of the estimated $2.32 million construction cost of the new total phosphorus treatment equipment expansion for this new state and federal nutrient requirement, even though Woodmoor would still own 64.28 percent of the new total phosphorus treatment capacity of 280 pounds (179.98 pounds per day). This position would require a subsidy of 13.54 percent ($314,128) by Monument’s ratepayers to Woodmoor ratepayers, and a subsidy of 17.40 percent ($403,680) by Palmer Lake ratepayers to Woodmoor ratepayers. All three districts would receive one-third of the $1 million state design and construction grant to reduce their equal individual $733,333 costs by an equal individual grant share, $333,333 each. The net cost by thirds would be $440,000 each.
However, Monument’s position is if it has to pay a third of the total phosphorus treatment expansion cost of $2.32 million ($733,333), it should own a third of the new 280 pounds per day phosphorus treatment capacity, which is 93.33 pounds per day. Monument believes that if it is only going to own 19.79 percent, or 55.4 pounds per day of the new total phosphorus expansion’s treatment capacity, rather than 93.3 pounds per day, then Monument should only pay 19.79 percent of the estimated $2.32 million construction cost, which is $459,128, a reduction of $274,205 from the $733,333 each that Woodmoor wants Monument and Palmer Lake to pay. Monument’s position is that it would only receive 19.79 percent of the $1 million grant ($197,900) which would reduce its total 19.79 percent cost of $459,128 to a net cost of $261,228.
The Palmer Lake staff and board appear to have approved paying a third of the $2.32 million construction cost ($733,333) to own only 15.93 percent of the new 280 pounds per day of total phosphorus treatment capacity, 44.6 pounds per day rather than 93.3 pounds per day, though their representatives have not stated this at a JUC meeting. If Palmer Lake only paid 15.93 percent of the $2.32 million cost, it would only pay $369,576, which would be reduced by 15.93 percent of the $1 million grant, ($159,300) for a net total cost of $210,276.
Note: The state’s new Control Regulation 85 mandates that facilities rated over 2 million gallons per day (MGD) for influent wastewater flow would be required to meet a treated effluent discharge limit of 1 milligram per liter (mg/l) for total phosphorus. There were no phosphate limits when the existing Tri-Lakes activated sludge facility was designed and constructed in 1988, nor were there any EPA or state Water Quality Control Division or Commission discussions at that time that there would ever be specific organic discharge constituent limits for phosphorus in treated effluent in 1988 or later in 1998 when the Tri-Lakes facility was modified. Tetra Tech has stated in its design and engineering proposal to the state health department that there is no designed total phosphorus removal in the existing plant.
The Control Regulation 85 discharge limit for total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) is 15 mg/l, which the Tri-Lakes plant already meets because it was originally designed to remove ammonia, a constituent of total inorganic nitrogen.
The entire $80,000 state nutrient treatment planning grant has already been issued to the Tri-Lakes facility and reimbursed by thirds to Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor. The state has indicated that it will reimburse all design and construction payments made by the facility as soon as possible to ensure that all of these grant funds are disbursed before the May 31, 2016 deadline.
The financial reports were unanimously accepted as presented.
New environmental attorney hired
Don Smith introduced environmental attorney Gabe Racz of Vranish and Raisch LLP in Boulder. Racz was a candidate to replace current JUC environmental attorney Tad Foster of Colorado Springs, who will be retiring in early 2015. Racz has appeared frequently before the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, and in the water courts and district courts, beginning in 2001. After his presentation, Racz was unanimously approved to become the facility’s next legal counsel to represent the facility to the county, the state, and the EPA on clean water matters.
Racz represents special district, municipal, and commercial water quality clients in every river basin in Colorado to the state on a daily basis. He has represented the City of Pueblo and several other municipalities in basin hearings, has coordinated state Water Quality Control Division basic standards stakeholder workgroups, and represented the statewide Colorado Nutrient Coalition in limiting total phosphorus and total nitrogen limits in the state’s new Control Regulation 85 to a technically feasible and affordable level for the next decade. Racz is also a lead participant in state regulatory stakeholder workgroups that will be setting new limits on metals and organic compounds.
Racz’s billings will be pro-rated to all his clients. This will reduce the direct cost to the Tri-Lakes facility for most of his representation––other than the facility’s permit review and Tri-Lakes facility testing requirement––to include standards, monitoring, temperature, and anti-degradation issues, which he is already working on for his other clients.
Plant manager’s report
Burks also noted that the Tri-Lakes facility might have to spend up to an additional $47,000 for in-stream and plant monitoring as part of its annual 2015 contract with the Arkansas and Fountain Coalition for Rural/Urban River Evaluation. However, at this time there is no Tri-Lakes’ commitment to participate at this maximum level for acquiring data on in-stream parameters through monthly metals testing, nor is there a financial commitment by Tri-Lakes to pay the full $47,000 to the coalition year. While some of this new testing could be done in the Tri-Lakes lab for this coalition project, metals testing would have to be outsourced to a testing lab at substantial expense.
Wicklund and Burks reviewed the substantial and significant differences in aquatic life sampling methods used by the U.S. Geological Survey as compared to staff members of the state Water Quality Control Division.
Burks gave a lengthy technical presentation on analyzing two failed whole effluent toxicity tests to isolate the non-toxic cause of erroneously low human visual counts of reproduction of Ceriodaphnia dubia by staff members of GEI Consulting, which performs the toxicity testing. Burks felt that this problem has been solved and there will be no fines or permit violations due to GEI Consulting’s procedural testing error. The red baby Ceriodaphnia dubia cells, which represent in-stream macroinvertebrates, were confused with small red algae cells.
There were never any toxicity issues with fathead minnow survivability or reproduction. This type of minnow is used in testing to predictably represent all fish life in the stream.
In other matters, Burks’ discharge monitoring report and Control Regulation 85 nutrients report showed that the plant was operating in a highly efficient and effective manner, well within all current regulatory and discharge permit requirements.
Burks briefed the JUC on the staff’s first testing results for monitoring the amount of total phosphorus each of the three owner district is delivering to the Tri-Lakes plant in its raw wastewater influent. The samples were taken on Sept. 9, 2014. Monument delivered 13.9 pounds, or 24 percent. Palmer Lake delivered 10 pounds or 17 percent Woodmoor delivered 35 pounds or 59 percent. These percentages were roughly equal to the amounts of biosolid wastes delivered by the three districts in September: 25 percent by Monument, 18 percent by Palmer Lake, and 57 percent by Woodmoor. Further study will be needed to see if the current cost-sharing formula for biosolids is close enough to use for total phosphorus to avoid the need for time-consuming negotiations over a new separate cost-sharing formula that could take years to finalize based on the time needed to negotiate the biosolids cost-sharing method in the past.
Burks asked each district to approve the final Tetra Tech Design report that was submitted to the state health department on Nov. 7, 2014 and provide comments or errors to him and Tetra Tech.
Draft discharge permit issued
Burks noted that he had received and forwarded the draft five-year discharge permit for the Tri-Lakes facility. The draft discharge permit undergoes a statewide review and comment period of 30 days. Burks said he "couldn’t be more pleased" with the draft permit with the exception of a few items. He reviewed his and Foster’s discussions with the state health department and the redundant technical items he will be objecting to. Wicklund noted that the absence of a copper limit in the new permit will save $7 million in copper removal equipment, after a joint investment by the three owner districts of $500,000 in copper studies. The due date for Burks’ objections was Nov. 17.
The JUC went into executive session to discuss personnel matters at 12:40 p.m. No votes were taken during the executive session and the meeting adjourned immediately after the session concluded.
The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 at the at the Tri-Lakes facility’s conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information for these meetings is available at 481-4053.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
Current Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education and State Rep.-Elect Paul Lundeen addressed the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) at its Nov. 11 meeting regarding changes in funding for education.
Lundeen said that he would work in the Legislature to maintain local control of education.
The mechanism for controlling school matters at the state level is divided between the Legislature, which determines funding levels and policy, and the state Board of Education. The state board is composed of seven members, one from each congressional district, and regulates standards, assessments, and accountability from the various school districts. There are 178 districts in the state, each having authority over curriculum and use of funds.
Lundeen said that Gov. John Hickenlooper has requested that $380 million from the state and $99 million from local sources comprise the budget for the 2015-16 school year. The state portion of the funding will provide an increase of per pupil funding of $475 based on an estimated growth of 10,000 pupils statewide. Lundeen said that this is a one-time increase to partially compensate for underfunding over the past several years.
With this increase, per pupil funding in District 38 in 2015-16 will be $7,100, which is still below 2008 levels. Lundeen also stressed that costs have increased since then.
The underfunding is described as a negative factor because it is a violation of Amendment 23, which requires that funding be increased on the basis of student count and inflation. The recent recession deprived the state of tax revenue, and therefore the required funding could not be provided. This one-time infusion of funds is an effort to compensate.
Lundeen stressed that money is not the most important factor in education, however. He said that good people and policy are critical.
Lundeen is opposed to national standards, saying that they overburden the system and cause loss of local control. He said that assessments should show how a state in doing in comparison with others, and to see how effective the teachers are.
He said that centralization of assessments could also result in loss of confidentiality.
Lundeen proposed that the Legislature re-examine all funding legislation such as the Gallagher Amendment (which determines taxation of residential and business real property), TABOR (which requires a referendum on any tax increase and limits the speed of recovery of the state economy), and Amendment 23 to arrive at a single plan for the future.
Bear Creek Elementary Campus introduction
Principal Peggy Parsley said that Bear Creek Elementary School consists of 881 students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth, including 11 percent on free or reduced-cost lunch, 5 percent English learners, 8 percent special education and 5 percent gifted students. The building opened in 2001 as Creekside Middle School and became an elementary school in 2010 after the two middle schools were consolidated into one.
Only one classroom in the building is not in use full time, she said. There are five classes at each grade level and the only accredited preschool in the district. The accrediting body is the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The school operates on the principle of Character Counts, emphasizing caring, citizenship, fairness, respect, responsibility, and trustworthiness.
Some programs that celebrate the achievements and character of students include the Bringing Up Grades (BUG) program for grades K through 3, the honor roll for grades 4 through 6 and recognition for perfect attendance. There are many before and after school enrichment programs and very supportive parents, Parsley said.
The school does not rely on door-to-door sales for fundraising and has been fortunate to receive iPads for the first and second grade classes from Neumann Systems, she said.
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton explained the state-generated Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) document, which is the basis for evaluating the achievements and goals of each school. There is also a UIP for the district as a whole.
Benton said that part of the charge of DAAC is to review each UIP in draft form before it is submitted to the Colorado Department of Education. The committee will review two to three UIPs per meeting until April.
Each UIP provides scores from assessments from the previous school year and such statistics as the size of the free/reduced lunch population, those with disabilities, minorities, gifted students, and those with individual education plans.
The elements to be considered are the data and the trends it represents and whether targets have been met; challenges; causes of the challenges; and strategies to overcome the challenges.
Benton said that all of the schools in the district score sufficiently well to require a performance plan rather than an improvement plan.
One of the challenges in the coming year derives from the fact that last year’s assessments were being used for the first time, making it difficult to evaluate growth.
Benton said challenges and goals are presented in the form of data and narrative and must be research based, including funding sources and personnel involved in each solution.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The Dec. 9 meeting will be at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Road, Monument.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
At the Nov. 20 Monument Sanitation District Board meeting, District Manager Mike Wicklund reviewed a variety of problems that have occurred regarding the district’s shared ownership of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. The other owner districts are Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. These problems remain unresolved, making it difficult to finalize their total costs in the district’s 2015 budget, the impact of these undefined costs on other 2015 budget priorities, and the size of the fee increase needed in 2015 to cover these additional expenses.
The public hearing for the district’s 2015 budget is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 18 in the district conference room, 130 Second St.
President Ed DeLaney’s out-of-town absence was unanimously excused. Treasurer Don Smith chaired the meeting.
Wicklund reported that Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Bill Burks had stated at the Nov. 11 Joint Use Committee meeting that a non-toxic cause had been found for three whole effluent toxicity test failures in a row in the third quarter of 2014. Baby ceriodaphnia dubia fleas are red and those inside of clumps of red algae had not been visually observed or counted by technicians of the GEI Consulting testing laboratory. The resulting lower counts than the actual number of baby fleas present yielded incorrectly low counts for both flea reproduction and survivability in the series of tests that determine toxicity for varying concentrations of biosolid wastes. These incorrectly low visual flea counts by the technicians presented the appearance of a test failure due to some undetermined toxic element in the Tri-Lakes plant’s treated effluent. However, two passing tests in a row using correct counting procedures should resolve this issue without fines or other penalties, since no actual toxicity was detected.
