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By Lisa Hatfield
The Nov. 7 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees became rancorous during the trustee comments when there were two votes intended to nullify both Mayor Jeff Kaiser’s appointment from trustee to mayor on April 4, 2016, when former elected mayor Rafael Dominguez resigned, and Trustee Don Wilson’s unanimous appointment to mayor pro-tem on April 18, the office Kaiser had first been appointed to. The motions also attempted to appoint Trustee Dennis Murphy to become mayor and appoint Trustee Jeff Bornstein to become mayor pro-tem and return Kaiser and Wilson back to their elected trustee positions.
Another contentious issue during this meeting was a majority vote against a resolution to implement a proposed update to the town purchasing and bidding ordinance.
The board unanimously approved a loan application to help pay for treating elevated levels of radium in the town’s Well 9.
Attempt to appoint new mayor and new mayor pro-tem
During trustee comments near the end of the meeting, Trustee Shea Medlicott said because of a series of "snarky and unprofessional emails" and defamation of character by Kaiser, Medlicott wanted to identify a pattern of behavior in Kaiser that was "unacceptable and belittling" to his political opponents, to the point of using coercion with threats of litigation.
Medlicott then offered a motion to return Kaiser to the trustee position he was elected to and nominated Trustee Dennis Murphy to fill out the remainder of Kaiser’s term as mayor. Coopman seconded the motion.
Background: On April 4, Kaiser was unanimously appointed by the board to fill Mayor Rafael Dominguez’ term as mayor after Dominguez abruptly resigned March 29. See www.ocn.me/v16n4.htm#resign and www.ocn.me/v16n5.htm#mbot0404.
Town Attorney Gary Shupp suggested that the trustees hold the motion in abeyance until the Nov. 21 meeting so Shupp could check the statutes and municipal code to see if the motion could be carried out if it were to be approved.
Coopman then made a motion to direct town staff to draft an ordinance for the next meeting to allow a majority vote of the board to return an appointed official to his/her elected capacity to serve out the remainder of that term to which they were elected. Then the board could appoint a member of the current board to the newly opened seat.
Shupp suggested that it not to be a motion for an ordinance but instead to direct him to see if that could be done, and if so he would bring an ordinance to that effect at the next meeting, and if it could not be done then he could explain why not.
Wilson then made a motion to postpone Trustee Greg Coopman’s motion indefinitely, but it was not seconded.
Town Manager Chris Lowe said since Monument is a statutory town, "Gary has to look into it." Coopman’s motion passed 4-3. Trustee Kelly Elliott, Kaiser, and Wilson voted no.
When Kaiser then asked if there were any further board comments, Medlicott made a motion to strip Wilson of his title, effective immediately, and return him to his elected trustee position. Coopman amended the motion to add that Bornstein be appointed to the vacant mayor pro-tem position. The motion passed 4-3. Elliott, Kaiser, and Wilson voted no. Shupp did not comment on this motion, and it was unclear whether this motion took effect or not as the meeting proceeded.
The drama continued as Medlicott accused Lowe, Kaiser, and Wilson of maintaining "special communication" between them in spite of specific direction to town staff that, "when you speak to one of us, you speak to all of us." For example, see www.ocn.me/v16n7.htm#mbot-0620. He cited examples from Lowe in the weekly "Friday Night Highlights" Lowe sends to the board. Then Medlicott made a motion that when Lowe emailed one board member, he should send copies to the whole board each time. Coopman seconded the motion, but no vote was taken as trustees argued about the idea instead.
At this point, the volume of the meeting increased noticeably. Elliott accused Medlicott of micromanagement, who replied that it was the whole point of "equality of information" requested by the board. Wilson said the accusation was based on hearsay, and Murphy demanded to know about meetings Wilson and Kaiser had had "with various communities." Wilson retorted that they did meet with Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority every month as board volunteers. Murphy and Wilson then shouted back and forth at each other in a prolonged negative exchange.
Coopman said all the trustees were equal and no one had any right to any additional information, invitations to meetings, participating in calls, decision-making, and the administrative process. "If communication overkill is a way to (build trust), then I’m all for it."
Kaiser asked several times if they would really like to know what he and Lowe spoke about in the conversation referred to in "Friday Night Highlights."
Coopman said he already knew, saying that there was an administrative decision involving Triview that was made with the assistance of one board member out of the full view of the board. "Tami (Tanoue, lead counsel for the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA)), was shocked that this happened. We need to clarify the roles of the people who sit up here and their involvement in the day-to-day operations of the town, which should not happen. "Our involvement is up here as policymakers," Coopman said. "Mr. Lowe needs to manage the town. We do not need to be involved in those administrative decisions. That’s not our job. I can’t wait for the day when Mr. Lowe can manage the town and we can sit up here as policymakers for the benefit of the people in this room and the residents of this community!" Medlicott added that if town business were discussed at a meeting, the entirety of the board needed to hear about it.
Kaiser said Triview President Reid Bolander had asked him a question, but Kaiser had directed him to Lowe. In between interjections from Coopman and Medlicott, Kaiser said that what he and Bolander discussed and decided was, "how inappropriate it was for a board member to tell our town manager to ‘F off,’ how we would never talk to our employees that way, how degrading it is, and unprofessional. We agreed to never stoop to that level of abuse or degradation."
Medlicott countered that this was a personal conversation and implied this was not relevant.
Kaiser continued to answer the question, saying they talked about how staff had been subjected to degrading comments and reduced to tears, and how one board member was continually dishonest. "We agreed never to treat people like that. These are things that pertain to the town and how town staff is treated. That was not in Mr. Lowe’s report."
Elliott, Bornstein, and Wilson continued the topic. Finally, Wilson asked Shupp, "If three board members approached you outside of a meeting to discuss contract and termination of a staff member, would that be an illegal meeting?" Shupp replied, "It would not be appropriate, for sure." Wilson shook his head but did not ask for further clarification.
During public comments later, four people talked about this part of the meeting. Their comments included:
• Nancy Swearengin: I am appalled at the four of you. You have been working on this little coup you have attempted tonight ever since you have been elected.
• John Howe: You are not going to build trust on something that the four of you are trying to do. Get your act together and do something for the town.
• Maggie Williamson: I am shaking, I am so furious. You are all questioning everything, creating a ton of work for these people, but this board is getting ridiculous. Don’t try to do so much ‘for the people,’ because you are not doing it for me.
• Heather Wilson: I am really angry. You have made personal attacks in public to town staff and to residents of Monument. It is clear on social media how you want to get rid of people. I think Trustee Murphy would be a horrible mayor. I have never seen someone so angry and so hateful towards people.
See related Nov. 21 Monument Board of Trustees.
Changes to purchasing ordinance voted down
Lowe presented an ordinance amending Chapter 3.08 of the Monument Municipal Code regarding the purchasing policy and informal and formal bidding procedures.
Background: At the Oct. 3 meeting, Trustee Medlicott again questioned why the board had to "rubber stamp" large expenses after the fact instead of participating more actively in the bidding approval process, and the trustees directed Lowe to rewrite the code. Lowe said on Oct. 3 that there was nothing included in checks over $5,000 that had not been budgeted, and if so, it was stated. "It is hard to present checks before the work is done, since we don’t have an invoice."
Lowe’s Nov. 7 comments included:
• I’m comfortable that this amendment has a fairly common sense and safe level of financial controls.
• You get a monthly report from Finance Director/Town Treasurer Pamela Smith on everything that went out the door.
• We don’t want to create inefficiencies by asking you again when things are already approved in the budget.
However, a discussion ensued about how many and which staff members need to sign checks and the timing of when the board is consulted. No members of the public spoke either for or against the amendments. The amendment motion failed by a 3-4 vote. Coopman, Bornstein, Murphy, and Medlicott voted no. Their comments during the discussion included:
• Coopman: Maybe you misunderstood the spirit of the direction in which this was asked of staff, which was to highlight the approval process and make sure this board was involved with more expensive purchases. This proposed update just increases the dollar amounts, but they are still not changed to make it come before the board until after the fact.
• Medlicott: I want it to lessen the burden on Lowe but also put on some safeguards for the board. I just want some high-up oversight.
Loan application to help pay for radium treatment
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented a resolution to approve a $100,000 loan application with National Rural Water Association. This money would be used to supplement $46,000 from the town to design and install the hydrous manganese oxide (HMO) chemical treatment process that the town’s water engineers plan to use to remove radium from the water in Well 9 and resolve the radium violation there. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017 for a summary of the draft technical memo outlining the options the town considered to deal with this problem.
Tharnish said the soonest the new treatment process could be online would be summer 2017, since it "needs to go through an engineering review with the Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPHE)." He said that since this is a chronic problem, instead of an acute problem, that timeline is not an issue, and that a second public notice would be posted Nov. 8 at www.townofmonument.org/town-bulletins/.
Tharnish’s report also noted that the radium removed from the treated drinking water goes "into the backwash water which flows to the wastewater facility which has more than adequate dilution available. It is a new maintenance item with additional chemical feed and handling which will require additional monitoring at appropriate times."
See related Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee article on page 9.
The trustees approved the loan resolution unanimously.
Checks over $5,000 and third-quarter financial report
The consent agenda in the trustee packet contained the 47-page third-quarter financial report prepared by Finance Director/Treasurer Pamela Smith, but the trustees did not ask any questions about it. Two disbursements were also approved unanimously as part of the consent agenda:
• Community Matters Inc., comprehensive plan consultants − $11,311
• Green Electric Inc., electric update Well 7 − $12,544
Later in the meeting, Bornstein requested that future agendas include quarterly updates about how much revenue the new tap fee schedule was generating. Smith said this information was already shown in reports the trustees received regularly, in the Water Department section, but Lowe said that staff could still "bring it out and make it more obvious." Bornstein thanked them and said, "Please keep it simple. I don’t want to generate a lot of work."
Update on water projects
Tharnish presented a brief update on all the current water projects being considered by the town. They include:
1. Emergency interconnection with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD): Other entities will include the CDPHE and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The interconnection would be subject to an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).
2. A proposed second water storage tank at 744 Forest View Way. The town staff will consult with the El Paso County Planning Commission staff for a preview meeting and for a 1041 permit. An artist’s rendering has been made.
3. The treatment plan for radium in Well 9: The recommended plan will use an HMO process to come back into compliance with state requirements, using the loan application that the trustees just approved.
4. Water reuse plant: Town staff is working with WWSD and their engineers. It’s a much bigger project than the emergency connection.
He said consultant Forsgren Associates water engineer Will Koger would present more detail on all three of these projects at the Dec. 5 meeting.
Bornstein requested that the meeting minutes for Sept. 19 be pulled from the consent agenda for discussion, and Murphy made a motion to clarify the vote on the Board of Adjustment nominee Jamie Fenley that was conducted on Sept. 19 should show that Fenley was approved by a vote of 3-2, not 4-1 as Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman had recorded. The trustees voted unanimously to approve this clarification. See www.ocn.me/v16n8.htm#mbot0718 and www.ocn.me/v16n10.htm#mbot0910.
Then Bornstein made a motion that all votes in the future would be done by roll call, instead of a vote by acclamation ("all in favor say ‘aye’"), so that such confusion could be avoided. The trustees voted unanimously to do all future votes by roll call.
Finally, Bornstein clarified that he really wanted those roll call votes called in random order each time, which the trustees also approved 7-0.
Updated signature authority
Director of Finance/Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented a resolution authorizing a change of signature authority with Wells Fargo Bank. She said Finance Director Bob Rummans had moved away, and it was important that the signature card be updated. The resolution was approved unanimously.
She summarized that the authorized signers on People’s and First National Bank CDs were now herself and Chris Lowe. Authorized signers on the Wells Fargo and ColoTrust bank accounts were the town manager, all directors (Smith, Tharnish, Shirk, Sirochman, Manning) and the mayor.
Xeriscaping in landscaping ordinance
During trustee comments, Murphy asked the status of the landscaping ordinance that was supposed to be discussed. He also stated that this discussion began four or five months ago. He said the community was waiting for feedback on whether landscaping could include xeriscaping, which is "not just cactus or desert but can include a variety of plants."
Lowe said that he had not been given board direction by a majority of trustees to pursue this, but that he would now ask Principal Planner Larry Manning to do some research on it. Shupp said that the Planning Commission had been unable to reach a consensus and that Manning had planned to make a request of the board at the next meeting about getting information from Colorado State University.
The trustees voted unanimously to support staff spending time on this research working toward possible changes in the town ordinance.
Note: Tharnish and Smith said at the June 20 Monument Board of Trustees meeting that Manning was spearheading work on the town’s landscaping ordinances that might incorporate more xeriscaping principles. http://www.ocn.me/v16n7.htm#mbot-0620.
The Monument Planning Commission considered the topic for two meetings, but due to irreconcilable arguments at its July 13 and Aug. 10 meetings, it decided to forward the item to the Board of Trustees for consideration. See www.ocn.me/v16n8.htm#mpc0713 and www.ocn.me/v16n9.htm#mpc.
Questions about oversight on metro districts
During trustee comments, Medlicott asked Shupp and Lowe what oversight municipalities had on metropolitan districts, such as Triview, within their boundaries. Shupp responded, "None! By statute, they are governmental entities with limited authority, approved initially by county commissioners, who could modify their service plan. But the state is the only other oversight."
Village Center Metro District asks for help
During three-minute public comments, two representatives of the Village Center Metropolitan District (VCMD) southeast of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive addressed the board, stating that they were asking for help from the town but that their request to be put on the agenda for a 20-minute presentation had been denied.
Jim Romanello, president of VCMD, said that after Development Services Director Tom Kassawara left in 2014, nobody held the developers accountable on the original filings and common areas in Village Center. Also, he said, it had originally been zoned for commercial along Highway 105, and VCMD revenue bonds were based on that projected revenue. "We will never be able to pay even the interest, let alone maintain the streets, now that the zoning has been changed to residential development. We are doing the snow removal and maintaining the parks. Could the town take over streets maintenance since that zoning was changed?"
Note: 330,000 square feet of commercial space was originally planned in Village Center Filing 4A, but the zoning was changed to residential in November 2014 by the trustees. See www.ocn.me/v14n12.htm#mbot1103.
