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By Lisa Hatfield
After a special meeting on March 11, the Town of Monument announced that it had settled all claims concerning its lawsuit with Colonial Management Group (CMG). The press release from Town Manager Chris Lowe said the town contributed a significant financial amount to aid in the settlement of the lawsuit and that the town and its insurer (CIRSA) were the only parties involved in this agreement with Colonial Management. (On March 23, Lowe told OCN that the town paid $350,000, but the CIRSA amount was still not specified since there was no signed settlement agreement yet.)
Mayor Rafael Dominguez said, "The significant financial contribution by the town was justified because the board felt it was important for all residents of the town that not only should the claims be settled, but also under the condition that CMG not be allowed to ever locate in the Town of Monument."
Since September 2014, CMG had been trying to open a methadone clinic at 192 Front St., across the street from Limbach Park. At that time, it was granted administrative approval by town staff, since the treatment center had sought its land use and building permit approvals as a "clinic," which was not clearly defined by town ordinances. After the public found out about the application in spring 2015, the administrative decision was appealed by Jamie Fenley, a Monument resident who vehemently opposed having a methadone clinic located there, and the No Methadone in Monument nonprofit group was formed to allow other concerned citizens to support that appeal.
By granting Fenley’s appeal on Aug. 10, the Monument Board of Adjustment reversed the decision of the town’s staff and prevented CMG from proceeding with its original plan. CMG then filed a lawsuit in El Paso County District Court naming the Town of Monument and all the members of the Monument Board of Trustees and Monument Board of Adjustment both as individuals and as official members of those boards.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education covered a wide range of topics in its meeting on March 15. Highlights of the meeting included approval of two new administrators, discussion of the funding aspects of the charter contract negotiation with Monument Academy, a discussion of board policies, and comments from the public.
National Merit Scholarship finalists introduced
Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Sandi Brandl and Palmer Ridge High School Principal Gary Gabel introduced five finalists for National Merit Scholarships: Catherine Best, Sofia Kirienko, Erin Peterson, Greger Peterson, and Andi Turner. Best, Kirienko, Greger Peterson and Turner are students at Lewis-Palmer High School; Erin Peterson is from Palmer Ridge High School.
Students lead board in artistic exercise
Palmer Lake Elementary art teacher Kelly Blake and eight of her art club students—Jenna Baker, Mackenzie Garcia, Allia Strycker, Tommy Riggins, Bradlee Ferguson, Heather Hawkins, Inara Walden and Jayden Garcia—led the board in an exercise inspired by Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain: each board member drew a portrait of the board member seated next to them using their non-dominant hand. The portraits will be displayed in the Palmer Lake Elementary School library.
Community partnership recognized
Superintendent Karen Brofft and board President Mark Pfoff recognized Kimberly Jackson of Wells Fargo for Wells Fargo’s partnership with the district. Jackson received a plaque and a D-38 challenge coin.
Two new administrators join the district
Brofft introduced Rick Frampton, who will join the district as the director of Exceptional Student Services, a previously existing post. Before joining D-38, Frampton worked in Littleton public schools for 21 years in a variety of roles. "His goal is to develop exceptional education programming to help these populations of students succeed," Brofft said. The board voted unanimously to approve a one-year contract for Frampton.
Brofft also introduced Drew Francis, who will replace Chuck Stovall as principal at Ray Kilmer Elementary School after Stovall retires. Brofft said Francis came to D-38 with over 20 years of experience in education, most recently as principal of an elementary school in Douglas County. The board voted unanimously to approve a one-year contract for Francis.
Board members comment on funding, Monument Academy mill levy override request
Board Treasurer John Magerko commented on two topics: his recent attendance at the Colorado Association of School Boards’ (CASB) Winter Legislative Conference and Monument Academy’s (MA) recent request to receive a portion of funds from a mill levy override (MLO) ballot initiative passed in 1999.
At the CASB conference Magerko learned that, for the last 20 years, school funding derived from property taxes has not kept up with what schools need. For that reason, the state of Colorado has had to backfill to fund education, and legislators told the conference they had reached the limit on this. The per-pupil revenue provided by the state has returned to what it was before the recession, and schools are struggling to keep up across the state, Magerko said.
Commenting on the charter contract negotiation presently underway between D-38 and MA, Magerko gave some background on the MLO passed by voters in 1999. According to district administrators previously on the D-38 board, MA was not included in the MLO request, Magerko said. As evidence, Magerko pointed out that D-38 and MA placed separate initiatives on ballots in 2004, 2006, and 2007. Magerko also mentioned that the charter contract between D-38 and MA had been renegotiated by both boards in 2001, 2006, and 2011, and those contracts did not specify that MA should receive any portion of the 1999 MLO funds.
Magerko pointed out that in the 2011 charter contract renegotiation, D-38 led the way by updating the charter contract to explicitly include MA in any future MLO requests submitted to the voters. The state of Colorado eventually rewrote the law governing charter schools in 2013 to encourage other districts to do the same, Magerko said. The contract negotiations with MA currently underway include a commitment to include MA in future MLO requests, according to Magerko.
Magerko said he is glad that in previous contract negotiations MA has decided to retain its charter from the district and that district families can choose MA if they prefer it. He added that in his opinion the best way forward was for MA to be included in future MLO requests.
Magerko said he expects to have a final contract for the board to review at the meeting in April.
In his comments, board President Pfoff mentioned that he had posted his opinion in detail on his Facebook page, and said he had worked on an MLO initiative in 2013 that would have provided funds for MA. MA’s request "boils down to disenfranchising the voters from 1999, and I can’t do that," Pfoff said, adding that he supported putting the question to the voters again and letting them decide.
Board Secretary Matt Clawson expressed his hope that both boards could reach a fair and reasonable agreement. Litigating this question would only benefit the lawyers involved, Clawson said, adding that all the students are part of the same community. Clawson also congratulated the Town of Monument on resolving the issue of the proposed methadone clinic.
Board Director Sarah Sampayo covered several topics in her comments. First, she mentioned that she had testified on a bill passed by the state Legislature that would require the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to study the development of a test by the state that would replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. She was also a judge at the recent DECA event, and was inspired by the students and their professionalism, she said.
Sampayo said she attended a meeting of the Colorado Board of Education where it was decided to implement a minimal level of data collection and sharing via the TS Gold software.
Concerning MA’s request for MLO funds, Sampayo pointed out that the ballot language included the phrase "all students district-wide," and said she thought all children should be treated equitably.
Board Vice President Sherri Hawkins commended the Lewis-Palmer High School men’s basketball team for its good sportsmanship throughout the season. She congratulated Lewis-Palmer High School on its stage production of Great Expectations, MA on its successful Green4Green fundraiser, and the town of Palmer Lake on its efforts to raise money for the Palmer Lake Elementary School library.
On the topic of MA’s request for funds from the 1999 MLO, Hawkins said that according to her research MA was not included in the ballot initiative, and that she wanted to honor the people who voted on the issue in 1999.
Brofft comments on Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, other topics
Brofft commended the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce for its engagement with the school district, noting the efforts of the Business Advisory Council and the Student Career Awareness Fair.
Brofft mentioned that she and Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton had testified regarding a bill sponsored by Rep. Terri Carver that would have given school districts more freedom to choose which assessments they preferred, but the bill did not pass.
Brofft reported on the Parent Resource Night held March 7, which provided information concerning proper and safe use of the Internet, cyberbullying, the role of counseling staff, and a variety of other topics.
Brofft also mentioned that the district had worked with the vendor of the Early Literacy Assessment Tool to improve its data privacy, that the district is participating in a language program that would fund the hosting of a teacher from China, and that staffing and contract negotiations are currently underway. She emphasized that staffing decisions are often driven by the unique and sometimes complex needs of specific students, and not by things like the number of students.
Finally, Brofft noted a board coffee for D-38 staff was scheduled for April 14, and a coffee for the community was scheduled for May 4.
Board continues revision of policy
The board continued the discussion of the policies governing how it should operate that began in previous meetings.
Three policies—BDB-Board Officers, BE-School Board Meetings, and BEC-Executive Sessions—were approved with little discussion. But a fourth policy intended to address board members who violate the district’s policies provoked a lengthy debate.
At issue were portions of policy BAA-R-Process for Addressing Board Member Violations that specified board members would withhold final judgment on issues until they were presented to the entire board in a public meeting, that individual board members would respect the legitimacy of the board as a whole, and that board members should make every effort to present a positive image of the district.
Clawson said he thought a code of conduct for the board was a good idea, but he thought portions of policy BAA-R as written might discourage frank communication between board members.
Sampayo argued that policy BAA-R as written did not reflect the values of some in the community, could suppress free speech, and encouraged board members to police each other. Clawson then asked for discussion of the policy to be postponed. Sampayo and Clawson voted to table the discussion of BAA-R; Pfoff, Hawkins, and Magerko voted to continue the discussion.
Sampayo made a motion to amend the title of the policy to replace the word "violations" with "guidelines" but then withdrew it.
The discussion proceeded with Sampayo saying she felt the policy should not include the option to request the resignation of a board member as there was no authority to force a board member to resign. Pfoff pointed out that a majority of the board could request a member’s resignation at any time, even if policy was silent on the topic. Sampayo then moved to approve policy BAA-R with the amended title and the first two paragraphs removed.
After further discussion, the board voted to approve the policy with a change to the title and the initial two paragraphs omitted. Clawson and Assistant Superintendent Bob Foster said they would re-draft the initial two paragraphs and bring them to the board at a later meeting.
Staff provides updates on graduation guidelines, technology, other topics
• Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton, Principal Sandi Brandl, and Assistant Principal Tony Karr filled the board in on their work to update guidelines for graduation as required by recent changes to state law. Math credits required to graduate will increase from two to three, while English, science, and social studies requirements will remain unchanged, Benton said. A single credit in world culture would be added, as would material on person finances, according to Benton. Elective credits required would be reduced by 2 1/2 credits to accommodate these changes, Benton said. Benton also called for more flexibility in meeting P.E. requirements.
• Director of Instructional and Informational Technology Liz Walhof reported that the Instructional Technology Framework has been shared with the principals. The implementation of wireless networking in elementary schools is proceeding, Walhof said. Chromebooks are being considered for use in assessments and for other instructional purposes because they are less expensive than laptops, according to Walhof. Walhof said an optional survey had been distributed to determine if technology implementation was aligning with district goals and expectations. The district has received a draft of a proposed Student Data Transparency and Security Act that will address questions about collection of Personally Identifiable Information statewide, and Walhof was pleased to see it contained several things the district is already doing relative to data security, she said. An updated website will be going online perhaps as early as mid-April, Walhof said.
• The Audit Committee recommended contracting with PFM Group to serve as the district’s financial adviser for the 2016 school year, and the board voted unanimously to approve the contract. Magerko congratulated Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman on the high returns she achieved on investments while using local banks.
• Wangeman also reported on the bond redemption fund, the building reserve fund, and some planned capital projects. The district’s bonds are being paid off, Wangeman said, reducing the district’s mills from a high of 53 to 46.5. The building reserve fund should end the 2017 year with a balance of $427,000, according to Wangeman. Asbestos removal at Palmer Lake Elementary School is one of the capital projects needing early approval, Wangeman said. The board voted unanimously to approve the capital budget reserve budget as presented by Wangeman.
• Director of Curriculum/Instruction and Professional Development Sheila Beving said science textbooks for fourth through eighth grades and high school civics textbooks were available to the community for review.
• Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster compared D-38 insurance benefits and premiums to those of other districts, pointing out that D-38 offered its employees a range of choices and was the only district offering a plan for a single employee paid for entirely by the district.
Safety and security position approved
Brofft and Wangeman presented a proposal for providing safety and security leadership for the district through the creation of a new position. Brofft said Larry Borland, a former El Paso County sheriff, helped the district develop its security plan, which includes cameras, background checks, upgraded barriers and fencing, and other items. The proposal also calls for the district to hire a security manager to coordinate efforts in this area. The board voted unanimously to approve the hiring of a safety and security manager.
Ten citizens made comments to the board:
• James Howald pointed out that the state of Colorado underfunds education, and asked the community to support an upcoming ballot initiative that will expand state funding for schools.
• Jackie Burhans urged MA and D-38 to work together on improving funding at both district and state levels.
• Derek Araje commented on the growth of enrollment at MA since 2007.
• Annette Araje presented the board with a petition from the community asking the board to reject policy BAA-R, which addresses violations of the standards of conduct by board members.
• Diana Helffenstein asked that the community move forward together on MA’s request for a percentage of revenue from the 1999 MLO.
• Cynthia Fong Smith said that studies had shown parental involvement was important to a child’s education.
• Melanie Strop said she felt MA’s MLO request was fair.
• Michael O’Hare thanked the community for supporting MA’s recent fundraising effort and read excerpts from a letter from Don Griffin, executive director of MA, that MA had not requested funds from the 1999 MLO previously due to "misplaced trust with officials of D-38."
• Bob Linza, former board president at MA, asked the board to "give serious consideration to the way that the inevitable negotiations are headed."
• Julie Jadomski celebrated the community spirit in evidence at a recent Pride Assembly at Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D-38 generally meets on the third Thursday of the month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. at 6 p.m.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
At the March 18 Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) regular board meeting, BRRTA’s District Manager Elaine Johnsen, who is the funding optimization manager for El Paso County Budget Administration, presented a resolution for extraordinary mandatory redemption all of BRRTA’s remaining outstanding 2007 privately-held revenue bonds, which was unanimously approved. The next interest date that these bonds can be recalled is June 1, 2016. Johnsen said the estimated total cost of early redemption is $14.831 million for principal, interest, and trustee fees, while BRRTA’s current total bond resources are $14.916 million as of Feb. 29, for an excess of $85,594. She added that BRRTA had also collected $146,000 in sales and use taxes to date in 2016.
