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Provided by Lewis-Palmer School District 38
In preparation for the November election of the Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education, the Committee for Political Achievement (CPA), a subcommittee of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), held a community candidate forum Oct. 5 (after OCN went to press). Candidates were asked questions posed by the community and the event was live streamed. The recording of this live stream can be accessed at www.ustream.tv/channel/lpsd-live.
Prior to the event, each of the four candidates was sent a series of identical questions and given one week to respond. Included here are those questions and each candidate’s answers, presented in alphabetical order.
Question:District 38 has once again been accredited with distinction, one of only three districts along the Front Range. While maintaining that culture of excellence, how will you make sure that staff and teachers feel supported and are comfortable enough to encourage innovation?
Thomas De Angelis
As a board member, I will treat our skilled and professional educators with the respect they deserve. The board must give the superintendent clear strategic vision, priorities, policy guidance, and consistent oversight.
With the above philosophy and actions, our educators will have the space to innovate. We must give our professional educators the tools and training to identify the needs of the students, both academically and socially/emotionally. I will support our district and individual schools in evaluating new teaching methodologies – we should not be one size fits all. Each school (i.e. leadership and teaching staff) knows what their students need as each school is slightly different. Each school should have the same level of expectations for growth and achievement, but be given control on how to meet those standards. Part of innovation includes enabling age-appropriate technology in our schools for our students as they progress through each grade. We must resource our classrooms, train our staff, and leverage collaborative and interactive technology platforms. This will prepare our students for the real world and improve content delivery and the student educational experience.
I will make sure staff and teachers feel supported by visiting with them, doing walk-throughs at each school, and considering their needs as I vote and help make policies. Throughout the last four years, I have made regular visits to schools during the school day, as well as attended special events. I have volunteered in my kids’ own school, PLES, to help support the school, as well as in individual classrooms. As a former teacher, I understand the many challenges facing our teachers and staff today. To help encourage innovation, I will be available to any and all teachers, I will help support the launch of new classes and curriculum, I will listen to their ideas, and I will support the superintendent as she models and pushes for a growth mindset. I will continue to support the teachers’ need for Professional Learning days during the school year and professional growth opportunities.
No response was received from this candidate.
We are an excellent district with excellent students and excellent educators. Innovation in education comes in many forms, from music and art to robotics and science, all of which help students to become strong citizens and stewards to the world around them. A common quality in high-achieving districts such as ours is that teachers are provided with professional development, shared best practices, partnerships/collaboration, creativity and flexibility, and a meaningful and fair evaluation system, which is then reflected in student growth. Teachers and staff have a good understanding of how policies affect their students and their schools. Ensuring that they have a voice, and that they have the needed classroom resources, and maintaining effective class-size and teacher workloads is essential. As a board member I will regularly visit schools and classrooms and connect with our teachers and staff so as to learn, gain perspective, and seek input in order to foster the inclusive, open, and positive collaboration essential to innovation and growth. I would also like to collaborate with local businesses to recognize and reward our excellent educators.
Question:As the district’s student population continues to grow, approximately 1,400 students in the next eight years, how do you anticipate accommodating that growth?
Thomas De Angelis
Long-term success requires strategic planning because you move into proactive action rather than reacting to today’s fires. I have direct expertise in serving as a management consultant to government executives, as well as running large businesses as an executive, where I built long-term roadmaps for organizations and led their execution. The board and superintendent should be commended for taking a great first step commissioning the consultancy evaluating D-38 today on estimated growth and recommended actions. We must listen to our Long Term Planning Committee, who evaluates enrollment data among other factors, to help the district in its decision making. We must leverage the collected data from the above groups to support our decisions on new schools and locations, upgrades, increased teaching talent, and other investments. Throughout this process, transparent and collaborative communication with the community is critical. We must retain our current top teaching talent, while attracting a pipeline of new talent required to meet growing demand. Part of this is ensuring we are compensating our teaching professionals competitively (currently we are significantly behind D-20 and Douglas County), and part of this is also ensuring our schools are safe, positive environments so our teachers can focus on teaching.
Accommodating growth will be a challenge during the coming years. Before we make any changes, we need to ensure we are maximizing the utilization of all our space. This will necessitate analyzing boundaries, grade configurations and current building usage. We are working with RTA (a demographic consultancy that works with school districts) and the Long Range Facilities Planning Group (composed of parents, community members, teachers, and administrators) to look at options. They have been analyzing possible options for almost a year and I will look to their expertise and recommendations for guidance. From their initial reports, it appears we will need additional capacity and the lead time for any new building is about two years. A new building means a bond because like families, the district must borrow money to buy a building. I will work with the community to explain the growth and its implications for our schools. I’m sensitive to the implications for taxpayers as we look for solutions to the growth. I hope I can help unite the district, parents, stakeholder, and taxpayers behind the tough decisions we will need to make as community in order to continue the excellence and maintain strong property values.
No response was received from this candidate.
Learning and achievement is our district’s highest priority, followed by stakeholder engagement, and long-range planning. Our district is in a unique position that allows us time to be strategic and collaborative in investigating multiple options and perspectives to address long-term growth. RTA is doing a thorough job of giving us an outlook of pros, cons, strengths, and weaknesses as part of a forward-looking solution. Parents and educators in our district recognize the need to address our growth, need for more teachers, and the need for education space. We should continue to listen, explore, and consider multiple ideas and solutions in collaboration with professionals, parents, and educators so as to find the most viable and innovative solutions to ensure our students are learning in a healthy environment that our community of stakeholders can positively support. One example of a solution in the short term could include centralizing our preschools to better serve our Child Find children while freeing up classroom space in individual buildings. We should also be engaged in collaboration with contractors, civil engineers, developers, and the county/town to understand impact to infrastructure as we continue to grow.
Question:How would you balance the need to provide a quality education to our students while recognizing the local taxpayer burden? What are your thoughts for the current district budget?
Thomas De Angelis
D-38 is our community’s largest investment. High-performing schools directly correlate to higher property values, and a house is an individual’s largest personal investment and long-term wealth creator. It is in our taxpayer interest to ensure the best possible schools. However, more money does not beget better school outcomes – only proper investment ensures better outcomes. We experienced a significant shift in funding sources over the years, moving from being split 50/50 between state and local to now being 70 percent state/30 percent local. The Tri-Lakes area is rapidly growing in families and students. Should we pursue a MLO [OCN clarification: a mill levy override tax increase], we should consider a specific MLO tied to measurable outcomes before renewal, include a sunset clause, and/or a specific, limited MLO for capital expenditures such as clearing our building maintenance backlog. Any MLO should include support for all schools within the district. We should consider public/private partnerships for expanding vocational/workforce readiness and college preparation. Tax dollars need to go into funding teachers and programs that have a direct impact on student performance and preparation for college, a vocation, or the military.