Dustin Sparks, vice president of VCMD, said he hoped the town could help make the development approval process work better, because the metro district does not actually have any authority in making sure new roads and landscaping are really completed before being accepted, but VCMD has the responsibility of maintaining those roads. He and Romanello again requested to speak about this as a full agenda item in the near future.
Drone regulations left to FAA
Lowe said that in response to public comment and questions about drones on Oct. 3, planner Robert Bishop had researched the applicability of a town ordinance regarding use of drones. Staff conclusion was that it would be best for the town not to try to write its own ordinance but instead to defer to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules. People with questions about appropriate use of drones should see https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/.
Getting connected with town notices
Community Liaison Specialist Madeline VanDenHoek presented the trustees with information they had requested about how residents received news about the town and its events. She said the monthly newsletter, social media, and local print media such as Our Community News help people find out about social events, projects, parks, new developments, new stores, community activities, and volunteer opportunities. See the first page of www.townofmonument.org to get more connected with various town notifications.
At 8:32 p.m., the meeting went into executive session for a conference with the town attorney on receiving legal advice on two specific litigation matters. Town Clerk Sirochman told OCN that no announcements or votes were made when the meeting returned to public session.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners shown in bold italics.
Congressional District 5
State Board of Education Member - Congressional District 5
State Representative District 19
State Representative - District 20
(R) 26,517 (64.05%)
Julia Endicott (D) 12,461 (30.10%)
Judith Darcy (L) 2,425 (5.86%)
District Attorney - 4th Judicial District
(R) 259,720 (100.00%)
Board of County Commissioners District 3
El Paso County Questions 1A: County Opt-out of Broadband Ban
No 100,729 (34.12%)
Triview Metropolitan District Ballot Issue 5A: TABOR Override
No 1,029 (40.32%)
Academy School District 20 Ballot Issue 3A: Bond Authorization
No 23,383 (40.29%)
Town of Palmer Lake Ballot Issue 2A: Continue Sales Tax Rate
No 720 (45.20%)
Town of Palmer Lake Ballot Issue 2B: Marijuana Excise Tax
No 768 (48.06%)
Town of Palmer Lake Ballot Issue 2C: TABOR Override
No 541 (34.48%)
Town of Palmer Lake Ballot Question 2D: Publish Ordinances Online
No 662 (41.53%)
Town of Palmer Lake Initiated Issue 300: Retail Marijuana Sales Tax
No 733 (45.39%)
Town of Palmer Lake Initiated Question 301: Permit Retail Marijuana
Reflects results posted as of Nov. 28.
Voter turnout for El Paso County was 83%. 76% of Colorado’s 3.7 million registered voters cast ballots.
Full state results are at: http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/CO/63746/183105/Web01/en/summary.html.
Full county results are at: http://www.elpasoelections.com/2016General/Results/results.html.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Nov. 21 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, the trustees approved a work order agreement for Forsgren Associates to develop preliminary drawings for constructing an emergency waterline interconnection to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
It was a short, polite meeting, unlike the acrimonious Nov. 7 meeting.
WWSD emergency interconnection
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented a resolution approving a work order agreement with Forsgren for the Woodmoor Emergency Interconnect as the board had requested. After a few questions, it was approved 7-0.
For a cost not to exceed $30,000, Forsgren will study compatibility constraints between the town and WWSD’s water systems to include project management, determination of connection point, determination of water quality compatibility, preliminary design, and a cost estimate.
Note: This current agreement does not authorize any actual construction of the interconnection with WWSD. Forsgren has estimated construction would then cost about $737,000 and would take one to 1 1/2 years to complete once it is begun. That estimate included $105,000 in engineering costs, a $105,000 contingency line item, $50,000 for the intergovernmental agreement (IGA), and $100,000 for various permits (Colorado Department of Transportation, 404 Wetland, 1041 County, etc.).
Trustee Jeff Bornstein asked about what happens if there is only one bid for a capital project. Town Manager Chris Lowe said if the staff and engineering estimate indicated it was a realistic bid, that would not hold up the process. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the trustees could reject "any and all bids," too.
Mayor Jeff Kaiser lauded the "official dissolution of BRRTA, once its true purpose was done. This is the way government should really work." See related BRRTA celebration article .
Trustee Shea Medlicott said he and Lowe had a very productive 4.5 hour meeting recently. It included an idea for "first and second readings" of ordinances that would allow the trustees to have more time to process information presented in new ordinances, both those requested by trustees and those suggested by staff. Lowe said this could be accomplished with a discussion item on each meeting agenda, and there was consensus from the whole board to try this out.
Board authorization items
As noted during public comments at the Nov. 7 meeting, the Village Center Metro District (VCMD) is in financial trouble and is asking the town for help. The board authorized VCMD time for a 20-minute presentation to the board as soon as it can be scheduled. See related Nov. 7 Monument Board of Trustees article .
Checks over $5,000
As part of the consent agenda, the following checks over $5,000 were unanimously approved:
• Triview Metro District, sales, motor vehicle, regional building use tax − $167,726
• Berkadia Finance Co., annual debt payment on 1979 GO water bond − $6,725
• U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1997 Rural Water Loan final payment − $19,999
• Wells Fargo Capital Leases, semi-annual lease payment − $39,071
Public comments on water reuse plant, Santa on Patrol
During public comments, resident Nancy Swearengin reiterated the importance of spending the money to build a water reuse plant sooner rather than later. This would take the stress off the aquifers, which are being depleted, and allow the town time to find and purchase a long-term renewable water source, she said.
Police Chief Jake Shirk asked for residents to donate toys for distribution to local children in the Santa on Patrol event. For details, see the related Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District article on page 19.
"Who woulda thunk it?" as my mom says
Editor’s note: Astute readers who saw the Nov. 7 Board of Trustees meeting article might be wondering at this point, "Well, what happened?" The answer is, "Good question." As the meeting drew to its rapid conclusion, no one mentioned the Nov. 7 meeting, the attempt to unseat Mayor Kaiser and Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson, or the direction by four of seven trustees to Town Attorney Gary Shupp to come back to the board with an ordinance giving the board the authority to reverse a board appointment of a sitting trustee to mayor and/or mayor pro-tem and then immediately appoint a currently seated trustee to re-fill the newly open position(s). In the absence of an ordinance, they expected a legal explanation of why this could not be done.
At 7:06 p.m., the meeting went into executive session to receive legal advice on pending litigation. Code Enforcement Officer Laura Hogan told OCN that the board did not take any action or make any announcements after the executive session.
After the meeting adjourned, the board conducted a 2017 budget workshop that was open to the public.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
In November, the Palmer Lake Town Council met only once, on Nov. 10; the Nov. 24 meeting was cancelled due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The board heard an audit presentation from David Green & Associates, discussed a fence that was installed by a private citizen on town property, and passed ordinances and resolutions based on election results. Trustee Glant Havenar was absent.
Auditor offers suggestions
David Green of Green & Associates presented an audit report to the Palmer Lake Town Council He noted that the report had been due to the state in September but was delayed until November due to difficulties in completing the audit. The difficulties were not due to staff or software provider White Mountain’s willingness to help. Green noted that the audit takes a risk-based approach, gathering information about the organization and any changes in personnel, policies, procedures, and software leading to a consideration of internal controls.
There were about 17 audit adjustments, which is quite a few, and they significantly affected revenue. The goal of the audit is to express an opinion on the fair presentation of financial controls. It does not specifically express an opinion on internal controls, but when things come up that are significant or material it is Green’s duty to bring them up to the council. Some items do need to be addressed to make the audit go smoother and produce accurate financial statements throughout the year:
1. There is inadequate separation of duties, which means that the same person is performing multiple roles on both segments of a transaction process. As a small organization, that can be hard to resolve.
2. There is not a process in place for the daily closeout of utility billing. A formal daily closeout and reconciliation process should be implemented. Solid control structures will ensure that cash and assets are safeguarded and monthly numbers are correct and provide a good basis for making decisions.
3. Bank accounts for the water fund are not being reconciled on a monthly basis. Green said that the accounting software the town uses has features to automatically update the general ledger and track each fund as a set of self-balancing set of books.
The main suggestion was that the town bring in a certified public accountant (CPA) to provide a high-level review and to assist for a couple of hours a month to help close out the books and help develop policies and procedures. This should help to develop a usable process and make future audits go more quickly.
Mayor John Cressman thanked Green for his honesty and remarked that there were too many deficiencies, some of which were repeat findings from previous years. Trustee Rich Kuehster recalled that last year the town had received high marks. David Green responded that last year he did not put as much detail in the letter and a lot of issues were written off due to the town coverting to new software from White Mountain, which was an improvement from previous years. Green noted that he was able to gather enough audit evidence to issue a clean opinion that the financial statements are fairly represented.
Town Manager Cathy Green-Sinard noted that a number of the issues were taken care of but additional work was needed. Green-Sinard said she had talked to several accountants and would come back to the council with three proposals for an accountant to come in two days a month to help keep track of the town’s books and provide an extra set of eyes.
Private fence on town property
Green-Sinard raised an item for discussion regarding the town gate at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Star View Circle just southeast of the lake. The town had put the gate up on an unimproved right of way because kids were taking four-wheel-drive vehicles back there and starting bonfires. The town put dirt berms on either side of the gate so that no one could easily drive around the gate. This seemed to calm down unwanted activity.
Green-Sinard indicated that Kipp Murray, who lives on Star View, fenced his property right up to the town gate. She reported that there were some complaints that the fence had to pass through the town’s right of way to be attached to the gate. She said Murray feels that he has done the town a favor in securing the property from trespassers; others feel this is a public right of way and they should have access. There are also additional lots that are not currently developable, that can only be reached by this right of way. Green-Sinard suggested he bring the issue to the board for resolution.
Murray spoke to the council and indicated he improved the gate last October. Before that, police had been constantly having to deal with issues in those back lots. A lot of local kids went back there, built bonfires, and got inebriated, he said. Since the gate has been improved, there haven’t been any new occurrences. He also mentioned that a woman had fallen to her death while hiking in the back lots, creating a liability for property owners. He complained that people park at the intersection blocking the fire hydrant despite "no parking" signs. He noted that there is ample parking and access from the Santa Fe trailhead. Murray said the town hadn’t accepted responsibility for maintaining the right of way, and therefore there is only access for the property owners and not for the public. Murray asserted that the town is encouraging trespassing by creating that access.
Trustee Paul Banta, who lives in the area, said he had not seen people parking near the intersection. His biggest concern was that there is a fence at the front and at the back, which implies that Murray is taking steps to appropriate town land for himself. Murray indicated he had no interest in appropriating the land and that that since people would be fenced into his property, he had to fence the back gate to prevent them from coming in. Murray noted that lot owners, neighbors, police, and fire all have keys to that gate. He said he and other property owners are concerned about the liability if the town were to put in a trailhead and that they would want a liability waiver from the town in case anyone gets hurt.
Town lawyer Maureen Juran noted that the land is owned by the town and that no one can adversely possess government-owned land. She also indicated that the town would not provide a liability waiver. It is up to property owners to keep people off their property by putting up signs or using other methods. It is a public roadway for all of the public; the town can, at any time, say you’ve encroached on town property and must remove any changes. Mayor John Cressman suggested that the fence be opened up by moving the posts back 24 inches so people can walk back there but not drive.
Green-Sinnard said that the town had asked Murray to move the fence and he said he would do so in April, but it never happened. She said if he moved it two feet, the town would be happy. Cressman indicated it was good resolution. A motion was made to require Murray to remove the back fence and to move the fence 2.5 feet away from the gate toward the Santa Fe Trail to allow bikes to get through. The motion carried unanimously.
• The town unanimously approved a business license for Purple Door LLC, a company that makes vintage signs and is owned by John Craft and his wife Deb. The company is located at 579 County Line Road.
• The town unanimously approved a business license for Arlene’s Beans LLC at 56A Highway 105, across from The Rock House. The business will include a convenience store, takeout Mexican food and, upon approval of a liquor license, beer and wine.
• The town adopted ordinance 2.04.125 of the Palmer Lake municipal code to publish only the title of any new ordinances in the paper with a notice that the body of the ordinance can be viewed online and in person at Town Hall after the approval of voters in the November election.
• The town approved a lien on two properties for failure to pay outstanding water bills of over $7,000.
• The town postponed discussion on bids for HVAC work in Town Hall, sending it back for more information.
• Town lawyer Juran is working on reviewing code to implement the wholesale marijuana excise tax and public safety tax extension that passed in the November election.
The next two meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 and Dec. 24, at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953 and www.townofpalmerlake.com.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Nov. 8, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) approved its 2017 budget, wondered aloud when the current total phosphorous (TP) clarifier construction project would really be completed, and heard another great report on the overall efficiency of the treatment plant in meeting its discharge permit standards by removing a wide variety of pollutants.
The JUC directors also made recommendations about action to find out more about the town of Monument’s plans for treating radium in its water supply and its effects on TLWWTF and learned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently "took no action" on some potentially overreaching nutrients interim values and other regulations approved by the Colorado Water Quality Control Division in 2012.
TLWWTF operates as a separate joint venture public utility and is 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: WWSD board Director at Large Rich Strom, president, was excused and was represented by WWSD board President Jim Taylor; MSD board Chairman Ed Delaney, vice president; and PLSD board and JUC Secretary/Treasurer Ken Smith. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
2017 budget and appropriations approved
The JUC members have been working on the 2017 draft budget for the last few months. After a bit more discussion and a public hearing at which no member of the public spoke, the JUC unanimously approved the 2017 TLWWTF budget as well as the companion resolution to appropriate the funds for the 2017 budget.
Plant manager’s report
Facility manager Bill Burks said that the facility passed its third-quarter Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) test without any problems.
The monthly discharge monitoring report (DMR) to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) showed the members that the sampling results were well within the required parameters of the effluent discharge permit as usual.
Burks also said that he had missed collecting and submitting the third-quarter nonylphenol sample and discussed the letter he sent to CDPHE that explained how he would prevent this mistake from recurring in future. The facility’s nonylphenol tests normally have "not detected" results.
Burks said that the new total phosphorus (TP) chemical removal clarifier expansion, which was supposed to be done by now, was still waiting on Aslan Construction to finish up a few loose ends and also waiting on a final fire inspection from the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.