Wicklund also noted that the long-planned construction of a Tri-Lakes facility storage building would be postponed for a fourth year because the three bids submitted were $157,000 or more while the amount budgeted at the recommendation of the facility’s architect was $85,000. The JUC contract with this consultant architect was terminated. The storage building will be turned over to the facility’s engineering consultant Tetra Tech to advertise as another bid alternative option for the total phosphorus tertiary treatment clarifier expansion project that will be put out for bid in 2015.
Burks said a third Tri-Lakes Facility operator will be hired in April 2015 to handle the additional workload created by the total phosphorus treatment clarifier expansion as well as all the added work being created by the numerous new regulatory requirements issued by the state health department.
Wicklund noted the industry-wide difficulties associated with finding and retaining certified wastewater operators who now need the equivalent of a degree in chemistry and are willing to work as hard as this evolving job now demands in a far more difficult and complicated control environment that are far more challenging than those for a drinking water operator.
For more information see the JUC article on page 1.
Mediation meeting scheduled
Wicklund stated that a mediation meeting for attempting to resolve cost-sharing issues between the three districts that own the Tri-Lakes Facility had been scheduled for Dec. 18 at the Inn at Palmer Lake. Wicklund said he would meet with the district’s attorneys Steve Mulliken and Larry Gaddis to discuss preparations for this mediation meeting and potential litigation issues.
The board approved a $400 Monument contract with the Inn at Palmer Divide for meeting room reservations for this mediation session. Palmer Lake has offered to help pay this meeting room rental bill.
Wicklund reviewed his latest draft of the district’s 2015 budget. Board members recommended some small increases and decreases for several individual line items. The 2015 budget public hearing had already been advertised and posted for 10 a.m. on Dec. 18 and will not be changed by the mediation meeting at the Inn at Palmer Lake. A separate public hearing on the Monument district’s rate increase that will be needed to cover the increased cost of the total phosphorus treatment expansion and potential litigation with Woodmoor and Palmer Lake is now required by a new state law.
Wicklund reported that no tap fees had been received since the Oct. 16 regular board meeting. Some residential tap fees are expected from new construction along Old Denver Road.
Since the cash summary for the last district board meeting, total disbursements were $47,749 and total deposits were $56,699. Total cash on hand as of Nov. 19 was $828,254, including $244,761 in the First National Bank Capital Preservation Fund account, $403,946 in the ColoTrust Capital Preservation Fund account, and $28,021 in the Integrity Series-2013 Loan account.
The financial reports were accepted as presented.
Lien certification resolution approved
The board unanimously approved a resolution to certify liens with the El Paso County treasurer that have been recorded against properties that are delinquent for six months or more.
No progress on sidewalk dilemma
The Town of Monument recently installed a new sidewalk on the west side of district building as part of the town’s downtown sidewalk project. The town’s cement contractor did not comply with the specifications designed by the town’s engineering consultant, Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering. The grade of the new sidewalk is several inches higher than the original sidewalk that was demolished and replaced, creating a substantial tripping and icing hazard in front of the 2nd Street Hair Studio.
The town has refused to remove and install a new replacement sidewalk at the correct grade and has suggested building a railing along the trip hazard to force people to walk around this hazard. The town has offered no solution for the icing hazard its cement contractor created by not following the Jacobs Engineering specifications.
Discussion of any revision of the district’s vacation policy was indefinitely tabled.
The meeting went into executive session to determine positions for negotiating strategies regarding the scheduled mediation meeting at 12:05 p.m.
The meeting came out of executive session and adjourned at 1:05 p.m. No votes were taken during the executive session.
The next meeting will be held on Dec. 18 at 8:30 a.m. in the district conference room at 130 Second St. The public comment portion of the 2015 budget hearing agenda item will be held at 10 a.m. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Nancy Wilkins
At a 4-1/2 hour meeting Nov. 13, directors of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) considered providing non-potable water to the Brookmoor Estates Homeowners Association (HOA), listened to financial planners from Raftelis Financial Consultants, discussed increasing rates in conjunction with the draft 2015 budget, continued negotiations with the HOA from Village Estates for a parcel of land, and scheduled a rate increase hearing on Dec. 19 at 10 a.m.
Brookmoor HOA requests non-potable water
Representing the HOA for Brookmoor Estates, Russ Broshous asked the board to consider providing non-potable water for irrigation to the Brookmoor area. Broshous said Brookmoor already has a water pipe the district currently uses to access lake water.
Located south of Lake Woodmoor, Brookmoor Estates is lower in altitude than Lake Woodmoor, and this provides an engineering advantage when the water flows downstream from the lake. Broshous emphasized that the close proximity to the existing non-potable water pipe, plus the difference in altitude, provide a unique opportunity. While the board considers Broshous’ request, District Manager Jessie Shaffer indicated the board has directed him to draft a district policy in regards to providing non-potable water.
From Sept. 30 to Oct. 31, WWSD billed 22.56 million gallons in potable water. Unaccounted water was recorded at 2 million gallons. During October, the district used both lake and well water for potable use.
Directors consider growth in planning rates
John Gallagher and Robert Wadsworth of Raftelis Financial Consultants presented a projected financial plan showing various rates extending to 2033. The rate model projects a conservative estimate of about a 3 to 4 percent increase per year in new residential accounts, and this expected growth in the district is factored into the projected income. In conjunction with Raftelis’ presentation, the board discussed keeping the $45 monthly renewable water investment fee at the same rate in 2015. However, the board is looking to increase other rates.
Proposed rate increase includes both use and monthly fees
The proposed rate increases can be found on the district website www.woodmoorwater.com. The base sewer charge for residential use would increase from $26.46 to $28.82 per month. The proposed residential use charge for 0-6,000 gallons of water would increase from $5.59 to $5.90 for every 1,000 gallon used.
Developers expected to pay more
Owners of vacant lots and future developers will also be expected to pay more for availability of services. The board is considering charging $100 annually per vacant lot for water and sewer in 2015. Also in consideration is a three-fourths-inch multi-family tap fee for 2015 that is not to exceed $18,774.
Option to defer vacant lot fee
During the discussion of how much the district should charge for vacant lots, District Manager Shaffer said there is an option for residents to defer paying the vacant lot fee until the lot is sold, at which time all past fees will be due. Office Manager Marsha Howland thought only a few customers are currently opting to defer the vacant lot fee.
Rate increase hearing open to public
At the rate hearing scheduled Dec. 19 at 10 a.m., the board is expected to take public comments and vote on the increases. This meeting is open to the public. The district financial reports should be available at the office.
Bond payment schedule considered in draft budget
The board is looking at a revenue bond repayment schedule, which is still in draft form. If the draft payment bond schedule is accepted "as is," the district will pay about $48.7 million total over 22 years. The draft schedule shows an initial principal of $27.9 million and interest payments of $20.8 million. The last payment occurs in 2036. The average cost to repay the bond is $1.9 million every year, starting in 2015. The Renewable Water Investment Fee (RWIF) of $45 per month is expected to be used to pay off the bonds.
The board unanimously voted to approve the financial reports dated Oct. 31. Significant income sources for October include $168,838 from the RWIF, $314,580 from the Water Use Fee, $102,957 from the Sewer Use Fee, $125,192 from water and sewer taps, and $20,940 from the nutrient grant. Total income for October, as seen in the income statement, was $747,237. According to the income statement, the district has not received a payment yet from the JV Ranch lease in 2014.
Total expenditures for October were $1.03 million. Significant expenses recorded for October were a bond interest expense of $627,781, investment gain/loss of $83,031, construction $89,909, salaries $60,384, sewer treatment expense $32,156, utilities $31,472, Chilcott Ditch Co. $29,192, and professional fees $19,976. According to Shaffer, the construction expense went toward replacing a motor and pump for an existing well. The district does not show a bond principal expense being paid yet in 2014.
The board went into executive session at about 4:10 p.m. Before the meeting ended at about 5:37, the board gave Shaffer direction to provide an offer to Mel Plowman to extend a service contract agreement for supplemental water service. Plowman had requested an extension to his contract.
As of Nov. 13, the board was in negotiations with the HOA of Village Estates for a parcel of land the HOA has requested to purchase.
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board of Directors meet the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. at the district office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. On Dec 19 at 10 a.m. the board will hold a public rate increase hearing at the district office, and then is expected to vote on the rate increases. Call 488-2525 for more information, or visit www.woodmoorwater.com.
Nancy Wilkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Nov. 3, a 4 1/2-hour Monument Board of Trustees meeting included the approval of a zoning change from commercial to residential development in part of the Village Center at Woodmoor and approval of the Mt. Herman RV Storage facility. New police officer Jonathan Wilson was sworn in by Lt. Steve Burk. About 40 members of the public attended the meeting.
Mayor Rafael Dominguez was excused, and Mayor Pro-Tem Jeffrey Kaiser presided.
New officer joins Monument PD
Lt. Burk swore in Wilson as the town’s new police officer. Wilson received a standing ovation from the gathered crowd, and his wife Ashley pinned on his badge.
Caption: Lt. Steve Burk, right, swore new police officer Jonathan Wilson at the Nov. 3 board meeting. Wilson received a standing ovation from the gathered crowd, and his wife Ashley pinned on his badge. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Land use ordinance decision-making
Town Attorney Gary Shupp reminded the board and the audience of the quasi-judicial process trustees must use in making decisions on development projects at Planning Commission and Board of Trustees meetings. Rulings on whether a project meets current town code must be made based on evidence presented at the hearing (such as polls of whole neighborhoods), not on personal opinions or emotions. If the quasi-judicial process is circumvented in decision making, the results could later be challenged in court.
Village Center at Woodmoor single-family homes approved
Planning Director Mike Pesicka presented four ordinances that would allow single-family homes and associated open space and park areas to be developed in Village Center Filing 4A, where 330,000 square feet of commercial space were originally planned east of Knollwood Blvd., south of Highway 105 and north of Woodmoor Acres Drive. All four ordinances were approved by a vote of 5-1, with Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein voting no on each of them.
The newly zoned Filing 4A is almost 40 acres and will include 24 acres of residential lots and 7 acres of gross open space. The original Filing 4 also contained two lots southeast of Gold Canyon Road that will remain zoned commercial and will not be a part of this amendment to residential use.
At the Oct. 8 Planning Commission meeting, the commissioners approved the Filing 4A Second Major Amendment to the Zoning and Land Use Final PD Site Plan (4-1, Commissioner David Gwisdalla voted no), Filing 4A Replat (5-0), and Filing 4A Final PD Site Plan (5-0). (The annexation agreement was not required to be heard by the Planning Commission.)
First, Pesicka presented the trustees with an ordinance approving a Second Major Amendment to the Zoning and Land Use Final PD Site Plan for Village Center Filing 4A. It would change the zoning for this parcel from commercial to residential single-family detached lots.
Second, Pesicka presented an ordinance approving a replat for the Village Center at Woodmoor Filing 4A from 20 commercial properties to 128 single-family residential lots and tracts for parks, open space, and trails. His comments included:
• Water and sanitation service will be provided by Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.
• The right-of-way would be owned by the town but maintained by the Village Center Metropolitan District.
• A 1.63-acre park in the center of the development will be owned by the town and maintained by the homeowners association.
• The replat included 5.37 acres of open space. A trail and landscaping would be installed between the 6-foot masonry wall to buffer future residents from Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive traffic noise. The wall will have openings so that residents can access the trail.
• Front yard setbacks are deep enough that cars can park in driveways in front of the garages without blocking the sidewalk.
Third, Pesicka presented Filing 4A Preliminary/Final PD Site Plan defining the legal boundaries, detailed lot layouts, roadways, landscaping, drainage, access, maintenance, utilities, and right-of-way vacations for removing the roundabout. His comments included:
• The proposed net density of 5.28 dwelling units/acre is compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.
• The traffic circle on Gold Canyon Road south of Highway 105, which had been built in anticipation of commercial traffic, will be replaced with a controlled T-intersection.
• Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation said one traffic signal may be installed on Highway 105 between Knollwood Boulevard and Lake Woodmoor Drive, either at Gold Canyon Road or farther east.
• Traffic will be reduced by about 90 percent compared to 2004 projections since single-family homes will generate significantly less traffic than would have been generated by a commercial use. The traffic can be handled by the Knollwood/Highway 105 intersection, Pesicka said.
• El Paso County is in the planning phase to start widening Highway 105 from Jackson Creek Parkway to Lake Woodmoor Drive. Construction might start as early as 2016. He said this should help with traffic generated by Monument Academy.
• The buffer along Highway 105 allows room for future widening designed by El Paso County.
• The traffic light at Knollwood and Highway 105 was retimed by the Colorado Department of Transportation in May 2014.