We are fortunate in this district that we provide an exceptional education to our students. We have been accredited with distinction once again and have one of the top graduation rates in the state. Even as the fourth-lowest funded school district in the state, we provide a quality education. My experience as a parent with large class sizes tells me we can’t sustain this. State funding for education is flawed so this needs to be addressed. Meanwhile, we can take more control of our funding by asking the taxpayer for monies where 100 percent will stay in the district. As a taxpayer, I’m sensitive to any tax increase, too. I would only approve of asking for the least amount needed for a specific time frame and provide tangible evidence of its use. Since I have been on the board, the district has operated with a balanced budget. The budget is free of excess spending and the district continually looks for cost savings in every building and department. The board recently gave each building more control of funds so spending decisions are as close to the student as possible. I will continue to ensure the budget is balanced.
No response was received from this candidate.
Data and studies show that achievement and individual student academic growth are not tied to the quantity of spending; rather they are tied to quality. The quality of education in our district is a testament to the quality of our educators and support. That being said, we must meet our fiscal responsibility to ensure all children, regardless of ability and background, have the skills and infrastructure to learn and feel supported, safe, and confident at school while our teachers feel respected, rewarded, and connected, our parents feel engaged and involved, and we are fiscally responsible to our small businesses and homeowners. We are no longer in recession and lawmakers anticipate per-pupil funding to continue to increase each year. Despite the Gallagher Amendment, it appears our actual district per-pupil funding is increasing (2012: $6.1K, 2015: $6.9K, 2016: $7K). While per-pupil funding is increasing, and revenue from businesses and homes are growing, I would like to set priorities on spending that supports the students in the classroom, which includes quality time instruction with more teachers and support staff, taking care of our busses and bus drivers, taking advantage of donation/grant opportunities, and ensuring budget accountability. I support the district’s goal of implementing sight-based budgeting.
Question:What are two to three strengths of the district? What are two to three needs? Why did you choose these?
Thomas De Angelis
D-38 is a District of Distinction, but we must continue to improve or risk backsliding.
Strengths: exceptional teaching professionals and dedicated district staff; opportunities (e.g., RAD, Key Club) for students to apply leadership skills and develop peer support groups; and very engaged parents.
Any one of these strengths individually would help a school district to be good. When all three principal players in our educational system combine to foster a positive environment in our schools, you go from good to great. The education of our kids in D-38 comes from a variety of sources, to include the formal from teachers and a strong support network from parents. Because of these strengths, our students internalize and model positive behavior supporting each other.
Needs: board/community collaboration and sustained sources of funding. For those not aware, the environment recently at board meetings has been less than optimal. For several months, this resulted in students no longer being able to attend our board meetings, which is simply sad. And for any organization to flourish and grow, there must be funding streams that are consistent and known in the out years so we can invest in long-term strategic planning.
Our district has many strengths which is why so many people choose to live here. Our teachers are outstanding and do a tremendous job: high school math teacher named Colorado Teacher of the Year in 2015; an elementary school received a National Title 1 Distinguished School Award (reading); both high schools ranked on the U.S. News & World Report’s annual list. Another strength is our Exceptional Students education. Parents come here for the education and support we provide for students with special needs. I have seen how this support translates into support for every student. A third strength is our focus on the whole child. This means we focus on all the arts, on the basics, and on preparing students for the next phase whether it be the next grade or the post-graduation world. Some areas of improvement are class sizes and community engagement. My kids have been in classes that I think are too large, especially for elementary grades. I saw how difficult it was for teachers to really present material so there was understanding by all students. I think we can always improve community engagement. LPSD is a large part of the community; united we can make both great.
No response was received from this candidate.
Our district has so many excellent qualities; it is difficult to narrow down to two to three strengths. I feel our exceptional teachers, our supportive parents, and our motivated students are what make us a district of distinction. I believe we can improve on being more intentional in meeting the growth needs of our students with disabilities and twice-exceptional students, incorporating increased alternative learning opportunities, and a better understanding of policies. All of these strengths and weaknesses focus on the need to put our kids first through collaboration.
Question:What particular experiences or skills would you bring to the board?
Thomas De Angelis
As an Air Force Academy graduate, I bring the demonstrated ability to serve the needs of our kids, schools, and taxpayers ahead of any outside interest—just like I did on my many deployments into the Middle East and in business board rooms today. Through all this, I have and continue to manage across different constituencies to balance stakeholder needs. I know the transformative power of public schools for kids of all abilities! I grew up in a family of 10 kids, with as many as 13 with foster parenting, who represented the spectrum of abilities: English Language Learners; special educational needs; artistic and athletic; average students to National Merit Finalists/perfect SATs. Public Education was the common thread that gave each of us the support and tools to maximize our potential. I bring a rich professional experience that is critical to facing down significant growth and difficult investment choices. Examples include: current business executive managing a $120 million revenue line and budget of $50 million; deep financial expertise in private industry and government; Masters of Business Administration; Division 1 athlete, All-Conference athlete, and team captain.
I have a background as an educator and a coach. I grew up in a family of educators and value public education. I empathize with teachers and staff and the multiple challenges they face daily. I take their needs into consideration in board decisions. I’m a parent of two kids who attend L-P schools and have many more years in the district. I have a vested interest in continuing the excellence that is LPSD. I understand the parent perspective and take their needs into account when making decisions. My coaching philosophy influences my leadership philosophy. I view the board as a team and emphasize the value of working together as a team to achieve a goal. I know it is important to allow everyone on the team to have a chance to be heard and be valued. It is important to be consistent while listening and evaluating feedback from others. I lead by not micromanaging and by letting the experts provide data that lead to informed decisions. Just as I balance the strengths of my players on the court, I am always balancing the needs of taxpayers, parents, teachers, students, and the community.
No response was received from this candidate.
With my combination of leadership experience in complex public organizations that include education, nonprofit, and business along with my inclusive ear, pragmatic and principled voice, strong community relationships, and my passion for education, I believe I am well qualified to be a collaborative champion on the board; prioritizing every child, building trust through transparency and accountability, partnering with parents, educators, and stakeholders, and ensuring our continued excellence. I have been actively engaged in our exceptional district and community since moving here in 2009. My support has extended from the classroom to the district, including Teacher Appreciation Chair, SAC Chair, PTO Secretary, and DAAC. As a member of the DAAC I have a strong understanding of district goals, vision, and direction. My passion for education is not limited to my experiences in D-38. Over the past 25 years my education experience has ranged from teaching to directing budgets, curriculum, and staff. I have been an engaged collaborative leader in multiple nonprofit organizations such as Autism Speaks and former HOA president. In addition, I’ve had 13 years of experience in the business sector as a leader in marketing, sales, and public relations. I attended public schools in multiple states and countries.
By Helen Walklett
At its Sept. 5 meeting the El Paso County Planning Commission denied approval of a rezoning application for a 3.75-acre parcel of land located north of the intersection of Monument Lake Road and Mitchell Avenue.
The request by David Hellbusch was to rezone the land from RR-5 (residential rural) to CS (commercial service) to allow the operation of an RV and boat storage yard at the site. In 2013, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a variance of use for the same parcel of land to allow a small engine-repair business to operate legally on the site. A separate variance of use request to allow the outdoor storage business was recommended for approval by the planning commission in 2016 but subsequently denied by the BOCC in July 2016, citing incompatibility with the surrounding area.