Orcutt expressed concern that the construction and the associated final payment might not be finalized before the end of 2016 at this rate. "We will be in a bit of a pickle (with our budgets) if this goes into next year," she said. Burks said he hoped to have a final Aslan invoice by the end of November.
Concerns about radium discussed again
Wicklund clarified the concerns he had voiced at the Oct. 11 meeting about the treatment procedure option the town of Monument seems to be planning to use to remove radium from its drinking water, starting next summer. He said if the radium, a Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM), is treated by the town using the Hydrous Manganese Oxide (HMO) filtration process proposed by the town’s engineering consultant firm Forsgren Associates, it changes these radionuclides from NORM to Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM), which must be dealt with very carefully.
Note: TENORM is created when material containing radionuclides that are naturally present in rocks, soils, water, and minerals become concentrated and/or exposed to the accessible environment as a result of human activities such as manufacturing, water treatment, or mining operations.
Currently there are no federal regulations specifically controlling TENORM. The EPA has only issued guidance that recommends that radioactively contaminated soils should be cleaned up so remnant radium concentrations are 5 picocuries per liter or less, or 5 picocuries per gram or less for soils. The radionuclide Radium-226, a decay product of uranium and thorium with a radiation decay half-life of 1,600 years, is the principal source of radiation doses to humans from natural surroundings. Radium-226 in TENORM materials can occur in concentrations ranging from undetectable amounts to as much as several hundred thousand picocuries per gram. Also, relatively few landfills or other licensed disposal locations can accept radioactive waste. See www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-04/documents/402-r-00-001.pdf and www.epa.gov/radiation/technologically-enhanced-naturally-occurring-radioactive-materials-tenorm.
The federal EPA has not delegated any of its authority to protect the public health and environment from adverse effects of exposure to ionizing radiation, including its NORM or TENORM authority, to the state CDPHE, as it has for much of its other clean water and drinking water regulatory authority.
MSD Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick said there is a profound difference between NORM and TENORM and that the three owner districts of TLWWTF could be sued for this issue in perpetuity if there were to be any issue downstream, or if TLWWTF sludge containing TENORM were to be inadvertently or incorrectly land-applied. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#tlwwjuf.
This HMO process would create a higher radium concentration in the filtration byproducts in the town water treatment plant. This residual HMO filtration TENORM hazardous material would then be directly discharged to the MSD collection system as a constituent in the town’s water treatment plant filter periodic backwash water discharge.
Burks asked if the backwash from the town’s wells or the TLWWTF sludge had been tested to see what the NORM levels of radium concentration were now. Gillette said they are not required to test unless they are actually "treating ‘for’ radium" in addition to using dilution, the first recommended choice for handling radium in drinking water.
MSD board member (and recent former Town of Monument board trustee) John Howe voiced a concern after attending the Nov. 7 Monument Board of Trustees meeting where the trustees approved a resolution for a loan application with the National Rural Water Association to help pay for the HMO process the town plans to use to resolve the radium violation for Town Well 9.
He said one of the disadvantages discussed in the memo from Tharnish explaining the loan application in the Nov. 7 trustee board packet said, "HMO removes the radium from the treated water and puts it into the backwash water which flows to the waste water facility which has more than adequate dilution available. It is a new maintenance item with additional chemical feed and handling which will require additional monitoring at appropriate times." Howe said he was concerned whether the town "had contacted Mike or anybody."
Wicklund told the JUC members that MSD had not been notified about the current radium situation in Well 9 by the town Water Department, any town staff, or any of the town politicians. "The last time the town’s Forsgren engineer contacted me, it was about treating radium in Well 6 in the mobile home park and at that time I told him no, and my board of directors also was in agreement with that. We didn’t want anything to do with this. They were talking about a different type of removal on that" well. Burks said that he had not heard anything from the Town of Monument either.
Wicklund also said that typically it is the applicant proposing a new treatment process who comes forward with what they propose. Orcutt said, "They don’t have you in the loop." Burks said it did not make any sense.
Kendrick distributed a copy of the technical letter Forsgren gave to the town’s Board of Trustees on Oct. 17. The letter stated that, with regard to Forsgren’s recommended HMO filtration process, "a large portion of the radium will end up in the biosolids at the wastewater treatment plant. If there are restrictions on radium in the biosolids, it may be possible to … bring the radium back into solution … and exit the system through the wastewater treatment discharge and not in the biosolids. The WWTF discharge permit does not include limits for radium."
Kendrick and Wicklund said this technical memo did not distinguish between NORM and TENORM, and this is opposite of what they learned at the Oct. 26, 2016 Water Quality Management Committee (WQMC) and various AFCURE meetings from Dave Stanford, president of H2O Consultants Ltd. Stanford, who is licensed to treat and handle radionuclide waste at water treatment facilities, discussed the difference between NORM and TENORM with them at length.
Kendrick also recommended a new zero discharge sewer use regulation for TENORM industrial discharges be created and approved for both TLWWTF and MSD. This would prevent any TENORM from being in the TLWWTF treated effluent, which would likely create issues regarding any of the TLWWTF effluent owned by the Town of Monument or WWSD being eligible for reuse, he added. "And once you flip the switch on this, it’s hard to recover."
Gillette said protocol dictated that Wicklund, as MSD district manager, with Burks in attendance, should first get more solid information about how the HMO process would impact MSD’s system so they could both find out more from the town and CDPHE and then let the JUC know more about this town-proposed MSD industrial discharge. Gillette said Burks should contact CDPHE and find out how the state will address this proposed new TENORM process.
Burks said that the town could brief all the TLWWTF owners and answer all their questions at a single JUC meeting and that the town’s TENORM industrial waste should be handled in the same way as the existing Synthes plant zero discharge industrial waste procedures and inspections by MSD and TLWWTF.
Wicklund agreed that MSD would take the first step, but that it also seemed that Burks, the plant operator, should also be concerned with taking concentrated radionuclide waste into the plant. "I think the plant and the JUC need to know about this and understand it." He added that Synthes always contacts both MSD and Burks on any of its zero discharge matters. Kendrick stated that the town’s lack of transparency on this HMO commercial discharge issue and lack of town concern about the impact on either MSD or TLWWTF, much less the town’s own wastewater reuse plans, have to be stopped. See related Nov. 7 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 1.
Starting over on regulations
Kendrick told the members about the first of three new Colorado Regulation 85 Nutrient Management Stakeholder Work Group meetings that was held on Nov. 1. This series of meetings will be the only opportunity for stakeholders like TLWWTF to present their proposed changes to this nutrient regulation to the CDPHE Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) before the June 2017 Water Quality Control Commission’s triennial San Juan, Gunnison Water Quality Standards Regulations 34 and 35 rulemaking hearing, to be held in Gunnison. This hearing will also address statewide temperature issues even though it is only a basin hearing. There will be a full statewide Nutrients Management Control Reg. 85 and Reg. 31.17 rulemaking hearing in Denver on Oct. 10, 2017. See www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/1611_LRS.pdf.
Why should residents of the Tri-Lakes area be concerned about the San Juan/Gunnison Basin hearings, since we are in the Arkansas River Basin, you may ask. Kendrick said that environmental attorney Gabe Racz of Vranish & Raisch LLP, an advocate for stakeholders including TLWWTF and MSD, told the division that the issues involving nutrients and other topics should instead be resolved in future Triennial Regulation 31 hearings "where everyone is in the room in Denver, rather than at the San Juan/Gunnison Basin hearing in 2017 and the like, that are then applied statewide despite all the variation between basins." A full Regulation 31 Triennial Review hearing was held in June 2016. See www.ocn.me/v16n8.htm#tlwfjuc0712.
One more piece to understand is Regulation 31.17. In June 2012, the division added a new "interim values" section 31.17 to Regulation 31. These interim water quality stream values for total phosphorus and total nitrogen were supposed to encourage dischargers to prepare to meet much stricter nutrient standards in the future. The EPA had 60 days to respond to the interim values for nutrients the division proposed, but they did not answer until four years later, in October 2016.
Kendrick said that on Nov. 1, CDPHE Clean Water Program Manager Nicole Rowan told the nutrient stakeholders that some of the provisions of Regulation 31.17 were approved by the EPA, but "no action" was taken (i.e. they were not approved, so it was a no confidence vote) on the sections discussing interim total phosphorus values and interim total nitrogen values for both warm and cold rivers and streams, invalidating the implementation timeline for broader application of Reg. 85 Phase 2 numeric total phosphorus and total nitrogen standards to all wastewater dischargers. This was because the EPA could not validate Colorado’s scientific basis technical approach for setting these interim values, and therefore could not defend them in court. Note: The statewide Colorado Nutrient Coalition of wastewater dischargers had commissioned its own scientific study that showed the same results in 2010.
Water Quality Control Commission Administrator Trisha Oeth then stated that the EPA "does not expect any 31.17 interim values implementation" by Colorado between 2017 and 2022.
Because of that change, all the planning for capital improvements that dischargers such as TLWWTF have been trying to do in anticipation of meeting 31.17’s much stricter nutrient restrictions, assuming that they would have become "real" water quality standards in the future, has basically been wasted dollars and energy. Kendrick said at the Nov. 1 meeting and at this JUC meeting that the state’s goals were always "unaffordable, unsustainable, and unattainable."
Kendrick also quoted Oeth as saying, "There are now no EPA-approved nitrogen standards, so there are no nitrogen actions required by dischargers." He added that Racz advocated for getting the EPA’s reasoning for its non-action on the Colorado interim values in writing, since so far it has only been verbal communication at meetings.
Wicklund said what this means for TLWWTF is when sampling shows (minimal) total phosphorus (TP) or total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) at Baptist Road, below the Monument Creek mixing zone downstream of the TLWWTF effluent discharge point, "We might not have to contemplate constructing any $30-$40 million treatment for total inorganic nitrogen."
Meanwhile, Burks said that the brand new $3.6 million total phosphorus (TP) chemical removal clarifier expansion project should be completed any day now. The expansion will allow TLWWTF, which currently has no designed TP treatment capacity, to comply with the state’s Control Regulation 85 TP discharge effluent limit of 1 milligram per liter (mg/l) by Nov. 1, 2019 in accordance with the compliance schedule in the facility’s May 1, 2015 five-year discharge permit.
Wicklund said that each individual discharge permit is written with specific nutrients limits in it, which are still based on Regulation 85, and they still have to meet those standards. "We already have to treat phosphorous to 1 mg/l, and treat total inorganic nitrogen to 15 mg/l now, and we are well within that!" Those same Reg. 85 phosphorus limits can now be met even without activating the brand new $3.6 million TP clarifier, which was built in anticipation of the stricter 31.17 interim values becoming standards that the EPA has now voided.
What’s wrong with imposing even stricter guidelines than are already there, you may ask. Kendrick reminded the JUC members that the TLWWTF meets all the current standards designated in its permit each month with flying colors and that Monument Creek contains the right amount of aquatic life, as shown by quarterly WET tests conducted by environmental engineering GEI Consultants Inc. Making this plant meet EPA’s proposed tougher TP and TN standards is still technologically impossible, Kendrick said, but the interim values that have now been dismissed were developed assuming that new technology would become available in the future.
Kendrick said Racz told the Nov. 1 workgroup meeting participants that the implied phasing by the TP/TN Reg 31.17 2022 deadline, though no longer valid if the interim values are not repealed, will still compel wasteful interim spending on currently available nutrient treatment technologies that may make new equipment that would have to be installed by 2022 rapidly and wastefully obsolete, as now appears to have happened with the TLWWTF TP expansion project that is still not yet operational.
Kendrick said the division will bring up all these topics (and more) at the next workgroup meeting in January. "We are in flux."
At 11:48 a.m., the members voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters. Burks told OCN that no action was taken.
The next meeting will be held Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053 or see www.tlwastewater.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield and Jim Kendrick
At the Nov. 8 Triview Metropolitan District Board meeting, the directors approved a water rates increase for all customers, a tap fee increase on new development, and took steps to reduce their interest payments on $43 million in bonds. After the executive session, they voted to approve an infrastructure agreement with Creekside Development LLC.
Director Jim Otis was absent.
Water rates to increase
Vice President Mark Melville presented the directors with analysis he had done with the help of water attorney Chris Cummins of Monson, Cummins & Shohet LLC. President Reid Bolander said the water enterprise fund is not standing on its own, since about $200,000 a year is transferred to it from the general fund. Melville said that the district’s infrastructure is aging and preventive maintenance is needed. Fixed costs also continue to increase.
The consensus was that the district needs to develop a five-year plan of scheduled increases, but meanwhile an increase was needed so that they could begin to close the revenue gap, and next year they will do more calculations for a longer-term plan.
The directors unanimously approved the following increases, effective Feb. 1:
• Base rates for both residential and commercial customers increase $2 a month.
• Three percent increase in volumetric use for residential accounts up to 20,000 gallons per month.
• Fifteen percent increase in volumetric use for residential accounts for all gallons used over 20,000 gallons per month.
• Three percent increase in all tiers of volumetric use for commercial accounts.
The consensus was to postpone implementation of this increase to Feb. 1, because Triview residents will also see a change in January as the new automated billing system from AmCoBi begins, and the directors wanted to give everyone a chance to get used to that format before the water rates also changed.
The directors planned to schedule a community meeting early next year to explain all the details, options, and financial reasoning in preparation for creating a five-year schedule of rate increases to make the enterprise fund more healthy. Sewer rates will not change right now.
Tap fee increase approved
The directors unanimously approved a four-year schedule of tap fee increases. This is the fee that developers pay to connect new construction to the existing water or sewer infrastructure. The increases to take effect were:
• May 1, 2017 − $4,000 total increase including water taps, sewer taps, and the renewable water impact fee.
• Jan. 1, 2018 − $1,000 increase to water and sewer tap fees
• Jan. 1, 2020 − $1,000 increase to water and sewer tap fees
Millions in bonds to be refinanced soon
Representatives of D.A. Davidson & Co., which will be the underwriter to purchase the bonds, and Butler Snow, the firm providing public financing legal advice, answered many questions of the board.
Then the directors voted unanimously to approve a parameters resolution that is a first step in getting about $43 million in Debt Series 2009 general obligation bonds sold and authorized and then issue new general obligation refund Debt Series 2016 bonds. TABOR requires that this action result in a reduction of interest costs to the district, and District Manager Valerie Remington said this move should save the district about $800,000 in 2017 alone.