Finally, Pesicka introduced an ordinance on the Annexation and Development Agreement for the Wahlborg Annexation and Village Center at Woodmoor. This was to remove many of the existing development standards for the previous commercial development and add new design and landscaping standards to the proposed residential development, for the purpose of matching the zoning change language.
Comments from the applicant, Kyle Campbell of Classic Consulting Engineers and Surveyors, and Pesicka, included:
• Filing 4A structures will be separated by 15 feet, which is more than in Village Center at Woodmoor Filing 3A, which has 10-foot separations.
• The Fire Department did not mention concerns with evacuating this area during an emergency.
• Knollwood Boulevard may eventually be connected to the south with Jackson Creek Parkway.
Public comments in favor of the change in type of development included:
• Residential development would create less traffic than would big box commercial development.
• Parks and trails will give more sense of connected community than is there now.
• Having this area developed as residential property with finished parks would help it be a more cohesive neighborhood.
Public comments against the development included:
• Density of houses is too high. Homes will be squeezed in.
• If evacuation is required, streets will be jammed because there are not enough exits for all the neighborhoods south of Highway 105.
• Concerns about drainage of stormwater over roadways if retention ponds are replaced with houses, and shortage of snow removal locations.
• Citizens outside of the required 500-foot notification boundaries were not notified.
• Converting from commercial to residential land use will cost the Village Center metro district in fees that can’t be collected, so it will be hard for the district to repay bonds.
Mayor Pro-Tem Kaiser said the density was not in the board’s purview to consider. Trustee Jeff Bornstein expressed his concern about the town’s loss of commercial tax revenue.
All four ordinances were approved 5-1, with Bornstein voting no,. Kaiser voted yes on all four ordinances, commenting that although he agreed with the concerns on density and the loss of prime commercial property, "I can see no ordinance that they have violated so I have no choice but to vote yes."
Mt. Herman RV Storage replat and PD site plan approved
Pesicka presented two ordinances seeking approval for a replat and a preliminary/final PD site plan for the Mt. Herman RV Storage subdivision proposed by owners Thomas Penewell (pictured above) and Deborah Litgen at the northeast corner of Mitchell Avenue and North Monument Lake Road on the property formerly known as the Mountain Farmer. The 3.98-acre property consolidates several parcels into two lots, 3.97 acres of which is zoned planned industrial development (PID) and would be used for the RV storage facility, which is considered light industrial use, similar to the commercial greenhouses that used to occupy the property.
After almost three hours of trustees’ discussion and public comments, the replat was approved 5-1, with Kaiser voting against it, saying all the criteria had not been met. The site plan was approved unanimously with the added conditions that all vehicles stored there be both licensed and operable.
The two applications had both been approved by the Planning Commission on Oct. 8 in a 3-1 vote, with Planning Commissioner Missy Wood voting against them, with no reasons cited. See www.ocn.me/v14n11.htm#mpc1008.
Pesicka and Penewell’s answers to trustees’ questions included:
• Types of recreational vehicles allowed are limited to motor homes and boats. No cars, trucks, open trailers, or mobile homes will be stored on the site.
• A 6-foot opaque wooden fence will surround the property.
• Use will be restricted to daylight hours.
• Evergreen trees will be planted every 25 feet along the fence.
• No onsite repair of vehicles will be allowed.
• No overnight camping will be allowed.
Pesicka clarified for the board and the public that the Comprehensive Planning Map for future land use is a plan or vision for the town, but the official zoning map is a binding legal document. Shupp also told the board the Zoning Map, not the Comprehensive Planning Map, must be used to make a decision. (Note that zoning can be changed, as seen in the Village Center at Woodmoor decision at this same meeting.)
Penewell’s property is mostly zoned PID, which could also allow small offices or warehouses up to 50 feet tall.
For more information, refer to www.townofmonument.org/departments/comprehensive-plan/ and www.townofmonument.org/departments/maps/.
Two residents also spoke in favor of the proposed land use.
Public comments against the application included several business owners whose objections included:
• This is a backward step for the beautification of the town.
• The town led me astray. We never anticipated a storage facility as a permitted use for this land based on the Comprehensive Planning Map.
• I am concerned about my property losing its value.
Several business owners thanked Penewell for cleaning up the property when he purchased it and agreed that he had the right to do what he wanted to on his property if it met town laws.
BRRTA repayment delayed
Kaiser said he spoke with Gov. John Hickenlooper regarding Colorado Department of Transportation reimbursement to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) for expanding the Baptist Road interchange (Exit 158) for the state. Kaiser said that Hickenlooper told him that available funds for state roads have been cut in half so further state reimbursements to BRRTA will not occur in the near future.
BRRTA voters approved a temporary 1-cent, 20-year sales tax on Nov. 7, 2006 to pay for funding of the interchange expansion with $21.5 million of privately owned general obligation revenue bonds when it became apparent that the state would be unable to pay for the expansion in the foreseeable future. This sales tax began on July 1, 2007. This temporary sales tax will continue to pay the principal interest for the privately owned bonds that financed the $15 million construction cost for the I-25 Exit 158 interchange expansion project. The state has only paid back $3 million of the $15 million BRRTA construction cost to date.
Town manager’s report
Town Manager Pamela Smith said the town is advertising for a support services technician to support both the Planning and Public Works Departments, and a water billing technician.
Connie Paillette will transfer to the Finance Department. Bob Rummans will take on higher-level tasks in the Finance Department. "We will probably outsource some of the treasurer’s duties until we have the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive search to replace the town treasurer/finance director," Smith’s report said.
Town Clerk and Human Resources Director Cynthia Sirochman was unanimously selected as the newest member of the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) Board of Directors; filling the 10,000-and-below population vacancy.
The meeting adjourned at 10:50 p.m.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Nov. 17 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees heard from Awake Palmer Lake supporters, listened to residents from Trails End asking when the bulk water station would be moved, and received the El Paso County Extension Office’s suggestions for improving the town’s urban forest. Maggie Williamson was named Citizen of the Year, and the LPHS Girls Volleyball team was recognized.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser and Trustees Kelly Elliot and Stan Gingrich were excused.
Palmer Lake water litigation
Five Palmer Lake representatives, including trustees and members of Awake Palmer Lake, asked to present their side of the story regarding pending litigation between Monument and Palmer Lake on a "water change issue."
At issue are the water rights abandoned by the railroad in 1957 but used by Palmer Lake to fill the lake until 2002, when the State Division of Water Resources told the town to stop using the water since it did not have legal water rights to it. The legal dispute now has to do, in part, with the interpretation of "abandonment" and the type of decreed water use.
Public comments included concerns about the negative effects of the pending litigation on the neighborly relationship between the two towns, questions about why Monument taxpayer money was being spent on litigation when Palmer Lake hoped for a settlement, and reminders of how refilling Palmer Lake would be a benefit to the whole Tri-Lakes area.
Town Attorney Gary Shupp advised the board not to comment on the matter because it was still in the litigation process. Monument resident and Palmer Lake Restoration committee Chair Jeff Hulsmann requested that the group be put on the Dec. 1 agenda, since they had not been included on the Nov. 17 agenda.
Bulk fill water station still in place
Trails End residents, including Jason and Tammy Barber, are members of the task force working on removing the town-owned bulk fill water station adjacent to their homes on the northwest corner of Wagon Gap Trail and Old Denver Road. The station serves both construction customers and residents of Monument who need to buy potable water since their wells are dry.
The Trails End residents addressed the trustees with their demands to be given a "no later than" date on moving the large water tank station, and the truck traffic associated with it, to a location that is not in the middle of a residential community like theirs. For about 40 minutes, the trustees and residents discussed the issue and repeated their positions. See www.ocn.me/v14n8.htm#mbot0721 for background.
Mayor Rafael Dominguez and Town Manager Pamela Smith said that since they do not yet have a location to move the tank, they cannot make promises on when it could be moved. Dominguez said he is in communication with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) about locating the tank at the original site the town had chosen, between the Conoco station and Arby’s on Highway 105, but warned that CDOT is "the most bureaucratic organization in the state." Smith said she never said the town would purchase new land for a site and needs to work with what it already owns or has donated to them for this use. Money has been set aside in the 2015 budget to pay for moving the station if a new location is found.
The Barbers said that the task force has been trying to help find new permanent or even temporary locations, but they felt its suggestions were not being seriously considered by town staff. "I am not going to wait 10 years for this station to move. I am going to put my house on the market, and I am going to move where you guys (trustees) are, since the tank is not there," Tammy Barber said.
Smith told Barber there are complications and constraints in town administration, and getting into the details (with citizens of the task force) is not a proper use of staff’s time. "I don’t think they should be told how to do their jobs. They know what they’re doing. We are looking (for a new location)," she said.
Smith said removing the station and going back to a temporary hydrant is not an option, since the hydrant used the honor system instead of a meter and therefore lost revenue, and also because its location could cause traffic problems. Tammy Barber asked if it was worth upsetting the town for this small amount of revenue.
Another Trails Ends resident mentioned that after the housing developer north of the bulk water station installed a fence on the property line, it was evident that one of the new trees planted by the town to landscape around the station was installed on the wrong side of the line. Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said the trees were planted using the site plan as a reference guide, and now that the trees are planted and watered in, they cannot be moved without killing them. Tammy Barber said that the new trees promised by Smith in August were supposed to be 10-12 feet tall, but the ones planted were just over 6 feet tall.
Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman volunteered to do once a month follow-up with a designated point of contact on the task force to provide better communication on progress.
Tree inventory results
Sharon Williams, town gardener for Monument, said that the El Paso County Extension Office recently helped develop an urban forestry management plan for the Public Works Department. The results were a snapshot of the town’s cumulative investment in its tree population and goals for how it could and should look in the future.
County Extension Agent Barbara Bates explained the results of the 2013 survey by Colorado master gardener volunteers of 159 trees on town property in parks and the commercial district downtown, including suggestions for improvements in town public space.
Bates said the advantages of increased tree populations included encouraging shoppers to stay downtown longer and reducing erosion and carbon emissions.
She encouraged the town to include a diverse, healthy urban forest as part of its growth and development, especially if combined with Planning Department recommendations for new development.
Citizen of the Year
Dominguez presented local business owner Maggie Williamson with the 2014 Citizen of the Year Award. He commended her on being a citizen that "really steps up" and is a very active member of community. She is a member of Tri-lakes Chamber Board, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, and the Historic Monument Merchants Association, and a loyal attender of town trustees’ meetings.
Dominguez then presented Town Manager Smith with a gift certificate and plaque to thank her for doing extra work since the town has no finance director right now.
LPHS girls volleyball recognized
Trustee Becki Tooley congratulated the Lewis-Palmer High School Girls Volleyball Team, which just won the 2014 Colorado state championship and was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Maxpreps Sports.
Smith presented the month’s disbursements over $5,000, which were approved unanimously by the trustees:
• Triview Metro District – $146,900 for sales tax
• NORAA Concrete Construction Corp – $10,289 for additional curb and gutter repairs
• NORAA Concrete Construction Corp -- $202,877 for sidewalk project downtown
• Nolte Associates – $14,211
• National Meter and Automation – $6,136 for meter replacement project
In the October financial report, Smith said year-to-date general fund revenues were 3 percent ahead of what was expected, while expenses were 8 percent under budget. She said it was encouraging that finances have improved over the last few months, since usually things slow down at this time of the year. Sales tax revenue collected was also better than expected at 3 percent ahead of Oct. 2013. General Fund net revenue was over budget, which was good news, especially since last year at this time the general fund expenditures were over budget. Year-to-date water fund net revenues were under budget by $194,000, but this was better than last year at this time, she said.
Development Services report
Planning Director Mike Pesicka’s comments included:
• The Lake of Rockies development broke ground. Grading and seeding are the next phases.
• Promontory Pointe Phase 5 is almost ready to have permits issued.
• The first phase of the downtown sidewalks project is done. Pesicka said, "We went with the plans and made some field changes that we thought were adequate." A final walk-through with CDOT occurred on Nov. 19.
• The next phase of the sidewalks project in 2015 will be north of Third Street and portions of Beacon Lite.
• A Parks Committee survey on residents’ opinions about town parks received 433 responses.
• Sanctuary Pointe development is under internal review right now and has extensive water issues to work through.
Public Works report
Tharnish’s comments included:
• Paving on Old Denver Road at Teachout Creek is almost done.
• Gazebo project material has been ordered for Lavelett Park.
• Water production for October was 19 percent more than in October 2013.
• Water gauges below the dam spillway are being changed from U.S. Geological Survey to Colorado Department of Natural Resources gauges, which will save money on maintenance costs.