The BRRTA board also unanimously approved a resolution to terminate BRRTA’s temporary 20-year one-cent sales and use tax by June 30, 2016, which solely finances the BRRTA bond payments, and to terminate as soon as possible all agreements with other entities regarding collection and distribution of these bond-related revenues. The county staff members supporting BRRTA as an additional duty were directed to work with the bond trustee and take all steps necessary to issue the call for redemption and pay off the bonds in full as of June 1. The BRRTA president and vice president were authorized to execute any and all documents necessary to carry out these matters.
BRRTA will have no source of sales or use tax income as of June 1 and will rely on its remaining total balance of about $400,000 for operations until the board votes to dissolve the authority. All planned BRRTA-supported improvement projects for Baptist Road are expected to be completed by the end of 2016. Future Baptist Road improvements will be financed by El Paso County.
Note: The BRRTA board consists of two Town of Monument elected officials and three elected El Paso County officials. The current members are Monument Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Kaiser (chair), Monument Mayor Rafael Dominguez, County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, and County Assessor Steve Schleiker. The absences of Glenn and Kaiser were unanimously excused.
BRRTA voters approved a $21.5 million sales tax revenue bond issue financed by a temporary 20-year one-cent sales tax within the BRRTA service area in the Nov. 6, 2006 election. The privately owned bonds were issued in 2007.
At a previous special noon meeting on Feb. 19, the BRRTA board unanimously approved the final negotiated settlement reimbursement of $12,511,228.43 between BRRTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), an amount that was $2,940.57 less than the previously negotiated preliminary settlement amount that the BRRTA board had previously approved on Jan. 8. This reduction was the result of the loss of some receipts and documentation. CDOT previously made one other reimbursement of $3 million with Amendment 1 in May 2011. This $12.51 million CDOT settlement completes the state’s reimbursement of all verifiable direct I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion construction contract costs of $15.5 million. None of BRRTA’s separate administrative costs for revenue bond election and bond debt service and early redemption costs were a part of the intergovernmental reimbursement agreement between BRRTA and CDOT.
The amended final 2016 BRRTA budget’s debt service fund line items included a beginning total fund balance of $2.436 million, total 2016 budgeted revenues of $13.253 million, total 2016 budgeted expenses were $15.196 million, and total ending 2016 fund balance was $432,853.
This second final CDOT reimbursement coupled with BRRTA’s existing debt service fund balance is large enough to pay for all costs for early redemption in full of all remaining revenue bonds. The timing and final total costs for principal, interest, and administrative costs for early sales tax revenue bond redemption has not been determined. BRRTA must maintain a claims reserve fund account, which the county staff will administer, for three years after the settlement of any early bond redemption disputes.
The county staff is now performing administrative tasks for BRRTA as an additional duty at no cost to BRRTA––in return for BRRTA giving up its road use fee revenue stream to induce more rapid development of the Baptist Road corridor by suspending BRRTA’s road use fee for new construction. The county staff members now performing tasks for BRRTA are Elaine Johnsen, Sales and Use Tax Manager Brian Olson, Finance Manager Nikki Simmons, Senior Assistant County Attorney Lori Seago, and Assistant County Attorney Kenneth Hodges.
Johnsen presented the fourth-quarter 2015 Financial Report. Total 2015 sales and use tax revenue was $1.444 million, up $130,174 or 9.91 percent from 2014 and $30,868 or 2.18 percent more than budgeted.
Simmons reported that there were no accounts payable to ratify or claims to be presented for approval. She noted that payments of collection fees to the Town of Monument totaling $481.46 had been made in November, December, and January. The board unanimously approved these reports as well as an engagement letter for the 2015 audit with CPA firm BiggsKofford for $7,500 to $8,500.
The 17-minute meeting adjourned at 3:33 p.m.
Caption: High school principals Gary Gabel and Sandi Brandl introduce five National Merit Scholarship finalists. They are, from left, Erin Peterson, Andie Turner, Catherine Best, Sofia Kirienko, and Greger Peterson. Photo by James Howald..
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for May 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Academy Conference Room of Citizen Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the second month of the quarter. Information: 520-5547 or 520-6386.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on March 10 to discuss the school branding, curriculum, exceptions to class size standards, and the teacher survey along with other subjects.
Rebranding from core knowledge
Principal Lis Richard reported on a curriculum summit held at The Hideaway with a handpicked group of teachers, Executive Director Dr. Don Griffin and others. The group discussed MA branding, noting that MA has always branded itself a core knowledge school but feels conflicted about it. They feel that the foundation has taken a far left swing and that the foundation website (www.coreknowledge.org) doesn’t match MA’s values. MA needs to determine if it is happy to be identified with that brand or if MA is mature and doesn’t need that branding as a crutch to carry the school.
Under leadership and guidance, a group is putting together a framework of a scope and sequence, Richard noted, adding "We have now for the first time an actual solid philosophy that is guiding our steps." She noted that the board provides the mission and vision and indicated that MA will still use the resource of core knowledge. The curriculum committee with the help of key staff members is putting together a document on why MA is making this change to bring to the board next month. Another action team will put together a process MA will follow on ordering new curriculum and how it aligns with MA’s philosophy, state standards, and values. Richard said that a lot of teachers are feeling that the board made a resolution some time back identifying what we are not and, given the change in core knowledge direction, it is important that MA identify who we are.
Increasing class size
The board unanimously approved an increased class size to accommodate the "bubble" class for fifth grade. This class is larger than usual and will have to be approved each year.
The board also discussed and approved additional exceptions to the school board Monument Academy Class Size Policy #1523 (http://bit.ly/ma-1523) for several middle school classes. Policy 1523 states says sixth to eighth grade will not exceed 110 students. The sixth and seventh grade are at those limits, with 10 people on the waiting list for both grades. Eighth grade is expected to be 95 students. Don Griffin asked for a one-year exception to bring the limit up to 118 per grade or 24 students per class in those three middle school grades. After the October count day, Griffin suggested that the board might want to permanently change this policy to the higher number. After a discussion on availability of lockers and crowded halls during passing time, the board unanimously approved the request.
Board report highlights
• Treasurer Sonya Camarco reported the receipt of $7,900 in Impact Aid revenue from the federal government for the education of military or federally-connected children. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 passed by the Obama Administration appropriated additional money to fund Impact Aid. MA had not seen this revenue since 2013.
• MA has about $30,000 left over in reserves after approving spending on the field in a previous meeting. MA is not mandated to have reserves, so it feels that the reserve is adequate.
• The budget is flat with an expectation of an increase in PERA and health insurance costs along with a 1.6 percent increase in per pupil revenue. There is no money for teacher salary increases even without use of the reserves for the field.
• The mid-year teacher survey had suggestions for improvements to the property to be listed publically with contact information. There was positive feedback from elementary teachers and mixed results from the middle school around homework amounts and iPad use. The board discussed the learning curve associated with the first year of implementing technology. There will be a town hall on April 7 to discuss iPad use with parents; a survey on this has been sent to parents and teachers.
The Monument Academy usually meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in the school library at 1150 Village Ridge Point, Monument. The next meeting will be on April 14. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances, can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the March 7 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees went into executive session for two hours to consult with their attorneys about two topics: legal questions regarding the methadone clinic litigation, and "the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal, or other property interest."
Then they voted 3-2 to approve the first year’s worth of the newly proposed Town of Monument water rates increase that has been under discussion since October, but they did not approve the series of automatic rate increases through 2021 recommended by town staff to help build the emergency half-million dollar reserves fund or help pay back $435,000 borrowed from the town’s general fund. The new rates will apply only to customers in the Town of Monument water service area west of I-25, which has about 1,000 accounts.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser and Trustee Kelly Elliott were excused.
"Bleeding" will slow for town water enterprise fund operations, but other goals at risk
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish and Forsgren Associates water engineer Will Koger presented a new water rates increase structure proposal. Tharnish explained that the increases over the next five years would allow the town to accomplish its goals of making the water enterprise operation and management fund self-sustaining, building a reserve for emergencies, providing money to transfer back to the general fund, and providing revenue for needed capital repair and replacement expenditures.
However, after the special Feb. 22 workshop where stakeholders and members of the business community presented specific alternative options for the town staff’s financial analysis, public comment at the March 7 meeting indicated they had expected to see several alternate proposals on March 7. See www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#photos.
After an hour of discussion, the trustees approved an amended version of the proposal that only included the first year of higher rates but not the rest of the recommended automatic annual increases. See charts showing new 2016 base and volumetric rates for town water customers on the facing page.
If it had been approved in its entirety, the March 7 proposal would have covered 21 percent of costs for 2016 and then increased every year through 2021. Koger said, "That 21 percent is not ideal, but it is workable, given that there would be an increase to 27 percent in 2017, you can sort of live with the 21 percent for one year." The 79 percent remainder of the revenue needed would need to come from volumetric water use rates, which vary in wet and dry years as customers vary their water consumption.
In October and January, Koger, Tharnish, and Town Manager Chris Lowe had presented two other proposals, both of which met with public opposition for including base rate and volumetric rate increases that were too steep and would cause hardships for people on low or fixed incomes and those with larger meter sizes (such as commercial businesses). Other public comments said the new rates proposed were unfair to people who used less than the 6,000 or 3,000 gallons of water included in those proposed monthly base rates. Those plans would have met 60 percent or 32 percent of those same costs, respectively, if they had been approved.
By comparison, the current 2015 base rates (approved in 2013 and replaced on March 7) covered only 4.7 percent of operations, management, debt collection, and capital fund projects expenses, leaving 95 percent of revenue to be generated by volumetric rates, putting the town "at very extreme risk if something catastrophic were to happen," Tharnish said.
Other features of the March 7 proposal included:
• Monthly base rate includes first 1,000 gallons of water
• Three-quarter-inch tap base rate increase from $8.80 to $31
• The 1 1-2-inch tap base rate increase from $10 to $72.89 in 2016 (and $135.78 in 2017)
• (Annual increases of 9.5 percent through 2021)
• (Almost $435,000 transferred from general fund would be paid back by the water fund in ten years instead of six)
• (Reserve fund of $500,000 for emergencies would be re-established)
(Since the ordinance was amended before being voted on, the items listed above in parentheses were not approved or will take more (undetermined) time to accomplish).
Tharnish referred to an email sent to the trustees and town staff by Greg Coopman, saying that Coopman’s calculations criticizing the town’s projections were not accurate. He added that Coopman’s proposal addressed the needs of fixed- and low-income people, but made no effort to benefit the business community, which is also heavily impacted due to larger meter sizes, and it was spread out too far to meet the four goals. Tharnish said in his 16 years with the town, "staff did not direct the board" but instead "provided the best information and advice to the board so they could make an informed decision."
Five people spoke against the March 7 proposal. Their comments included:
• Coopman – The new proposal is an attempt to deceive the residents of this community; it is actually higher than the original proposal (at the end of six years). No data has been provided to support the need for any increase. The staff was directed to provide multiple solutions (but just one was presented March 7). I am more disgusted now than I was before.
• John Dominowski – I have asked town staff what is the amount of the total impact on town budget and water department. Can anyone tell me how much will be collected in first fiscal year if this increase is in effect? A lot of things being said are hitting us the wrong way and we are angry about it.
• AB Tellez – In six years, I will be paying an extra $14,000 a year, and my business will be in the red. We the customers have no fault; all we have done is paid the bill that was given to us.
• Tellez – I asked the town for help on changing landscaping requirements to xeriscaping so I would not waste water, but I have gotten no direction from the town.
• Tellez – I did my own Excel worksheet including 2015 numbers people are currently paying, which the town has not done. I conservatively calculated how much revenue this would generate. What are you going to do with all this extra revenue?
• Haley Chapin, Tri-Lakes Cares executive director – The grants we currently get are going toward energy use, not water use, and it takes a little while to get new financial support. I strongly urge that we figure out how to get the "round up" program working very quickly, or we will have people coming forward for assistance before we are able to help them.
Trustees’ comments against the rate increase proposal included:
• Jeff Bornstein – It was my understanding we would see multiple proposals after the Feb. 22 workshop, but we didn’t.... I am not sold as a trustee.
• John Howe – The "round up" fund won’t work if people who are concerned about paying their bill in the first place choose not to round up their bills. Tharnish said we are not charging enough to cover our costs; that is scary. Ms. Smith is looking at the requirement to pay money to the general fund back or not, but we have not heard the answer yet.
Trustee Jeff Smith suggested a compromise that "could stop the bleeding but not commit ourselves to an unnecessary trajectory," and the board could re-evaluate the numbers each year and confirm whether the rate structure was working or needed further increases as originally suggested. He made a motion that the proposed water rates vote only include the 2016 proposed rates, without the automatic annual increases of 9.5 percent through 2021, until positively affirmed by the board as they reviewed the budget each year.
The amended ordinance was approved by a vote of 3-2. Bornstein and Howe voted no.
Since only the first year’s rate increases were approved, and it is not guaranteed that future boards will implement the suggested five more years of 9.5 percent increases through 2021, so the projections for the financial future of the water enterprise fund that Koger, Tharnish, and Lowe presented with their proposal are at risk.
The original goal was to fund $1.4 million/year in operations, $300,000/year in debt service, and $1.77 million in repair and replacement capital costs from 2016-2021, and would have paid back 60 percent of the general fund payback by 2021.
Public hearing on annexation set
Howe acted as mayor pro-tem for the discussion of a resolution to set a public hearing date for annexation of two parcels of land owned by Mayor Rafael Dominguez, who recused himself from discussion or voting on the issue.
Planning Director Larry Manning explained that Dominguez, the applicant for annexation, owned two parcels of land southeast of the southern terminus of Synthes Avenue and wanted to begin the process of applying to have them annexed into the town. The first step in the process was to set a date for the annexation and zoning hearings, which needed a resolution to be passed by the trustees for each parcel. The trustees voted unanimously to set the public hearing for April 18 for both parcels to be considered for annexation, and that hearing is where the benefits and disadvantages of annexation for the town would be discussed. See related March 9 Monument Planning Commission article on page 12.