Standard & Poor’s will assign a bond rating after determining the financial health of the district by analyzing the number of households, commercial businesses, and projected growth in assessed valuation. The board will find out by Dec. 8 exactly what the new interest rate will be.
Public comment on potential agreement
Former Triview board member Steve Remington spoke "as a resident" during public comments about his concerns about a decision they might be discussing during the executive session. These were the same concerns he voiced in July regarding Colorado Structures Inc. (CSI), saying, "They have promised Triview a lot in the past that they have not delivered on."
Steve Remington then listed a few examples of the parent company CSI causing problems for Triview, the Phelans’ developer metropolitan district, including threatening Triview with a lawsuit and forcing a bad water agreement on them while the district was trying to refinance $48 million in bonds last time.
He strongly suggested that if the board did approve an agreement, to make sure it included a firm timeline on CSI’s commitments.
Background on Steve Remington’s comments: CSI is the parent company of the individual limited liability company (LLC) Creekside Development LLC. Large developers typically set up new LLC’s for each housing or commercial land development that they initiate so that a liability lawsuit or bankruptcy related to an individual project does not cause a liability or bankruptcy of the parent company. CSI has been the primary land development company used by the original landowners of the Regency Park Subdivision, Tim and Tom Phelan, along with their attorney Peter Susemihl, who created Triview as one of Colorado’s two very first developer districts. The Phelans, Susemihl, and their partners, the Walker family, ran Triview for the first eight years of significant development until Colorado term limits on special district board members terminated Susemihl’ s and the Walters’ controversial tenure on the Triview board. Kathy Walters was president of the Triview board and her brother Gary Walters was a director. The Town of Monument took over operations of Triview on April 22, 2009. See www.ocn.me/v2n2.htm#triview, www.ocn.me/v4n6.htm#triview, www.ocn.me/v9n5.htm#bot406, and www.ocn.me/v9n6.htm#tmd.
The 117-acre Vern Walters Ranch parcel eventually became Classic Homes’ Promontory Pointe development after several bankruptcies by individual LLC subsidiaries of other large developer corporations. Three previous Promontory Pointe developer subsidiary LLC’s of Landco, Pulte Homes, and John Laing Homes failed to develop the property. Landco had problems associated with the new U.S. Olympic Committee building in Colorado Springs and Landco owner Ray Marshall. John Laing Homes has also gone bankrupt.
Use the "exact phrase" search at the top right of the OCN home page (www.ocn.me) with the phrase "Promontory Pointe" to review the first 40 OCN articles on this parcel that chronicle the history of the town’s annexation and site plan hearing for the former Walters Ranch property. See www.ocn.me/v5n11.htm#monpc and www.gazette.com/criminal-charges-reinstated-against-colorado-springs-developer-ray-marshall/article/1517995.
Furthermore, the Phelans held all the original bonds that financed every action by Triview that paid them 9 to 12 percent on over $47 million in debt, entirely free of federal and state taxes for decades, creating a Triview debt that peaked at $48 million.
Steve Remington, while treasurer of the Triview board, negotiated successful refinancing of the debt with five lenders: Wells Fargo, UMB, Compass Bank, and D.A. Davidson, and Piper-Jaffrey. A refinancing agreement with Wells Fargo Brokerage Services LLC in Denver was signed at a special Triview board meeting on Sept. 15, 2009 for 27 series of tax-free bonds in variable total amounts to investors, each maturing annually on Nov. 1 from 2013 to 2039. The average life of the series of these new fixed-rate bonds was 19.7 years. The net interest cost for the series of bonds is about 4.76 percent.
Development agreement after executive session
The meeting went into executive session at 7:40 p.m. to confer with the district’s attorney regarding legal advice on specific legal questions and personnel matters.
When the board returned to open session, Cummins summarized the resolution. He said it was to facilitate rapid funding of infrastructure for Creekside Developers LLC whereby they would install infrastructure related to their property, pay not only the usual and standard district fees for each of those properties but also a special impact fee. A portion of the tap fees, and that special impact fee, would then go into a fund to at least partially reimburse the developer for their advance funding of that infrastructure. They also have agreed to fund $1 million of water infrastructure not specifically related to their development.
The directors unanimously approved the agreement as presented and authorized President Bolander to sign the agreement.
Public hearing on 2017 budget
One member of the public spoke regarding the draft of the 2017 budget. Resident Jason Gross asked why so many of the categories in the draft budget were projected in the negative for 2017. Bolander said that draft was just to alert everyone to the choices that need to be made but that before next month’s meeting when the board votes on the final budget, it will be tweaked so that it is a balanced budget and no reserve fund money is used "just to keep the lights on."
Melville encouraged all members of the public to attend the budget meetings that also cover options and implications.
Checks over $5,000
The directors unanimously approved the following checks over $5,000:
• JDS Hydro, Sanctuary Pointe Pump Station − $8,472
• DN tanks, Sanctuary Pointe 1.1 MG tank − $109,850
• John M. Hurley district, asphalt mill, overlay, patch, replacement − $48,376,
• John M. Hurley, Talus Road asphalt mill, overlay, extensive patch/replacement − $11,960
Water Superintendent Josh Cichocki said the district had received "three big thank yous" from residents for the Talus Road asphalt repairs.
Cichocki’s comments included:
• The new Sanctuary Pointe water tank is being tested, and it’s going very smoothly.
• Well A-4 went down and he hopes it’s back up soon.
• Erosion repair on drainage is in progress and will continue next year.
Valerie Remington’s comments included:
• Water and wastewater system asset management study is under way.
• Reuse study is still underway.
The meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.
Note: Triview’s ballot measure asking residents to allow the district to collect, retain, and spend any property tax revenues over the TABOR revenue cap was approved by voters on Nov. 8. This will be discussed in more detail at the next meeting, where the 2017 budget will be finalized.
The next Triview meeting will be held Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn, Mt. Herman Conference Room, 15275 Struthers Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868 or see www.colorado.gov/triviewmetro. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook, or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met on Nov. 17 to hear the results of an analysis of rates prepared by Raftelis Financial Consultants, to hear comments on the proposed budget from the public, to get an update on the revegetation efforts underway at JV Ranch, to hear a response to questions raised at the October meeting about the use of sod, and to consider a request to address low water pressure from a family in the district. Typically, the board meets on the second Thursday of each month, but the November meeting was held a week later.
Growth in district brings increase in revenue; Renewable Water Investment Fee reduced
Rob Wadsworth of Raftelis presented to the board the preliminary results of his cost of service modeling. The analysis is the fourth he has done for the district.
According to Wadsworth, growth in the district was greater than anticipated in the last analysis of rates. The unexpected growth brought a 2.2 percent increase in revenue from water sales and a 3.3 percent increase in sewer fees, Wadsworth said. Balances in the district’s funds are higher than expected due to this growth, Wadsworth added.
District Manager Jessie Shaffer noted that the district had planned to add 40 new taps in 2016, but in fact 119 taps had already been added by November 2016. The expectation was that residential construction would remain high for the next two years, and the district was planning for 80 new taps per year for the next two years.
Shaffer said he expected Misty Acres and Village Center Filing 4 to be the locations seeing the most new construction. There are about 200 vacant lots in the district that might be developed, Shaffer said.
Wadsworth said he built an assumption into his model that capital construction projects at the JV Ranch would be funded through general obligation bonds, which are paid for through taxes and not through service rates. Shaffer said construction of a pipeline to bring water from the JV Ranch to the district’s customers was a project that would be funded with bonds and not through rate increases.
Wadsworth and Shaffer also said increased growth would allow the Renewable Water Investment Fee to be reduced by $1 per month.
Two scenarios for rates and revenues discussed
Based on his modeling work, Wadsworth said one approach the board could use would be to avoid an increase in sewer and water rates in 2017. The previous rate modeling, done a year ago, projected an increase of 4 percent in both rates, but the higher-than-expected growth gave the board the option to delay raising rates, Wadsworth said.
Alternatively, the board could decide to raise rates slightly and use the higher rates to address the fact that non-potable water customers have historically been charged less than the cost of delivering non-potable water, and therefore have been subsidized by potable water customers. Non-potable water is not treated, and therefore has a lower cost of delivery than potable water, but non-potable customers have still been under-charged, Wadsworth said. In this second scenario, the board could increase water revenue 1 percent in 2017, 2 percent in 2018 and 4 percent in 2019 and subsequent years, and bring the fees for non-potable water in line with the cost of delivering it over the next five years.
After a lengthy discussion, the consensus of the board was to continue the transition to charging non-potable customers a rate in line with the cost of service, but to allow 10 years, rather than five, to complete the transition.
Details of the new rates are posted on the district’s web page at www.woodmoorwater.com. Comments by the public can be made at the public hearing portion of the next board meeting, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Dec. 8.
Citizens question board decisions on JV Ranch purchase
A portion of the meeting was devoted to a public hearing on the proposed 2017 budget. The bulk of the public comments did not address the budget directly, but instead focused on the board’s decisions concerning the purchase of the JV Ranch and how the costs related to the purchase have been passed on to district customers.
Residents Diane Betts and David Motica both argued that the board’s decision to purchase the JV Ranch and its water rights was a poor one, since there was not a clearly defined plan to deliver the ranch’s water to the district. Both said they thought water from the ranch would never be available for them to actually use, and objected to the fact that owners of single-family residences are charged more for the purchase costs than residents of multi-family housing are charged, which was not fair in their view. Betts and Motica argued that owners of single-family residences and residents of townhomes and apartments should all pay an identical flat rate to cover the costs of the JV Ranch water rights until such time as the water can actually be used.
Board President Jim Taylor pointed out that the purchase was a long-term investment that ensured the district would have water well into the future, and that the ranch purchase helped support the value of homes in the district. Taylor also argued that different rates were based on historical data about consumption that showed single-family residences used more water than multi-family residences.
Shaffer reminded the board that there was still a dialogue going on between the district and Colorado Springs about how to move water from the ranch to the district, so it was premature to assume the water would never be delivered to the district. Board member at large Brian Bush said the board acted wisely when they purchased the JV Ranch water rights, because now it is very difficult, if not impossible, to purchase water rights of the same magnitude.
Revegetation effort ahead of schedule at JV Ranch
Paul Flak, the range management consultant who is managing the revegetation work at the JV Ranch, gave the board a progress report. Revegetation is required to protect topsoil when water rights are converted from agricultural to municipal applications.
According to Flak, two areas have been revegetated to date, and those areas are half the total acres that need to be revegetated at the ranch. The revegetation started with the areas in the worst shape, Flak said.
In 2016, the cattle were removed from the ranch, neglected infrastructure was repaired, a crew was hired, the pastures were assessed and the weeds were mowed. A sprinkler system was also designed and built, Flak said.
Flak said 175 acres have been seeded, 1,000 acres have gone through weed abatement, and 275 acres have been irrigated with the mobile sprinkler system that is easy to move to new locations as needed.
Use of sod in Village Center Metro District defended
Forrest Hindley, a member of the Village Center Metro District board, responded to comments made by resident Darryl Beckmann at the October meeting, when Beckmann questioned the use of irrigated sod in the Village Center landscaping. Hindley said that water conservation was considered by the developer, who chose to use a grass developed in Texas, called survivalist hybrid tall fescue, which requires only half the water used to grow other varieties of grass because of its deep roots. Hindley also pointed out that Landhuis Development also upgraded its water lines to allow the use of non-potable water to irrigate common spaces.
Low pressure plagues customers
Dr. Tom Davis asked the board to help him resolve an issue of low water pressure at his house, which is at a higher elevation than most of the houses in the district. Davis said the water pressure at this house has decreased over the years, despite the installation of low-flow toilets and showerheads and water-efficient appliances. Pressure at his residence averages 40 PSI, Davis said.
Shaffer said the altitude of their home contributed to the low pressure, but the failure of a filtering station that required the district to transfer water between service zones also contributed to a period of very low pressure at the Davis residence. Shaffer said there were long-term plans to improve the pressure in the Davis’s neighborhood, but in the short term he would recommend an in-line booster.
The board voted to allocate funds to equip all the residences in the Davis’s neighborhood that shared the low-pressure problem with in-line boosters.
The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
Ten members of the public attended the Nov. 15 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) Board of Directors meeting, where the main topic of discussion was the imminent downsizing of the district and the precipitous drop in property tax revenue coming in the next two years. See www.ocn.me/v3n9.htm#fhr, www.ocn.me/v3n11.htm#dwfpd, and www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#dwfpd for background on the situation.
Director Harland Baker was excused. Assistant Chief Scott Ridings was dispatched to a structure fire.
Big changes coming for Wescott
Gleneagle North Homeowner’s Association Treasurer Gary Rusnak asked the board about what Wescott agreed to in the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) signed with the City of Colorado Springs after the city "gobbled up" more of Wescott’s territory, as Chief Vinny Burns called it.
After the meeting, Executive Administrator Stacy Popovich verified for OCN that the IGA has been signed by both parties and is currently is scheduled to be finalized in December.
The IGA between DWFPD and the city covers the exclusion of the portion of the DWFPD service area now annexed into the city from Interquest Parkway north to Northgate Boulevard. The overall effect will be to reduce the size of the district’s service area by half of its current 22 square miles and reduce its total revenue by 66 percent beginning in 2019 under the current district property tax of 7.0 mills.
Background: This change was caused by the Colorado Springs Fire Department’s (CSFD) recent opening of CSFD Fire Station 22, 13 years after the city’s annexation of the affected properties. DWFPD (previously named El Paso County Volunteer Fire Department 1) has provided fire service to this area for over 40 years. A court decision allowed DWFPD to continue collecting full property taxes from the city’s annexed area due to the city not providing local fire service. The city did not give a discount or refund to the annexed property owners for not providing a staffed local CSFD fire station.
In 2017, exclusion of annexed city property from Interquest Parkway north to the proposed location of the Powers Boulevard extension with I-25 will occur, but DWFPD will still receive 100 percent of previously projected revenue that was generated in 2016 by DWFPD property taxes in that area of the city, because these property taxes are distributed by El Paso County the year after they are collected.
In 2018, the exclusion of the current southern dual-taxed DWFPD service from the planned Powers Boulevard right-of-way north to Northgate Boulevard will occur, and the district’s overall property tax revenue received will be about 33 percent lower than in 2017.