Commissioners expressed concern that a rezoning would also allow uses that might not be appropriate to the property and voted 6-1 to deny the application, citing incompatibility. Commissioner Jim Egbert voted no to the denial motion. The application will now be heard at a future meeting of the BOCC.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
Following discussion at its Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 meetings, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted to put a measure on the Nov. 7 ballot asking voters to allow the county to retain $14.5 million in 2016 revenues to be used to repair roads, improve parks and trails, and complete the remaining projects from the September 2013 flooding. The BOCC also made decisions relating to the Forest Lakes and Misty Acres developments.
November ballot question
Following the BOCC’s resolution, voters in the Nov. 7 ballot will decide if the county can keep and spend $14.5 million in 2016 revenues above the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) cap. If voters approve the measure, the revenue would be used for three specific purposes, and the El Paso County TABOR cap would be reset to reflect actual 2017 revenue, providing long-term funding for infrastructure maintenance and repairs.
Of the $14.5 million, the proposal is that at least $6 million be used to create a pool of local matching funds to accelerate the widening of the I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock. A further $6 million would be used for maintaining and repairing heavily-used county roads and bridges. $1.5 million would go in one-time funding for specific parks and trails projects and could be used as local match funding to secure additional state and federal grants. Approximately $1 million would be used to match $4 million in state and federal grants for flood repair and mitigation projects resulting from the September 2013 flooding.
"These are excess funds that we are asking citizens to let us invest in infrastructure," said Commissioner Stan VanderWerf. "During hard times when revenues were down the county deferred infrastructure maintenance projects so now we really need to get to work on these infrastructure projects when the economy is strong."
The BOCC’s first reading of the resolution was unanimously approved. The second reading at its Sept. 5 meeting was approved 4-1. Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez voted against, explaining that while there were many merits to the proposal, he wished to honor his election campaign pledge to do everything possible to address road priorities such as the I-25 and safety through the normal budget process and that he had not yet had a chance to do so.
If voters reject the proposal, the excess revenue would go to real property owners in the form of a one-off credit. For a typical single family home valued at $250,000, this would amount to around $40.
Commissioner Charles Waller is also urging voters to support a separate ballot question that would add I-25 expansion to the voter-approved list of projects for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA).
Forest Lakes plat approved
On Sept. 26 the final plat for Forest Lakes Filing 2B was unanimously approved with 11 conditions and three notations. The application had been recommended for approval by the El Paso County Planning Commission at its Sept. 19 meeting.
Forest Lakes Filing 2B is located within a portion of the Amended Forest Lakes Filing 2 PUD (Planned Unit Development) Development Plan which authorizes the development of 160 single-family residential lots. The development area is located on the south side of Forest Lakes Drive approximately one mile west of the intersection of I-25 and Baptist Road.
The owner, Forest Lakes Residential Development LLC, requested approval of a final plat to create 45 single-family lots, rights-of-way, and five open-space tracts.
The BOCC also approved a request from Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) to transfer to it parcels of county land adjacent to Forest Lakes Drive and a piece obtained as part of the PPRTA-approved Baptist Road expansion. For the latter piece, FLMD is paying $1,465.44 directly to PPRTA. A subdivision entry sign and associated landscaping will be constructed on a portion of the transferred land.
Other items unanimously approved by the commissioners:
• Sept. 26—the final release of letter of credit for public improvements of Misty Acres Filing 2C for $8,989 following completion and inspection of all the public improvements in this subdivision.
• Sept. 26—a request to establish the survey area and set Oct. 17 as the hearing date on an application by Colorado Brewers Group LLC (trading as Pikes Peak Brewing Company) for a modification of its premises on Lake Woodmoor Drive.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
Doug Abernathy of contractor RTA presented a lengthy update on the long-term planning process during the Sept. 14 meeting of the Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education.
Of particular interest were in-depth studies on the Monument Academy and Grace Best sites and their buildings.
Abernathy reported that the Monument Academy building is being fully utilized and is in good condition, although the cement board siding covered with stucco may need attention at some point.
Abernathy mentioned several shortcomings of the Monument Academy site. Among these were drainage problems caused in part by a water quality pond in the site’s northeastern corner, which causes flooding in the playground after heavy rain; building limitations due to the presence of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat; the necessity of sharing parking with the adjacent church; and traffic problems along Highway 105.
The shape of the property makes it impossible to use school buses at the site as there is no signal at the property’s east end. There are plans to expand Highway 105 nearby, adding a turn lane to limit backups during before-and-after school times. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access to playgrounds is also a concern.
The facility planning committee said that this property should not be considered for purchase by the district due to these problems.
Board Secretary Mark Pfoff asked whether the limited access posed a safety concern in the event of evacuation or access by emergency services. Abernathy said that he did not believe this to be the case.
Board Treasurer John Magerko asked whether the land for the school was donated. Abernathy said that it was purchased.
Comparing the traffic issues and bus access at Monument Academy to the Lewis-Palmer Middle School, which is also located on a major thoroughfare, Superintendent Karen Brofft pointed out that the middle school has two parking lots, one of which is only open to buses during peak times.
Regarding Grace Best Education Center, which the district owns, Abernathy enumerated the current uses of the building as the home of the Home School Academy and the rental of the gymnasium to community groups. Some of the property’s south end is used for storing maintenance equipment, and parts of the playing fields are made available to the community.
Abernathy also pointed out that the property’s north end has grading and drainage issues, and that the east side of the school is too close to a right of way. Much of the two-story portion of the building does not qualify under ADA, and the committee estimated that it would cost about $7 million to bring the building up to code regarding the ADA and asbestos issues. The $7 million would not solve the site, lighting, and security concerns.
Abernathy also commented that Grace Best is not located where the fastest growth is occurring in the district.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said that if the board were to decide to invest in the Grace Best property, the district would then investigate grants to help pay for the improvements.
When asked whether the district should invest in improving Grace Best, Abernathy said no. He did say, however, that the programs already on site are plausible for now and that parts of the building may be utilized as a preschool or for special education purposes.
Wangeman said that the Grace Best site would work well for the district’s Transitions program serving students with special needs ages 18 to 21 because these students do not wish to be among the general population.
Regarding enrollment statistics, Abernathy cautioned that the district enrollment is growing at the rate of the equivalent of an elementary school every two to three years.
Abernathy then addressed two more specialized needs of the district.
Regarding special education services, he said that the services are available throughout the district with programs for intensive needs and autism addressed at different locations. The services should continue to remain available throughout the district, and that any new elementary schools should also contain a site-based facility, Abernathy said.
Brofft said the federal government requires that these services be available, and the district’s policy of inclusiveness would prevent locating all services at one site.
One concern is that the intensive needs program is located at Kilmer Elementary, in the eastern portion of the district and relatively far from emergency care if needed.
Wangeman said that the next two elementary schools are likely to be located near I-25, as that is where the fastest growth is occurring. As the schools are planned, the committee will ensure that there is appropriate space for special education services.
On the subject of early childhood education, Abernathy said there are now four preschool locations. As with special education, the board considered whether to locate all early childhood services at one site. Each preschool site requires one to two rooms.