Police Department report
Police Lt. Steve Burk’s comments included:
• All officers have done additional Taser training and night fire range training.
• On Nov. 7, two pedestrians were struck and injured by a vehicle in a hit-and-run accident on Jackson Creek Parkway near Lyons Tail Drive. The case has been turned over to the Highway Patrol.
Burk said Chief Jake Shirk hoped to get back to work soon. Dominguez explained that Shirk broke his leg riding on an ATV, "so we are harassing him."
Town manager’s report
Smith’s comments included:
• Planner Morgan Hester has updated information on the town website regarding the zoning map and the comprehensive plan map.
• Receptionist Shannon Lacey has updated over 700 cemetery files over the last year.
• Trustee John Howe was thanked for his work on town cemetery files and history.
Road safety questions
During public comments, resident Arlene Padilla said the street lights on the curve of the I-25 southbound exit 161 were hardly ever lit and that this was a safety issue. Tharnish said he has already contacted CDOT due to numerous complaints about those malfunctioning lights.
Padilla also said that the intersection of Baptist Road and Old Denver Road near the trailhead is very dark and unsafe for pedestrians crossing the road using the Santa Fe Trail. Pesicka said that county plans to convert the intersection to a large roundabout, and he will ask them what they propose to do about pedestrian safety in their design plans.
The meeting adjourned 8:25 p.m.
Caption: On Nov. 17, Town Gardener Sharon Williams presented a plaque to her mentor, El Paso County Extension Agent Barbara Bates, in recognition of valuable contributions to Monument in establishing an urban tree inventory system and making suggestions to improve the town’s long-term forestry management. Photo by Lisa Hatfield
The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15 at Town Hall, 845 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are usually held the first and third Mondays of each month. Check http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com/ to see future meeting agendas and packets. Information: 884-8017.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
After tabling two agenda items relating to marijuana and a third relating to property inspections on Nov. 13, the Palmer Lake Town Council went on to approve the water augmentation plan requested by ProTerra Properties for its proposed residential development on Highway 105. The council also heard a report from Holly Schuler on the efforts of the Noxious Weed Eradication Team, and a report from Judith Harrington on the town’s fire mitigation grant.
Wells approved for ProTerra development
At the Town Council’s meeting in October, ProTerra Properties asked the council to allow additional wells to be drilled for its development of 15 5-acre lots near the Mennonite Church on Highway 105, the water being needed to support outdoor applications. Mayor Nikki McDonald pointed out that if the council denied the request, ProTerra Properties would have the option to de-annex its property from Palmer Lake and then request the wells from El Paso County.
ProTerra Properties worked with town water attorney Harvey Curtis and reached a tentative agreement to proceed with wells that would tap the Denver and Dawson aquifers. A representative for ProTerra explained that septic flows from the houses to be built would replace the water pumped from the aquifers so that prior water rights would not be affected. Under the plan, each residence would have its own well, and each well would be limited to 1.5 acre-feet of water per year.
The council voted to authorize the town to sign the agreement with ProTerra. Only Parks and Recreation Trustee Cindy Allen voted no on the motion.
Noxious weed problem addressed
Holly Schuler, co-chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee and leader of the Noxious Weed Eradication Team, updated the council on the team’ s efforts to eradicate hemlock, thistle, hounds tongue, teasel, mountain spurge, and knapweed in the Palmer Lake area. To date, her team has removed 4,032 pounds of the weeds, which drive out native plants. Because seeds are present, eradication efforts need to be ongoing or the weeds will quickly return. The wet weather caused the weeds to flourish more than usual over the summer. The team hopes to introduce biocontrols, such as insects, to slow down the noxious weed’s proliferation, but needs to find funding to purchase them.
Fire mitigation not a one-time effort
Judith Harrington reported on the current state of the fire mitigation project. The town has spent $100,000 on mitigation work. Harrington emphasized that cutting once is not enough, and that mitigation must be maintained to be effective. The Coalition for the Upper South Platte, which allocates funding for mitigation work, wants to maintain its relationship with the town. Limbaugh Canyon, which is private property, and Lindo Road are next in line for mitigation. See related article on page 19.
The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Oct, 9 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Nancy Wilkins
At the Nov. 18 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, the board considered selling Fire Station 3, celebrated the district results from the firefighter challenge, announced the Dec. 6 Santa Patrol, and reviewed the draft 2015 budget.
Proposal to purchase Wescott’s oldest station
Director Greg Gent presented a written proposal from a local developer to purchase Fire Station 3. Located at 15000 Sun Hills Drive, the station is currently used for storage. Gent said the developer would like to renovate and convert the building into a residential home. The developer offered about $80,000.
When Director John Fredell suggested getting the property appraised, Fire Chief Vinny Burns said this could be done with funds appropriated to the legal section of the budget. Burns added the department would take account of the stored items at Station 3 to be kept or discarded and research the cost of constructing an aluminum storage building at Station 2.
Wescott posts its best time in competition
Returning from a firefighting competition that lasted several days in Phoenix, Assistant Fire Chief Scott Ridings said the district’s firefighters set a department time record and placed in the top 50 teams.
October run report
Ridings reported 184 calls for October, compared to 187 calls for October 2013. A dumpster fire was extinguished in collaboration with the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and one passenger vehicle caught fire. Most calls received were for emergency medical services.
Wescott firefighters will be at various locations around the district handing out treats for the Santa Patrol on Dec.6. Burns asks Wescott residents to check www.wescottfire.org for locations and times.
Next board meeting Dec. 2
Instead of having the board meet the third Tuesday of December, the next board meeting will be held Dec. 2, ahead of schedule, to allow the district time for the administrative activities required once the 2015 budget is approved. The board is expected to vote and approve the 2015 budget on Dec. 2.
As of Oct. 31, totals for the bank balances were: Peoples National Bank $40,750; P.N.B. Colorado Peak Fund $180,095; Colorado Trust $439,407 and Wells Fargo Public Trust $629,887. The board made slight adjustments to several line items in the 2015 budget, including adding a projected $5,000 income from wildland deployment.
Caption: Firefighters from the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District compete in the Scott Firefighters Combat Challenge in Arizona and break the district record. From left are Dillon Misenhimer, Brian Kirkpatrick, Mike Forsythe, Aaron Nokia, and Curt Leonhardt. Photo by Assistant Chief Scott Ridings
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meets every third Tuesday except in December. The next meeting is scheduled Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Please call 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook.
Nancy Wilkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) announced Nov. 19 that because the temporary space it will begin leasing on Gleneagle Drive in January does not have a meeting room, board meetings will take place at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road, starting Jan. 28. The district asked for donations for its annual Santa on Patrol program and approved a fee waiver to Homes for Our Troops for a new home to be donated to a severely disabled veteran.
Secretary Mike Smaldino, Director Bill Ingram, and Chief Chris Truty were excused from the meeting.
Santa on Patrol needs donations
Santa on Patrol will distribute toys and gift cards to "our own local area kids" on Dec. 20. Donations of unwrapped toys and gift cards can be dropped off by Dec. 19 to any of the three TLMFPD fire stations, the TLMFPD administration building at 166 Second St., or the Monument Police Department. Both the Police and Fire Departments are involved now, President and Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk said.
Homes for Our Troops
The board unanimously approved a waiver of $755 for review and impact fees for a new home being built mortgage-free for a severely disabled veteran by Homes for Our Troops. Builder Kent Lersch is volunteering his time for this project for Sgt. Matthew Spang. See www.hfotusa.org and related story on page 27 for more information.
2015 budget, billing, and fees
No members of the public spoke during the open portion of the public hearing for the 2015 draft budget, which was approved unanimously by the board. The board’s final vote on the 2015 budget and continuation of the current mill levy is scheduled for Dec. 10.
The board voted unanimously to approve an ambulance billing increase of 10 percent for 2015, which Deputy Chief Randy Trost said would still cost less for TLMFPD residents than does current American Medical Response contract billing in other parts of the county. The board also approved a new fee schedule for 2015 based on the recommendation in Chief Truty’s memo that yearly increases are needed to offset annual increases in expenses.
Trost’s comments included:
• All fleet vehicles are repaired and back to routine maintenance status.
• Battalion Chief Dan Davis performed one-week training on Colorado Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol traffic incident management for north group chiefs, including how to use mutual response and coordinate with all other agencies that would respond to accidents on I-25.
• The merger committee’s kickoff meeting happened Oct. 25, and 30 people from TLMFPD, Donald Wescott FPD, and Larkspur FPD attended to establish brainstorming committees for the possible larger fire protection district.
• The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners will conduct a workshop on Dec. 4 discussing language for a new burn ordinance for open burning of slash piles. Current burn ordnances only consider air quality, not fire hazard risks.
District accountant Frances Esty said expenses were right on track, and overall revenue was considerably ahead of budget for this time of year, including a spike in impact fees collected from Vistas at Jackson Creek.
The meeting went into executive session to discuss personnel issues at 7:15 p.m.
The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10 in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. The Jan. 28 meeting will be at 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
"By the time a wildfire is racing toward your house, it is too late to fix it," says Fire Marshal John Vincent of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. "Clear out excess fuels now, and set a good example yourself. Reach out to help your neighbors."
Vincent encouraged neighborhoods to strive toward being "fire-adapted communities." Wildfires don’t last as long and are less destructive where there are fewer trees and shrubs making "ladder fuels," and the trees have been thinned so that the strongest can grow strong and tall.
On Nov. 1, Vincent told community members at the Emergency Preparedness Group of the Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church that the bottom line is that each person can control how much fuel is on their property for a fire to consume. Mitigation must become a lifestyle for homeowners in the Tri-Lakes area, and it must occur throughout the year and there is always something to mitigate, Vincent warned.
During a wildfire, firefighters must do home assessments in three seconds to decide if a home is worth the effort or is it "non-survivable." If a home is surrounded with scrub oak bushes and dense thickets of pine trees, the home is "non-defendable," Vincent said. "It puts my life in danger (as a firefighter) when you have too many trees on your property."
If a street is lined with scrub oak, it may become completely impassable during an emergency as the scrub oak burns, fire engines get stuck, and cars full of evacuees get trapped. Clearing it back from the road can help.
A neighborhood with a Firewise designation means its residents have created an action plan that commits them to a sustained program of wildfire mitigation. They have begun a plan to make their own properties safer and then reached out to help neighbors. A Firewise community has acknowledged that "It could happen to us, so we are going to take action now, while we have time."
Some developers understand the need for change, and they will both collaborate with nearby neighborhoods and build new housing developments that are already fuel mitigated before the homes are sold, Vincent said. For example, Bob Schilpp of Higby Estates said residents have collaborated with the future Classic Homes development south of them and are helping with wildfire mitigation work along the shared property boundary, using Firewise methods.
Caption: John Vincent, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District fire marshal, encouraged all neighborhoods in the Tri-Lakes area to work toward becoming "fire-adapted communities" that could survive a wildfire. "Don’t wait until there is smoke in the air to do the work," he said. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick and Lisa Hatfield
On Nov. 14, the board of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) approved the proposed 2015 budget and 2015 appropriation resolution. Jennifer Irvine, engineering services manager of the El Paso County Public Services Department, briefed the BRRTA board on the county’s plans for improving Baptist Road on the west side of I-25. Lori Seago of the El Paso County Attorney’s Office presented a county proposal for exclusion of the current BRRTA impact fee on development.
An agenda item for a Natural Grocers request was added to the posted meeting agenda. BRRTA District Manager Denise Denslow said that if any decisions were made at this meeting regarding Natural Grocers, they would have to be ratified by the board at the next BRRTA meeting since this agenda item was added after the meeting notice was posted.
The members of the BRRTA board are:
• President Jeff Kaiser, mayor pro tem of the Town of Monument
• Vice President Darryl Glenn, El Paso County commissioner
• Rafael Dominguez, mayor of the Town of Monument
• Wayne Williams, clerk and recorder, El Paso County
• Dennis Hisey, El Paso County commissioner
Williams was late due to traffic issues. Kaiser was absent. Glenn chaired the meeting.
The board unanimously approved Denslow’s proposed list of claims and payments for a total of $37,733:
• $4,375 to BiggsKofford P.C. for the 2013 BRRTA audit
• $17,195 to CliftonLarsenAllen LLP for accounting, district management, and sales tax administration
• $37 to Community Media of Colorado for miscellaneous expenses
• $5,442 to Spencer Fane Britt & Brown LLP for legal services and sales tax administration
• $255 to CNA Surety for insurance
• $6755 to T. Charles Wilson Insurance for insurance
• $3674 to the Town of Monument for impact fees
Some of the items Denslow noted in the Sept. 30 financial statements and cash position were:
• Road use fees to date were $366,503, up $251,503 from the $115,000 budgeted due to road use revenues paid by Goodwill Industries and Colorado Springs Health Partners
• Sales tax revenues, which are used to pay the bond debt, were $980,148 to date, down $346,852 from the $1.327 million budgeted
• The Dec. 1 debt service payment on the privately held BRRTA bonds will empty the current BRRTA debt surplus fund of its entire $109,770 balance and also require a withdrawal of $49,487 from the previously untouched BRRTA debt reserve fund balance of $2.15 million
The Sept. 30 financial statements were unanimously approved as presented.