Water tank question
During public comment, El Paso County resident Michelle Miller asked about rumors that the Red Rock Ranch homeowners association had heard that the town wanted to build a 1.5-million-gallon water storage tank, and if one of the sites they were considering was in the park in Red Rock Ranch, which is outside the town limits. Mayor Dominguez and Town Manager Lowe said they could not give feedback at this meeting. See related March 14 Red Rock Ranch HOA article on page 20 for further information from town staff.
Checks over $5,000
The trustees unanimously approved the consent agenda, which included:
• Forsgren Associates Inc., water rate and fee study − $5,862
• Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, first-quarter support − $5,000
• D&J Quality Electric, electrical upgrade to IT room − $9,684
• Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, annual membership dues, transit loss: gauging stations − $5,548
Police Chief Jake Shirk thanked Walmart for its assistance with Santa on Patrol. He commended Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District paramedic Elliot Linke for his work with the Direct Action Response Team (DART) and thousands of hours of other safety-related efforts. He also commended Town of Monument Support Services Manager Mary Ellen Burk and the new Support Services Manager Andrea Thompson.
The meeting adjourned at 9:46 p.m.
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 March 21 meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum. The next meeting is scheduled for April 4. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information.
To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Kate Pangelinan
At the March 9 Monument Planning Commission meeting, the commissioners voted to recommend R1 zoning as part of the proposal to annex Mayor Rafael Dominguez’s 9.5-acre residential county property, 16440 Old Denver Rd., into the town of Monument.
Editor’s note: There was no Monument Planning Commission meeting packet available on the town website this month. Only an agenda was posted.
Public comments about senior care and center
During public comments, David Betzler, a longtime Monument resident involved personally with the care of senior citizens, wanted to know about plans for a new senior center in Monument. He had heard about two proposed care facilities to be built, one along Old Denver Road and another along Jackson Creek Parkway, and was curious about the status of both developments. He also hoped to ensure that the Planning Commission is aware and involved in this development.
Bethesda Senior Living facility intends to build on Beacon Lite Road. See www.ocn.me/v13n4.htm#bot0311 for information on its 2013 approval by the Monument Board of Trustees, when the property was owned by Encore Partners. See www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#mbot0216, where Monument Mayor Rafael Dominguez mentioned this February that he hoped groundbreaking would happen in April or May. The next step in the process would be to file a plat, according to Principal Planner Larry Manning. This project is intended to be a "full care" facility, he said.
Betzler also noted that the Tri-Lakes Senior Center currently operates in a 4,000-square-foot modular building on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus via an informal agreement between
District 38 and the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership through about 2020, but it may be time for the Tri-Lakes community to consider a separate senior center. It is Betzler’s observation that with more houses being built in the Monument area, the school district might be planning for an influx of students. Lewis-Palmer may therefore require the use of its full campus. Betzler said that the Tri-Lakes community should be aware that the use of Lewis-Palmer’s campus may not be permanent.
Rezoning and annexation of the Dominguez property
Manning presented Elizabeth and Mayor Dominguez’s March 7 petition to the town of Monument for their property, 16440 Old Denver Rd., to be annexed. The board set a hearing for the annexation request, to be held at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 18, the required 30 days after the petition was filed. The Planning Commission was requested to provide a recommendation only on the zoning of the property, Manning said. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the commission did not have a direct say in whether the property would be annexed.
The applicant does not propose any new development, and would like the new town zoning to be R-1, Single Family Low Density Residential District. This zoning is in keeping with current use of the property.
This property is 9.65 acres and currently unplatted. There is a single home on the land, along with several outbuildings. The railroad runs along the eastern border of the Dominguez property, and the existing Monument town limits run along the property’s north border. A drive from Old Denver Road leads to the property from the east, going underneath the railroad tracks.
The area directly to the west and south of this property has also previously been a candidate for annexation, in the form of a single-family development known as Willow Springs. Manning said he had a conversation with Willow Springs about that development as recently as March 9. Those homes are intended to be on 6,000-10,000-square-foot single-family lots under PD zoning, Manning said, but that would have to be approved by the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees in the future.
Manning said that annexing the Dominguez land would promote southerly expansion of the town as well as provide property tax immediately and water payments once water service is extended to the property. The annexation agreement would address infrastructure improvements such as water and sewer, Manning said. Once annexed, police services would be provided.
During public comments, a woman who lives on Wagon Gap Trail, near the Dominguez property, asked if it would be possible for someone to subdivide this land later, and whether more houses could be built there. The Planning Commission answered that once the property was zoned R-1, it would need to go through a separate application process if it were to be re-zoned to accommodate multiple properties, after which the land would need to be re-platted so individual lots could be sold. All people living within a 500-foot radius would be notified if the process should ever be initiated.
The motion to recommend R-1 zoning for the Dominguez property, should it be annexed at the April 18 Board of Trustees meeting, was approved unanimously. See related March 7 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 10.
Commissioner Michelle Glover wished to amend the minutes from the Nov. 12 meeting. Specifically, Nov. 12’s minutes stated that when Glover suggested a one-day planning conference with all jurisdictions, she also volunteered to lead said conference. In actuality, Glover had said she was willing to be the sponsoring commissioner for such a conference.
Also, Glover restated her concerns about the people living out of recreational vehicles in Monument’s Walmart parking lot. She has been asking to see the Walmart building plans since June, hoping to understand the conditions on the development, particularly what the town of Monument might do to prevent people from living outside Walmart long-term. She noted that she wanted the records to reflect her request and concerns.
Town Attorney Shupp said there should be a note on the PD site plan concerning how long people are allowed to stay in the parking lot. Manning said she would be able to see these plans in the week following this meeting, so that the town would know if it had a legal basis to compel people to not park there so long.
The motion to approve the minutes with specified changes was approved unanimously.
After the main topics of the meeting had been discussed, Commissioner Kathy Spence asked for an update on the dangerous left turns around Natural Grocers and U-turns on Leather Chaps Drive where it intersects Baptist Road.
It was suggested that a concrete barrier be placed at the "no left turn" area from the Kum & Go station northbound onto Knollwood Boulevard, where Commissioner David Gwisdalla said he saw a sheriff’s deputy make an illegal left turn. This intersection has been controversial since it opened in late 2012. See www.ocn.me/v13n3.htm#bot0219.
Spence asked about street lights that were not working in Jackson Creek, and she asked that Manning talk to the Triview Metropolitan District about it. He said there were ongoing discussions at Triview board meetings on how they should plan for roads and other maintenance. Note: Triview is a Title 32 special district within the town of Monument that provides roads maintenance, open space maintenance, water, and sanitation services to the residents of Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe.
The next Monument Planning Commission meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monument Mayor Rafael Dominguez has resigned his position, according to a town news release dated March 29.
"I have been offered a position of employment that is contingent upon the resignation of my Mayoral duties for the Town of Monument," Dominguez said in the news release. "This contingency is to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. I have accepted this position. Therefore, effective immediately I resign my position as Mayor for the Town of Monument. I appreciate the honor of serving as your Mayor and wish the town a prosperous future."
The Board of Trustees has the power to fill the vacancy by appointment within 60 days of the vacancy or may order an election if the vacancy has not been filled by appointment.
By James Howald
In March, the Palmer Lake Town Council met twice: on March 10 and on March 24. The March 10 meeting was preceded by a meeting of the Palmer Lake Liquor and Marijuana Licensing Authority (PLLMLA). The PLLMLA consists of the same members as the council, but only addresses liquor and marijuana licensing issues.
On March 10, the PLLMLA voted on a request to upgrade the business license of Premiere Organics LLC. On the same date, the Town Council canceled its upcoming municipal election, took a final vote on allowing chickens and ducks as pets, began a discussion on raising town fees, and signed off on a subdivision. In her remarks at this meeting, Economic Development Trustee Judith Harrington detailed the town’s plans for its FireWise day on May 7.
On March 24, the council heard a presentation on water quality from Dylan Trujillo, gave the mayor the authority to execute a contract with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, continued the discussion of town fees, and debated the protocol for lighting the Palmer Lake Star.
Marijuana infused products license granted
Brenda Woodward, owner of Premiere Organics LLC, asked the PLLMLA to approve an upgrade to the business’s existing license to grow marijuana for wholesale distribution. The marijuana infused products license would allow the business to process marijuana plant byproducts into resin, which could then be sold on a wholesale basis. The process will not use dangerous solvents, according to Woodward. The PLLMLA voted unanimously to approve the license upgrade.
The board voted to cancel the upcoming municipal election, since there were fewer candidates than there were open offices.
In April, Mayor Nikki McDonald will end her term as mayor and will be replaced by John Cressman, who has served previously as the town’s mayor and who was the only candidate who filed for the position.
Paul Banta, who is currently Parks and Recreation trustee, will return to the board. Mark Shuler, the only other candidate to file, will also join the board.
Cressman, Banta and Shuler will serve four-year terms. Three other seats on the board will need to be filled by appointment; the board members appointed to those seats will serve two-year terms. Any vacancies on the board after 90 days will necessitate a special election, according to town lawyer Maureen Juran.
Backyard chickens get a thumbs up
After a debate lasting months, the board finally voted to approve chickens and ducks as pets within town boundaries. The ordinance specifies no more than six birds per residence, bans roosters, establishes requirements for the construction and placement of coops, and gives 90 days for existing flocks to be brought into compliance.
Town fees come up for review
On March 10, Town Administrator Cathy Green-Sinnard told the board that many of the town’s fees had been set in the early 1980s and had not been reviewed since. Green-Sinnard suggested that all fees be organized into a single schedule that could be amended by resolution, rather than being established in many of the town’s ordinances. The fees for business licenses in general and marijuana-related businesses in particular were discussed at this meeting.
The discussion of fees continued at the March 24 meeting. Green-Sinnard said the town attorneys wanted time to read affected ordinances before taking final action. She added that her suggestions for new fees were based in part on what other towns were charging, especially Pueblo, where she had worked on land use issues. What it costs the town to deliver the service also needs to be considered when setting the fee, Green-Sinnard said.
Fees for marijuana-related businesses got special attention in the discussion. Green-Sinnard said that neighboring towns were charging much more than Palmer Lake for marijuana-related business licenses, and recommended that those license fees be raised, perhaps as high as $10,000 for a new license.
The board did not take action at the March 24 meeting.
On March 10, the board voted unanimously to allow Ron Reed to subdivide a lot near County Line Road that he had previously purchased from the town.
Town plans FireWise day
Harrington reviewed the plans for FireWise day on May 7. A fire mitigation demonstration by the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, a noxious weed eradication demonstration, and a presentation on monarch butterfly habitat will run throughout the day. A technical tree climbing and cutting demonstration by Treeman will be ongoing from 1 p.m. at various sites around the town, Harrington said.
Hikes—each limited to five hikers—will also begin at 1 p.m. Three different hikes are planned:
• SWIFT shaded fire break construction tour—will meet at the end of Rock Ridge Road at Pike National Forest.
• Guided hike to Ice Creek Cave—will meet at reservoir trail head.
• Guided hike from Santa Fe Trail to the proposed Elephant Rock County Park—will meet at Santa Fe trail head.
At the lake, a bring-your-kayak float, women’s fly fishing demo and disc golf demo will run concurrently, starting at 1 p.m., according to Harrington.
Harrington asked for volunteers with trucks to assist with slash hauling as part of the day’s FireWise activities. She said Air Force Academy cadets will be volunteering to help the town load slash into containers.
Board hears presentation on protecting the quality of its water
At the March 10 meeting, Water Trustee Mitchell Davis raised concerns about contamination of the town’s reservoirs resulting from recreational uses of the reservoirs and adjacent land.
Following on these concerns, Dylan Trujillo of the Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA) gave a presentation on source water protection programs to the board during their March 24 meeting. CRWA is a nonprofit organization that provides technical, non-regulatory support to operators of public water systems.
Trujillo outlined a five-step plan that helps towns form a steering committee, identify the location of their source water resources, identify potential sources of contamination, develop management practices to prevent contamination, and finally document and implement their plan.
Trujillo said $5,000 grants were available to assist with these efforts. The grants are one-to-one matching grants that can be matched with town funds or with in-kind donations of volunteer work.
The board voted unanimously to begin the grant application process.
Mayor authorized to sign contract with Colorado Department of Local Affairs
Last year, Green-Sinnard wrote a grant application to request funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to pay 50 percent of the salary for a town manager. On March 24, the board voted to give the town’s mayor the authority to complete the contract with DOLA without further action by the board.
Policy for lighting of Palmer Lake Star discussed
Green-Sinnard and Town Clerk and Recorder Tara Berreth said there had been some discussion recently about what type of events should be acknowledged by lighting the Palmer Lake Star. In the past, the star has been lit to celebrate Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, and also to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001, Berreth said. The board agreed to write a policy formalizing how and for what reasons the star will be illuminated.
The two meetings for April will be at 6:30 p.m. on April 14 and April 28 at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The March 8 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) included a construction report on Phase 1 of the total phosphorus (TP) expansion project and an update on progress toward economically and technologically attainable discharge standards.
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: MSD board Treasurer Don Smith, who is also the JUC president, PLSD Chairman of the Board Mark Bruce, who filled in for PLSD Board Secretary/Treasurer Ken Smith, and WWSD Board Director at Large Rich Strom. 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. Steven Mulliken, the new general counsel for MSD, visited the meeting.
Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks said that construction on Phase 1 of the TP chemical removal clarifier expansion project was progressing well. Current work included installing plate settlers, chemical sludge pump, flock basin handrails, sludge removal controls, secondary effluent intake piping, and unit heaters.