The choice is between offering the service at multiple locations and capping enrollment at each or centralizing the service in one building.
Brofft reminded the board that federal regulations require that the district offer preschool access to those identified by ChildFind (a process of evaluating school readiness) or for those who qualify based on family income. Teachers would prefer a single location because it would offer the opportunity for teamwork.
Abernathy then addressed the STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and the requirements involved. At the elementary level, STEAM would require having a makerspace (a room with arts and craft supplies, sometimes including simple robotics), while at the middle school and high school levels more technology and labs would be required.
Other subjects under discussion by the committee include deferred maintenance, school safety approached under the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design process (consider lighting, ease of access, landscaping, ease of lockdown, traffic, etc.), and identification of land available to build new schools.
The timeline for continued meetings includes the committee meeting on Sept. 26, meetings with the District Accountability Advisory Committee and the board in October and November, and action by the board at its December meeting.
The board approved policy GDCA regarding sick leave for staff and JRCB regarding privacy of student data and also approved policy JS regarding student use of district technology.
Brofft reported that Palmer Lake Elementary School has added one kindergarten and one sixth-grade class due to growing class sizes.
She said that there are some vacancies in staff positions due to shortages of teachers available. Some positions are more difficult to fill than others, and the district tries to hire experienced teachers.
Enrollment is 75 students short of projections, resulting in a $546,000 shortfall in per-student expected revenue from the state.
This is the first year in which budgeting was site-based, where each facility creates its own budget.
Subjects under consideration by the board are teacher compensation, space available, possible new schools, and deferred maintenance.
After discussion within the district and with administrations of nearby districts, Brofft said it is almost impossible to compensate for income lost during past pay freezes.
The waiver application for changing the deadline for application for a new charter school was approved by the state.
Regarding creation of Monument Academy high school, the application has been received. The district has once again been rated as Accredited with Distinction.
Tiffiney and Jason Upchurch offered the only citizen comment of the evening, reading a letter from their son, now at Colorado School of Mines, thanking the district for his education and for the sensitivity of its staff when they noticed he was at a low point during his senior year. He is now doing well.
The Lewis-Palmer Middle School Band, under the direction of Mike Mozingo, performed the National Anthem and the Beatles’ Get Back. The middle school Gateway to Technology class, under Ken Motta and Nathan Strycker, explained how the class used teamwork and innovation to design a new wall-ball wall and a weatherproof box in which to store the balls at the school.
The board also approved a list of routine items.
Caption: The Lewis-Palmer Middle School band, under direction of Mike Mozingo, performed at the board meeting. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Due to a scheduling conflict, the board will meet on Oct. 12.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
Caption: The Lewis-Palmer Middle School band, under direction of Mike Mozingo, performed at the board meeting. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on Aug. 10 and Sept. 14 to approve officers and committee memberships, review academic excellence metrics, and hear from the financial auditor’s report,
Board establishes roles
The MA board unanimously approved the following officers: Scott Saunders, president; Julie Galusky, vice president; Mike Molsen, secretary; and Patrick Hall, treasurer.
The following committee assignments were unanimously approved: Matt Dunston, buildings /facilities; Scott Saunders, School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAC); Julie Galusky, resource development and grants; Patrick Hall, Finance Committee; Mark McWilliams, curriculum; and Mike Molsen, governance
Academic and character metrics revised
The board unanimously voted to remove the John Irwin Award metric as MA no longer qualifies given its low participation rate in testing. The board also agreed to remove TCAP scores which are no longer used by the state and also have a low participation rate. In their place, the board agreed to adopt the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Academic Program and NWEA Academic metrics, which are nationally normed tests, to track student performance and achievement.
Financial audit report review
Paul Niedermuller of Clifton Laron Allen reviewed the 2016-17 audit report. He focused on the audit process and the board’s governance role. He noted that some items on the financial report, such as depreciation expenses, are an estimate which could change. A second major area is pension liability—as a member of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), MA is allocated its share of that liability which has a lot of assumptions built in that are disclosed but also subject to change. Due primarily to the new requirement to report the pension expense, MA is in a negative position as of June 2017.
One item Neidermuller brought to the attention of the board was that although the firm became aware, at the time they released the report, of the suspected fraud allegations against a former board member, they did not do a full-scale engagement in relationship to all checks and disbursements under the purview of that board member and that each transaction has not been reviewed in thorough detail.
Management and governance shares the fiduciary responsibilities and he wanted the board to be aware of the limitations as it relates to the allegations and the impact it could have on MA. He noted that management and the board had submitted a statement which the audit firm corroborated based on identified procedures.
Asked if the audit firm intended to go back and look at each transaction, it was noted that that would be a decision made by the board. The board clarified that the audit firm did not see any red flags in the audit that would indicate a need to do so.
The audit report found that MA’s financial statements present fairly in all material respects the financial position of the school. The full audit report can be seen on the MA website under Financial Transparency at http://bit.ly/MA2017Audit.
• The board unanimously voted to revise the Uniform Policy 1501 to incorporate current guidelines and add the dean structure for enforcement. The policy can be viewed at http://bit.ly/ma-policy1501.
• The high school application has been submitted to the school district and will be presented on Oct. 10 and Nov.16. The Lewis-Palmer Board of Education will vote on Nov. 15 so a decision may be available by Thanksgiving.
• Principal and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Elizabeth Davis reported that the middle school is adopting a new house system that has been well received. There will be eight houses named after character traits that include kids from sixth to eighth grade, geared to creating peer relationships and fostering leadership opportunities for older students.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point. The Monument Academy usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Meetings are adjusted as needed to avoid conflicts. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances can be found at www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board moved briskly through its meeting agenda on Sept. 19. The board received estimated budget scenarios sketching income and expenses for 2018 if the proposed mill levy passes, 2018 if the mill levy fails, and 2019 if the mill levy fails. Chief Vinny Burns provided updates regarding the election. A biannual pension meeting preceded the board meeting with no votes or changes made.
Budget dependent on mill levy vote
Using preliminary figures from the El Paso County assessor, Burns drafted separate budgets depicting the district’s future depending on whether the proposed mill levy increase from 7 mills to 21.9 mills passes or fails.
The first budget, which covered 2018 if the mill levy increase passes, estimated an income of $2.7 million. Exempt and nonexempt staff would essentially maintain current pay and their overtime pay would be restored. Other expense items fell within the ranges of previous budgets.
The second budget detailing income and expenses if the mill levy fails showed a total operating revenue for 2018 of $1.3 million—a loss of $1.4 million compared to a passed-mill-levy budget. Cuts in staffing and overtime absorbed most of the losses.
Burns projected even further into 2019 and estimated a failed-mill-levy income of $670,000— barely one-third of the district’s current property tax revenue. This budget reduced staff to one chief, no administrative assistant, and three firefighters (down from 15 firefighters) which consequently decreased administrative, insurance, and payroll expenses; cut training classes and associated travel expenses entirely; and eliminated firefighting and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment and bunker gear. Burns reminded the board that the numbers provided by the assessor’s office are preliminary and that practicable numbers will be finalized in November.