2015 budget and 2015
The board approved Denslow’s recommendation to cancel the advertised agenda item for an amendment to the 2014 BRRTA budget and the advertised agenda item to for an amendment to the 2014 appropriation because it "turned out" that neither one was required.
On May 14, 2007, BRRTA issued $21.5 million in Sales and Use Tax Revenue Bonds dated May 1, 2007, for road improvements to the state’s I-25 Baptist Road interchange. These term bonds bear interest at 4.8 percent to 5.0 percent, payable semiannually on June 1 and Dec. 1. The bonds have a reserve requirement of $2.15 million to help ensure repayment to the private investors that own these bonds.
The contract between BRRTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) regarding the state’s promised reimbursement of BRRTA for the $16.8 million construction cost for the state’s I-25 Baptist Road interchange is contingent upon all state funds designated for this project being made available from state sources. When state funding becomes available, CDOT will make incremental reimbursement payments to BRRTA.
On Dec. 1, 2011, BRRTA made a $1.45 million extraordinary redemption of some of these bonds using the extra capital projects funds received at the time of the initial $21.5 million bond offer. On June 1, 2012, BRRTA made a $3 million extraordinary redemption of more bonds using the first CDOT capital projects reimbursement of $3 million.
Piper Jaffrey, BRRTA’s bond agent, is currently negotiating with CDOT to refinance BRRTA’s remaining bond debt to reduce the interest rate to about 2 percent.
Some of the 2015 budget items Denslow pointed out to the board were:
• No BRRTA construction funding is listed for 2015
• Total budgeted revenue from sales and use tax dropped from $1.7 million in 2014 to $1.45 million in 2015
• The budgeted year-end debt service fund balance for 2014 was $2.43 million and is budgeted to drop to $2.30 million at the end of 2015
• The total debt service fund revenue budgeted for 2015 was $1.35 million, however the total amount budgeted for 2015 was $1.48 million
• The budgeted 2014 year-end debt service reserve fund balance was $2.10 million and the 2015 year-end balance will drop further to $1.97 million
• The debt reserve fund is currently more than sufficient to cover recurring shortfalls in sales and use tax revenue
• Commercial construction within BRRTA may actually yield an increase in sales tax revenue that might lead to an increase the debt reserve fund
Williams asked Denslow to reduce the budgeted 2015 general fund line item for accounting, sales tax administration, fees, and district management expenses to the same figures used in the 2014 budget.
The 2015 BRRTA budget was unanimously approved as amended by Williams. The 2015 BRRTA appropriation resolution was unanimously approved as presented.
The board unanimously approved the 2015 annual administrative matters document that includes numerous routine BRRTA operational items such as meeting schedules, posting locations, board member names, and the designated election official. The 2015 CliftonLarsonAllen engagement letter was also unanimously approved.
Baptist Road West capital projects update
Some of the items regarding construction on Baptist Road on the west side of I-25 that were discussed by Irvine were:
• A county road construction bid was advertised on Oct. 22 for bids to be submitted by Nov. 18 for a December award
• Construction will start in February 2015 and conclude in March 2016
• The estimated total project cost is $11.35 million, which includes the $8.35 million construction estimate
• The total current available funding total is $8.63 million with a potential to receive more PPRTA supplemental funding
• The county was successful in securing the $1 million Energy Impact Assistance Grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)
• This DOLA grant will be administered by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA)
• The PPRTA contribution to this project is $6.88 million
• The BRRTA contribution is $750,000 and has been transferred to PPRTA
• A $900,000 contract for construction management/ inspection/testing services was awarded to CH2M Hill using a request for proposal selection process
• The Union Pacific Railroad has approved the design for the new bridge to be built over the railroad track
• The county is still awaiting receipt of the draft construction and maintenance agreement for the bridge from the railroad
• The county’s utility reimbursement agreement for Mountain View Electric Association along with the requisite easements and license agreements are being finalized
• Property acquisition for needed right-of-way from the Willow Springs and Dellacroce properties and utility easements from the Dellacroce property has commenced
• The Preble’s mouse habitat 404 permit work for the construction area has been completed
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided comments to the project submittal for A Conditional Letter of Map Revision for the floodplain modification
• The county has responded to these FEMA comments and is awaiting approval from FEMA
• The county is exploring possible opportunities to incorporate donated art in the center of the Baptist Road/Old Denver Road roundabout with Betty Konarski and Sky Hall of Tri-Lakes Views because no county funding is available
Williams suggested that another $500,000 could be taken from BRRTA’s general fund balance if a low construction bid was submitted since there are no other planned BRRTA construction projects.
Exclusion of BRRTA road use fee proposed by county
Lori Seago of the El Paso County Attorney’s Office presented "a broad conceptual proposal" for exclusion of the current BRRTA impact fee on development. She proposed having the county take over BRRTA’s administrative and operational functions through an intergovernmental agreement between BRRTA and the county.
Seago said that landowners of incorporated property within the boundaries of BRRTA service area have been charged two different impact fees by both BRRTA and the county since 2012, when the new county fee was created. The county charges landowners a road impact fee at the subdivision stage and then reimburses the landowners as they install roads. Seago asked the BRRTA board to consider paying off its bonds using sales tax revenue and no longer collecting any more road use fees as BRRTA approaches the end of its foreseeable road building program.
Williams added that up to $75,000 in currently outsourced BRRTA administrative costs could be avoided, but the county would also have to fund the annual BRRTA audit and self-insure BRRTA against any lawsuits or liability risks with no other available revenue stream. He expressed concern that owners of new Monument Marketplace buildings would avoid the BRRTA road use fees, giving them an unfair advantage over the existing Marketplace property owners and that other commercial property owners will delay construction to see if they can avoid BRRTA road use fees.
The board scheduled a special meeting of the BRRTA board at 2:30 p.m. in Monument Town Hall on Dec. 19 for further consideration of this issue and possible reductions in expenditures to the 2015 budget.
Potential grocer move to Baptist Road discussed
Dave Meyer, a development manager for Equity Ventures of Denver, discussed a potential move of the Natural Food Grocer store to a new 15,000-square-foot retail store on the vacant 1.7 acre lot adjacent to the northwest corner of westbound Baptist Road and the existing right-in, right-out three-quarter stub access between Jackson Creek Parkway and I-25 exit 156.
Meyer requested approval of a modification of the existing Baptist Road median to allow cars to exit south from this existing stub access across three lanes with no new traffic signal to make a left turn onto eastbound Baptist Road toward the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection. All previous requests from a succession of now bankrupt owners of this property have been rejected by BRRTA and the county for safety reasons.
Meyer said that Natural Food Grocer is going through the subdivision and rezoning process with the Town of Monument, as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The new store would be the first one built on the vacant 42-acre site on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway between Baptist Road and Blevins Buckle Trail, which was formerly called Rowdao Drive (http://www.ocn.me/v7n3.htm#bot0205).
Meyer’s major concern was that eastbound customers exiting the site would have to go west on Baptist Road toward the I-25 interchange and find a place to make a U-turn if they wished to go east on Baptist Road. He reviewed some options for changes to the existing Baptist Road median. He did not say how these median modifications might be funded or what government entity should fund them.
Consultant traffic engineer Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc. stated that the median is 30 feet wide with enough room for a vehicle to "find refuge" after waiting for a gap in westbound traffic to safely enter and wait in the median for a second gap in eastbound traffic to "finish the two-stage left turn."
Hisey asked if CDOT was still opposed to this proposal due to the stub road being so close to the adjacent intersection. Hodsdon said CDOT’s limit was 520 feet and Jackson Creek is 750 feet to the east.
Williams asked if this was a request for temporary or permanent change to the median. Meyer said it was probably temporary.
Williams cited the bad example of too many traffic signals being installed on Woodmen Road by the county, which resulted in the county having to go back and remove several of them.
Williams noted that BRRTA paid the previous property a fee of $800,000 as a financial settlement for permanent acceptance of this diminished access to westbound Baptist Road from the existing stub road on the south end of the 42-acre property.
Developer Mark McPherson stated that the land was "purchased out of bankruptcy by the current owner," and he was unaware of this $800,000 BRRTA payment. McPherson said the project is $450,000 over budget and the current landowner gave his client a discount to reduce the project’s budget overage to $325,000. He listed numerous significant unforeseen construction problems on the site.
Hodsdon said that his study only covers the Natural Food Grocers store operating in isolation on the 42-acre site and did not take into account any other additional traffic that might be created if any other stores are built on this large vacant commercial property.
After an hour of discussion during which Williams pointed out numerous county examples of why this Natural Food Grocers proposal would create substantial and costly long-term traffic problems, no final decision was made regarding the Natural Food Grocers request.
The board scheduled further discussion of the Natural Foods proposal as an agenda item during a special meeting of the BRRTA board at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 in Monument Town Hall.
The meeting adjourned at 4:49 p.m.
By Larry J. Oliver
Transportation updates, park improvements, and the county budget outlook were the primary topics presented at the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) membership meeting on Nov 22.
André Brackin, county engineer, gave an update of northern El Paso County transportation projects for 2015. Brackin explained that the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority Capital Program revenue collection ends Dec. 31. However, an extension renewal of the program goes till December 2024. District 1 projects that are part of this extension include:
• Monument Hill Road: County Line Road to Woodmoor Drive; project estimate: $3.96 million.
• Highway 105: I-25 to Highway 83; project estimate: $18.31 million.
• Deer Creek, Base Camp, Microscope: Monument Hill to Woodmoor; project estimate: $200,000.
• Beacon Lite Road: Highway 105 to County Line Road; project estimate: $4.36 million.
• Black Forest Road: Woodmen Road to Research Parkway (Joint Project); project estimate: $12.40 million.
Other capital projects include: Northgate Road/Struthers Boulevard drainage improvements; Struthers Boulevard/Gleneagle Drive Roundabout, and Gleneagle Transportation Enhancement Project.
Tim Wolken, county Community Services Department director, described Ballot Issue 1A and park improvement projects. Wolken said that 1A gave the county permission to retain and expend $2.04 million for maintenance and improvements at regional parks, trails, open space, nature centers, and open space acquisition. Projects utilizing these funds include:
• Pineries Open Space Project, Volmer and Shoup Roads. $600,000 (first phase)
• Black Forest Regional Park Renovation Project, Milam and Shoup Roads. $200,000
• Elephant Rock Open Space Project, adjacent to the New Santa Fe Trail / south of Palmer Lake. Cost to be determined.
• Countywide Trail Improvements. $145,000
Other planned projects include Fox Run Regional Park, $100,000, and New Santa Fe Trail Improvements, $50,000.
By Jackie Burhans
On Nov. 10, the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board discussed the 2015 budget, approved a small increase in annual dues, and agreed to set aside $100,000 in an emergency fund. Board members also discussed road maintenance and postponed updating the governing documents until a new board is formed.
President Jim Hale requested approval of the 2015 budget, which the board has reviewed in work sessions. As part of the 2015 WIA budget, the board proposed a 3 percent increase in the annual dues. The budget including the dues increase, which will result in an additional $7.02 per home for a total of $241.02 per year, was unanimously approved.
The projected income for 2015 is about $883,000, including the variable income from fees and rentals, with expenses estimated at $895,000 for a shortfall of $12,000 to be covered from a carryover from the 2014 budget. The 2015 budget can be found at the WIA website at http://www.woodmoor.org/pdf-files/financials/2015Budget.pdf.
Hale proposed establishing an emergency fund of $100,000 to cover any unforeseen emergencies. He recalled a situation in 2009 where the Barn had a mold problem and the WIA had to cover $100,000 above the insurance payment to relocate and to do extensive mitigation and restoration work. This fund would prevent the need for a special assessment, but use would require board approval. The board would define the types of allowed expenses to be limited to insurance gaps, settlements, and catastrophic expenses rather than to cover overspending.
Board member Mark Ponti noted that the $100,000 would come from existing funds. Hale explained that this money had accumulated over many years in the WIA’s operating account and they now want to designate it for emergency funding and put it into a CD to better manage this money. The motion to establish the fund was unanimously approved.