Plant and district managers’ reports
Gillette said WWSD was doing routine cleaning of sediment from its north outfall, going from east of I-25 at Highway 105 south to the TLWWTF. Neither Orcutt nor Wicklund had anything to report.
Burks summarized the facility’s monthly discharge monitoring report for January, required by the state, and said all sampled parameters were well within permit limits.
Burks also gave a report on his trip to the San Diego Utility Management Conference where he brainstormed with other managers about industry issues, including:
• Win-win ways to get businesses to dispose of fats, oils, and grease properly
• Using a flight simulator concept to train people working at wastewater treatment facility
• How to encourage more high school students to consider utility management as a career and get the proper training.
He said he had received 10 applications for the TLWWTF job opening so far, but none of the candidates had level C wastewater certification, just level D or no certification at all.
AF CURE update
MSD environmental compliance coordinator Jim Kendrick reported on the March 1 meeting of Arkansas and Fountain Coalition for Urban River Evaluation (AF CURE).
Kendrick said that Brown and Caldwell environmental engineer Sarah Reeves presented a revised sampling analysis plan and asked for members’ input on the utility of the sampling sites. This monthly sampling is done in addition to AF CURE’s baseline state Control Regulation 85 sampling and gives AF CURE the ability to provide informative data to the Colorado Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) and other regulatory entities via the Colorado Data Sharing Network.
The goal is to have representative sampling of temperature, E. coli, and various metals and nutrients across the hundreds of square miles of the Fountain Creek watershed’s range of cold to hot ambient temperatures, steep to flat terrain, types of streambeds and flow volumes, and areas affected by wildfire, erosion, or stormwater scouring. He said it is difficult for AF CURE’s wastewater treatment plant operators to accurately characterize such variability, so GEI Consulting has been brought in to calibrate and evaluate the emerging set of AF CURE data so that the WQCD will find this data credible in helping with its decision-making, which covers the entire state of Colorado and therefore includes even more variability.
He said Reeves also announced that $80,000 in grant money was available from the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF, www.werf.org) to expand possible applications for its nutrient modeling toolbox. She asked for suggestions from AF CURE members on what types of projects would result in WERF grant awards for a new, different AF CURE study. Ideas included studying how the use of expensive fertilizers could be reduced if the nutrient content of irrigation water were to be tested before and after application to agricultural fields, or doing a sandy bottom stream study to parallel WERF’s recently completed cobble bottom stream study in Boulder.
AF CURE’s environmental attorney, Gabe Racz of Vranish & Raisch LLP, asked that the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council (WWUC) sponsor a $23,000 contract for GEI Consulting to do analysis of temperature data to try to create an alternative maximum stream temperature standard. The current stream temperature standard has only one low maximum temperature for winter months and only one higher maximum temperature summer months, that looks like a "top hat" when plotted for a calendar year, with a vertical instantaneous graph upward change from winter to a higher summer limit and only one corresponding instantaneous graph downward change back down to the same winter limit. These two vertical graph changes are called "shoulders." The two summer and winter maximum temperature limits chosen and the two annual dates that these vertical shoulders of the maximum temperature graph are applied by the state is controversial. Since actual average temperatures increase gradually from late winter to early summer and gradually decrease back down from late summer to early winter, the wastewater industry is requesting smooth, straight line temperature limit increases from February to June and straight line decreases from September to November. Kendrick explained to OCN that plots of average annual stream temperatures in Fountain Creek near Pueblo are very different than plots of average annual stream temperatures in Monument Creek near the Tri-Lakes facility.
Currently, the EPA does not want the WQCD to create a naturally sloping seasonal maximum temperature curve but instead prefers continuation of the abrupt large vertical changes of the "top-hat" maximum temperature model of only one warm temperature for the entire "summer" part of the year and only one cold temperature for the entire "winter" part of the year for the entire state despite the differences in Pueblo stream temperatures and Dillon stream temperatures, Kendrick said.
Kendrick said that Nancy Keller, head of the City of Pueblo Wastewater Department, sent out requests for voluntary contributions to all WWUC members to help pay the $23,000. The JUC consensus was that TLWWTF might contribute $1,000, since, as Kendrick said, "It is in our interest to do this … and make sure it is reasonably economical and sustainable. We are pragmatic environmentalists. We want to do the right thing, but we want to spend the money in an appropriate, targeted, prioritized manner within the constraints of what we can afford and what is achievable technologically." Kendrick indicated he would obtain a $1,000 invoice from the WWUC to Tri-Lakes.
The meeting adjourned at 11:34 a.m.
This reporter misquoted what Wicklund said at February’s meeting. The word was not nitrification, but eutrophication, meaning the growth of algae from excess nutrients in a body of water. His actual statement was, "We are showing no harm to the stream. Phosphorus is down to below 1 mg/l and nitrogen below 2 mg/l. We are not seeing eutrophication of the stream. We are not seeing an enormous amount of algae. The fish are not dying. The aquatic life is good."
The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on April 12 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings throughout 2016 will normally be held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to all members of the public. For information, call Bill Burks at (719) 481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Triview Metropolitan District board discussion at the March 8 meeting included plans to hire a new full-time water operator, plans for this summer’s landscaping maintenance, upcoming expenses, its public construction requirements policy, and better ways to track action items. Three members of the public made comments, too.
The meeting was held at the Donala Water and Sanitation District conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs, since the Triview conference room has been repurposed for part-time administrative staff to use. Donala General Manager Kip Petersen told the Triview board that Donala was happy to help Triview out while it looked for a new board room.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within the town of Monument that provides roads maintenance, open space maintenance, water, and sanitation services to the residents of Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe.
President Robert Fisher was absent.
Promontory Pointe resident Anthony Sexton spoke during public comments to reaffirm his commitment to volunteer to assist the district with creating a landscaping maintenance and irrigation plan. As he had in November, Director Bob Eskridge said he would work with Sexton. Later in the meeting, District Manager Valerie Remington said plans for seasonal operations hiring and summer landscaping have been developed.
Subcontracting with ORC Water Professionals Inc. for about $5,000 a month for a water supervisor is more expensive than hiring a district employee who would be in the district full-time, Remington said. Despite the fact that the board had begun the hiring process for a new operator in responsible charge (water supervisor) in August, Remington said, no one was ever hired. She said the position is not currently even posted, and it was up to the board to decide to post it again. The consensus was that this time Remington, instead of the board, would do the hiring, and the position would be operations manager for all water employees instead of a supervisor.
Remington said she and John McGinn of JDS-Hydro have started working together on the scope of the road assessment study as she was directed by the board in December. She estimated it would cost less than $50,000 to come up with a five-year plan.
Remington said she was going to meet with Monument Principal Planner Larry Manning and asked the board whether they would be interested in having Triview collect its own tap fees directly from developers, instead of having the town do this. The consensus was that if the town were agreeable, Triview would be also.
The directors unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with Forest Lakes Metropolitan District to construct a potable water interconnection between the two districts to be used in case of emergency. They authorized $35,000 to come out of the streets line item in the capital fund, and Remington said this might require a budget restatement later.
Remington presented three choices to the directors about how to secure a vacuum excavator needed to clear dirt and sand out of vaults, valve boxes, and the drainage system. After some discussion, the board decided instead of purchasing one for $42,280 or leasing one at 3 percent interest, it would be best to lease the extractor for about $1,100 a week for 42 weeks a year since this included a maintenance plan and the option of renting a bigger one if needed for certain areas.
Vice President Reid Bolander asked Remington to include executive summary paragraphs in future board packets so each board member has time to consider budget expenditure requests like the vacuum excavator before the meeting.
Other expenses discussed
The directors discussed a possible contender for billing subcontracting and other services. Remington said a part-time administrative support person had been hired, which was alleviating some of the clerical work with which she was inundated. She said even if billing were outsourced, the office staff would still have plenty of other work to do. The consensus of the board was to proceed with reconfiguration of the district’s old conference room into office space.
Remington said the district had 1,200 accounts and a population of about 4,200 people, but the county voter lists indicated that around 6,000 ballots had to be mailed out for the May board election since one must go to all registered voters in each house as well as to renters and property owners.
As part of the financial report, the board unanimously approved:
• Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), annual dues – $3,466
• PPRWA Transit loss and maintenance – $5,082
• JDS Hydro, Sanctuary Pointe transmission line – $6,365
• JDS Hydro, Sanctuary Pump Station – $7,200
• Horizon Exmark 60-inch mower – $8,079
• Apex Sports, 2016 Honda four-wheeler for snowplowing on sidewalks – $8,396
• Monson, Cummins & Shohet LLC – $6,970
• ORC Water Professionals Inc. —$5,534
• Community Resource Services, election printing and mailing – $11,901
Public construction requirements policy
Gary Shupp, the district’s attorney, said that Classic Homes recently raised a question about the district’s policy regarding public bidding processes for the construction of public improvements, such as district-funded main lines, and whether they could be done "faster and cheaper." Shupp suggested that the district develop a very specific set of criteria to ensure that the dollars expended were the lowest possible under the circumstances such as would occur in a normal bidding process.
Special meeting Feb. 23
All the items included in the consent agenda list were approved unanimously at the beginning of the meeting. This consent agenda included minutes of a short special meeting on Feb. 23 where the directors approved a motion to accept the grant and infrastructure agreement of Kingswood Drive and Sanctuary Pointe Offsite Sanitary Sewer and approve payment of $851,747. They also approved a motion to approve a contract with Special District Solutions at that meeting.
Promontory Pointe resident Tom Olson asked the district and the board what plans they had to prune young trees growing out of control in common areas, reduce ice buildup around mailboxes near the model homes, and improve snow plowing in cul de sacs. He also commented that residents who are responsible for the pruning and snow removal on their private properties are not taking care of their own responsibilities.
Monument Public Works Director Tom Tharnish told the directors he will soon bring an ordinance change to the town of Monument Board of Trustees that, if enacted, would positively affect snowplowing ability in Triview and also in the Village Center Metro District south of Highway 105, since both are under the town’s ordinances. The ordinance would ban on-street parking on residential streets during snow events, and it would be enforced by the police, either with a ticket or towing, if it is passed, after the first-year introductory period, Tharnish said.
Action item tracking discussed
Bolander recommended that a list of action items be provided for all the board members and staff along with each board meeting packet. Possible current items for the list included the snowplowing policy, the policy on gates into common areas, and the hiring process for full-time water operator. Director Marco Fiorito suggested that items remain on this list until they are closed out.
The board voted to go into executive session at 6:50 p.m.
The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on April 5 in the Donala Water and Sanitation District Conference Room at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.
Would you like to help Our Community News report on the Triview Metropolitan District? Please contact Lisa Hatfield at email@example.com.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met on March 10 to plan for their upcoming election, to finalize the transfer of ditch riding responsibilities to an existing WWSD employee, to hear a presentation from Brett Gracely concerning vacancies on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy board of directors, and to review operational reports from staff.
Board moves polling from WWSD office to The Barn
In their February meeting, the WWSD board passed a resolution designating their offices as the polling location for their upcoming election. During their March meeting, they voted to update that plan to move polling to the Woodmoor Improvement Association Community Center (also called "The Barn"), which is at 1691 Woodmoor Drive.
The Barn was chosen because it is larger than the WWSD offices, and voters are less likely to have to wait outside in case of bad weather on election day. Moving the voting away from the offices will mean less interruption to daily operations, according to district lawyer Erin Smith. The Woodmoor Improvement Association has offered WWSD a discounted rent of $400, Smith said.
The election will be held on Tuesday, May 3, with voting from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. There are three candidates for two open seats: Jim Wyss, Beth Courrau, and Brian Bush.
Ditch rider duties transition to existing WWSD employee
The WWSD board voted to alter its contract with the Chilcott Ditch Co. (CDC) so that ditch rider duties, which had been performed by an employee of CDC, will in future be done by existing employees of WWSD. Ditch riders manage the flow of water through canals and inspect and maintain the water system. The ditch riding work will cost WWSD $17 per hour, the same amount currently paid by CDC, according to District Manager Jessie Shaffer. The CDC board has approved this change, Shaffer said.
Gracely asks board to support Pifher and Hazard
Brett Gracely, the water resources manager at Colorado Springs Utilities, recommended that the WWSD board support both Mark Pifher and Gibson Hazard in their campaigns to serve on the board of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (SCWCD). The SCWCD supplies water for irrigation, municipal and industrial use to southeastern Colorado, including the JV Ranch, whose water rights are owned by WWSD.
According to Gracely, the SCWCD board has two vacancies. Gracely said that Pifher had served as the outside water counsel for El Paso County, and as deputy project manager for the Southern Delivery System (SDS) water project, and is currently a consultant for SDS.
Shaffer said he also supports Pifher, noting that Pifher was also the director of the Aurora water district and is well-known in the water community.
Hazard is seeking re-election to the SCWCD board, Gracely said, having served on it for 28 years, and has a background in real estate development.
Shaffer said he would draft a letter in support of Pifher and Hazard.
Operational reports address Chilcott ditch, other topics
Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that repairs to a flume in the Chilcott ditch are underway, and that the Chilcott Ditch Co. is responsible for those repairs. In addition, a culvert needs to be replaced and the cost of this will be shared between WWSD and El Paso County, Gillette said.
Shaffer said that the degree of disrepair of the Chilcott ditch means there will be some surprises going forward.
Gillette said the district had 6 percent of its water unaccounted for, which he characterized as a low amount.
Shaffer said two request-for-proposal processes are underway: one to add ozone and carbon treatment to the water processing plant, and the second to construct an equipment storage building on the JV Ranch.
Two tractors and two irrigation reels have been purchased for the JV Ranch, Shaffer said.
About 200 lots are under development in WWSD, according to Shaffer.