In 2019 and onward, DWFPD will neither earn nor receive any revenue at all from any of the de-included territory south of Northgate Road, and so its overall property tax revenue received will be about 66 percent (or about $1.5 million) lower than about $2.2 million received in 2017.
Wescott’s remaining land area in 2019 will include its current territory north of Northgate Boulevard plus two unannexed county areas straddling Voyager Parkway between Old Ranch Road and The Classical Academy.
The district plans to put a mill levy increase measure on the ballot in 2017 asking district residents to help pay for whatever level of continued district services they want to receive. The measure might only be asked of district property owners within the smaller county sub-district "that was created so that we could avoid city influence on the vote on mill levy, and just ask you folks," Burns said.
But even if that mill levy increase ballot question is successful, 2018 will be a very lean revenue year because the potentially increased mill levy would not be imposed until 2018 and not remitted to the district until 2019. Burns said he hopes the 2017 budget savings and other accumulated past reserve funds will allow them to keep operating in 2018 and early 2019. During this interval, the staff will be working with only 34 percent of their current budget. If the mill levy increase is defeated in the 2017 election, the district will continue to have only 34 percent of its 2016 property tax revenue in both 2018 and thereafter.
The board’s consensus was that it would be vital to have good communication with the homeowners associations in the remaining county section of DWFPD to get public input on the creation of a viable mill levy measure for a 2017 election.
More questions came from the public about the date on the resolution approving the board’s decision to sign the IGA when it was finalized. Gent explained that it had been drafted for Sept. 20 but not signed until Sept. 27’s extra executive session, and the date on the signed document was not changed to reflect that delay.
Rusnak said he represented 400 constituents and wondered if there were any way to get notification of special meetings such as the one on Sept. 27. Popovich said notices were posted on the Station 1 board and on the website, but if anyone wanted to receive email notices, they could contact her.
2017’s reduced budget discussed
Chairman Greg Gent said the district has plans to cut $322,000 from the 2017 budget to help in 2018, but previous Wescott board president and Gleneagle Civic Association representative Bill Lowes said, "That is not even close to what you need to cut. You better do some more checking." Rusnak added, "You have to implement your reduction in service now, in order to spread that savings into next year and 2018 to prepare for 2019."
By 2019, the district’s service area will be cut in half, but the district will still have three firefighter shifts and other needs that will not be cut in half. "That’s why we need to know what is the bare minimum service level when we ask for a mill levy," Gent said.
The draft budget included cuts to administration expenditures bringing it below 2015 levels, and cuts to firefighting operations bringing it back to 2015 levels.
The biggest single cut suggested was to eliminate all overtime pay for 2017, so if firefighters call in sick or go on vacation and no volunteer firefighters can be found to fill a shift, that shift position will go unfilled, until the next two-day shift reports for duty.
Burns said the only overtime that would be allowed would be for wildland deployments, since all the money for both the deployed firefighters and the ones paid overtime to backfill them would eventually be reimbursed through the federal government.
Director Bo McAllister said that as a resident of the district he was not comfortable with eliminating overtime completely. "I rose up through the rank of volunteers in this district, and sometimes you just can’t get a volunteer. There is going to come a time where that puts our community in jeopardy." Burns said that is why the district needed to "start cutting stuff back to make ends meet. There is no other way around it. There could be days where there are just two people here," instead of three to five. If needed, he said, "We would also be on call for a neighboring fire department to help us." Note: At the Oct. 18 meeting, Ridings had said, "We are holding our engines in district right now ‘just in case’ due to dry conditions," implying that they could not currently provide mutual aid outside the district.
Note: The fourth Wescott shift billet is currently filled by an American Medical Response (AMR) paramedic under a long-standing contract between Wescott and AMR for outsourced district ambulance service.
Rusnak brought up the topic of an early or immediate shutdown of Wescott’s Station 2 to save some costs. "There is no reason to keep that thing open." Former Wescott board treasurer and volunteer paramedic Dennis Feltz said that community input has not been received on that other station yet.
Note: Station 2 is the "Shamrock Station," opened in 2012 at 15505 Highway 83. The only debt the district holds now is a $1.2 million loan to pay for its construction. See www.ocn.me/v12n4.htm#shamrock.
Station 3 put on market
At 7:30 p.m., the directors went into executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer or sale of real, personal, or other property interests. Gent said it would concern Station 3, which sits on slightly less than a half-acre of land at 15000 Sun Hills Drive. It is currently being used for storage, training, and some meetings.
Popovich told OCN (and the residents who asked to be notified via email), "After the executive session, we did have a motion to enter into a contract with Livia Smith as our realtor to list Station 3 for sale. The listing price will be set at $195,000. This motion was unanimously approved."
The next Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For information, call Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Wescott Fire served its district members in November by mowing on the former Gleneagle Golf Course to reduce the fire risk from weeds that have grown tall and close to homeowners’ fences. Wescott coordinated with the Gleneagle Civic Association, Scott Gratrix, Roger Lance (who provided the mower and assisting with mowing), and Donala Water and Sanitation District Director Ken Judd to create a 20-30 foot buffer. Photo by Chief Vinny Burns.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Nov. 15 Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) meeting, the directors held a public hearing on the proposed 2017 budget and approved the 2017 fee schedule. They also changed the TLMFPD meeting location starting in 2017, learned about construction of a new town parking lot, and heard a request for toy donations for Santa on Patrol.
Secretary Mike Smaldino and Directors Terri Hayes and Jason Buckingham were excused.
Public hearing on 2017 budget
No members of the public spoke either for or against adopting the proposed 2017 budget, which the board will approve at the next meeting, which will take place Wednesday, Dec. 7.
As noted last month, the draft budget included a 6 percent wage increase, reflecting the district’s priority of moving staff toward the "average wage for comparable districts," Fire Chief Chris Truty has explained. Those comparable districts are Frederick Firestone FPD, Brighton FPD, Fountain FD, Canon City FPD, Castle Rock FD (compared at a 75 percent rate), and Colorado Springs (75 percent). See www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#tlmfpd0826.
The draft budget in the board packet predicted that overall wages would increase 9.5 percent, from an estimated $3.3 million in 2016 to $3.7 million in 2017. This includes administration, full time, part time, overtime, wildland deployment pay and associated overtime backfill pay, and other costs.
2017 fee schedule approved
Fire Marshal John Vincent presented information about the proposed 2017 TLMFPD fee schedule. The directors asked many questions about the rationale for changes in several of the fees and then approved it as presented.
Treasurer John Hildebrandt said that every budget line item for 2016 was either at or below budget and that overall year to date expenses were 6.1 percent below budget. The wages expenditures were lower than budgeted, while overtime expenditures were higher than usual because of the numerous staff vacancies throughout 2016.
2017 meeting location change
The directors voted to change the TLMFPD meeting location for 2017. Starting Jan. 25, meetings will be held at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, in Monument.
Meetings will continue to be held on the fourth Wednesday of each of month, with the exception of Nov. 15, 2017 and Dec. 6, 2017.
Truty’s comments included:
• The district is applying again for a $375,000 grant to replace all its radios, which are becoming obsolete and hard to repair.
• A firefighter hired in October resigned in mid-November. He had signed a recovery clause so the district will bill him for training and other costs incurred.
• In this round of hiring applications, the district had a good turnout this time, with 96 applicants total, seven or eight of whom were paramedics. See www.ocn.me/v16n9.htm#tlmfpd.
• The first new impact fees bills have gone out, and it rattled some cages with the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association (HBA). The district’s presentation to the El Paso Board of County Commissioners has not been scheduled yet. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017.
• Peak Leadership consultants have been doing confidential interviews with all three shifts as part of the leadership development study requested by Truty in July. See www.ocn.me/v16n8.htm#tlmfpd.
New parking lot on Second Street and Mitchell Avenue
Director Tom Tharnish, who is also Monument’s public works director, told the board about a new parking lot being constructed at the southeast corner of Second Street and Mitchell Avenue, between Mitchell and the railroad tracks. It will have room for 75-100 cars.
He also said a new right-turn lane had been completed along Mitchell Avenue, for cars heading east on Second Street across the tracks.
Santa on Patrol needs donations
President Jake Shirk, who is also the Monument police chief, reminded the community that Santa will be teaming up with the Monument Police Department, TLMFPD, and the Palmer Lake Police Department to deliver toys and good cheer to many children in the Tri-Lakes area on Dec 17.
Shirk said "there is a huge need in the Tri-Lakes area" and that Santa and his elves from the fire and police departments hope to deliver over 1,000 toys again this year.
New, unwrapped toys and gift cards may be dropped off no later than Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 at 3 p.m. so there will be time to get them ready to be delivered by Santa and his elves. Please take them to the following locations:
• Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Road
• TLMFPD stations 1, 2, and 3
• Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department Administration, 15455 Gleneagle Drive
Please contact Shirk at (719) 481-3253 if you have any questions.
The meeting adjourned at 7:36 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. However, the next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 in the Monument Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911 or see www.tlmfire.org.
Thank you to OCN volunteer Joyce Witte for recording this meeting. Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) of Lewis-Palmer D-38 received reports from the Special Education Advisory Committee, the director of Technology and the liaison for community-family partnerships at its Nov. 1 meeting. The committee also held a further discussion of its charge.
Director of Exceptional Student Services (ESS) Rick Frampton reported that he had spent his first several months in the district talking with everyone about activities related to his field. He stressed that the work is very difficult but important. Despite all the paperwork and legal requirements involved, instruction is the main focus. Relationships between students and adults are also key.
Frampton said that when he tells others what his field is, he is often told that he must be very patient. On the contrary, he said that he cannot afford to be patient because his students are already behind.
Collaboration between various teachers, specialists, and other staff is important because many students have complicated issues.
The Special Education Advisory Committee is in place to serve as a sounding board for families receiving special education services, to get their suggestions and hear of weaknesses in the system. The committee also advocates for the students and makes sure that their needs are acknowledged and addressed.
Some ideas developed by the committee this year included the development of a Peer Buddies program that would advocate friendships between ESS students and others, and use of the Path2Empathy program to integrate ESS students into the student activities of their schools.
When asked whether training and screening would be offered to ensure that the Peer Buddies got along, Special Education Liaison Michelle Nay said there would be training for the students and that the program would be rolled out in Monument Academy, Palmer Ridge High School, and Lewis-Palmer Middle School first.
Director of Instructional and Informational Technology Liz Walhof reported on some recent developments in technology, including a change in the student usernames on district computers, student-selected passwords, an ongoing audit of district technology to ensure security, and other actions to ensure data privacy in the future.
Students may have access to G Suite for Education, a Google product, with parent permission. This would include internal Gmail, Google calendar, Google Drive and other Google sites. Walhof stressed that contracts stipulate that the use of these sites will not lead to receipt of targeted ads or other profiling.
Walhof reported that a teacher committee during the summer discussed which skills would be necessary in the 21st century for students to find success in college, career, the workforce, or the military. These skills would include collaboration and critical thinking. Development of this program will continue through the year.
Walhof said that further details will be presented at the December Board of Education meeting.
Community-family partnership update
Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay reported on the ongoing Colorado Department of Education (CDE) initiative to ensure a partnership between families, communities, and schools.
The emphasis of this program is to use the multi-tiered system of support to ensure that all students reach their full potential with open relationships between parents, staff, and community.
Parents and school staff must be equal partners in student education with information flowing in both directions, Nay said. All students and families must feel safe and welcome in the school environment and parents must understand how the school system works.
Also, it is important to tap community resources as needed to ensure student success.
Discussion of committee charge
DAAC Co-Chairs Melissa Hinton and Anne-Marie Hasstedt asked members for input on whether the committee requires a formal charge in addition to that in the CDE handbook.
Jeff Fowler of Lewis-Palmer High School suggested that the committee ask Superintendent Karen Brofft what subjects she would like input on.
Before the meeting, committee members said that examples of DAAC acting in an advisory capacity included discussion of new graduation requirements and the request for a school readiness waiver. In the past, the committee has also sponsored meet-the-candidate events for superintendent and political candidates.
The consensus remained that the committee does not require a formal charge from the board and that Hinton and Hasstedt would report the decision to the board at its next meeting.
Principal Gary Gabel gave an overview of Palmer Ridge, its history and accomplishments.
Board Liaison John Magerko reported on a new process of cross training between maintenance and grounds staff in the district so that they would both understand such processes as snow plowing. He also reported on the fact that School Resources Officer Dennis Coates explained the Standard Response Protocol in the event of lockout, lockdown, evacuation, and shelter and how the grounds and maintenance staff could be involved.
Magerko also reported on continuing efforts to increase school funding and its importance to the success of the state and its economy.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five times a year on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10 at Monument Academy, 1150 Village Ridge Point, Monument
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met for about a half-hour on Nov. 10 at the rescheduled time of 12:30 p.m. in the principal’s office to hear about an expansion to the character curriculum and updates to the Highway 105 improvement plan, and to consider the 2016-17 revised budget. Board members Julie Galusky and Andy Gifford were absent along with Principal Lis Richard. Lewis-Palmer D38 Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman was able to attend a portion of the board meeting at their invitation.
Middle school character curriculum expanded
Cynthia Fong Smith, who has eighth-grade twin boys at the school, spoke about her efforts to expand the character instruction offered to middle school students. She expressed her concern that middle school kids may participate in high-risk behaviors such as drinking, drugs, and sex. She wants to increase knowledge and develop stronger character for her kids and others at the school. Fong Smith noted that the school encourages those who make suggestions to come up with a solution and help to carry it through.
Fong Smith completed a Colorado Department of Education (CDE) 40-hour certification for high-risk behavior instruction. She researched and found a program called YES You Can!, created by the New Jersey Physicians Advisory Group. She felt it was a good supplement to the existing curriculum. She noted that a published article showed positive behavioral changes in students who participated, and she offered to provide this to the board. The cost of the expanded curriculum is $1,100, for which Fong Smith submitted a grant application. She has volunteered as an adjunct teacher since she has the background along with the CDE certification and will be working with the lead character teacher, Janette Olson. She plans to present the curriculum at physical education classes during inclement weather.
Board members applauded her involvement and confirmed that the curriculum committee had approved the expansion. Director Don Griffin noted that parents are notified and have the option to opt out if they choose. The expanded curriculum will roll out in December.