A resident asked for an explanation of the need for a dues increase given that WIA has money to set aside for this emergency fund. Hale noted that WIA also has a reserve fund that is currently overfunded but it is projected out over 20 years to have a shortfall, so it has to contribute more to the reserve fund in the following years per a recent reserve study.
WIA has spent money over the past few years on deferred maintenance on the Barn including furnaces, A/C, roof, siding, deck and parking lot—without needing a special assessment. For five of the past 10 years, the board has not raised dues, which results in $500,000 less than would have been assessed. Money is needed to add to the reserve fund for the future as well as to fund other items such as a small bonus pool for employees who don’t have a lot of other benefits.
Highlights from the board member reports include:
• Hale reported that the Highway Advisory Commission has sent forward a 2015 road maintenance plan to the county commissioners including some improvements to roads in Woodmoor.
• Hale noted that the board will defer any decisions on changing the governing documents until the new WIA board forms next year.
• Chief Operating Officer Matt Beseau reported on the Community Association Institute (CAI) seminar he attended on Nov. 11 on marijuana and manager licensing. The primary focus was on condos with shared venting, recommending working with attorneys, and tracking upcoming legislation.
• The CAI seminar covered a law requiring homeowners association managers to be licensed next year subject some requested revisions. Beseau is scheduled to complete the test by Dec. 9.
The board of the WIA usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. Due to holidays, the next meeting will be on Dec. 17. Meeting minutes can be found at: http://www.woodmoor.org/content/admin-bod-meeting-minutes.html once approved.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
Tri-Lakes Economic Develop Corporation Annual State of the Region, Nov. 20: Efforts to improve business outlook
By Allison Colburn
The Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp, (TLEDC) is composed of volunteers whose mission is to expand the economic base of the Tri-Lakes region. On Nov. 20, three speakers at the third annual State of the Region luncheon presented information on current economic efforts at the local, regional, and state level.
Sam Bailey, the Regional Industry Development manager at the Colorado Office of Development and International Trade (OEDIT), emphasized the importance of maintaining and expanding statewide industries and businesses. OEDIT is tasked with creating a positive business climate in Colorado, something that inevitably affects local business climates. Bailey announced the creation of Colorado Insite, the first online statewide asset map. The application, which can be found on OEDIT’s website, markets sites and buildings to prospective or current business owners.
Al Wenstrand, chief business development officer of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, spoke on matters regarding the economic climate of Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities. He expressed particular concern regarding Colorado Springs’ tendency to focus mainly on attracting outside business rather than fostering a culture that supports new and existing business. Wenstrand explained that, while attracting outside business is important, overemphasis on non-local business is damaging to the region’s economic development.
Danette Lilija, president and chairman of the board for the TLEDC, talked about TLEDC’s current operational programs. The programs include initiatives to bring in outside business as well as developing business at the local level. TLEDC plans to work with the county and local communities to create a competitive business climate.
The group intends to market the Tri-Lakes region to prospective stakeholders as a business-friendly region. Lilija also mentioned that TLEDC is looking for community members with a passion for TLEDC’s mission who would like to become a volunteer board member.
Allison Colburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November was much colder than normal overall, with about normal precipitation. A record cold arctic air outbreak helped to push temperatures well below average for the month, with mild air and windy conditions to end the month. Unfortunately, we just missed out on the higher amounts of snowfall with each storm that moved through, with the heaviest snow falling just a 100 miles or so north and south of us each time.
November started off about as expected with mild and breezy conditions on the 1st and 2nd to low clouds, fog, and a few flurries on the 3rd. Temperatures reached into the mid-60s with westerly winds on the 1st, about 10° warmer than normal. The cold that moved in behind the departing storm early on the 3rd kept temperatures in the 30s and 40s that afternoon. This storm just missed us, moving about 100 miles too far north to really have a big effect on us. Keep in mind, November is typically our driest month, with plenty of days with gusty winds as we transition from fall into winter.
A record cold air mass moved in during the second week of the month. The inital cold front moved through around 11a.m. on the 10th. Temperatures were mild ahead of the front, reaching the upper 50s to low 60s that morning. This air mass was directly from arctic regions, as the temperature drop showed. By 5 p.m. that evening, we were at 11°F, a drop of 50°F in six hours.
Cold air continued to pour in from the north over the next few days, which allowed record levels to be reached. The high temperature on the 11th reached 17°F before an even colder push moved in. Temperatures continued to slowly fall that afternoon, reaching the low single digits by midnight. Temperatures continued to fall through that morning, with that 2°F temperature becoming the warmest we would see until the afternoon of the 13th. Temperatures reached into the teens below zero before midnight of the 12th and stayed cold through the 13th. The high on the afternoon of the 13th only reached 9°F.
The cold air mass finally began to move out of the region to the east on the 14th. Highs that afternoon reached the upper 40s, reaching above freezing for the first time around 9:30 a.m. on the 14th—that’s almost four days below freezing. It was very unusual, because we normally rebound pretty quickly along the Front Range as westerly winds generally kick out the cold air within a day or two. Also unusual was the time of year this air arrived—pretty early compared to normal. In fact, several record low maximum highs and record low temperatures were set all along the Front Range.
Snowfall was minimal, with most areas around the Palmer Divide accumulating 2-3 inches during the cold snap. Heavier snowfall occurred on the west side of Colorado Springs, down through Pueblo and southern Colorado and up in the foothills west of Boulder and Fort Collins.
The brief warm-up on the 14th was short-lived however, as another cold front moved through on the morning of the 17th. This air mass wasn’t quiet as cold but still much colder than normal for mid-November. Temperatures were in the single digits above and below zero from the 14th through the 18th, with another 1-2 inches of snowfall accumulating on the 15th. The cold patter finally broke on the 18th, with highs reaching normal levels and slightly above by the 20th. High temperatures climbed through the mid-40s on the 18th, the upper 40s on the 20th and 21st, peaking out in the mid-50s on the 22nd.
As usual however, the warmest temperatures occurred on the west/southwesterly winds ahead of the next cold front. This cold front moved through during the early morning hours of Sunday the 23rd, with snow filling in quickly. By sunrise that morning, another 1-2 inches of snow had fallen. Cold air and a strong northerly flow continued to affect the region through that evening, and this allowed another band of snow to develop that afternoon. This brief but heavy snowfall capped things off with another 2 inches of snow, making for a slippery commute that evening.
Temperatures warmed slowly over the last week of the month, starting with highs in the low 40s on the 25th and 26th, then warming quickly over the next few days. Highs reached the upper 50s to low 60s from the 27th through the 29th as mild air moved in from the west. Winds also kicked up at times over the last few days of the month. A final cold front then moved through during the early afternoon of the 30th. The cold air with this front was very shallow, however, so the air mass slowly progressed from the lower elevation to the top of the Palmer Divide, with the highest elevations feeling the cold last. Low clouds filled in behind this front and a few flurries fell to end the month.
November 2014 Weather Statistics
Average High 46.1° (-2.9°)
Average Low 16.0° (-4.7°)
Monthly Precipitation 0.41" (-0.20")
Season to Date Snow 9.0" (-13.4")
Season to Date Precip. 10.74" (+0.52")
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Guidelines for letters to the editor are on page 35. Disclamer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter written is an OCN volunteer
Firefighter frustrated with OEM move
I’m a former firefighter who attended the first two Board of Commissioners hearings on the rushed and hurried transfer of the Office of Emergency Management from the Sheriff’s Office to the county organizational structure.
Commissioner Littleton was the only to vote against this short-noticed and highly-controlled process and decision of cramming the system into the organizational chart and then trying to scratch up a budget for what they were trying to pull off.
Any public comments were limited to three minutes, which frustrated us all, including the sheriff’s emergency commander who was working with Sheriff-elect Bill Elder and a historic goodwill transition team of law enforcement, fire service and citizens’ preparation groups, poised to move out and fix the broken system as close to the best as we would ever get.
Of course, all the county bureaucracy reps were given as much time to speak as they needed after the decision was made and our three minutes were so quickly spent. This was called a "working group," by the way, and they were the operators who worked it all while we were fast-tracked.
In light of the way all this was handled, I ask, "Which disaster preparation group had the truest goodwill and the single mindedness to do the most effective job for us all?"
I made certain to let the board and those officials and citizens in the gallery know that no amount of hurried and mysterious reshuffling will ever create an environment of trust, functionality and hope for us all.
I also indicated that the fire service members in this county are not at all happy to have their leader, Bill Elder, removed from the emergency management responsibilities and sponsorship of their collaborative efforts.
Firefighters know best who they can trust and work with, and this county board will have a hard pull to gain the goodwill, openness, and trust that Bill Elder has gotten from the fire chiefs.
By the Staff or Covered Treasures Bookstore
These enchanting new books are sure to bring smiles to the children in your life. Why not add a few to your Christmas list?
Everything I Need To Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book
By Diane Muldrow (Random House) $9.99
This Little Golden Book—for both adults and children—looks beyond the holiday traffic, hordes of visiting relatives, and excessive spending and eating to return to the simple joys of the season and the true meaning of Christmas.
The Fabulous World of Mr. Fred
By Lil Chartrand (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) $10.95
Mr. Fred was Pierrot’s first real friend. Every day, they sat together on a park bench and read from Mr. Fred’s invisible book—tales of mermaids and dragons—that he had shared many years ago with his son. One day, Mr. Fred isn’t on their park bench anymore, but Pierrot discovers that all of his stories have been written down. Now, as a grown man, Pierrot takes his son on those same amazing adventures.
My New Friend Is So Fun!
By Mo Willems (Hyperion Books) $8.99
Old friends Gerald the Elephant and Piggie are back for another "teaching moment." Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Brian Bat and Snake are also best friends. But what happens if one of the best friends finds a new friend?
By John Rocco (Hyperion Books) $17.99
One winter day it started to snow, and it did not stop until it was halfway up the front door. At first it was fun. But four days later when the snowplows still hadn’t come, rations were running low. Someone had to take action. This beautiful picture book shows how one resourceful boy triumphed over a fearsome blizzard. Rocco is a survivor of the infamous Blizzard of ‘78 that covered his Rhode Island town with 40 inches of snow when he was a boy.
My Grandfather’s Coat
By Jim Aylesworth (Scholastic) $17.99
When Grandfather came to America, he had almost nothing. But he worked hard, became a tailor, and made himself a handsome coat. He wore it, and he wore it, until it was all worn out. So what did he do? He snipped and he clipped and he stitched and he sewed, and out of all the still-good cloth of his coat he made himself a smart jacket. How many wonderful things can Grandfather make out of that old, frayed coat? Barbara McClintock’s heartwarming pictures celebrate the clever recycling of a beloved coat that lasts through four generations—until it becomes this story.
Spirit Animals Series
By Tui T. Sutherland (Scholastic) $12.99
In Book 5 of this "Read the book. Unlock the game" series, readers meet four young heroes and follow their quest to save Erdas. As the four navigate the crystal waters of the Hundred Isles, hounded by pursuers who always seem to know just where to find them, the team can’t help but suspect each other. There’s a spy in their midst, and before this mission is over, a deadly trap will close around them.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul
By Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books) $13.95
The latest in this beloved series finds the Heffleys on a journey that starts off full of promise but quickly takes several wrong turns. Gas station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender, and a runaway pig—not exactly Greg’s idea of a good time. But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure, and this is one the Heffleys won’t soon forget.
I Am Malala
By Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick (Little, Brown) $17
In this Young Readers Edition of her bestselling memoir, Malala’s powerful story shows how one young person can make a difference. At the risk of nearly losing her life, Malala stood up for education and changed the world. She has become an international symbol of peaceful protest and was the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
The saying, "A book is a present you can open again and again," is especially true for children. They enjoy rereading favorite stories and admiring colorful illustrations over and over. Until next month, and next year, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Illusion is the first of all pleasures.—Oscar Wilde
Is it art, or is it an illusion, or is it an illusion of art? Is it an art gallery, an illusion, or the illusion of an art gallery? From holiday shops to big-budget movies (Tron) to Prada, Hermes, Godiva chocolates and more, pop-up shops are popular and lucrative all over the world. The short-term shops live for a day to up to three months to make the most of a season or a brand in a popular or fun location, usually with lots of foot traffic. And they are lucrative.
The pop-up shops phenomenon has hit the Front Range in towns and storefronts, and it is quite popular here, too. Pop-up shops use a "shared economy," meaning that they add to a current retail merchant with unusual merchandise, or beautify an otherwise empty retail space. They allow for great flexibility in ideas and a smaller investment of time and money. Some pop-ups are for art and retail, some are created by real estate firms and the like. It’s all about the moment and offerings.