Background: The City of Colorado Springs annexed 22 square miles of DWFPD’s tax-paying service area. Although the annexation was initiated in 2003, DWFPD has been servicing the annexed area to support residents until Colorado Springs Fire Department Station 22 was completed on Voyager Parkway in 2016. Now DWFPD is engaged in a two-phase process to exclude the annexed territory from its service area. As of Jan. 1, 2017, the district excluded Phase One Property, from Interquest Parkway north to the proposed location of the Powers Boulevard extension with I-25 (north of The Classical Academy). As of Jan. 1, 2018, Phase Two Property, extending the rest of the way up to Northgate Boulevard, will be excluded.
When phase two of the exclusion is complete, the district’s annual property tax revenue will have been effectively reduced by 65 percent, which is concurrent with its loss of territory. In July 2017, the board adopted a resolution to ask voters on the November ballot to increase DWFPD Northern Subdistrict taxes annually beginning in levy year 2017 for collection in calendar year 2018 by increasing the subdistrict’s existing property tax of 7 mills by 14.9 mills for a total of 21.9 mills. See the mill levy calculation by Pinnacle Consulting Group, Inc. at http://wescottfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Wescott-Fire-Financial-.pdf.
Election updates continued
Burns confirmed that Kammy Tinney of Pinnacle Consulting Group, Inc. is the district’s Designated Election Official (DEO). Tinney is handling the proceedings on the district’s behalf and "everything is going as planned," Burns said. Among the many election deadlines Burns listed, he noted that ballots would be mailed Oct. 16-20.
Wildfire deployments, and fallen firefighter
Burns stated that Assistant Chief Scott Ridings and two other Wescott firefighters deployed to an Oregon fire, a blaze to which the first Wescott crew deployed on Aug. 5. The current Wescott crew is actively working on an initial attack in the Grants Pass area. Burns said that due to Ridings’ deployment, call statistics would be provided at a later meeting.
Burns also reported that Wescott firefighters attended the funeral of South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) fallen firefighter Mike Freeman on July 21. SMFR Chief Bob Baker sent a letter of appreciation to Wescott for standing alongside SMFR in celebrating Freeman’s life. Baker thanked Wescott for their "presence and participation in this procession not only honored Mike and South Metro Fire Rescue, it also provided great strength for his family." Burns estimated that several thousand firefighters both in- and out-of-state attended the funeral. See www.southmetro.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/249 for an SMFR newsletter article about Freeman.
Administrative business detailed
Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich reported that the district’s three funds—Peoples National Bank (PNB), PNB Colorado Peak Fund, and Wells Fargo Public Trust—totaled $1.991 million in July and $1.923 million in August, a decrease of about $67,900. The district’s "Profit and Loss vs. Actual" report showed a year-to-date income of $2.256 million through Aug. 2017; almost 99 percent of the budgeted annual amount of $2.282 million. Year-to-date expenses through August 2017 totaled $1.369 million. Currently, expenses fall below 50 percent of the annual budget estimate of $3.037 million.
Volunteer firefighters discuss pension
Lieutenants Brian Ackerman and Tim Hampton presented actuarial valuation information for the district’s volunteer pension fund during the pension meeting that preceded the board meeting. Second-quarter fund performance showed growth albeit slow. The volunteers did not request additional contributions from the district to the fund.
The board adjourned at 7:23 p.m.
The next DWFPD Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Oct. 17, 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Please call (719) 488-8680, a nonemergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Sept. 27, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board discussed two alternate scenarios for the 2018 budget depending on the results of the proposed mill levy increase election. They also welcomed new Battalion Chief of Training, Jonathan Bradley, who was sworn in by Fire Chief Chris Truty.
First the directors reviewed a 2017 amended budget that will formally document changes in spending this year related to staffing, reimbursement of impact fees to builders, and the move to new administrative offices in November. Treasurer John Hildebrandt clarified that the net change was about zero.
Truty then presented a first draft of two proposed budgets for 2018. One assumed the 6.9 mill levy increase will be approved by voters in November, and one assumed it will be defeated. The current mill levy is 11.5 mills. Using several comparative charts, he gave multiple examples of the election’s impact on the operating fund, capital improvement fund, impact fees fund, emergency reserve fund, and the vehicle replacement fund, which would not even be created unless the mill levy increase passes.
See http://tlmfire.org for many pages of details with the fully explained financial information and specific examples we do not have room to include here. See also www.ocn.me/v17n6.htm#tlmfpd, www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#tlmfpd.
Truty’s primary concern is that wages in the fire protection district are about 25 percent lower than the average for comparable Front Range fire departments. Other areas of need include rising health care costs, worker’s compensation, and specialized training. He said if the mill levy increase does not pass, the majority of nondiscretionary money will go toward increases in wages. "We would be able to do our operations, but would not be able to do a lot more than that," he said.
"Should this initiative not pass, it’s possible that we may never catch up in some areas to what we need to reliably maintain services or… we will need multiple mill levy initiatives over multiple years if we do think we want to catch up…We can’t continue to just let things slide," Truty said.
Residents of TLMFPD who have questions should contact the district or attend the Oct. 25 board meeting. Truty said ballots would be mailed to voters starting Oct. 16.
The meeting adjourned at 7:53 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 484-0911. For upcoming agendas, see http://tlmfire.org/board.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
At the Triview Metropolitan District Board’s Sept. 11 meeting, the directors made plans to discuss and enact necessary tap fee increases, water rate increases, and a fee to pay for new renewable surface water rights purchased last December. They also heard a detailed technical presentation about its wastewater treatment plant and regulatory changes that will cost the district money and result in a wastewater rate increase.
Later, at a special meeting on Sept. 21, the board confirmed that District Manager Valerie Remington was on administrative leave.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides roads, landscaping, open space maintenance, and water and sanitation services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. However, Monument provides land use planning, police, and general governance for the district’s property owners.
Increased tap fees coming
Secretary Mark Melville reported on his quarterly visit to the Housing and Building Association (HBA) meeting. He said builders have questions and concerns about Triview’s tap fees, which will rise in January. The consensus was to meet with developers to clarify Triview’s service agreement with them and discuss how their tap fees compare favorably to neighboring districts in northern El Paso County.
Vote coming soon on renewable water fee
Melville showed the directors a first draft of a renewable water fee schedule that would take about 15 years to pay the $6.5 million in principal and $2 million in interest owed on the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Company (FMIC) renewable water shares purchased in December. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#tvmd, www.ocn.me/v17n3.htm#tvmd.
While Triview wants to start paying off this loan as soon as possible, the directors and Triview’s water attorney, Chris Cummins of Monson, Cummins & Shohet LLC, agreed that it was vital to educate all district residents about the purpose of this fee, estimated to be around $28 a month, as well as the importance of using renewable surface water instead of well water.
Reservoir discussion continues
The Preliminary Engineering Report for Area 3, the northern one-third of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), has been briefed by water engineers Will Koger and Jonathan Moore of Forsgren Associates to the boards of Triview Metro, Donala and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts, and Monument Board of Trustees. This Area 3 report includes the idea of building a possible renewable water storage reservoir within Triview’s boundaries and creating a co-ownership with other local water providers. See www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#tvmd, www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#mbot, www.ocn.me/v17n9.htm#wwsd.