The meeting adjourned at 2:53 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 7 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., but the meeting in April will depart from this schedule. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On March 17, Donala General Manager Kip Petersen briefed the Donala Water and Sanitation District board on the seminar to be presented by the staff of the Water Returns, a local nonprofit organization, to Donala customers titled "Sod, Soils, and Sprinklers … Choose and Change Wisely" in the district conference room 6 to 8 p.m. April 13. He noted that registration is required at 488-3603, email@example.com, or at http://tinyurl.com/zqzjb5k. Registration closes on April 6. This notice was previously distributed in the district’s March newsletter that was mailed to all Donala customers as a billing invoice insert.
Petersen also announced to the board that Donala Water Operator Ronnie Wright had passed all requirements for his Colorado state collections 3 operator license, eliciting praise for Wright’s achievement from all the board members.
Ed Houle, both a former and future board member-to-be in May as term-limited President Bill George’s replacement, attended this meeting. Director Ken Judd will serve a second term starting in May. The May 3 board election was canceled by the district’s designated election officer Ginnette Ritz. Petersen noted Ritz will now be retiring earlier, on April 29, instead of after all the election reporting was to be completed in May.
The absence of Director Bill Nance was unanimously excused.
Petersen reported that revenues and expenditures through February were as forecast. He discussed a $4,519 expense for rebuilding the leaking raw water pump for well 2 behind Donala’s R. Hull water treatment plant. Replacement of one of the two screens that initially filter nearly all of the solids from the sanitary sewer input to Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility prior to treatment had to be replaced at a cost of about $13,000. Petersen also noted that Hoelting & Co. auditors were present doing survey work on the district’s 2015 audit. The financial reports were unanimously accepted as presented.
Petersen noted that on March 12, Donala officially took over the operations of Forest Lakes Metropolitan District’s water and wastewater systems on a contract basis in accordance with an intergovernmental agreement the Donala board unanimously approved on Feb. 18. Forest Lakes, located northwest of the west end of Baptist Road, is a co-owner of the Upper Monument Creek wastewater facility, along with Triview Metropolitan District. Donala operates the wastewater facility for all three districts. Forest Lakes Metro already owns all the treatment capacity in the existing Upper Monument wastewater treatment plant it needs for a planned buildout of 457 homes within its service area.
Petersen also noted that his staff was working with Town of Monument drinking water operators as well to coordinate the startup of Forest Lakes’ potable water system operations. Housing construction has been initiated in Forest Lakes now that the new West Baptist Road bridge over the railroad tracks has been opened. (www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#dwsd0218)
Petersen stated that the March 19 Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting he and Judd had attended was very short and its primary mission now appears to be shifting toward reviews and recommendations on funding of projects contained in its basin implementation plan and an update of the statewide water supply initiative.
Petersen and Director Bob Denny attended the March 2 Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting. Petersen noted the authority’s discussion of the 2016 state Legislature’s version of the rain barrel bill that would authorize property owners to collect up to 110 gallons of rooftop rain water, but no other precipitation, for outdoor irrigation and gardening use. If passed, he said, this bill will likely create a state of Kansas lawsuit to protect Kansas owners of downstream Arkansas River water rights.
Petersen also discussed another proposed state bill that would require reporting of water losses in district distribution systems, noting that Donala’s distribution has an efficiency of 97 to 98 percent, much higher than the Colorado industry average. Donala is represented at legislative sessions by Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority legislative liaison Dick Brown.
Petersen also noted that he would be attending the annual Arkansas River Basin Water Forum meeting in Salida, April 27-28. Director Denny asked Petersen to present, at the April 21 regular Donala board meeting, the briefing he will be making at the Water Forum on behalf of Donala.
Petersen noted that all district infrastructure was operating well, with higher than average precipitation forecast to continue through the spring. A drier summer and fall than in 2015 is currently forecast.
Willow Creek Ranch update
The average amount of Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch renewable surface water being drawn from Donala’s renewable surface water storage in the Pueblo Reservoir is about 30 acre-feet per month. Petersen said that as of this board meeting, Donala had about 120 acre-feet of its surface water left in the reservoir. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons. Snow melt runoff this year is forecast to be so high that the reservoir is still expected to be entirely filled by April 15 due to much higher than average El Niño, and water from other lower priority storage rights would be "spilled" back into the Arkansas River. Donala’s annual "if and when available" water storage contracts with the federal Bureau of Reclamation have the lowest priority, so some or all of the remaining Donala water in this reservoir on April 15 may be lost, to make room for other owners with higher priority storage rights.
Donala’s water engineering firm, Leonard Rice, is conducting discussions with the bureau on how to model Donala’s use of the reservoir as part of Donala’s negotiations for a long-term storage contract to replace annual renewals. Donala has 499 acre-feet of the reservoir’s total capacity of 250,000 acre-feet. Although Donala is solely a water and wastewater district with no stormwater responsibilities in its service plan, Petersen expects that Pueblo County will try to imply Donala has stormwater obligations during public comments on any new contracts with the bureau as a user of Colorado Springs Utilities’ Southern Delivery System (SDS) surface water transport. El Paso County is responsible for stormwater within the Donala service area.
Petersen said he would be exploring what is specifically required for Donala to obtain a higher "fourth priority" water storage contract with the operator of the reservoir, the Southeast Water Conservancy District. He said that if the district now had a fourth priority storage contract, it is likely that it would not have any of its stored water "spilled." After paying its membership fees to the conservancy district, annual unit storage charges could be reduced from $61 to $40 per acre-foot, saving about $10,000 per year. The cost of joining the conservancy district to also have more leverage with both the district and the bureau through "a seat at the table" has not been determined yet, though it will likely be high enough to require a mill levy election, Petersen said.
Petersen noted that the SDS was scheduled to begin operations at the end of April. Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch water from Leadville is to be pumped through the SDS pipeline once it becomes operational. However, SDS operations are being delayed by an ongoing stormwater dispute between Pueblo County and the City of Colorado Springs over the city’s stormwater management program.
The meeting adjourned at 2:36 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on April 21, in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board heard about a structure fire and the fact that no newcomers have filed to run for board seats at the March 15 meeting.
Chairman Greg Gent and Treasurer Joyce Hartung were absent.
Chief Vinny Burns reported on a structure fire that took place the day before this meeting, on March 14. This fire potentially spread from a hot tub, across the side of a house and into the attic area. Burns noted that the firefighters did an excellent job "killing it (the fire) dead in its tracks." The fire had the potential to burn the side of the house off, but was extinguished in time. Firefighters from the Wescott, Black Forest and Tri-Lakes fire departments worked well together, according to Burns.
This fire was within the Wescott district’s range, but they do not yet have an estimate on the cost of damages.
No board applications submitted
Because no newcomers submitted applications for positions on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection board, all current directors will remain.
In discussing the Feb. 16 meeting minutes, John Fredell recommended typo corrections and suggested that the names of guests be listed in full. Fredell motioned to approve these minutes with said corrections, and the motion was seconded by Harland Baker.
The Feb. 25 meeting minutes necessitated fewer comments, with Bo McAllister motioning to accept the minutes with the condition that the wording be changed from saying that a board member "motioned" to specifying whether they motioned to accept or reject whatever was on the table.
The bank balances for the fire department were also read and discussed. It was suggested that a special report could be issued featuring the items that cleared, the items that were expensed, and the items that didn’t clear, in order to fully represent the financial situation. QuickBooks doesn’t offer this sort of spreadsheet, so Administrative Assistant Stacy Popovich is looking into different options.
February run report
In February, the Wescott Fire Department ran 218 calls, as compared to the 221 calls run in February 2015. This indicates a 1 percent decrease from last year’s numbers.
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors’ next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 19 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Please call 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Larry Oliver, NEPCO president
Home owners association (HOA) representatives attending the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) General Membership meeting on March 12 received three transportation presentations. First, District 20 State Rep. Terri Carver spoke on current legislative issues impacting local transportation. Next, El Paso County Engineer Andre Bracken and County Public Services Engineer Victoria Chavez discussed plans for current and future county transportation projects, and needs.
Rep. Carver talked about her activities in transportation and other areas. She is concerned that our part of the state is not getting a fair share of the transportation funding. Carver is currently focused on two things:
• The State Transportation Advisory Commission (STAC) that has representation from each of the15 State Transportation Regions, and concern that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) filters comments from those 15 regional representatives. She stated that a newly signed bill gives the STAC a more effective role.
• Also, the 11 commissioner district areas (https://www.codot.gov/about/transportation-commission/commissioners.html) are not aligned with the 15 transportation planning regions (https://www.codot.gov/content/aboutcdot/Commission/CommMap.html), resulting in no real accountability. Chavez stated that the state is moving toward a more accountable and transparent transportation system, but that CDOT seems to need some reforming and improvement.
Carver also expressed concern over local areas within Northern El Paso County that, at this time, do not have access to high speed Internet.
County Engineer Bracken then discussed current transportation projects in the NEPCO area. He made the following points:
• County Line Road is completed.
• West Baptist Road is almost complete.
• The county is closing down the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority because its work is also completed.
• This year includes a large number of new transportation projects scheduled for our area.
• Highway105 improvements using PPRTA and federal funding.
• Northgate and Smith Creek drainage improvements including a detention pond across from the Mining Museum on Northgate Road and a large drain pipe under Northgate Road.
• Monument Hill Road preliminary design is complete, and construction should start later this year.
• Beacon Lite Road improvements.
• Planned changes to the Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive intersection.
Chavez described the Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP) 2016 Update activity. According to Chavez, The MTCP is a critical step in creating effective and efficient transportation infrastructure, ready to meet future needs. The plan provides for:
• An updated vision for future transportation.
• A prioritized list of transportation improvements.
• A funding plan for ensuring adequate resources to build the future transportation system.
• A look at multimodal transportation needs.
• A long-term right-of-way preservation plan for each roadway corridor.
Chavez emphasized how important it is for her to hear from NEPCO member HOAs and other residents of El Paso County regarding transportation needs. According to Chavez, there is a projected 56 percent growth within the NEPCO area between now and the year 2040. More information can be obtained, as well as a download of projection maps, at www.epcroadplan.com.
If your HOA or business is interested in NEPCO membership, go to www.NEPCO.org and click on the "JOIN NEPCO" link at the top of the homepage.
By Lisa Hatfield
As part of its March 14 meeting, the Red Rock Ranch (RRR) Homeowners Association (HOA) board asked Monument town officials to share the facts regarding a new town water tank that they had heard was going to be located in the area, which is in unincorporated El Paso County. Monument Town Manager Chris Lowe said none of the six sites the town was considering was within the Red Rock Ranch HOA boundaries.
Treasurer David Weber ran the meeting in the absence of President Mark Fears.
Lowe explained that the town is still at the beginning of a process to find a site for a second town water tank. So far they have talked with Forest View Acres Water District to assess its interest, he said, but the town has not yet talked to all the water districts and HOAs that they plan to.
The town is looking at potential sites at a specific elevation west of Highway 105 to provide the right water pressure from the new tank to the system, but they have not purchased a site yet, and they do not want to publicize it beforehand because the price could "ascend," which would not be fair to Monument taxpayers. He said when a site is identified that would fit the town’s engineering criteria, it would be purchased, and then the town will talk with all the HOAs in close proximity of the parcel to solicit the neighbors’ ideas for site-specific landscaping.
Monument Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said the project would also have to go before the El Paso Board of County Commissioners, which would send out notices inviting comments from residents within a certain distance. "That would likely include people in this Red Rock Ranch HOA," he said. The ultimate decision about the location would be up to the Monument Board of Trustees, which would consider town staff’s recommendations.
Jonathan Moore, assistant division manager, Forsgren Associates Inc., said the town’s current tank is on top of Monument Hill on Beacon Lite Road. Moore, Tharnish, and Water Engineer Will Koger of Forsgren Associates explained that a second tank at a lower elevation would make the town’s water system more reliable and is part of the town’s water master plan.
Koger said the potential tank would have a capacity of 1.2 million gallons and a diameter of about 95 feet, and could be partially buried, leaving about 15 feet of height above the ground. He said that Donala Water and Sanitation District has a similar tank on Holbein Drive in Gleneagle. The town may offer to put fire hydrants near the tank for emergency use as a benefit to the neighborhood, he said.
RRR Director Jim Bergeron explained to OCN that Red Rock Ranch consists of the original Red Rock Ranch against the mountains, plus Forest View Acres and Cloven Hoof Estates. To the south and east of Red Rock Ranch are Sundance Estates and Shiloh Pines, which make up the rest of Forest View Acres Water District.
The Red Rock Ranch Homeowners Association meets on the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room of Tri-Lakes Cares. See http://rrrhoa.org/ for information.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board heard owners’ comments, explained the covenant enforcement process, discussed the upcoming FireWise Day, and covered other topics during the snow-delayed March meeting.
Covenant violation adjudication
Owners who attended the board meeting raised concerns over how a covenant violation regarding their dog was handled and expressed concern over what evidence was considered and documented. Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen explained that when WIA gets a complaint they have to verify the situation and then WIA takes over as the complainant. In a situation like a dog incident where WPS is not present, they talk to the reporting party and another adult who is unrelated to the offense. If they can identify two statements, the complaint is considered to be verified and is turned over to the board, which brings it to a covenant hearing.
President Erik Stensland explained that all WIA meetings except for executive sessions are open meetings. Executive sessions are only for personnel and legal matters. Stensland noted that the board has a specific process where they read the complaint and give the owner a chance to respond. More information on rules, regulations, and covenant procedures can be found in the Policies, Procedures, Rules and Regulations document that can be found at http://bit.ly/wia-rules-regs.
FireWise Day on May 7
Forestry Director Robert Benjamin updated the board on the upcoming community FireWise event, which will be held at the Tri Lakes United Methodist Church at 20256 Hunting Downs Way in Monument. The event will be on Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with presentations by Fire Marshal John Vincent and Dave Root of the Colorado State Forest Service. Banners will be placed throughout Woodmoor and volunteers are meeting two more times ahead of the event to work on it. The goal is to involve and work with surrounding communities to help all communities be fire wise. Palmer Lake will also be hosting FireWise activities; for more information, see the Palmer Lake Town Council article on page 14.