Highway 105 improvements
Director Don Griffin spoke with members of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) church next door to Monument Academy about their meeting with county representatives regarding the Highway 105 improvement project. The county indicated it wanted 18 feet from the front of the LDS property to use for a turn lane and sidewalk. They discussed plans for a raised median that would impact ingress to the church with a suggestion that people could get to the church through the school parking lot. Griffin characterized the LDS response as unhappy.
Griffin mentioned a meeting with a nearby homeowners association that was very contentious. Most people would have to go through the neighborhood to get to the Kum & Go. He did not know when more information would be available but expressed hope that the project representatives are getting feedback that would lead them to revise their plans.
2016-17 revised budget approved
Treasurer Patrick Hall presented information on the 2017 budget. An increase of 5.06 percent in revenue includes an increase in funded pupil count, increased full-day kindergarten tuition, increased academic fee revenue, and miscellaneous revenue including the reconciliation with District 38 for last fiscal year. Expenditures will increase by 5.93 percent from 2016, including a salary "true up" approved last month, additional teachers and staff, a technology outsourcing estimate of $73,000 plus $40,000 for the server project, and a $2,500 per month computer lease cost.
The board unanimously approved the 2016-17 revised budget, which can be viewed on the website under the financial transparency link at the bottom of the main page (http://bit.ly/MA-1617Budget.com).
Other board highlights
• MA’s annual report to the district Board of Education will be presented at the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education meeting on Jan. 19. The MA board was encouraged to attend.
• An MA parent commented briefly that she has some concerns and will be attending the meetings to learn more about what the board does.
• The board viewed a video created by staff and teachers thanking the board for the recent salary increases.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point. The Monument Academy usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The board does not usually meet in December and has changed the date of the January meeting due to the joint meeting on Jan. 19 with the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education.
Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committees, and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
On Nov. 17, the Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D-38 discussed the creation of an online learning program for high school students, foreign travel opportunities, and adjustments to the current district budget in response to increased enrollment. Also, a new chief of Safety and Security was introduced.
Due to inclement weather, the agenda was altered to compensate for those who could not attend.
Online learning application
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton and Palmer Ridge High School Assistant Principal Kim Sandoval presented a proposal to apply to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) for the creation of an online program for Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools. Under state law, such a program could serve up to 100 students at each location and be considered a separate school.
Benton explained that such an offering would serve a number of purposes:
• In conjunction with the multi-tiered system of support, it would provide additional instructional support for exceptional students.
• Due to busy extracurricular schedules, it would offer instructional opportunities before 7:40 and after 2:52, allowing more academic time for students.
• Instruction would be self-paced.
• Would enable offering classes in lower demand.
• May offer a way to avoid repeating classes.
• Classes would be taught by Lewis-Palmer teachers.
Benton said that both high schools have filled out applications, and the district has applied for grants to help with development of the program. She estimated a three- to five-year development process.
The board approved the application.
New chief of Safety and Security introduced
Superintendent Karen Brofft introduced the new chief of Safety and Security, Dennis Coates, who has served as school resource officer for several years.
In addition to serving with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Coates had previously been a patrolman and a teacher. Brofft stressed his familiarity with the district and with schools in general and welcomed him to the district administration. Coates will begin his job in January.
Foreign travel policy approved
Following last month’s first reading of policy IJOA regarding foreign travel opportunities for district students, the board discussed the ramifications of such a program.
Any out-of-country travel must be arranged through the office of the superintendent and be demonstrated to be of academic worth such as language or cultural study. Only students in grades 9 to 12 would be involved in international travel.
Director Sarah Sampayo objected to the fact that the policy states that no credit be given for such travel.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said that it would be difficult to determine how the travel should be designed to qualify for academic credit. She recommended that the policy be left as is.
The board approved the policy as proposed.
The board then discussed the selection of EducationFirst Educational Tours as exclusive provider of international travel services and preferred provider of domestic travel.
Wangeman explained that the district consulted other districts regarding the offering of travel and determined that EducationFirst offers a comprehensive service to planning tours, arranging for guides, lodging, restaurants, liability and health insurance, and trip cancellation insurance. Wangeman also said that there will be a requirement for trained chaperones on each trip and that parents would be required to sign a waiver of liability.
The board approved the selection of EducationFirst.
Wangeman explained proposed adjustments to the 2016-17 budget. Brofft said that following an analysis of compensation levels in an attempt to remain competitive, it was decided to increase all salaries by 1.1 percent midyear while increasing certain midlevel salaries a higher amount. The increases would be effective in January. $200,000 has been allotted to this increase.
Wangeman said that the governor is recommending an increase in per pupil funding next year and the district anticipates continued growth. These two considerations confirm that the salary increases could be sustained.
Brofft agreed, saying that there has been a significant growth in enrollment since the October count.
Another item in the budget adjustment is the purchase of a security vehicle for $35,000 for the use of the new chief of Safety and Security. In the interest of fiscal conservatism, Sampayo objected to this expenditure.
Board President Mark Pfoff said that the vehicle would require specialized equipment, especially regarding communications, because in the event of an emergency the director would have to coordinate with local law enforcement and other officials.
Board Secretary Matthew Clawson supported the expense, also pointing out that it would avoid liability for a private vehicle.
Brofft also said that the director of Safety and Security would be armed, which leads to potential liability to the district.
The board passed a resolution to retain the current boundaries for board districts.
Following a brief presentation by co-chairs of the District Accountability Advisory Committee, the board passed a resolution to eliminate a formal charge to the committee, instead defining the activities of the committee through the CDE handbook and the committee’s bylaws.
The board approved a draft of the annual audit of district finances presented by John Paul Chevalier of CliftonLarsen Allen. The audit confirmed that the district met all TABOR and other requirements.
The board recognized the Lewis-Palmer High School baseball team for its outreach activities at Aurora Children’s Hospital, and especially commended Assistant Coach Dimas Nunez for reaching out to the family of patient Jordan Austin by visiting him and supporting him. The softball team was also commended for its outreach activities.
Coach Susan Odenbaugh and members of the Lewis-Palmer High School Girls Volleyball team were congratulated for winning the state 4A championship for the third time in four years. With a record of 29-0, the team also qualifies as fourth in the nation. See photo on page 25.
Third-grade students of Kim Cona at Prairie Winds Elementary gave a poetry performance.
Dave Whitman of Monument Hill Kiwanis reported on the success of the group’s Empty Bowls Dinner in October and thanked the district for its help, including kitchen staff, administrators who served soup, and the use of the Lewis-Palmer High School kitchen. Proceeds of the dinner and auction totaled $26,600 to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D-38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Dec. 15.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick and Lisa Hatfield
The president of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority board (BRRTA), El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker, was the master of ceremonies for a celebration of the formal deactivation of BRRTA that is scheduled to take place in December. Between 1997 and 2016, BRRTA completed multiple separate projects to improve the Baptist Road corridor.
Some of the "BRRTA Timeline" milestones that Schleiker briefed were:
• BRRTA was created Nov. 4, 1997 by El Paso County and the Town of Monument, through a vote of the early residents, to design, plan, finance, and construct certain road improvements along a portion of Baptist Road.
• In 2006, BRRTA voters approved a 1 percent 20-year sales and use tax within the boundaries of the authority, with collection beginning July 1, 2007.
• In 2007, BRRTA issued $21.5 million in revenue bonds.
• In 2008, construction was fully underway.
• On Oct. 18, 2011, BRRTA’s construction was accepted as completed by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
• In 2012, CDOT reimbursed $3 million to BRRTA.
• In February 2016, CDOT reimbursed $12.5 million.
• In May 2016, Baptist Road west of the Interstate 25 interchange was completed and celebrated
• On June 1, 2016, BRRTA final payment of the outstanding bond principal and interest.
• On July 1, 2016, the BRRTA sales/use tax ended.
Some of the highlights for the Baptist/Struthers road widening project were:
• Struthers Road extension added 6,000 feet of Struthers Road north to the intersection with Baptist Road.
• Baptist Road widening project expanded the road from two to four lanes from Jackson Creek Parkway to Tari Drive (1.86 miles).
• Construction began June 19, 2006, and completed on Struthers Road Nov. 7, 2008, and on Baptist Road May 5, 2009.
• Improvements included: signal installation, signal upgrade, frontage road, new lanes, and noise barrier.
Some of the I-25 Baptist Road Exchange expansion project highlights were:
• Construction commenced Nov. 10, 2008, and was completed November 2009.
• Widened Baptist Road to four lanes, with turn lanes.
• Eight-lane bridge over Interstate 25.
• Ramp modifications with new traffic signals.
• Installation of new water and sewer lines.
Some of the Baptist Road West widening project highlights were:
• Construction began April 2015 and was completed May 2016.
• Collaboration with Tri-Lakes Views to include artwork by Reven Marie Swanson.
• New BRRTA roundabout at Old Denver Road selected for 2016 Colorado American Public Works Association Project of the Year Award.
• Bridge over the railroad tracks and Monument Creek.
• Roundabout at the Old Denver Road/Baptist Road intersection.
• Modifications to the Santa Fe trailhead parking area, drainage improvements, utility relocations, and rehabilitation and enhancement of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse protected habitat.
Some of the "closeout" items were:
• November 2016 – BRRTA and the El Paso Board of County Commissioners completed an Intergovernmental Agreement to transfer assets and future project completion to the county.
• December 2016 – All assets expected to be officially transferred to the county
• December 2016 – The BRRTA board will formally recommend that the county and the Town of Monument dissolve BRRTA.
See these two county videos:
• Baptist Road roundabout artwork: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xcu4MAoDfMQ
• Baptist Road West project: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ6BX_L4DEc
Schleiker said his BRRTA presidency, coming immediately after being appointed to county assessor, was the upside of his position for which he was "sworn in to be sworn at." Schleiker welcomed representatives in attendance at the celebration from:
• Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority
• Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)
• Staff and elected officials of the Town of Monument
• Staff and elected officials of the county
• Project and administrative contractors
• Citizens of the Town of Monument
• Our Community News
Everyone in attendance formed a circle and Schleiker invited each to share their remembrances of BRRTA.
Former Monument Mayors and BRRTA Presidents Travis Easton and Rafael Dominguez discussed the town’s participation in key phases of various projects.
Elaine Johnsen, county funding optimization manager, described the highlights of getting the second and final CDOT reimbursement payment that allowed her and County Attorney Lori Seago to arrange for early redemption of all the remaining BRRTA bonds and termination of the BRRTA sales and use taxes. She noted, to much laughter, that the bondholders monitored the details of this process by reading Our Community News articles.
Johnsen and County Engineer Jennifer Irvine said that the final $1.3 million will be spent, in the following priority, on concrete paving to replace the eroding gravel sidewalk/trail on the north side of Baptist Road, the Baptist Road median, and the south end turnaround of the BRRTA frontage road between Leather Chaps Road and the Family of Christ Lutheran Church for emergency vehicle access safety with some supplementary matching PPRTA funding.
Johnsen summarized, "It’s just such a great story. It’s a great project. Like Commissioner Dennis Hisey likes to say, ‘Promises made and promises kept.’"
Nikki Simmons, county finance manager, said she had been part of BRRTA for six years. "It’s a great success story. I love being a part of being here when we’re shutting down a government and returning a tax in perpetuity. I think it’s a good story to tell, a precedent, and it makes us trustworthy and believable so if we do ask for money for PPRTA, which has been funded twice now, or some other projects in the future, the people can see that we’ve been responsible with the funds."
Artist Swanson was especially complimentary to the county staff for clear communication and elimination of much of the normal duplication of effort on all required paperwork for her stainless steel Aspen Grove project (see video link above), all of which had already been done by the road construction contractors, which drew a big laugh. "It was seamless. We didn’t waste money, and it was really effective. My compliments to this group. Unequivocally, it was a great group to work with."
Tri-Lakes Views Director Sky Hall said Irvine was amazed at Swanson’s engineering drawings for the tree project that were "exactly to code, exactly the way they are supposed to be." He said that Irvine said, "I’ve never seen this before."
Easton said the cooperation and partnership between Monument and the county was exemplary with a genuine commitment to serve the citizens.
Jim Kendrick, BRRTA’s official "OCN Chronicler" for the last 13 years, can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield, whose only contributions to BRRTA were to comment around 1990, "Someone ought to widen that bridge," and later to vote "Yes," can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On Nov. 3, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) formally accepted the remaining $1.3 million in cash reserves of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) that will be used for further upgrades of the county’s Baptist Road property. The county also accepted ownership of BRRTA’s remaining unused slivers of land contiguous with the Baptist Road right-of-way that were purchased for the widening of Baptist Road. The BRRTA board had approved both of these actions on Oct. 16. For details, see http://ocn.me/v16n11.htm#brrta and http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agendas/2016AgendaResults/16-11-03Minutes.pdf.
The BRRTA cash was transferred by unanimous approval of a resolution to approve an Amended and Restated Intergovernmental Agreement between BRRTA and the county prepared by Lori Seago, senior assistant county attorney, and Elaine Johnsen, BRRTA district manager and funding optimization manager, Finance Department. For details, see http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agendas/Resolutions/2016/November%202016/16-380.pdf.
The BRRTA land was conveyed to the county by unanimous BOCC approval of a resolution to approve and accept a special warranty deed from BRRTA concerning Baptist Road improvement projects and acceptance of the improvements into the county road maintenance system. This transfer was prepared by Seago and County Engineer Jennifer Irvine, Department of Public Works. For details, see http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agendas/Resolutions/2016/November%202016/16-381.pdf.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Nov. 16 to praise an Eagle Scout project, consider a rules update for fire fines, and approve the 2017 budget. Board members Mark Ponti and Alan Basset were absent.
Eagle Scout appreciation
President Erik Stensland, a former Eagle Scout, presented a certificate of appreciation to Mitch Carden, who helped restore the signs in the Woodmoor common areas by replacing posts and repainting the letters as an Eagle Scout project. It had been 12 years since the signs had last been painted. Carden thanked the board for the opportunity and said it had been a real pleasure and a lot of fun working with WIA on this project. This is the third Eagle Scout project that has been done with WIA.