I first heard about them a few years ago, and I thought they were something like a craft mall or craft festival, but not at all. They are much more than that. They are top-flight products and nice venues with an ephemeral timeline. Many pop-up shops go from city to city or have an annual schedule (Halloween, winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, spring and summer shops).
Online artsy craftsy goodies at Etsy online, nice as it is, don’t really compare to the art and products available at a pop-up art shop, as many pop-ups are fine art and gallery works, and one can take their purchases home the same day. These pop-up venues usually have an elegant feel and particularly nice works.
The genre of sudden pop-ups as shops reminds me of the trendy underground clubs, when a music and dance venue is up for just one night, with a sought-after "in the know" required to know enough to attend, or at least have friends who know the whereabouts of such happenings. The fleeting nature of these events has made them all the more desirable and memorable. Worldwide, pop-up shops have become a nice mix of keeping local storefronts beautiful and busy, while offering local artisans a place to exhibit and sell their works.
Our local Tri-Lakes art venues have that ephemeral joys’ flavor as well in their changing art exhibits and studio visits. The fine art expectation puts an extra classy spin on items that are original and unusual and locally made. For a taste of the "now" in local art, be sure to enjoy these venues, and keep your eye out for pop-up shops as you drive around town enjoying the lights and festive decor. You can check the Facebook page "Local Holiday Pop Up Shops" (lists Front Range places) so you don’t miss out!
So get your local art gifts while you can—they are originals and limited editions that, once they’re gone, they’re gone! Here are some last minute ideas—go to these December art shows with a nod to great gifts:
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TCLA) member show runs through Jan. 3, with a wide variety of fine art, collectable pottery, sculptures, photography, jewelry, and of course, music events. TCLA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.
Bella Art and Frame hosts a group of eight photographers in the show, "Snow Softly Falling," expressing the beauty of the winter months. The gallery also has its niche walls of their member artists filled with fine art in paintings, sculptures, jewelry, fiber art, photography, and a gift shop, too. Bella Art and Frame, 183 Washington St., Monument. Through Dec. 24.
Wisdom Tea House art exhibit, "The Nature of Secrets" oil and acrylic alla prima paintings by Laura Reilly. Alla prima (Italian for "first attempt") is a technique in which artists start and finish a painting in one go, and must paint wet over wet paint, usually oil, requiring a fast way of working, offering the urgency and excitement of a one-shot finish. Through Jan. 3. Wisdom Tea House, 65 Second St., Monument.
Monument School of Fine Arts: Artists and students’ Pop Up Holiday Shop—an ad hoc art show and gallery for art, vintage style crafts. Visit the above-mentioned Facebook page for all info on venues and dates. The locations will vary in the Tri-Lakes area.
Caption: Maggie Williamson, owner of Bella Art and Frame, is pictured with the shop’s December art show, "Snow Softly Falling." Williamson recently was awarded Citizen of the Year by the Town of Monument. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is a local artist and art teacher. Her paintings and public art sculptures are on view in Colorado cities. She can be reached via OCN at JanetSellers@OCN.me.
Photo credit correction
The photo for the weed eradication picture in the November issue of OCN was by Terri Watson, not Janet Sellers. Watson created the idea of "adopt a spot" and is instrumental in ongoing efforts for noxious weed eradication in Palmer Lake.
By Tom VanWormer
Members and friends of the Palmer Lake Historical Society enjoyed listening and learning from Dave Wallace, a noted re-enactor and former high school history teacher, about the mountain men in the Rocky Mountains from the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803-4 until the late 1840s when the frontier line of America moved west.
At the society’s November meeting, Wallace introduced Jedediah Smith, who was dressed in his buckskins and moccasins with his animal-based hat. He also brought the tools of his trade to allow the audience to learn about the importance of these early multi-tools and his ability to adapt these tools to survive for many years in the wild.
Very early on in the beaver pelt trade, the mountain men and the buyers from the outposts along the Mississippi River realized that too much time was wasted when the mountain men would transport their pelts back to civilization, sell them, get into trouble in civilization, and then return to the mountains to start trapping again. So the buyers would go each summer into the mountains with their wagons, supplies, and trade goods to a rendezvous to cut down the trapping time and allow a week for the mountain men to see old friends, get rip-roaring drunk, and become rich for a very short time.
It turned out that Jedediah as a mountain man had multiple wives who would habitat with him based upon which Indian tribe he was living with at the time. The Indian wives were a joint survival tool in addition to a spouse. They were usually daughters or close relatives of the chiefs of the tribe with a duty to "ensure Jedediah did nothing to damage the tribe." The wives generally would not leave tribal lands, so when Jedediah would move on, the wife remained with her tribe.
Jedediah always ensured his wives had a good supply of steel tools, trade goods, and lots of brightly colored cloth so they could exhibit an exalted position among the women of the tribe. This trait ensured his position of trust with all the tribes in whose territories he trapped and ensured the chief was an ally over the years.
The audience, consisting of Cub Scouts, interested seniors, and a large group in-between, was treated to a large number of tall tales, refreshments and a very detailed question and answer time along with a chance to be photographed with the tools of Jedediah’s trade. This was the last presentation for the Palmer Lake Historical Society until 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall for the Annual PLHS/LVM Potluck and election of the officers of the society. The members and visitors are asked to provide the vegetables, side dishes, and desserts while the society will provide the meat.
Political history of the Panama Canal
By David Futey
On Nov. 8, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted Noel Maurer, associate professor of International Affairs and International Business at George Washington University. In 2010, Maurer authored the book The Big Ditch, which describes the multifaceted political history of the Panama Canal. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the canal’s completion, and controversy still remains over historic and present day United States involvement.
Maurer described France’s initial development of the canal in 1881 and how it treated it as a mining project, which eventually led to construction failures. The U.S. took over the project in 1904 and completed it in 1914 at about double the original cost estimates. Workers from Barbados provided the majority of the physical labor required, with oversight by U.S. managers. Arguments were waged then and today on its economic and strategic value.
Due to the Canal Zone, Panama saw little financial benefit until the 1950s. The first commercial shipping did not occur until July 1920, with California oil being the primary major cargo being shipped to eastern U.S. cities. The canal’s value to shipping decreased overtime as U.S. trucking and railroads provided more cost effective ways to haul freight. The U.S military saw no benefit because naval fleets would still be required in both oceans for response time.
Maurer also described present-day impacts, including the proposed canal through Nicaragua, with support from China, and the potential geopolitical impact.
Information on upcoming events at the WMMI is at www.wmmi.org.
David Futey can be reached at email@example.com.
Lights. Camera. Action. "It takes a village"—or in this case a theater company. Palmer Ridge High School Bear Necessity Theatre Company presented Hello Dolly! on Nov. 13, 14, and 15 at the Palmer Ridge High School auditorium . The crew—choreographers, musicians, producers, directors, chorus members, costume designers, sound designers, actors, singers, dancers, stage managers, light crew, stage crew, construction crew, stage run crew, tech crew, props crew, makeup crew—performed with a smile and delighted the audience. Palmer Ridge students not only designed and built the sets but also hustled to make set changes as necessary, accommodating the numerous actors, singers, and dancers on stage. The live orchestra added another element of professionalism. Photos by Michael Justice.
Homemakers celebrate Thanksgiving
Caption: The Monument Homemakers celebrated Thanksgiving on Nov. 6 by hosting a feast for firefighters from the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The group also collected food items to donate to Tri-Lakes Cares for Thanksgiving baskets for local families and made gift boxes for the American Indian children and elderly men and women of One Nation. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Legacy Sertoma Makes Donation to Homes For Our Troops
Caption: With the help of the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 58 and the American Legion Post 9-11, Legacy Sertoma recently was able to send a $1500 check to Homes For Our Troops. Pictured (L-R) Dave Cooper representing Local 58, Legacy Sertoma President Jim Fitzpatrick, and Col (Ret) Janet Ferrin of Post 9-11. Photo by Legacy Sertoma Club.
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Grant to HAP
Caption: At its November board meeting, Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) recognized Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) members Donna Wagner, chair of the Grants Committee, and Geri Bush and Gail Wittman, 2013 co-presidents, for the club’s recent grant of $3,000, which allowed HAP to re-carpet and refurbish its Senior Center. HAP Treasurer Colleen Garwood said, "TLWC is a superior organization, known for its support of area nonprofits. TLWC’s grant enhances our ability to provide important services and support for Tri-Lakes seniors." At its Nov. 17 meeting, HAP also recognized Eagle Scout candidate Dalen Babalyan for his Scout project coordinating and completing the Senior Center re-carpeting. Dalen is a junior at Discovery Canyon High School and a member of Troop 6, which is led by Scout Leader Eric Wetherby. From left are Eagle Scout candidate Dalen Babalyan, Gail Wittman, HAP President Dave Betzler, Donna Wagner, and Geri Bush. Photo provided by HAP.
Kiwanis supports Tri-Lakes Cares
Caption: The Monument Hill Kiwanis Club presented the proceeds of this year’s Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction to Tri-Lakes Cares Executive Director Haley Chapin (second from right) and Silent Auction Director Jo Weilbrenner (second from left). The Nov. 8 event featured musical entertainment from area schools, groups, and soloists. Donations from local merchants and citizens netted Silent Auction proceeds of over $7,500. Over 80 gallons of soup, donated by area restaurants, were served along with over 100 desserts, breads, and beverages donated by local churches and businesses. The Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High School Key Clubs, Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, District 38, Lewis-Palmer High School custodial and kitchen staffs, and local artists also helped run the event. Also pictured are Anne Shimek, left, a local potter who donated her bowls and coordinated the donation of over 1,000 additional bowls, Harry Brandon (center), current president of the Monument Hill Kiwanis, and RF Smith, right, 2014 Empty Bowls director. Photo by Warren Gerig.
ALS Ice Bucket
Caption: ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) is diagnosed in about 5,600 people in the U.S. each year. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge fundraiser has gone viral on the Internet at www.alsa.org, generating contributions for ALS research. Logan Aggers, left, and Cole Aggers, far right, really enjoyed dumping a bucket of ice water on OCN volunteers Lisa Hatfield and Mark Aggers, center, on Nov. 9 as part of the challenge on behalf of former Tri-Lakes Tribune reporter Lisa Collacott. Earlier this year her husband, John, set up a Facebook page devoted to his wife called "Lisa Collacott’s Journey to Victory." People who would like to use U.S. mail to make a donation can send a check to: The ALS Association, Gift Processing Center, PO Box 6051, Albert Lea, MN 56007. Photo by Kristen Aggers.
Legacy Sertoma supports Tri-Lakes Cares
Caption: Denny Myers, Legacy Sertoma Treasurer, presents Haley Chapin, Executive Director of Tri-Lakes Cares, with the Club’s Holiday Donation while member Dorothy Myers and Erin Taylor, Tri-Lakes Cares Development Manager, look on. Photo provided by Legacy Sertoma Club.
Wounded veteran given home in Monument
By Kate Wetterer
Army SPC Matthew Spang and his family will be the recipients of a specially built wheelchair-friendly home in Monument, courtesy of Homes for Our Troops (HFOT). HFOT is a nonprofit organization devoted to building specially modified houses for the most severely injured American veterans wounded after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Celebrating the Spang family’s new home and hoping to garner support for their cause, HFOT hosted a Community Kick-Off event Nov. 21 at the Inn at Palmer Divide. Spang spoke at the event, along with Tim McHale, president of HFOT, Ashley Twigg, the community coordinator, and others.
Spang was injured on his second deployment, with the 130th Engineers in Afghanistan. On July 12, 2011, his vehicle was hit by two explosive devices, resulting in the loss of both his legs below the knees and intense damage to his right hand. Spang hopes to return to school to finish his bachelor’s degree, spend time with his two children, and participate in a variety of sports.
HFOT houses are given to veterans free of cost and mortgage. The point is to create a safe space that adjusts to a veteran’s particular needs rather than forcing them to work around the inconveniences of unmodified buildings. Over 115 adjustments are made to house plans, including widened doorways to provide enough room for wheelchairs, pull-down shelves, and wheelchair-accessible showers.
McHale explained that whenever they promise to build a house, HFOT makes sure to have all the funds lined up so the project will succeed. The finest materials are secured to build a home that will last, with minimal upkeep. Veterans are asked to choose where they would like this home to be built. Sprang chose Monument for his family, and the land has already been cleared.
Since all funds for Spang’s home are secure, this kickoff’s fundraising ventures were primarily intended to gather resources for future building projects. HFOT has built 116 homes for veterans as of July 2014, and it hopes to keep going until all eligible soldiers are equipped with homes that suit their needs. Visitors were urged to consider donating to HFOT in some capacity, whether through funds or volunteer efforts.