Board report highlights
• Stensland noted that the Barn policy is being redone to include rental of the new pavilion.
• The quarterly newsletter is out and available on the Facebook page, www.Nextdoor.com, and on the web.
• Dues collection is ongoing, with 225 account still unpaid. State law allows for a collections process when accounts are six months overdue.
• The next covenant hearing will be on April 13 to review five violations.
• Per Suhr, director of Public Safety, reported a number of calls about magazine solicitors and seven large passenger vans at the Ramada Inn but notes that WIA cannot prevent this activity. If you have concerns, Suhr urges you contact WPS.
• Architectural Control Director Mark Ponti reported 25 applications were received in February, with 22 being approved on the same day by staff member Bob Pearsall. The other three applications were approved at an Architectural Control Meeting. Ponti noted that WIA has a 97.7 percent approval rate of projects so long as they follow the Project Design Standards Manual (PDSM), which can be found here: http://bit.ly/wia-pdsm.
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 April 27. The WIA calendar can be found at: https://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 email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
March lived up to its many names this year, as it came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. For the first two weeks of the month, it was mild and dry with almost no precipitation and temperatures above average every day. Thing switched during the last two weeks of the month, with cold and unsettled conditions common, along with several substantial snowfalls. Altogether, temperatures averaged slightly below normal, with precipitation above normal.
March started off mild and dry as high pressure remained in control of our weather pattern. This has pushed any storms coming from the Pacific Ocean off to our north and kept any surges of cold air to our east. However, there have been plenty of clouds around most days, usually high and mid-level clouds, but a few systems have tried to break through the ridge of high pressure. One of those produced a brief snow shower (with rain showers in town) during the morning of the 2nd. Otherwise, no precipitation for use yet. Temperatures were above average every day during the first week of the month, with highs reaching the mid-40s on the 1st, then low to mid-50s from the 2nd through the 5th. As usual, winds were gusty at times as well. But don’t get too excited about spring just yet, as we are just now heading into our snowiest time of the year.
Dry and warm weather continued during the week of March 7. Temperatures were above average every day of the week, with a mix of sunshine and high clouds. Highs were in the mid- to upper 40s on the 7th and 8th, then low to mid-50s on the 9th and 10th, before reaching the low to mid-60s on the 11th and 12th. These were our first widespread 60°F and above readings since the first week of November.
Well, after nearly a month of mild and dry weather, winter decided to return with vigor during the two-week period from March 14th through the 27th. Several storms affected the region, with snow, wind, and cold. However, as is typical in March around here, brief periods of dry and mild conditions were interspersed between the storms. After one last dry and mild day on the 14th, unsettled conditions moved into the region over the next few days. Highs dropped from the upper 50s on the 14th to the mid-40s from the 15th through the 17th. Each day also received a dusting of snow, but this melted quickly each time.
A stronger cold front and a more organized storm moved through during the night and morning hours of the 18th. This storm accumulated 4-8 inches of new snow for most of us and temperatures dropped about 20 degrees below normal. Highs were held below freezing on the 18th and 19th, only reaching the mid- to upper 20s. High pressure and westerly winds quickly pushed this storm out of the region and replaced it with mild and dry air. Highs jumped back into the low 50s on the 20th, held back because a lot of the energy went to melting the snow, then 60s on the 21st and 22nd as westerly winds kicked in.
However, this was ahead of the next storm, which proved to be very powerful. Snow and wind quickly developed just after midnight on the 22nd as an area of low pressure wound up over eastern Colorado and continued to intensify. Blizzard conditions developed that morning and continued into the early afternoon. Travel was nearly impossible throughout region during the storm, as the winds whipped around more than a foot of fresh snow. This was a quick mover though, and all the fun was done by that evening. After a brief break on the 24th, another storm rolled through from the afternoon of the 25th through the afternoon of the 26th. This one brought another shot of cold air, 4-8 inches of new snow, but not much wind. Temperatures were cold as well, with highs only reaching the mid- to upper 20s on the 26th.
Quiet conditions again returned from the 27th through the 29th, with highs reaching the 40s on the 27th, then upper 50s on the 28th and 29th. One last round of unsettled conditions returned on the last two days of the month with a return to cooler weather and snow showers.
Between the series of storms over the two-week period from the 15th through the 26th, we quickly jumped to above-normal levels of moisture for the month, just what we need as we head into spring.
A look ahead
April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region and is on average our snowiest month of the year. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Several recent years have seen over 50 inches of snow accumulate during the month. Of course, it also melts very quickly, often adding very beneficial moisture to the soil and helping the vegetation that is just getting started. We can hope this year will bring abundant moisture and hopefully make up for some of the dry conditions we’ve experienced over the last year.
March 2016 Weather Statistics
Average High 48.9° (-1.4°)
100-year return frequency value max 57.9° min 38.0°
Average Low 22.0° (+0.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 27.0° min 12.0°
Highest Temperature 66° on the 11th, 21st
Lowest Temperature 3° on the 27th
Monthly Precipitation 1.55" (+0.44", 25% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 4.29" min 0.22"
Monthly Snowfall 31.8" (+11.5", 35% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 119.3" (+29.3", 25% above normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 15.13" (+0.80", 5% above normal)
(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1097 (+185)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Amendment 69—the Colorado health care initiative
This fall, Coloradoans will have the opportunity to vote on Constitutional Amendment #69. A positive vote on this proposal will create the first statewide universal citizen approved and controlled healthcare system in the country. This action will put Colorado on the leading edge of health care reform. This innovative approach will cover all residents in this state with a simpler, higher quality, less expensive health care program than is currently available.
The cost is much less than currently available. Employees pay 3.3 percent of gross pay. Employers pay 6.7 percent of payroll. Non-payroll income earners pay 10 percent after a deduction of $33,000 for single payers and $60,000 for joint filers. Benefits exceed current insurance levels by providing mental health and substance abuse care, palliative care, and long-term health care services among many others. A simple ID card grants you all these services without any deductibles.
The program will free us from the Affordable Care Act and from health insurance companies. It behooves us as citizens to become informed on this important change to health care management in Colorado. Consider how beneficial this is to you and to your family. All the details about this new concept and more information can be obtained at http://coloradocareyes.co/ Please lend your support to this important improvement in how we meet our health care needs.
Monument government out of touch with citizens
The Town of Monument Board of Trustees seems to have forgotten who they represent! Our town board has paid a methadone dispensary $350,000 to relocate out of town. This will hit our budget hard. Why did it happen? No one has been held accountable to date. Was there nobody in Town Hall who could figure out that a methadone dispensary should not be located across from a children’s park and near our grade schools? Why have we hired people who live as far away as Colorado Springs and Falcon to make these decisions for Monument?
Our water rates have nearly doubled overnight and another doubling planned with no financial accountability to the ratepayers. Why have they ignored our questions and concerns? Doubling the rates and waiting to see how much they collect is not responsible management.
Triview Metro District has been begging for defined sales tax reports so they can stay within state law. Why are they being ignored? Where is the accountability for the 1 percent sales tax voted in by taxpayers both in 1989 and 2005? Millions of our hard-earned tax dollars have been collected, where has it been spent? I have requested this information to no avail. An independent audit of our town’s books is long overdue.
For these reasons I am throwing my support behind the accountability ticket of Shea Medlicott, Greg Coopman, Jeff Bornstein, and Don Wilson. I can no longer support a town government who, in my opinion, ignores its taxpayers, refuses to answer questions in open meetings, conducts a secret agenda and attempts to divide our town. We’ve been in Monument over 30 years and cannot recall a period when our government has been so out of touch with its citizens.
Please support Shea Medlicott, Greg Coopman, Jeff Bornstein, and Don Wilson for a return of open, honest government to Monument.
1999 MLO never included charter academy
The issues surrounding the D-38 1999 mill level override (MLO) have taken some creative turns. I would like to provide clarification. I was president of the D-38 Board of Education in 1999 and heavily involved in the campaign. The district was experiencing significant growth in enrollments, which created the need to finance and pay for operations for new schools. It is correct that, at that time, charter schools were not included in MLO funding. That was also the case with the D-38 1999 MLO.
During the campaign, the uses of the MLO were clearly explained to the voters so they could decide if that was good use for their tax dollars. At no time during the campaign was funding for Lewis-Palmer Charter Academy (now known as Monument Academy) mentioned. That was not an oversight nor a misunderstanding. There was no misrepresentation. Our intent was clear. At that time the majority of students attending the charter school resided outside D-38. The board did not believe it appropriate to ask voters of D-38 to fund the education of students living outside the district.
In addition, no one from the charter school participated in the campaign, hosted coffees to gain support for the MLO, or wrote letters of support. To suggest that there was a misunderstanding about the use of MLO funds is disingenuous and engagement in revisionist history.
Furthermore, if the charter school administration believed they were entitled to those MLO funds, they would have been knocking on our door the day after the election to get their share. This, of course, never happened because they knew that they were not included in the MLO.
To summarize, the 1999 MLO was never intended to include Lewis-Palmer Charter Academy. No communications concerning this MLO suggested that the charter school would benefit from the MLO funds.
Jeffery M. Ferguson, Ph.D.
D38’s responsibility to Monument Academy children
There seems to be a strange sort of cognitive dissonance when it comes to school funding in Colorado. On one hand, education establishment-minded school board members are constantly wringing their hands and demanding that the state pay them what they believe they deserve. On the other hand, those same leaders vehemently oppose charter school efforts to gain equitable funding.
We’ve seen these fights play out among union-backed board members in districts across the Front Range. Now we’re seeing it happen on our doorstep in Lewis-Palmer School District 38.
D38 Board of Education President Mark Pfoff recently characterized Monument Academy’s request that the district honor the plain language of a 1999 property tax increase for schools "district-wide" as theft. He called a letter asking parents at our school to advocate for fair funding "intimidation." Yet just weeks ago our district was perfectly happy to sign on to a highly publicized letter demanding more money from the state Legislature.
Pfoff issues lofty proclamations about respecting the will of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 voters. Yet with grasping hands outstretched toward the Colorado Capitol, he fails to acknowledge that Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected an enormous tax increase—and the extra state education funding it would have brought—in 2013.
Most importantly, Pfoff has made no mention of the fact that charter school funding inequities come from the local level, not the state level. No additional amount of state funding will alleviate his responsibility to treat every student in Lewis-Palmer School District 38 fairly.
As the parent of students at Monument Academy, we find these contradictions to be both confusing and disheartening. Pfoff and his fellow board members should reflect carefully on where their priorities lie, and ensure that their spoken principles align with their actions.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful."—Rita Dove
April is National Poetry month, so why not take a fresh look at some of this powerful language, whether in the simple verse of a children’s book, or in a more subtle, but beautiful, adult volume?
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings
By Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $16.99
In this inspiring book, a Newbery Honor-winning poet calls up ancient forms of the spoken word and translates them into the 21st century. Included are chants to summon happiness, invocations to ask for forgiveness, and charms to face a hostile crowd. Perceptively illustrated, this book of hope and wisdom offers strength for all kinds of moments.
The Trouble with Poetry
By Billy Collins (Penguin Random House) $15
Collins shows that good poetry doesn’t have to be obscure or incomprehensible—which is perhaps the real trouble with most "serious" poetry. This dazzling collection explores boyhood, jazz, love, the passage of time, and, of course, writing. Funny and empathetic, we recognize our own lives through Collins’ poetry.
Journey On: Beauty and Grit along the Way
By Anna Blake Godbout (Mountain Tapestry Press), $12.95
The journeys described in this touching volume are landmarks from the life of a daughter, granddaughter, wife, mother, teacher, and writer. As Godbout (aka local resident Nancy Jurka) travels from winter to autumn, she takes us through the beautiful, the sad, and the soulful places in our own hearts.
The Selected Poems of Donald Hall
By Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) $22
Now in his 80s, Hall, who served as poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007, has taken stock of his body of work and presented us with a handpicked, concise selection, showcasing engaging work, rich with humor and simplicity. For the first-time reader or an old friend, these are, above all others, the poems to read, reread, and remember.
Daniel Finds a Poem
By Micha Archer (Penguin Random House) $16.99
Rich, multilayered collage illustrations offer early readers an introduction to poetry through the warmhearted relationships between a young boy and the friendly animals in his local park. The liveliness of the language discloses early poetic mechanics, such as alliteration (sun-warmed sand) and onomatopoeia (crisp leaves crunch) and makes it a favorite for teachers and families alike.
Echo Echo: Reverse Poems about Greek Myths
By Marylin Singer (Penguin Random House) $16.99
This is a unique book of reversible poems based on Greek myths. Read one way, each poem tells the story of a familiar myth; but when read in reverse, the poems reveal a new point of view. Readers will uncover the dual points of view in well-known legends, such as Pandora’s Box and King Midas and his golden touch. The great art also mirrors the spirit of the poems.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons
By Julie Fogliano (Henry Holt & Co) $16.99
Using a diary-like approach, this book takes a different look at poetry for the seasons. Beginning and ending with the spring equinox, it offers poems for different days throughout the year. A bluebird’s song starts off, "poking a tiny hole through the edge of winter and landing carefully, balancing gently on the tip of spring." Double-page gouache and pencil crayon illustrations range from effectively simple to tantalizingly detailed.
A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young
By Michael Rosen (Candlewick Press $19.99)
This joyful new collection of poems bounces right off the page and into your heart, making it the perfect read aloud for both boisterous celebration and cozy cuddling up. These exuberant poems, paired with vibrant illustrations, will delight little ones over and over again.