Rules update for fire fines
President Stensland noted that the single greatest threat to the community is fire and that the current fine structure doesn’t do enough to prevent fires. Fines for open fires should be increased to emphasize the seriousness of the infraction. Stensland moved to modify the rule for fire fines to say "minimum of $500" rather than simply $500. After some discussion about whether a maximum should be set and that the new rule would not limit the board’s discretion to lower or suspend a fine, the board unanimously approved the new rule as originally proposed.
Approval of budget
After adjusting line items according to board feedback, it was moved that the board conditionally approve the 2017 budget, which will be posted on the website after final approval at the Dec. 16 meeting. The budget is slated for a modest increase, with the standard dues increase, provisions to commit money to the reserve fund for long-term projects and to maintain the fiscal responsibility and health of WIA and let the directors continue to run projects like the chipping days that benefit the whole community. The motion was unanimously passed.
Board report highlights
• WIA is still looking for volunteers to run for the board. There are currently two candidates for three open seats.
• The number of projects in October increased due to the good weather and is holding steady in November. The number of unapproved projects has been increasing, which leads to triple the workload and fines. Don’t do outdoor projects without getting prior approval online at https://www.woodmoor.org/acc-project-request/ or in the WIA offices.
• Homeowners association administrator Denise Cagliaro reported that the water bill had been miscoded for the last two months and that WIA was being charged for 10 times the actual water use. She worked with Woodmoor Water to correct the problem and issue credits on the bills.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on Dec. 14 due to the holidays. The WIA calendar can be found at www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
County Engineer Jennifer Irvine spoke about county roads issues, projects, and future plans at the Nov. 19 meeting of Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO).
Irvine stated that I-25 is not an El Paso County road, but she put it in the county strategic plan anyway because it’s so important. While the next section that needs widening in the county’s eyes is in Douglas County and out of the county’s control, she and other officials, such as those in the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), want to develop a coalition to help Douglas County work with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). CDOT has started tasks to be done in an environmental study, but it will be critical to help federal money find its way south of Denver to help, she said.
Her other comments included:
• In the unincorporated county, we can only overlay 2 percent of roads a year, but that is not sustainable. You are starting to see your roads fall apart.
• The Pikes Peak Regional Transit Authority (PPRTA) one-percent sales tax has been a great program and generated $14 million for specific capital projects, but it will not solve all the problems.
• Finding federal, state, and local funding is a problem, but state House District 20 Rep. Terri Carver is one official helping to find more sources.
• Rocky Scott will be the new PPACG CDOT transportation commissioner. Our district did not have a commissioner for some time, and he will be a great advocate for this area.
• The county is trying to communicate and work better with the Town of Monument but does not have much influence on them. Funding gets more complicated when new town developments empty onto county roads.
• See www.105corridor.com for information about the Highway 105 Corridor improvement project from I-25 to Highway 83. The county has $18 million set aside for that road, plus $5 million federal. The first phase will widen it to four lanes from Lake Woodmoor Drive to Woodmoor Drive. Construction may start in 2018.
• Monument Hill Road improvement project near Misty Acres Boulevard is scheduled for improvements to shoulders and drainage in 2018.
• The intersection of Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive already meets the warrants and will be getting either a roundabout or a traffic signal soon.
• Beacon Lite Road is on the list for PPRTA money and we have it on our list.
She said the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) "was a great example of doing what we said we would do and then going away." Between 1997 and 2016, BRRTA completed four major projects along Baptist Road and will conclude with adding a sidewalk along the north side of Baptist road. See related BRRTA article on page 21.
Transportation and land use update
NEPCO Vice President Tom Vierzba, who is a member of both the NEPCO Transportation and Land Use committees and the El Paso County Highway Advisory Commission, gave an extensive update about current development in the Tri-Lakes area. His comments included:
• The Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee (TLLUC) is compiling a consolidated list of trails with the goal of creating a network map to help people find trails and develop ideas for new hiking and biking trails that make sense. TLLUC is requesting people submit detailed data about trails in their neighborhoods to add to the map. Contact John Bender at email@example.com.
• Jackson Creek Parkway might eventually have eight new traffic signals between Leather Chaps and Highway 105.
• Future extensions of Furrow Road south to Higby Road and Gleneagle Drive north to Higby Road are possible.
• Roller Coaster Road’s 90-degree turn at Higby Road will eventually change to an S-turn between Baptist Road and Old Borough Road.
• The Academy Gateway commercial center is planned on the northwest corner of Struthers and Northgate Roads, with (another!) gas station, coffee shop, and hotel.
NEPCO’s mission is to promote communication and interaction among homeowners associations (HOAs) of northern El Paso County in order to exchange ideas on topics of common interest and to develop collective responses to the county on issues affecting the quality of life of NEPCO member associations. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14.
All formal and informal HOAs in northern El Paso County are invited to join NEPCO and should call Bob Swedenburg at 481-2723 or see www.nepco.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: County Engineer Jennifer Irvine spoke about county roads issues, projects, and future plans at the Nov. 19 NEPCO meeting. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
By Bill Kappel
A November to remember fit this year, if you like dry and mild conditions. For the third month in a row, temperatures were warmer than normal and precipitation was below average. A streak of near-record dry weather came to an abrupt end on Nov. 17, ending a streak of 41 consecutive days without measurable precipitation. Overall, temperatures were about 4°F warmer than normal, with precipitation and snowfall just slightly below average. Almost all the precipitation and snow fell on only two days of the month, with just about every other day dry.
Dry and mild conditions continued through the first two weeks of November. In fact, we are now close to record territory for the number of consecutive days in a row without measureable precipitation. The last measurable precipitation for most of us on the Palmer Divide was on Oct. 6 when a quick shot of moisture dropped .03 inch of precipitation and a trace to 0.5 inch of snow. Since then, we’ve only had a few days with a brief shower that didn’t result in more than a trace of rainfall.
November is normally one of our driest months, but this is certainly a lot drier than normal. This has been the result of a strong ridge of high pressure that has dominated the region over the last few months. This has resulted in mainly clear skies, with bouts of high and mid-level clouds at times. Temperatures have been mild during the period as well, with highs reaching the 50s and 60s each afternoon. Overnight lows have dipped below freezing most mornings—nothing unusual for November. Most of us enjoy sunshine and mild weather, but this is getting a little crazy. Let’s hope for some snow and cold soon.
Finally, a taste of winter visited the region during the week of the 14th. The week started off the same way as the last few months, with dry and mild conditions. In fact, just before the storm moved in, temperatures peaked in the mid- to upper 60s from the 14th through the 16th. Temperatures were at daily record level in the region, even touching some monthly record highs on the 16th for some locations along the Front Range. Then, just like that, winter made an appearance. Cold air began to filter in during the early morning hours of the 17th with low clouds and flurries developing around the mid-morning hours. Steadier snow began to fall by early afternoon, then continued through the afternoon. Colder air also continued to flow into the area, bringing strong winds.
The windy conditions along with the fresh snow resulted in some treacherous driving conditions for the afternoon and evening commute. Also, much of the initial snowfall melted on the roads, then quickly froze that afternoon as the colder air moved in. This resulted in a layer of ice under the snow, making driving even more difficult. Temperatures were chilly the next day as well, starting in the single digits and only reaching right around the freezing mark that afternoon. Temperatures continued to climb over the next few days under lots of sunshine. Highs reached the 50s on the 19th and low 60s on the 20th.
The month ended with cooler conditions as temperatures were at or below normal for most of the days from the 21st through the 30th. This happened as the strong ridge of high pressure in the Four Corners region finally broke down and allowed more of a northwesterly flow to take over. This allowed cooler air to filter in from the north/northwest, but this flow generally resulted in downsloping winds for us. The meant mainly dry and cool conditions but resulted in lots of snow falling in the mountains. Temperatures were warmest toward end the month on the 21st, 25th, and 26th, when we managed to reach into the 50s, and coldest over the last three days of the month, when we failed to reach above freezing on the 29th and 30th.
November 2016 Weather Statistics
Average High 52.5° (+3.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 55.5° min 38.5°
Average Low 24.4° (+4.1°)
100-year return frequency value max 27.5° min 14.1°
Monthly Precipitation .58" (-0.11")
100-year return frequency value max 3.80" min 0.16"
Monthly Snowfall 5.1" (-5.7")
Highest Temperature 68° on the 15th and 16th
Lowest Temperature 5° on the 18th, 30th
Season to Date Snow 6.2" (+11.6") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 6.23" (-0.28") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 796 (+70)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Bear Necessity Theater Company
Caption: The Bear Necessity Theater Company (BNTC) presented Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express musical at Palmer Ridge High School in November. The musical is the story of a child’s train set that magically comes to life, and the various engines compete to become the “fastest engine in the world.” The underdog, Rusty the Steam train, has little chance until he is inspired by the legend of the Starlight Express. He ultimately defeats his arch-rivals, Greaseball and Electra, before going on to win the hand of the lovely first class coach, Pearl. This was one of the most ambitious musicals put on by BNTC because it required most of the cast to perform on roller skates and required that the crew remove auditorium seats, extend the stage, and build ramps down into the audience and over the head of the music director. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Support local artists
Caption: Artist markets and pop up shops abound for the season, continuing through the end of the year. Here, Andrew Johnson shares information on his wares at the Palmer Lake Art Group annual Holiday Sale in early October, with proceeds helping artists and local high school seniors each year. Many local artists and shops have innovative gifts and original art and greeting cards for sale all December via holiday markets, pop up shops, bazaars and more, and can be found on www.Nextdoor.com, Facebook, and corner pop up signs around town. Photo by Evelina Stoyanova, caption by Janet Sellers.
AfterMath, Nov. 14
Caption: Alex Tice, left, and AfterMath volunteer coordinator Marie R. Yelle worked together on finding the slope of a line at the Monument Branch of the Pikes Peak library on Nov. 14. Across the room, Kirsten Cooley studied for her Navy officer’s test with AfterMath volunteer Jon Epperson, who has taught university-level math for 40 years. AfterMath’s free drop-in math assistance program for all ages and levels happens in Monument each Monday from 3:30 to 7 p.m. The experienced volunteers, some of whom are retired military members or retired teachers, can help you improve your grades and take the stress out of math. To find out more about tutoring for students (no appointment is necessary), or how to volunteer, call 488-2370 or see www.ppld.org. Photo by Lisa Hatfield. Also see our monthly library events.
Paws to Read, Nov. 2
Caption: Doophus, a 3-year-old Newfoundland, was the center of attention at the Paws to Read visit at the Monument Library on Nov. 2. Volunteer Jean Nichols said children can practice reading with a Paws to Read dog every Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Monument Branch of the Pikes Peak Library District, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive. No registration is required. Call 488-2370 with questions or see www.ppld.org. Photo by Lisa Hatfield. Also see our monthly library events column on page 27.
Novel Writing Class, Nov. 5
Caption: These writers participated in the Award-Winning Novel Beginnings class at the Monument Library on Nov. 5. Author Annie Dawid helped students analyze the components of a compelling novelistic start as they began to write their own. Back row: Kim Gerstenschlager, left, and Kathy Kemp. Front row: Beth Balser, left, and Dawid. For a list of events, see Local Library Events in Our Community Calendar on page 29, or call the Monument Branch Library at 488-2370 or see www.ppld.org. Photo by Tommy Olson. Also see our monthly library events column.
LPHS presents Thoroughly Modern Millie
Caption: Lewis-Palmer High School’s drama department presented Thoroughly Modern Millie in November. Thoroughly Modern Millie tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City to marry for money instead of love—a thoroughly modern aim in 1922, when women were just entering the workforce. Millie soon begins to take delight in the flapper lifestyle with tap dancing, jazz, and dashing leading men but runs into a shady landlady and unexpected lessons in love. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Veterans Day at MA
Caption: Monument Academy students, staff and families honored local military for Veterans Day with a special program and free breakfast. Photo by Janet Sellers.
State 4A Champion Volleyball
Caption: The state 4A champion volleyball team from Lewis-Palmer High School are, from left, Coach Susan Odenbaugh, Elizabeth Reich, Michaela Putnicki, Adelaide Feek, Gianna Bartalo, Nicole Buckley, McKenna Sciacca, and Lydia Bartalo. Photo by Harriet Halbig. See the school board article on page 21.
Veterans Day at St. Peter
Caption: St. Peter fourth-grade students express their gratitude to retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jack Wetterer at the Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 11 at St. Peter Catholic Church. Photo courtesy of Lisa Hawthorne.
Star on Sundance screening
Caption: From left, Diana Sawatzki, script editor, Jim Sawatzki, filmmaker, and Su Ketchmark of the Palmer Lake Historical Society are pictured on Nov. 20 at the premiere screening of Jim Sawatzki’s newest local history film, Star on Sundance, about the Palmer Lake Star. Over 200 attendees enjoyed two screenings that afternoon. The film can be purchased locally at Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument. Photo by Janet Sellers.
ACT II set to open mid-Jan.
Caption: ACT II (Anew Community Thrift) is a new nonprofit thrift shop that will donate its profits to "organizations that benefit the Tri-Lakes community." If you are decluttering your home this holiday season and have items to donate, ACT II will accept them starting in mid- to late December. The store opening is planned for mid-January. Executive Director Cara Vanderkolk, who was the manager of the Hangers to Hutches Thrift Store that operated in the same location at 245 N. Jefferson St., Monument, across from Northland Community Church (at Second Street and Jefferson), said many of Hangers’ prior volunteers have agreed to help with ACT II, but more volunteers, monetary contributions, and donations are needed. Contact Act II at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-487-3268. Photo by Charlie Searle.
PLVFD chili supper, Nov. 26
Caption: The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department held the annual chili supper at Palmer Lake Town Hall on Nov. 26 for a crowd of hundreds of celebrators. The fun at the Town Hall included the chili supper, a car giveaway from Tri-Lakes Cares, a booth for Palmer Lake Star memorabilia, hayrides, and Santa at the gazebo on the lawn as everyone waited to find out the winner who would get to ride a fire truck up Sundance Mountain and light the Palmer Lake Star for the holiday season. Inset: From left in front are Sam of JJ Tracks Tire and Auto Center, car donors Bill and Paula Blair, and Kim Whisenhut, and Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) operations manager. In the back row from left are Haley Chapin, TLC executive director, and Greg Stouffer, winner of the car. This team effort helped get the car for Stouffer, which was presented to him at the Palmer Lake Star lighting event. Photos by Janet Sellers.