Remington said that discussions are continuing within the northern group, and that Triview and other entities met recently to go over the next steps such as hiring a negotiator to deal with the landowner. Representatives from Challenger Homes at the June 13 Triview meeting had indicated that they would be purchasing the land soon. However, Cummins said on Sept. 11 that the El Paso County Assessor map did not yet show any recent transaction.
Note: Anyone can check http://gis2.asr.elpasoco.com to see ownership and other details about all parcels owned in El Paso County.
Water rate increase in the works for January
Base and volumetric water consumption rates also will be increasing soon, with board discussions scheduled at a special Sept. 29 public workshop (which will then go into executive session to discuss personnel matters) and at the Oct. 10 board meeting. The public hearing and time for resident comments will be Nov. 14. The board is scheduled to vote on the new rates at the Dec. 12 meeting so that new rates can take effect in January.
Board President Reid Bolander said that last November, the board voted for a placeholder increase "just to keep the lights on" and planned to develop and enact a five-year schedule of water rate increases in 2017 to reach self-sufficiency in the water enterprise fund. See www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#tvmd1108. Remington said before that, rates had not increased for seven years.
Water rates pay for operations, including electricity for pumping from wells, and maintenance to pumps and distribution lines, and drilling new wells. Director James Barnhart said the water enterprise fund was $290,000 short last year, and Bolander said even when the rates increase, "we will be bleeding for a while still… We have been artificially low for too long."
The board consensus was to try not to change the usage rates for the lowest monthly gallons used, but to significantly increase rates at the higher volume usage tiers to encourage conservation.
JDS-Hydro engineer John McGinn said he would assist the directors to come up with a new rate structure using a model he has developed and will improve for this use. This will help estimate how new rates would affect both frugal and extravagant water users.
Wastewater treatment plant projections
Engineer Roger Sams of GMS Inc. presented a review of current project planning, regulatory framework, and operational events for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) that Triview shares with Donala and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. See www.ocn.me/v16n7.htm#tmd-0614.
In the second quarter of 2017, Donala contributed 58 percent of total flow, Triview 41 percent, and Forest Lakes 1 percent, measured as 30-day average daily flow through UMCRWWTF, Sams said. Sams said the facility is in "top-notch shape" and its overall wastewater flow is less than half of the UMCRWWTF discharge permit rated flow capacity.
Then Sams discussed new issues that need to be dealt with, some immediately and some within the next 10 years, because of known or anticipated changes in Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) discharge permit regulations on metals and nutrients. The commission approves discharge permits to implement water quality control and other regulations of the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act).
The new challenges from potential changes to the UMCRWWTF discharge permit include state or EPA imposition of additional requirements monitoring and/or new treatment requirements for total inorganic nitrogen (TIN), E. coli, copper, mercury, iron, manganese, zinc, and arsenic.
Arsenic is a metal that occurs naturally in the Denver Basin aquifer, and Triview’s drinking water treatment plant "does a dandy job of removing it," Sams said. However, the arsenic removed by the drinking water plant is then dumped into the Triview wastewater collection system and must be removed by UMCRWWTF, which needs to meet its own arsenic discharge permit levels as well. "We need to deal with it," he added.
The Upper Monument wastewater treatment facility operations committee analyzed the options and deemed it preferable to treat the arsenic at the wastewater plant. Sams said that would be the more efficient method. He stated that the proposed new add-on ion exchange process would remove the arsenic in the treatment plant’s backwash water. This option would not require construction of a "huge amount of new wastewater treatment capacity."
It could be as soon as October next year that UMCRWWTF will need to meet new state discharge limits on arsenic in the wastewater effluent discharged into Monument Creek, which is upstream of a potential drinking water source in Colorado Springs, Pikeview Reservoir.
Sams said the current estimated budget for the arsenic treatment is about $2 million, and Triview’s share would be 44 percent or about $1 million. "We need to get it in your next budgets for 2018 and 2019," he advised.
In addition, TIN and total phosphorus are nutrients under additional scrutiny by the WQCC. Sams explained the confusing status of dischargers with respect to potential changes in both Colorado Nutrients Management Control Regulation 85 adopted in 2012, "for what comes out of the end of a pipe," and Colorado’s Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water Regulation 31, which will likely be more stringent if "interim" water quality standards proposed in 2012 are imposed for nitrogen and phosphorus in lakes and rivers.
McGinn said that nutrients are treated apart from where the arsenic is treated, and that nutrient treatment steps that might need to be added will have a lot bigger price tag and have to meet a different (but still unknown) compliance schedule than the arsenic treatment.
For an example of similar regulation discussions related to the larger Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) owned by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor, see www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#tlwtjuc.
Operations, public works, and financial report
Remington introduced Triview’s new Water Superintendent and Operator in Responsible Charge (ORC) Shawn Sexton who was just hired from within Triview. She then described all the work going on in the water department.
Public Works Superintendent Gerry Shisler’s report summarized many repairs and maintenance tasks underway or completed in the last month.
Remington on administrative leave
The meeting went into executive session at 8:25 p.m. to receive legal advice on specific legal questions and personnel matters. OCN did not receive a response to its usual email to Remington asking if any votes were taken or announcements made after the executive session.
A visit to the Triview office on Sept. 19 yielded the news that Remington was on administrative leave and that the board was holding a special executive session board meeting with the District’s attorney regarding legal advice on specific legal questions related to personnel matters. At the Sept. 21 Triview special board meeting, Director Jim Otis said that no announcements were made nor votes taken after the Sept. 11 meeting. Gary Shupp, the district’s attorney, said that there was no acting district manager but that the board will eventually select someone to take on certain functions that the manager would have done. The executive session lasted 2½ hours. No announcements were made or votes taken when the Sept. 21 meeting returned to public session. Bolander said Shupp would be OCN’s point of contact until the undefined legal situation was in was resolved.
Another Triview special board meeting was scheduled for Sept. 29 for public Board discussion of Water Rates and Fee and an executive session for personnel matters.
The next Triview meeting will be Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn, Mt. Herman Conference Room, 15275 Struthers Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868 or see www.colorado.gov/triviewmetro. Triview also is on Facebook. Remington was holding "Coffee Talks" on the fourth Thursday of each month until they were discontinued in September. Triview’s official posting locations are:
• El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office
• Park at intersection of Venison Creek and Kitchener Way
• Park on Gold Creek Drive and Creekside Drive
• Mailboxes at Burke Hollow and Talus Road
• Park on Old Creek Drive and Toreva Drive
• Triview office: 16055 Old Forest Pt., Ste. 300, Monument, CO 80132
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The board members of the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts 1, 2, and 3 (PPMD 1, 2, and 3) met on Sept. 15. District Counsel Russell Dykstra and Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, attended the meeting by phone. Sarah Steph, metropolitan district accountant for Classic Homes, also attended. Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes, was excused.