"In the end, the poem is not a thing we see; it is, rather, a light by which we may see—and when what we
Maybe it’s time to pick up the poetry books we put aside after high school and college—and see life through a magical lens. April 21 is "National Poem in Your Pocket Day." Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
April’s Family Fun program is a Jungle Party with themed crafts and games. Come on Saturday, April 9 at 2:30 and celebrate One Book 4 Colorado, a statewide initiative emphasizing the importance of early literacy and reading to children. Four-year-old children will receive a free book.
The Legos Club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, April 16. All ages are welcome. Legos are provided—you bring the creativity.
Every Monday from 3:30 to 7, consult experienced tutors for free help with your math problems. No appointment is necessary.
The First Saturday Teen movie for April is Dead Poets Society, in honor of National Poetry Month. The program will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. Snacks and refreshments are provided; no registration necessary.
The Monument Teen Advisory Board will meet at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 8. Help us plan future events and parties for teens at the Monument Library. Meet us in the study room for snacks and conversation. Please fill out a volunteer application in order to get credit for volunteer hours.
Friday, April 1 from 11 to noon, a representative from the Denver office of the Social Security Administration will help patrons learn to set up their own accounts and demonstrate the various services accessible online.
Also on April 1, come from 2 to 3:30 to enjoy coloring with other adults and teens. Coloring pages and utensils will be provided and you are encouraged to show what you have worked on.
You are also welcome to bring your own supplies. No registration required.
A laddertrack crochet workshop will be offered from 10 to noon on Saturday, April 9. Learn to make a beautiful laddertrack crochet necklace for yourself or a gift. Materials provided, but participants should know how to crochet a chain stitch and bring a size I crochet hook if they have one. Attendance is limited, so please register on line or call 488-2370.
The Second Thursday Craft of the Month in April is cookie painting! Join us on Thursday, April 14 from 2 to 4 and learn this craft from the district’s Maker in Residence. Registration is required.
A program on Internet Safety for Seniors will be offered on Friday, April 22 from 1 to 3:15 p.m. Topics include how to avoid Internet scams, common email scams, keeping computers secure, and real-life stories of people scammed online.
The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, April 15 from 10 to noon to discuss Swift Justice by Laura DiSilverio. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.
Have you ever wanted to create your own art journal? Learn to create a journal with painting, stamping, stenciling, and other techniques. You will learn techniques that you can use at home and choose a word for your page such as "gratitude." Each page will be like a tiny canvas. The program is offered on Monday, April 25 from 10 to noon. Registration is required online or call 488-2370.
The walls and display cases in the library will feature works by students from Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
Palmer Lake Library events
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the latest selection. All patrons are welcome to attend.
The Family Fun program for April is Super Dogs on Saturday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m. A Wiley Wolf is after Sienna’s sheep. Will she be able to outsmart the wolf and save her sheep or will they become sheep stew? Learn how to train your dog to be a super dog in this fun interactive program. No registration required.
Ceramics and water colors by Palmer Lake Elementary School students will be on display throughout the library during April.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On March 17, members of the Palmer Lake Historical Society and guests gathered at the Palmer Lake Town Hall for the second program of the 2016 Monthly History Series. Dwight Haverkorn, historian for the Colorado Springs Police Department and president of the El Paso County Pioneers’ Association, gave a slide presentation about the early autos in the Pikes Peak Region. He showed slides of the first gasoline-powered vehicle to travel through Palmer Lake and Colorado Springs en route to Canon City. The problem was, it kept running out of fuel!
His presentation covered the period from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Slow to start, automobiles in Colorado Springs increased rapidly as they became more affordable—the beginning of the automobile craze. It was interesting to note that most of the early cars were steam-powered or electric.
Haverkorn illustrated his talk with slides of historical records. His description of early traffic ordinances, traffic controls, and licensing of drivers and vehicles elicited many a chuckle. Early city traffic ordinances were very strict and fines were quite high, especially for speeding. For example, speed limits in the city were from 5 to 8 miles per hour, with speeding tickets costing between $200 and $300. This is the equivalent of about $2,000 and $3,000 today.
Haverkorn’s presentation included a description and slides of a 1903 coast-to-coast auto race between a Packard and a Winton. The Packard passed through Colorado Springs and Palmer Lake but lost because it was slowed down by having to travel over the Rockies, while the Winton took the northern route through Cheyenne. He also included the first ascent of an automobile to the top of Pikes Peak in his presentation.
Initially, there were more trolleys, wagons, bicycles, and pedestrians than automobiles in Colorado Springs. Collisions between trolleys and automobiles were spectacular events. And cars often ended up in ditches because of careless or drunken drivers speeding on poor roads.
The next program in the Historical Society Monthly History Series will be on Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Charlease Elzenga-Bobo will present a program on "Spinning in the Western Region." Learn about the origins of spinning, the development of spinning tools and the spinning wheel, and the movement of spinning wheels from China/India to Europe to the American colonies and the West. Elzenga-Bobo will bring her full-size spinning wheel to demonstrate spinning techniques.
Caption (L to R): Dwight Haverkorn, historian for the Colorado Springs Police Department and president of the El Paso County Pioneers’ Association, and new PLHS president Tom Baker. Photos courtesy of the Palmer Lake Historical Society.
Monthly History Series programs are free to the public. Light refreshments are served. For more information, visit our website at www.palmerdividehistory.org or call 719-559-0837.
By David Futey
On March 12, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted its annual Science Day, providing an educational and fun experience for all attendees. Attendees interacted with the Pikes Peak Soaring Society with activities as flight simulators for attendee use, model plane flight demonstrations in the museum’s orchard area, balsa wood plane kits for attendees to assemble, and 3D printing demonstrations.
The Air Force Academy Physics is Phun team demonstrated physics principles through various activities while Air Academy High School’s Chemistry Club used a silver process to coat the inside of Christmas tree ornamental bulbs for giveaways to attendees.
Also, Colorado Springs Utilities showed the dangers of high voltage with its street scene exhibit and museum staff operated historic steam engines and had an exhibit on the electrical uses of different types of light bulbs.
Caption: USAF Capt. Jessica Ullom of Physics is Phun demonstrates electrical principles to attendees of the WMMI Science Day.
Caption: Colorado Springs Utilities exhibitors demonstrate the dangers of high voltage. Photos by David Futey.
Upcoming events at the museum can be found at www.wmmi.org.
David Futey can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
In Tri-Lakes, we live in the ponderosa forest environment. I’m still on a roll learning about the Ute sacred prayer trees in our area; I keep looking for the prayer trees and researching the amazing ponderosas we live among. Many of us don’t realize that encroaching on old growth ponderosa, changing the natural ecosystem via logging in the 1800s and even current well-intended fire mitigation efforts, are issues damaging to the forest. An interesting fact is that old growth ponderosa are fire-resistant. While some of the oldest ponderosa pines in the Front Range can be as old as 600 years, that is rare, and we commonly see trees more than 200 years old above 6,500 feet elevation; even 300-year-old to 500-year-old trees are frequent.
The biggest danger to our ponderosa forests is … us, the humans that moved in on them. According to studies by the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, "the best way to curb the danger we pose is to restore an ecologically sustainable landscape that resembles the patterns that existed before Euro-American settlement—patterns that encourage the survival of old trees."
I recently learned of the "forest bath" or Shinrin Yoku custom from Japan. The natural volatile oils from forest trees such as our very own ponderosa pines offer a healing quality as we breathe in the forest air. Studies have shown that the "forest bath" of immersing ourselves in the forest air for a half hour to two hours of exposure to nature positively creates calming neuro-psychological effects through changes in the nervous system.
Also, the level of the hormone serum adiponectin is also increased with forest bathing. Tragically, when this hormone is only present in low concentrations it is linked with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome, among other bodily disorders. A forest bathing trip involves visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees, such as a-pinene and limonene.
Japanese studies conducted so far have demonstrated reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness among the subjects who have participated, but people plugged into electronics cannot get the true forest healing experience.
We also have quite a history of native pine forest wild forage throughout our community, known well for many thousands of years to wise Native Americans and lately to newbie contemporary foragers. I haven’t tried most of these yet but we sure have a lot of these foods in my area. For example, cattails in all the stages of growing are edible. I found a recipe for cattail pancakes and even grilled green cattails on the cob.
I would like to try pineapple weed tea; the flowers apparently taste delicately of pineapple. Pinon pine nuts have been enjoyed here for over 10,000 years by the Ute people, are really tasty, and famously good in pesto. I’ve seen a recipe for blue spruce beer, and ponderosa young male pine cones can be eaten cooked; the cambium part of the bark in spring (only from side branches) can be fried like french fries and is said to taste like sheep fat. I think I’ll pass on that one.
Caption: A Ute Burial Tree (with two 90-degree bends) that Dr. Jefferson, Southern Ute tribal elder, and John W. Anderson, author of the book Ute Indian Prayer Trees of the Pikes Peak Region, visited in late March of this year. The tree grows amid ponderosa pine forest habitat on private property near the Black Forest area. (The tree behind it was struck by lightning, which makes this a sacred place, according to the Ute beliefs). Photo and caption information courtesy of John W. Anderson.
Janet Sellers is an avid HANG newbie and welcomes your high altitude garden tips. She can be reached at: JanetSellers@OCN.me.
Art Matters: Our creative arts: a beautiful, munificent pursuit
By Janet Sellers
It’s good to note for all of us, especially for artists and arts education in general, that art and creative work careers are grounded strongly on visual arts education and participation. Art is not a fluff job. Besides being a fulfilling lifelong pursuit, American art is a tremendous enterprise globally.
The most recent data from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reveals that the arts contributed to the U.S. economy to the tune of $704.2 billion in 2013, or 4.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and in trade was a whopping $24.1 billion surplus in 2013, growing every year since 2006. For performing arts, writers, and independent artists, the figures are still an eye-popping 2.4 percent GDP growth factor from 1998-2013.
In 2013, the art sector employed 4.7 million workers that earned $339 billion; arts and culture produced more in this country than construction ($619 billion) or utilities ($270 billion). I look to share these facts mostly in hopes of encouraging art making and most importantly, art learning, in our area.
Even with the above impressive numbers, art lawyer Michael McCollough (formerly with Sotheby’s art auctions) relates in his blog that art sales for galleries and dealers are at least double what official reports convey and states, "If you think about it intuitively, the secondary market is what most people call the churn in the market [buying and selling old works]—when people decide to deaccession works. The churn in the market could never be equal to the current output [the primary market]. If that were true, then no one would have art on their walls because they would always be buying and selling."
On a more local level, it is promising to see what is being made closer to home, especially what is being commissioned. That tells me more about art dollars in hand than some numbers on an analyst’s chart. Last week, I was fortunate to visit a foundry in Loveland and see myriad bronze artworks in various stages of completion, from the originals in clay to the metal pour and final patina of the editions.
We saw various sizes of artworks from the small, hand-held ones to a life-size blue whale that towered overhead a couple stories high (and that was only half the breaching whale) being readied for its journey to Omaha for an ocean-themed water garden complete with attending orcas, sea lions, and more. The scale and scope of the works were immense, and I’m sure the cost to produce them alone was also tremendous. It was thrilling to see, and surely the artist and designer of the whole thing also made a pretty penny on such a grand design. We also visited Loveland’s Benson sculpture park, with mostly bronze works.
On the way home, as I thought of our local art and artists in Tri-Lakes, I was tremendously proud of our Monument Sculpture Park. Cities like Loveland and Denver have enormous arts budgets and/or support systems in place. We have no public budget yet, but we do have wonderful volunteers, and even on our shoestring budget, we have splendid outdoor sculpture exhibitions thanks to Tri-Lakes Views, local merchants, and local donors who step up and support our local art efforts.
By the way, Tri-Lakes Views has a call for artists out now for the 2016-17 art year for outdoor public art. The due date has been extended to April 30, and artists can email information and images for the jury. Details are on their website: www.TriLakesViews.org.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts’ (TLCA) new exhibit is Abstract and Interpretation. Artists were invited to submit their abstract artwork for consideration, and all mediums were considered. Exhibition dates: March 29 to May 27. TLCA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.
Our local Summer Art Hop starts up again on May 19, 5-8 p.m., so mark your calendars!
Janet Sellers is a local Colorado artist and art teacher; her paintings and public art sculptures are on exhibit in city and museum venues in Colorado, and of course, the Tri-Lakes area. Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts hosts Visions of Light photography exhibition
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts held an opening reception for its 2016 Visions of Light photography exhibition. The seventh annual show, which ran from March 4 through 26, showcased 28 photographers’ entries in the categories of abstract, architecture, landscape, nature and people. Judges awarded first and second place in each category as well as a Best of Show award. Special thanks to Mark Kirkland of www.kirklandphotography.com, Coleen Swanson of www.tenaciousphoto.com, and the Palmer Divide Photographers Group http://pdphotographers.com. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
D38 holds parent resource night
Caption: The Lewis-Palmer School District held a parents-only Resource Night March 7 to share information about Internet safety, cyberbullying, school counselors, building relationships and resilience habits with your child, and emotional and substance-abuse issues. Breakout sessions covered those topics in more detail. Retired El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy and D-38 school board President Mark Pfoff spoke to parents about Social Media and your Digital Footprint. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Student Career Awareness Conference
Caption: Lisa Wieland, left, and Patricia Synatschk volunteered to present at the Student Career Awareness Conference held on March 8 at Palmer Ridge High School. Lewis-Palmer School District collaborated with the Business Advisory Council to sponsor the event, which was open to all D38 high school students. Local business leaders conducted numerous sessions ranging from careers in banking to law to speech pathology. This partnership was designed to promote an understanding of professional opportunities available beyond high school. Photo by Caryn Collette.