HFOT relies on personal recommendations to promote its cause. Only 9.8 percent of revenues from fundraisers goes to advertising, leaving 90.2 cents of every dollar to go toward building homes. More information about Homes for Our Troops can be found online at: www.hfotusa.org.
Caption: Army SPC Matthew Spang and his children listen to friends and project-related speakers at the HFOT Kickoff Celebration. Photo by Kate Wetterer.
Kate Wetterer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honoring the honorable Veterans Ceremony at Monument Academy
They were some of the 500 people who attended the "Honoring the Honorable" Veterans Day Ceremony at Monument Academy on Nov. 11. Young Marine Sgt. Reid Luna gave a presentation on the purpose and symbolism of the Table of Remembrance on display to honor soldiers missing in action. The band and choirs played "You’re a Grand Old Flag," "O, America!" and "Armed Forces—The Pride of America." Retired Air Force Maj. William Frier, the keynote speaker for the ceremony, is a third-generation graduate from West Point who pioneered a Spanish-language instruction broadcast at the Air Force Academy. He told the gathered veterans, Monument Academy students, and families, "Live your life for the benefit of many, not for yourself. This is the spirit of duty, honor, and country I have seen so often in my fellow military veterans."
Caption: Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dona Hildebrand, left, who served in Korea, Vietnam, and Germany, and Navy Vietnam veteran Judy Pohlod were charter members of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va., and were guests at its dedication in 1997.
Caption: Retired Army Col. Kenneth F. Keller. In his last assignment, he was stationed at Camp Smith, Pacific Command Headquarters, Hawaii, where he was serving as the Nuclear Warfare Planning officer. Photos by Lisa Hatfield.
Palmer Lake Star – "Salute and Shine for Veterans" Veterans Day
Caption: Janet Ferran and Tom Weyer were the special guests from Monument American Legion Post 9-11 at the Palmer Lake Fire Department Veterans star lighting ceremony on Nov. 11. Ferran is a retired lieutenant colonel who served in the Air Force for 22 years, including developing and operating command, control and communications systems, and serving at NORAD and in Korea as a squadron commander. On Veterans Day, she also was representing her husband, retired Marine Lt. Col. Tom Ferran, who couldn’t be at the ceremony because he was in California battling pancreatic cancer. Tom was a Marine scout/sniper in Vietnam in 1966-67 and received numerous combat awards, including two Purple Hearts. Janet told the audience that Nov. 11 was also their 19th wedding anniversary, so it was a special honor for to her to also light the Palmer Lake Star for her husband. Photo on left provided by Palmer Lake Fire Chief Margo Humes and photo on right provided by Jack Anthony.
Palmer Lake Chili Supper at Palmer Lake Town Hall
Caption: Three generations of the Brayden family enjoy the meal with firefighter Kelli Erhardt at the annual Palmer Lake Chili Supper on Nov. 29 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. It was the family’s 15th year attending. The annual event is the largest fundraiser for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, with this year’s proceeds going to purchase fire protection gear. The Palmer Lake Restaurant group provided food and support. The event included hay rides, singing by the Palmer Ridge High School choir, and a visit from Santa Claus. The night was capped off with the lighting of the Palmer Lake Star, which was built in 1935 and is lit by 92 40-watt LED bulbs purchased by the Green Panthers Environment Club of Palmer Lake Elementary School. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Scenes from Monument Safe Trick or Treat
Community Coming Together Thanksgiving, sponsored by Rosie’s Diner
Caption: The third annual Community Coming Together Thanksgiving, sponsored by Rosie’s Diner, the Town of Monument, and the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, took place on Nov. 27 at Rosie’s Diner. The 140 guests were all local residents who otherwise would not have been able to share a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Donations came from contributors including Wells Fargo, Peoples Bank, 1st National Bank of Monument, Integrity Bank, Griswold Home Care, Mountain View Electric Association, Tri-Lakes Cares, Safeway, Sysco Food Services, Village Inn, Texas Roadhouse, Turbo’s Mobile RV Service, Monument Motors, JJ Tracks, Goodwill Industries, Big Opposable Thumb, The Grout Mechanic, Legacy Sertoma, The Ladies of Kershaw & Associates, Tri-Lakes Printing, and Leonard Himes. Pictured are Rosie’s Diner and other area restaurants’ workers who donated their time to prepare the meal. Businesses, organizations, and individuals who would like to be a part of Community Coming Together in 2015 should contact Madeline at the Town of Monument (719 884-8013) or see www.TriLakesHAP.org/CCT. Photos by Merrilee Orcutt.
Families invited to Cookies and Crafts
By Harriet Halbig
Children’s and family programs
Monument’s Family Fun program for December is Cookies and Crafts. On Saturday, Dec. 13 from 2:30 to 4, Friends of the Library will provide large cookies to be decorated with sprinkles and frosting. Other crafts will also be offered.
The Legos Club will meet on Saturday, Dec. 20, from 10 until 11:30. Bring your creativity and we will provide the Legos and Duplos.
Programs for teens and tweens
Tweens ages 9 to 12 are invited to make a colorful claymation-type "critter" (or two) in a fun workshop called Clay Critters on Thursday, Dec. 18 from 4 to 5 p.m. This program is exclusively for tweens, please. Registration is required at 488-2370.
Programs for teens
AfterMath is a free math tutoring program on Mondays from 3:30 until 7 p.m. This program is open to all ages from elementary school through adults. Experienced tutors are available to help all those who attend. Bring your homework and drop in for some help. The program is available every Monday through mid-May with the exception of school and library holidays. Tutoring will not be available on Dec. 22 and 29 and Jan. 5.
Interested in finding Magic the Gathering players to interact with? Join us every Monday night from 7 to 8:45. Teens and young adults are invited to bring your cards to play, trade, and enjoy.
Programs for adults
Local video producer Jim Sawatzki will present excerpts from his latest film, Rarefied Air: Historic Artists of the Pikes Peak Region, on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. This is the only art history film about our area.
Enjoy listening to seasonal harp music played by talented local harp students on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 10 to noon.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 until noon on Friday, Dec. 19 to discuss Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.
On the walls of the library during December will be works by the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild. In the display case will be a collection of Night Before Christmas books owned by Linda Ross.
Palmer Lake Library programs
The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 5. All patrons are invited to attend this monthly book group. Please call 481-2587 for the latest selection.
All fiber artists are welcome to join the Fibernistas, a group that meets on Thursdays from 10 until noon. Bring your project and enjoy the company of fellow crafters. All skill levels are welcome.
December’s Family Fun program on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 10:30 will be Colossal Cookies. All are invited to combine icing, sprinkles, and holiday cheer with cookies provided by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library.
Please note that all Pikes Peak library facilities will be closed all day on Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1. Libraries will close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. Happy holidays from the library!
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Judy Barnes, Events Editor
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 information number for that event.
Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
Dec. 10: Raspberry chipotle pork, roasted potatoes, salad
Dec. 17: Artichoke chicken, brown rice, salad
Dec. 24: No lunch (Merry Christmas!)
Dec. 31: No lunch (Happy New Year)
Rolls and butter are served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert is also provided.
Lunch is at 11:30 a.m. at 146 Jefferson St., Monument (the School District 38 Administration Building, "Big Red"). $3 voluntary donation. Entertainment follows lunch. For more information, call Judy, 487-9067. An activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership. Meals are provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.
Binoculars were found on the New Santa Fe Trail. For more information, call 488-5544.
Volunteers needed for county’s Highway Advisory Commission and Community
Corrections Board, apply by Dec. 12
The Highway Advisory Commission is seeking one at-large representative and one associate member. Members will advise the Board of County Commissioners and the Transportation and Fleet Division on matters involving policy and philosophy relating to the Department of Transportation’s operations and activities. The Corrections Board is seeking three citizen-at-large representatives. Members will advise the commissioners on community programs that provide supervision of offenders being diverted from prison as well as offenders who are transitioning back into the community after prison. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.
Santa on Patrol toy drive ends Dec. 19
Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department will deliver toys to children in the Tri-Lakes area Dec. 20 and they need the community’s support. Please drop off new, unwrapped toys or gift cards by 5 p.m., Dec. 19, to Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd.; Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department fire Stations 1, 2, and 3 or the department’s administration building, 166 Second St., Monument. Any family in need or with questions may call Jennifer, 484-0911.
Academy North Gate bridge work
through summer 2015
Two bridges outside the U.S. Air Force Academy’s North Gate will be under repair starting Nov. 29 and continuing through August 2015. To ease congestion, the academy will make the gate a one-way, entrance-only road in the mornings. From 7-9 a.m., no outbound traffic will be allowed through the north gate, and travelers exiting the Academy during those hours will have to use the south gate.
Tri-Lakes Cares needs help
Each year, Tri-Lakes Cares runs the annual holiday food program because many families in this community aren’t able to provide a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal for their loved ones. They do this by collecting food from the Harvest of Love food drive that is hosted by the Kiwanis and School District 38, and by purchasing the food that is still needed. Funding for the holiday food program is greatly reduced this year compared to last year, and there is an urgent need for help to raise additional funds. Donated money will be used to buy gift certificates for turkeys so that everyone in our community can enjoy a traditional holiday meal. To donate, call Julie Seeger, program manager, 481-4864 x104.
Donations and volunteers needed for
Feed the Children event, Dec. 13
El Paso County’s 14th annual Feed the Children event is a one-day event just before Christmas where the families already receiving help from the Department of Human Services are able to enjoy a day of celebration and receive food, toys, books, and toiletries. Last year about 5,000 of the neediest people in our community were served. There is still a need of monetary donations. If you able to donate, please contact Rebecca Jacobs at 444-8191 or at RebeccaJacobs@elpasoco.com. Volunteers are needed also. To sign up go to http://dhs.elpasoco.com/Pages/FeedTheChildren.aspx.
LEAP—Help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
St. Peter Catholic School enrolling
for preschool-eighth grade
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education. NCA accredited, state licensed, financial aid available. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.
Free transportation and safety
services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and safety services to Tri-Lakes seniors. If you need a ride to a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or the local senior lunches, a volunteer driver will be happy to help you. The number to call is 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you are in need of grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message.
2015 Colorado Gardener Certificate
training program, apply by Jan. 5
Colorado State University Extension is now accepting registrations for the 2015 Colorado Gardener Certificate training program. Home gardeners and parks department, school district, and golf course maintenance personnel as well as landscape professionals will benefit from this training. Classes will be held Thursdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan. 22 through March 26 at the El Paso County Extension Office, now located at 17 N. Spruce St (near I-25 and Bijou). Space is limited and available on a first-paid basis. For more information, visit the Horticulture page of the website http://elpasoco.colostate.edu or call Julie at (719) 520-7690.
CASA volunteers needed
Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). CASA offers a volunteer opportunity like no other. As appointed representatives of the court, CASA volunteers are empowered to make a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. Learn more at http://www.casappr.org/volunteer-colorado-springs/ or contact Kelly at 447-9898, ext. 1033 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grant writers needed for Palmer Lake
The Awake Palmer Lake Committee is looking for grant writers to help with the next Great Outdoor Colorado (GOCO) grant application to improve the park at Palmer Lake. The grant could be worth $300,000. See http://awakepalmerlake.org for more information or contact the Park and Recreation trustee at email@example.com.
Help chart Colorado’s transportation future
The Colorado Department of Transportation invites citizens to get involved in planning the future of the state’s transportation system by visiting the website, www.coloradotransportationmatters.com.
Free Senior Safety Handyman Services
Senior Safety Handyman Services is a unique program funded by the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging. It is designed to help seniors (age 60 and over) in northwest El Paso County with safety-related handyman projects. Dedicated, paid contractors and volunteers install grab bars, wheelchair ramps, railings, steps, etc., to help seniors to continue to live independently in their own homes. For service, call 488-0076 and leave a message for Cindy Rush. For more information, visit www.TriLakes-mcts-sshs.org.
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. 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 on the district website www.lewispalmer.org under the community tab. Nonprofits may list their volunteer needs in the directory free of charge. For information, contact Robin Adair, P.O. Box 40, Monument, CO 80132; call 785-4223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. The program needs additional volunteer drivers. For information, email email@example.com or call Mary Ketels, 481-2470, or Faye Brenneman, 481-2527, or leave a message with the dispatcher, 488-0076.
Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center 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., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, National Mah-jongg, line dancing, tea time, bingo, and more. Ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table are also available. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
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. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.or. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesHAP.org.
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.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
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.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
The Palmer Lake Library hours are Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 66 Lower Glenway. Info: 481-2587, www.ppld.org.
The Monument Branch Library hours are Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun., 1-5 p.m. 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370, www.ppld.org.
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on November 30, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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