The board unanimously authorized District Manager Ann Nichols and Blunk to finish negotiations on the contract price and days to completion for the new surface water treatment plant, and to sign a contract not to exceed $8.5 million between FLMD and Velocity Constructors. Velocity was one of three qualified bids received, and before they get notice to proceed, they need to add a small stormwater quality treatment pond to their bid, said Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes.
Secretary Jimmy Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes, said lot sales should commence in Forest Lakes Filing 2B in October. See related Sept. 26 El Paso Board of County Commissioners article on page 1.
The board also unanimously accepted the exclusion petition for an outparcel of 159 acres in the southeastern section of PPMD 2 and set an Oct. 30 date for the public hearing.
At the Oct. 30 meeting, the second agenda item will be a public hearing and approval of a resolution establishing a rate increase for the water development fee.
The meeting adjourned at 2 p.m.
Note: FLMD, west of I-25 at the end of West Baptist Road, is a Title 32 service district in El Paso County established in 1985. FLMD is the half-acre operating district responsible for the public infrastructure and utility and general governmental services for the residents of PPMD 1, 2, and 3, which actually collect the property taxes. PPMD 1 and 2 are not part of the town of Monument, but the commercial section PPMD 3 is within the town limits. FLMD holds joint board meetings with PPMD 1, 2 and 3, which were established in 2004.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Oct. 30 in the Classic Homes office at 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs. Meetings are usually held the first Monday of each month. Meeting notices are posted on the district website http://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com and at 3625 Mesa Top Drive, Monument, an open-space tract owned by all four districts. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at 327-5810 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
On Sept. 20 the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a one-year 2017 judgment mill levy of up to 10 mills on all properties located within the district. This property tax will be collected in 2018 to pay a District Court stipulated judgment entered against MSD on Sept. 15 of $337,202.96, with statutory interest of 8 percent for the year accruing from the date of this judgment. However, based on the county’s initial estimated 2017 assessed value of about $48.3 million for the property within the district, this judgment would only require a one-time judgment levy of up to roughly 8 mills in 2017. See related lawsuit information in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District article on the facing page.
This one-time district property tax for a $300,000 house would be up to $172.80 for the year, which is about up to $14.40 per month.
Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) is owned in equal one-third shares by MSD, Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD.) Tri-Lakes operates as a separate joint venture public utility under a Feb. 9, 2010, Joint Use of Facilities Agreement between the three owner districts.
The judgment mill levy is the result of a dispute from 2014 between WWSD and MSD/PLSD over allocation of costs in the 2015 Tri-Lakes budget for a new chemical total phosphorus (TP) removal tertiary clarifier expansion. (See www.ocn.me/v14n12.htm#tlfjuc1111, www.ocn.me/v15n1.htm#tlfjuc1209, and www.ocn.me/v15n1.htm#msd1218)
Woodmoor filed a lawsuit against Monument and Palmer Lake in 2015 over how the cost of the new chemical tertiary clarifier and new supporting infrastructure should be shared. (See www.ocn.me/v15n5.htm#tlfjuc0414)
This District Court stipulated judgment of $337,202.96 is the difference between one-third of the cost for the Tri-Lakes phosphorus remover and the 19.79 percent share of the costs which Monument has already paid the TLWWTF Joint Use Committee.
Districts required to lower phosphorus discharge
In 2012, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated compliance with the new Regulation 85, to remove phosphorus to a discharge limit of 1 milligram per liter. The three districts were compelled to participate in a TLWWTF expansion for phosphorus removal. (See www.ocn.me/v12n4.htm#cwqcc and www.ocn.me/v12n7.htm#juc)
Tetra Tech’s original rough estimate of $1 million increased to $2.07 million in September 2013 and then to $2.87 million in August 2014. (See www.ocn.me/v14n11.htm#tlfjuc1014 and www.ocn.me/v14n11.htm#msd1016)
A dispute arose among the three owner districts in late 2014 regarding the allocation of costs related to this mandated expansion. (See www.ocn.me/v14n12.htm#tlfjuc1111, www.ocn.me/v15n1.htm#tlfjuc1209, and www.ocn.me/v15n1.htm#msd1218)
WWSD sued MSD and PLSD in 2015 to make them each pay one third of the awarded total base bid cost which had grown to $3.642 million. The motion to approve the base bid option also specified that Monument would pay 19.79 percent of the total, Palmer Lake would pay 33.33 percent, and Woodmoor would pay 46.88 percent. The four requested bid options that would have increased the total project cost to $4.312 million were all deemed unaffordable and none were necessary for achieving compliance. (See www.ocn.me/v15n5.htm#tlfjuc0414 and www.ocn.me/v15n6.htm#tljuc0512)
The District Court ruled against MSD and PLSD in May 2016. MSD and PLSD appealed on June 6, 2017. The State Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court decision. MSD disagrees with the courts’ rulings, but the MSD board determined that it is not in the district’s best interest to spend more money to appeal the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. (See www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#tlwtjuc)
This District Court stipulated judgment of $337,202.96 on Sept. 15 is the difference between one-third of the cost for the TLWWTF phosphorus and the 19.79 percent share of the costs which Monument has already paid the TLWWTF Joint Use Committee.
Mill levy option details
Section 24-10-113, C.R.S., authorizes MSD to certify the judgment mill levy. (See http://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2016/title-24/administration/article-10/section-24-10-113)
MSD does not have unrestricted nonemergency reserves to pay this judgment. The resolution states that paying this judgment by fully depleting the district’s operations reserve is not in the best interest of the district or its customers. The Colorado Legislature enacted Section 24-10-113(3) of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which states that if a public entity is unable to pay a judgment during the fiscal year in which it becomes final because of lack of available funds, it shall levy a tax sufficient to pay for the judgment in the next fiscal year or years in an amount not to exceed 10 mills per year.
The resolution states that Section 20(1) General Provisions of the voter-approved Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) expressly suspends the provisions of Article X Section 20(4)(a) that require prior district voter approval to increase taxes for the purpose of paying a final court judgment. This section also expressly suspends the provisions of TABOR Section (7) which might subject revenue from the district’s judgment levy to TABOR’s annual revenue restrictions. (See http://law.justia.com/constitution/colorado/cnart10.html)
The resolution states that the MSD Board of Directors considered increasing user fees and/or entering into a revenue bond to pay the judgment. The board reviewed the district’s finances and determined that those options would be more expensive and create a greater hardship on the district’s customers than imposing a one-time mill levy on all properties within the district. This mill levy property tax may be deducted from property owner incomes, whereas fee increases are not deductible. The resolution also states that mill levy is the fastest and most efficient method of paying the judgment and will result in the lowest overall costs to the district, its taxpayers and customers.
2018 budget hearing scheduled
The board unanimously approved a motion to change the date of the regular MSD Dec. 20 board meeting to a special meeting on Dec. 13, and include the annual board hearing on the final 2018 MSD budget during this meeting.
The Monument Sanitation District Board meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 130 2nd St. Monument. For information call 481-4886.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board heard a presentation from district lawyer Charles Norton concerning Judge William Bain’s ruling on the lawsuit between WWSD and Monument Sanitation District (MSD). District staff also provided updates on operational issues. See the related lawsuit information in the Monument Sanitation District article.