Monument Board of Trustees Candidate Forum, Mar. 8
Caption: On March 9, eight candidates vying for four open positions on the Monument Board of Trustees answered questions in front of an audience of about 30 people at the Lewis-Palmer School District Administration building. There are about 6,000 residents in the Town of Monument, and ballots are due by April 5. From left are Kevin Sorenson, John Howe, Tim Allen, Becki Tooley, Shea Medlicott, Don Wilson, Jeff Bornstein, and Greg Coopman. See www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#mbot-candidates. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Little Hearts, Big Music, Mar. 4
Caption from page 1: Regina Helgoth was one of thirteen children, age 5 to 15, who presented compositions from classical composers such as Bach, Handel, and Pachelbel March 4 at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center. Little Hearts, Big Music is a small group of young musicians who play once a month, without any compensation, at nursing homes and local assisted living facilities. See page 26 for a group photo and more information. Photo courtesy of the Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance.
Caption from page 26: On March 4, local seniors were treated to a special recital by some exceptional musicians. Thirteen children, age 5 to 15, filled the Tri-Lakes Senior Center with compositions from classical composers such as Bach, Handel, and Pachelbel. Little Hearts, Big Music is a small group of young violinists, pianists, flutists, oboists, clarinetists, duets, trios, quartets, vocalists and dancers under the direction of Melissa Devolve. They play once a month, without any compensation, at nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the local area. These exceptionally talented children have a gift of music that they enjoy sharing with the elderly. To schedule a performance, please contact the director, Melissa Devolve at 719-650-3712, or by email at LittleHeartsBigMusic@gmail.com. For more information, see www.LittleHeartsBigMusic.com. See also the photo on page 1. Photo courtesy of Silver Alliance.
MA Green4Green Fundraiser, Mar. 5
Caption: On March 5, Monument Academy held its Green4Green Tailgate Kickoff event to raise money for a turf field to replace the hard-packed dirt surface behind the school. The goal was to raise money toward the $125,000 needed for Phase 1 of a longer-term project to improve recreational facilities for MA students. A team of eight volunteers organized the event, which included Silent and Live auctions and donated food stations, a wine pull, and a raffle for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The event raised nearly $65,000, which exceeded their goal. With money raised earlier and money that the MA School Board allocated from the reserve fund, there is sufficient money to begin work on the turf field. Additional photos can be seen at: http://footstepsphotography.pass.us/160305maauction/. Auctioneers Shannon and Rich Schur take a selfie in front of the MA Green4Green attendees showing their auction paddle numbers. The Schurs, who donated their services, run Schur Success Auction and Appraisal in Colorado Springs. Photo by Laura Polen, www.footstepsphotography.com.
Great Expectations, Mar. 10-12
Caption: The Lewis-Palmer High School drama department put on the spring play Great Expectations on March 10 to 12. Great Expectations is a coming-of-age story of a young orphan by Charles Dickens. The cast, many of whom are members of the International Thespian Troupe #5450, entertained community members on an intriguing great book-themed set. Photo by Jackie Burhans
Long Ears Easter Egg Hunt, Mar. 26
Caption: On March 26, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted its first Long Ears Easter Egg Hunt. After securing their finds in the museum library, Hannah, Melody, and Braiden Wright begin to inspect what is inside their eggs. The hunt is as a fundraiser for the care of the museum’s two burros, Nugget and Chism. The inclement weather did not deter visitors as the morning and afternoon activities were at capacity. The egg hunt was in the museum’s library because of the snowy weather conditions. Besides candies in the majority of eggs, there were door prizes for finding one of the handful of golden eggs. Visitors also had a chance to meet the museum burros, create Easter crafts, and learn about the care required for burros and other animals. Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.
David Futey 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.
Senior lunch now Mon. through Fri., new location
Senior lunches are now Mondays-Fridays, noon-1 p.m., at Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Lunches are now provided by Silver Key Senior Services Golden Circle Nutrition Program. See the menu for the month in the Senior Beat newsletter, page 6, or online at www.trilakeshap.org/newsletter.php. A voluntary donation of $2.25 is requested. Stay for bingo the second Thu. each month. Senior lunches will no longer be served at the Tri-Lakes Chamber building or the District 38 Big Red. For more information, call Judy, 487-9067.
Monument’s Citizens Police Academy
The Monument Police Department will host a seven-week Citizens Police Academy Tuesday evenings, 7-10 p.m., April 12-May 24, at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. There is no cost and it is open to all who live or work in the Tri-Lakes area and are at least 16 years old. Find out firsthand what law enforcement is all about and meet your local police officers. Learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, use of force, computer forensics, internal affairs, community policing, tactical considerations, and have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons and much more. Applications are available at the Monument Police Department and on the website, www.townofmonument.org/departments/police. For more information, call the Monument Police Department, 481-3253; or e-mail Sue Kuchinsky, email@example.com.
Tri-Lakes HAP Thrift Store needs volunteers for move, Apr. 24-May 1
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance (formerly Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership) is moving to a new location, 755 Highway 105, Suite N. Volunteers are needed Apr. 24-May 1 to help with packing and moving from the old location, 790 Suite D, Highway 105. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
Monument Hill Foundation Call for Grants, apply by June 30
The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. The foundation provides funds in support of the club’s mission to support youth and the community, with a focus on the Tri-Lakes community. Club fundraising projects include the annual Empty Bowls Dinner that supports Tri-Lakes Cares and the Holiday Red Kettle Campaign collections that go directly to the Salvation Army. The club works on many other activities each year to raise funds that go to the Monument Hill Foundation for direct granting. A list of the latest grant recipients is posted on the website. Interested organizations may submit requests for grants now until June 30. Grant applications and instructions can be found at www.monumenthillfoundation.org.
Free income tax help
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Pikes Peak United Way, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of $52,000 a year or less. To find out if you qualify or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; or visit www.ppunitedway.org/vitaeitc.html.
The military also partners with the IRS to provide free tax assistance to military personnel and their families. The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) consists of the tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Volunteers are trained and equipped to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the effect of the EITC guidelines. For more information, visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Military.
Taxpayers who prefer to file their own tax returns electronically have the option of using IRS Free File. IRS Free File offers brand-name tax software to taxpayers who earned $62,000 or less in 2015 to file their returns for free. Taxpayers who earned more can use Free Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. IRS Free File is only available through the IRS website by visiting www.IRS.gov/freefile.
Tri-Lakes Y youth spring soccer, register now
Indoor Soccer Clinic, ages 3-4 years-old, April 9-May 14; Indoor Soccer, ages 5-6 years old, April 9-May 14; Outdoor Soccer, ages 1st-6th grade, March 28-May 14; Spring Volleyball, ages 1st-8th grade, March 28-May 14; Flag Football, ages 1st-8th grade, March 28-May 14. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument.
Pikes Peak Soap Box Derby, register by May 1
This is the 13th consecutive year for the derby in the Springs. Fifty kids in their hand-built race cars will vie for the opportunity to represent Colorado Springs at the International Soap Box Derby held in Akron, Ohio, July 15, the greatest amateur racing event in the world. Three Tri-Lakes service organizations—Monument Hill Kiwanis, Gleneagle Sertoma, and Legacy Sertoma—contribute to the success of this annual event. The registration deadline is May 1. Practice day/inspection is June 5, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Race day is June 12, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., at the 400 block of East Costilla Street, between El Paso and Wahsatch. The public is welcome; there is no admission fee and food service will be available. For additional information, contact Duane Gritzmaker, 719-649-9220, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Host a teenage Spanish student for a month
Become a host family for only one month this summer, and receive $125 per week to support activities. Students arrive June 25-July 23. For details, call 481-4412 or visit www.xploreUSA.org.
Citizen Engagement Survey
El Paso County is updating the Strategic Plan that will include objectives for the next five years. The Strategic Plan guides the county’s efforts to provide quality and cost-effective services that are valued by county residents. The county invites all citizens to complete a five-minute citizen engagement survey to help guide the development of the Strategic Plan. The survey can be found at www.elpasoco.com.
Enroll for preschool and kindergarten
Lewis-Palmer School District preschool and kindergarten registration for the 2016-17 school year has begun. Please contact your neighborhood school or the district registrar at 488-4700 for detailed information. Registration packets are available now at all preschools, elementary schools, and the Administration Building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Registration packets are also available online at www.lewispalmer.org.
St. Peter Catholic School enrolling for preschool-eighth grade
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.
County seeks citizen input on transportation
Residents throughout El Paso County are invited to participate in planning the county’s future transportation system by getting involved in the Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP) Update. To find out how you can participate, visit www.epcroadplan.com. For more information, contact Victoria Chavez, 520-6884, VictoriaChavez@elpasoco.com.
Property tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens and disabled veterans
El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker reminds residents that the Colorado Constitution establishes a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans. For those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of the primary residence is exempted from property tax. The State of Colorado pays the property taxes on the exempted value. The application deadline for disabled vets is July 1, and for seniors is July 15. For an application or a brochure that explains the exemptions or for questions regarding the exemptions, please call the assessor’s office at 520-6600, email ASRWEB@elpasoco.com, or visit www.elpasoco.com and click on "News Releases."
Postal Service asks for help with winter mailbox access
Help your mail carriers deliver the mail by clearing snow and ice from mailboxes and walkways. If you receive delivery of mail to a rural-type post mailbox, please clear around the box to allow your carrier to drive up to the box, deposit mail and drive away. If your mail is delivered at your residence or business, please keep the path to your mailbox or slot clear of snow and ice. Delivery personnel, meter readers, friends, and family will also benefit from a safe and convenient path to your door.
Sheriff’s Office warns of phone scam
In this scam the suspects are claiming to be an employee of the Sheriff’s Office. They give a "badge" number and threaten the individual they are speaking with if they don’t follow directions to clear up a warrant, they will be arrested. In some of these cases, they use the name of an actual employee of the Sheriff’s Office. They take time trying to coax individuals into going to a grocery store to obtain green dot cards to clear up a warrant. The Sheriff’s Office reminds citizens that their office never calls to inform individuals they have an active warrant and never asks individuals to make payments to clear up a warrant. Also, they never call to ask for money for any reason. If you have information about, or have fallen victim to, this or any other scam, please contact 719-390-5555, and ask to have a deputy come out and take a report.
Carbon monoxide risk: Make sure furnace vent pipes are clear of snow
Snow drifts can block side wall ventilation pipes critical for safe operations of modern gas appliances. Residents with modern high-efficiency furnaces in their homes and businesses should make sure the outside vent pipes for those appliances are not blocked by snow and ice. High-efficiency furnaces are not installed using the old style metal vent pipes that extend through the roof. Instead, they use shorter PVC pipes typically vented through a side wall near the ground. While these installations offer great efficiency, the side vent pipes can be covered by snow drifts or clogged by snow and ice, leaves, animal nests or other debris. Obstructed vent pipes can result in the furnace shutting itself down, or in the worst scenario, deadly carbon monoxide could be released into your home or business. Side wall vent kits that provide added protection against vent obstructions are readily available through local HVAC contractors and online suppliers. But even with a vent kit in place, it’s a good idea to check to make sure that snow has not drifted up against the outside wall where the vent pipes come out.
Grow Smart Monument group forming
Grow Smart Monument is dedicated to preserving open space and trails, recreational opportunities, natural resources, and community character. Across the U.S., access to parks and open spaces has become a measure of community wealth; a tool for attracting businesses and residents by guaranteeing quality of life and economic health. This group invites collaboration with developers and civic organizations in creating a path to smart growth in our beautiful town. For more information, see the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/groups/growsmartmonument/ or email email@example.com.
Tri-Lakes men’s singing group seeks singers
Singers are wanted for a unique men’s singing group that will feature close harmony, a cappella singing, somewhat in the style of the Four Freshmen and Vocal Majority. For more information, call John Hobson at 368-7833, or Phil Zara, 481-3197.
LEAP—Help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
Recycle all empty plastic bottles, cans, and paper. Keep foods and liquids out of the recycling. Keep plastic bags out of the recycling. These three steps have a big impact on getting the right things in the recycling bin. Did you know that plastic bags can shut down an entire recycling plant? So keep plastic bags out of the recycling and when in doubt, leave it out. For more information, visit www.recycleoftenrecycleright.com.
HAP needs volunteers
The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that serves and supports seniors in our community. HAP currently needs volunteers, three hours a week; and active board members, eight to 10 hours a month. For more information, call HAP board president, Dave Betzler, at 205-7651.
Attention Tri-Lakes residents with medical conditions
If you have a medical condition or a physical disability, please contact Jennifer at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 484-0911, to register for emergency assistance if evacuation is required.
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 are in need of grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call the MCSS dispatch hotline at 488-0076.
Bustang to Denver
Bustang, the new interregional express bus service from the Colorado Department of Transportation now offers seven round trips per day, Mon. to Fri., from Colorado Springs to Denver, with a stop at I-25/Monument Park-and-Ride. Single ride tickets from Monument to Denver’s Union Station cost only $9, $7.50 for seniors. Each coach is equipped with restrooms, bike racks, free Wi-Fi, power outlets and USB ports. Parking lot improvements include new shelters equipped with lighting and infrared heating units. For information or to buy tickets online, visit www.ridebustang.com, or phone 800-900-3011.
Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center programs
The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include 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.TriLakesHAP.org.
Emergency Notification System update
If you registered for the Emergency Notification System (reverse 911) prior to July 2013, you may need to create a new account. Go to www.elpasoteller911.org and select "sign up" on the registration page. If you are able to log in using your existing user name and password, no further action is needed. If you get an error message indicating your email or password is invalid, press the sign-up button and create a new account. If you need assistance, dial 785-1971 and a staff member will return your call.
Senior Safety Program
Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District offers a free senior safety program to all Tri-Lakes seniors. The program includes smoke detector evaluations, home safety assessments, vial of life, and fire prevention. For information call 484-0911 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.
Residents with medical conditions
If you have a medical condition or a physical disability, please contact Jennifer at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 484-0911, to register for emergency assistance if evacuation is required.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
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 email@example.com or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
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