Murphey at TLCA, Nov. 27
Caption: On Nov. 27, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted two sold shows by renowned singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphey. Murphey and his band are on a five-state tour, bringing his Cowboy Christmas show to audiences for the 25th year. With a scrolling presentation of historic and modern-day photos, videos, and iconic art of the American West as a backdrop, Murphey rekindled traditions and a sense of time through his music and storytelling. He recited one of his poems about the parallels between Christmas and cowboys, talked about the tradition of the Texas Cowboy Christmas Ball, which started in 1885 and where his band will be playing this year, and spoke of the true, non-commercialized, meaning of Christmas. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
Moose in Woodmoor, Nov. 27
Caption: A cow moose was spotted by residents of South and North Woodmoor on Nov. 27. Here she is, moving quickly near the intersection of Smugglers Road and Fairplay Drive. OCN is glad that the photo of this moose was taken from a safe distance. Moose are not to be trifled with. Photo by Pamela Orcutt.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
Full measure of devotion
How do you explain Freedom of Speech? Is it a freedom to act without constraint, or selectively honoring only law or policy you like? If an athletic team is not successful, do you burn down every stadium but your own to ensure next time your team wins? Is this a national leadership fault, or an indication of a long-term local leadership failure around our nation? "For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38)
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try
By Claudia Rueda (Chronicle Books) $15.99
In this interactive picture book, the reader must help Bunny stay on course as he skies down the slopes. The book brings grins and guffaws with each turn of the page, and readers will find Claudia Rueda’s innovative book as entertaining as the twists and turns of a ski slope and as satisfying as a cozy cup of hot cocoa.
The Christmas Story
By Robert Sabuda (Candlewick Press) $35
The wonder- and awe-inspiring story of the birth of Jesus is lovingly brought to life by master paper pop-up engineer Robert Sabuda in six gorgeously imagined pop-up paper sculptures. Each scene is accompanied by a paragraph that’s carefully integrated into the background, making the text a natural partner to the exquisite art. The Christmas Story is a visual feast, a holiday treasure to be shared year after year with the whole family.
The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
By J.K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine Books) $39.99
J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter books are being lavishly illustrated into full-color editions with ribbon bookmarks. Illustrations are done by award-winning artist Jim Kay, with another book in the series added each year. Books 1 and 2 are currently available. As Rowling says, "Seeing Jim Kay’s illustrations moved me profoundly. I love his interpretation of Harry Potter’s world, and I feel honored and grateful that he has lent his talent to it."
Walk this World at Christmastime
By Debbie Powell (Big Picture Press) $17.99
It’s a book. It’s an advent calendar. Take a colorful, lyrical journey around the world at Christmas. Lift the numbered flaps to discover how different cultures and countries celebrate Christmas in this dazzling, festive quest. Designed in a fun format to be read again and again.
The Way Things Work, Revised and Updated
By David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $35
This newly revised edition embraces all the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3-D printers. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained with the help of a charming woolly mammoth. An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay explains them all.
Upstream: Selected Essays
By Mary Oliver (Penguin Press) $26
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she believes has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully and intelligently, to observe with passion. Oliver positions not just herself upstream, but us as well, as she encourages us to keep moving, to lose ourselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative and whimsical urges that live within us.
Born to Run
By Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster) $32.50
Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to the writing of the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. Like many of his songs, his autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.
Map Stories: The Art of Discovery
By Francisca Matteoli (Ilex Press) $29.99
Through this magnificent collection of historical maps, travel writer Francisca Matteoli takes us on a geographical adventure, telling the stories of 20 places and voyages that inspired her and the creation of these fascinating charts.
Some of the best memories are made relaxing with a mug of hot chocolate and reading with a child. We wish all of you the happiest of holidays, the merriest Christmas, and a peaceful and healthy new year. Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
Come to the library for special seasonal activities or just for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Come to the library from 2:30 to 3:30 on Saturday, Dec. 10 to make a variety of beautiful Christmas crafts for children of various ages. See our library fliers for pictures.
The Lego Build club will meet on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 10 to 11:30. We provide the Legos and you bring your imagination. We will be meeting in the children’s area this month.
Join us in the meeting room from noon to 2 on Saturday, Dec. 3 for gaming. We will have tabletop games, card games (like Superfight) and Wii video games. We encourage attendees to bring any kind of games you would like to play. Please keep things age appropriate, nothing too adult. For teens, ages 12 to 18. No registration required.
The Monument Teen Creative Writing Group will meet from 6 to 7:30 on Wednesday, Dec. 7. This group is for grades 6 to 12.
Interested in learning to knit? An intergenerational knitting group meets on the first Wednesday of each month. This month’s meeting will be on the Dec. 7. Practice materials are provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own materials. Some instruction provided for those new to knitting.
Help us plan future events and parties for teens here at the Monument Library. The Teen Advisory Board will meet on Friday, Dec. 9 from 4 to 5. Meet us in the study room for snacks and conversation. No registration required.
Having trouble with math? Experienced math tutors assist students of all ages during AfterMath, every Monday from 3:30 to 7. No appointment is necessary, just drop in and bring your homework.
A Teen Arts and Crafts Open Studio will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. Come use our Meeting Room as a space to create! Supplies will be provided as available; however, feel free to bring whatever materials you are currently working with and use the space. No registration required.
Join us on Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 3 to 4:30 for an intergenerational knitting group. It meets on the first Wednesday of each month. Practice materials are supplied, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own materials and projects. Some instruction provided for those new to knitting. No registration necessary.
December’s Second Thursday Craft on Dec. 8 from 2 to 4 is handmade Christmas ornaments. Guest host Harriet is back to help create beautiful handmade ornaments of various materials. All materials are provided (bring small scissors if you have them) and registration is required at 488-2370 or online.
Do you have questions about using your computer? Come in on the second Friday of the month from 9 to 10 a.m. for our Computer Help Lab. Registration is required and opens a week before the lab.
Join PPLD’s first established yoga group at the Monument Library every Thursday from noon to 1. Classes are held following D-38’s calendar. There will be no class on Dec. 29.
The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, Dec. 16 from 10 to noon to discuss People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
The display case and wall art during December will be provided by students from Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
Information on Palmer Lake events was not available at press time.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library facilities will be closed Dec. 24 and 25, will close at 4 p.m. Dec. 31 and remain closed Jan. 1.
Happy holidays from your library!
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the captions of photos of library activities.
By Janet Sellers
Do you and your holiday shopping list need some space? Take a break with art and a cuppa and watch what happens! In the time-honored book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron has creative people do some tasks every day and every week for 12 weeks, and people often do it long after, many for decades. In this season of extra busy-ness, it is more important than ever to do such a re-creative task. They are pleasant and can be free—and on top of that, they make us amazingly effective and efficient for the rest of the week.
I’ve taught these workshops over 20 years, and I never tire of the book, the "work" or the camaraderie of a group of like-minded writers, artists, crafters and more who look to make the most of their interests—and their pocketbook. By filling the inspirational well this way, we are more able to do what we need to do and thrive. I took the workshop in Taos with Cameron herself years ago, with over 100 people, for several days. I thought doing it with the author would be rewarding and it was, but we found out we didn’t need her (and she had said that from the get-go), we just needed each other in our group and to actively participate.
My favorite task of the many we learned is the "artist’s date." It is a weekly requirement for a person to think up a fun thing to do, by oneself and not with another person, but not just think about doing it. The ritual of planning the date and time, doing the deed, and then looking back on the date is a powerful, powerful thing, and it builds strength for not only creative endeavors, but also daily life.
The task can be as simple as eating a lush bowl of raspberries on one’s own, or a trip to a museum, gallery, or park. In winter I like to go to a greenhouse or indoor garden, or have lunch, or just tea, and be treated like royalty for a while (nope, no cheapo places where you stand in a line for the gas station coffee). The point is to treat oneself with love and respect for the "date time" and just for oneself. Yep, you have to make and keep the date or something else will get in there and rob you of the fun and the practical effect. For some, walking the dog is nice, but if it is not a treat that can be cherished, it is not an artist’s date.
This artist’s date turns out to be a powerful and pivotal part of not letting our well run dry. While I am often tempted to make a date with a friend or family, which can also be nice, it doesn’t do the job of filling the creative well of the soul and strengthening us in storing up for the drive and resolve we need for finishing projects. This practice also does another amazing thing: We feel strong, composed, and capable. This translates into a better handling of our day, our creativity, and our life. And we can do it every week.
I’d like to encourage you to do this over the course of December into January, and try it for yourself. Let me know what happens. And take in some local art events while you’re at it. The artists have been busy creating art for you to purchase for home or office to perk you up when you see it during the day.
Local art exhibits and calls for artists
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, annual member and resident artists show, through Jan. 6. Artist call: Visions of Light, early entry deadline is Dec. 24, exhibit dates Feb. 28-March 24. The underlying theme is the vision, visual use, and interpretation of light. For additional questions about the Visions of Light show or the Palmer Divide Photographers Group, contact Lynn Roth: email@example.com or 719-649-4241.
Interested Tri-Lakes artists may also apply for the Whitney Biennial, a prestigious national exhibition. Occupy Museums is seizing the means of cultural production with Debtfair, an exhibition dedicated to the overworked and underfunded. Creators, performers, and thinkers have until Dec. 9 to see their arduous narrative showcased in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Debtfair serves to expose the aggressive business models that permeate leading art institutions while encouraging solidarity among all encumbered populations of the economically segmented social landscape. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but no artist needs to bear the burden of Atlas, so for details: https://debtfair.submittable.com/submit.
Janet Sellers is a local artist, teacher and writer and gives talks on art and creativity at events, schools, and art venues. Her paintings and sculptures as public artworks are exhibited in Colorado cities and museums. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
County seeks public input on Strategic Plan, comment by Dec. 5
El Paso County is updating its Strategic Plan for 2017 through 2021. The county’s strategic planning process assesses the county’s current service levels and charts a course to maintain and/or improve services for citizens. The draft plan is currently posted on the El Paso County website front page (www.ElPasoCo.com) and citizens are asked to review the draft plan and provide comments. Please send your comments by Dec. 5 to Tim Wolken, email@example.com, or mail to 2002 Creek Crossing, Colorado Springs, CO 80905.
Santa on Patrol toy drive, ends Dec. 16
Each year, Police Chief Jake Shirk plays Santa with the help of elves from the local Fire and Police Departments. This year they will deliver toys Dec. 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can help by donating new, unwrapped toys and gift cards by Dec. 16, 3 p.m., to the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd.; Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department (TLMFD) stations 1, 2, and 3 in Monument; or TLMFD administration offices, 15455 Gleneagle Dr. For more information, contact Chief Shirk, 481-3253.
Tri-Lakes Y winter basketball, register now
Registration is now open for winter basketball, preschool-grade 8. The season begins Jan. 9. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument.
2017 Visions of Light Photographic Exhibition Call for Entries
Photographers of all levels are invited to submit their original photography for consideration. For details, visit www.trilakesarts.org.
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Announces 2017 Grant Process, Jan. 15-March 15
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s (TLWC) grant application for 2017 will be available Jan. 15 through March 15 on the TLWC website, www.tlwc.net. Eligible organizations include nonprofit and public service organizations and public schools that serve the Tri-Lakes area. Special program and project requests are welcomed. The application package includes the instructions as well as other important qualifying information. Completed applications can be mailed to Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, Attn: Grant Committee, PO Box 669, Monument, 80132 with a postmark no later than March 15, 2017. For more information, contact the committee chair, Barbara Betzler, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Survey for small-scale and urban poultry/livestock producers
Colorado State University, Washington State University, and the University of California have joined to survey the veterinary needs of small-scale producers. This survey aims to identify the needs of livestock and poultry owners related to animal health, animal husbandry, and food safety, and the role that veterinarians play on small farms. This study will serve as a benchmark for designing effective educational programs to train farmers, backyard producers, and veterinarians working within this sector. Your participation is essential for this needs assessment. The survey will take about 15-20 minutes of your time. For more information, contact Alda Pires at 530-754- 9855 or email@example.com. The survey can be accessed here: http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=15917
Would you like to honor a member of your family who served honorably in our U.S. military? Join American Legion Post 9-11 in honoring your family hero by having an 18-by-36-inch banner flown in the Tri-Lakes area featuring his/her photo in uniform with area and dates served on active duty. The banner will be attached to town posts by Palmer Lake Legionnaires and flown from Memorial Day through Veterans Day. The cost to each family is $125. To order or for more information, call post headquarters at the Depot Restaurant, 481-8668.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Thrift Store needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed to work a three-hour shift once a week in the store, to move items from storage into the store, or to pick up donated items. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
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 Nov. 1-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 now enrolling for the 2016-17 school year
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.
Help the Black Forest Animal Sanctuary (BFAS) rescue animals
Southern Colorado Animal Rescue BFAS is an animal rescue and rehab farm that has been helping animals since 1994. The all-volunteer organization has rescued thousands of horses, farm animals, dogs, cats, and various small wild animals and birds. BFAS provides rescue operations, adoption programs, foster and sponsorship programs, a student/horse education program, service dogs to veterans, and local and national rescue efforts. They also work with local schools and scouts. Donations are needed for supplies, and volunteers are needed for day-to-day operations. To find out how you can help, call 494-0158, email BFASFarm@gmail.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.
El Paso County expands services to veterans
Three El Paso County agencies providing services to veterans now have satellite offices at the Mount Carmel Center of Excellence, 530 Communications Circle, Colorado Springs. The Veterans Service office at Mount Carmel is open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and closes noon-1 p.m. for lunch. Call 667-3816 for an appointment. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center Mount Carmel office is open Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed for lunch noon-1 p.m.), and is staffed with two Workforce Center employees who help veterans with their employment needs. Call 667-3729 for an appointment. The county Department of Human Services also has a Mount Carmel office open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Become a CASA volunteer
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.
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. Call 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you need 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. For more information, visit www.TriLakes-mcts-sshs.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 MCSS at email@example.com or call the MCSS dispatch hotline at 488-0076.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center programs
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance 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 bridge, 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.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org/newletter.php.
Free gun-lock kit
The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gunlock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For information, phone 481-3253.
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
All libraries are closed all day Dec. 24-25 and will close at 4 p.m. Dec. 31
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.
WEEKLY AND MONTHLY EVENTS
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.
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