To accommodate the schedules of the board members, the meeting was held on Sept. 21, one week after the usual date for the board’s monthly meetings, which are typically on the second Thursday of each month
Judge rules on district lawsuit
Norton told the board that Bain had ruled on the lawsuit pending between WWSD and MSD, and District Manager Jessie Shaffer asked the board to ratify Bain’s ruling so that the district could move forward to implement the ruling.
According to Norton, Bain ruled that MSD must pay WWSD $337,000 to reimburse it for its overpayment on the cost of constructing the Tri-Lakes wastewater treatment facility improvements. The ruling specifies MSD will pay 8 percent simple interest annually on that amount, bringing the total payment to $360,000. Norton said he anticipated that MSD would pay the amount in one year.
Norton added the ruling will allow MSD to put in place a special mill levy of 7 mills, which would be excluded from TABOR regulation, allowing the district to pay off the judgment within a year.
The board voted unanimously to ratify the agreement.
Staff report highlights
• Shaffer asked the board to reserve some time on Oct. 18 to begin work on the 2018 budget. Shaffer said a topic to be discussed is whether or not to use the district’s cash reserves to pay down debt.
• Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that the augmentation station on the Chilcott Ditch was threatened by erosion and would require stream improvements to Fountain Creek to remediate.
• Revegetation efforts on Woodmoor Ranch (previously JV Ranch) are going well.
• Well 11 is receiving maintenance.
• The district’s aging radio system and telemetry needs to be updated, according to Gillette.
• The ozone treatment experiment underway at the south filter plant is showing the system can reduce the turbidity and improve the taste and odor of the water.
The next meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Oct. 12. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Sept. 5, the Monument Board of Trustees approved land use ordinances approving the Pilot Travel Center, Wolf Business Park, and Tri-Lakes Collision. They also heard from the Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance and banned the sale of fireworks in town.
Mayor Jeff Kaiser was absent.
Wolf Business Park approved
The trustees unanimously approved an ordinance for the rezoning, sketch plan, and final plat for the Wolf Business Park after Monument Town Planner Jennifer Jones’ presentation. (See www.ocn.me/v17n9.htm#mpc for the report on the Monument Planning Commission’s unanimous Aug. 9 approval of this item and for maps of the area.)
Wolf Business Park will be located north of Highway 105, on Wolf Court east of Beacon Lite Road, north of the Monument Meadows mobile home park. The 2017 Comprehensive Plan identifies this area as light industrial. The outdated Planned Commercial District (PCD) zoning needed to be rezoned to Planned Development (PD), Jones said.
Tri-Lakes Collision Final PD Site Plan approved
An auto body repair shop called Tri-Lakes Collision applied for Final PD Site Plan approval on Lot 7 of the Wolf Business Park, Jones explained. The applicant chose this location for its size and topography. She said all the official requirements for public notification had been met, including notifying neighbors within 500 feet and holding a public hearing both at the planning commission and at this board of trustees meeting.
No draft planning commission minutes were included in the board packet, and Trustee Greg Coopman asked what the vote on this had been at the Planning Commission on Aug. 9. Jones said that they had approved the application but was unsure of the vote, and then Principal Planner Larry Manning guessed it was six in favor with one abstention. Coopman asked for verification of that vote because he had heard otherwise. In fact, it narrowly passed with a 4-3 vote. For details, see www.ocn.me/v17n9.htm#mpc.
Jones said that portion of Beacon Lite Road is controlled by El Paso County and they did not have any concerns about traffic levels. She said the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District would inspect and approve the site and that many other local, state, and federal regulations are in play. "There is a regulatory process outside of our land development code," she said.
Steve Hammers of Hammers Construction also explained the rigorous process the project has to go through to meet building codes, including special floor filtering of any substances before entering the Monument Sanitation District wastewater system, noise mitigation, and stormwater management and erosion control. "All these items are thought through. They are in the code book," Hammers said. John Bender, representing the Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee, also spoke in favor of the project during public comments.
Two people spoke against the ordinance. Patrick Shannon, owner of the trailer park, said this proposal was better than the cement factory that was proposed for this site years ago, but he could not find any other examples of body shops right next to residential areas in the rest of El Paso County, and he thought a chain-link fence would look cheap. Peggy Morris was concerned about the environmental impacts.
Trustee Coopman said that the intent of Title 17 of the Monument Municipal Code, "Zoning," is to promote the health, safety, convenience, aesthetics, environmental quality, and general welfare of present and future inhabitants of the town. He said the intent of PD zoning is to lessen the burden of traffic on streets, conserve the value of land, and consider Monument’s comprehensive plan, and compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods. (See https://library.municode.com/co/monument/codes/code_of_ordinances, and for the 2017 Comprehensive Plan see www.townofmonument.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/681)
Trustee Dennis Murphy said he realized the legal process had been followed, but he wanted to make sure people and their property values were protected and supported and that the public was able to have time to give feedback.
Instead of installing chain-link fencing with opaque slats for screening, Trustee Kelly Elliott suggested that staff work with the applicant on a more aesthetically pleasing fence material. The ordinance was approved 5-1 with that condition. Coopman voted no.
Pilot Travel Center approved
The rezoning, Final Plat, and Final PD Site Plan for a Pilot Travel Center was approved by a 4-2 vote after a long discussion and series of public comments. Trustees Jeff Bornstein and Coopman voted no. Coopman did not think it was in substantial compliance with the 2017 Comprehensive Plan.
The Planning Commission approved this ordinance on Aug. 9 by a vote of 6-0-1. Commissioner David Gwisdalla abstained, saying he could not vote since he had discussed the project in-depth with the applicant and made several suggestions. See www.ocn.me/v17n9.htm#mpc.
This lot has been zoned for this specific type of development since 1989, but the Planned Industrial Development (PID) zoning needed to be updated to PD, Jones said. The business will include a restaurant, fast food drive-through , convenience store, gas station, auto and truck fuel pumps and parking, and a truck scale on an 11-acre site southwest of I-25 at the intersection with West Baptist Road.
Note: The site is also part of Forest Lakes Metropolitan District/Pinon Pines Metropolitan District #3 (PPMD #3), which will provide water and wastewater service. See www.ocn.me/v17n6.htm#flmd about the public infrastructure fee which would be applied to every retail transaction, excluding diesel gasoline. This would be in addition to the 3 percent sales tax that the Town of Monument already adds to retail transactions.
Ross Shaver, Project Manager for Pilot Travel Centers, made comments including:
• We hire local subcontractors for landscape and other maintenance.
• An immense amount of landscaping will be done.
• We estimate $2.7 million in annual tax revenue, $155,000 which would go to Monument.
• About 77 new local jobs will be created, half of which will be full time.
• We think our competition will cause Diamond Shamrock to upgrade its service.
• We have met with leaders of the town throughout this year.
• A pedestrian crossing will be built across Baptist Road.
• We are building $750,000 in infrastructure and will dedicate it to the town.
• Due to topography, the 60-foot Pilot sign will be similar in height to the Shamrock Station sign.
Shaver said the business would serve an estimated 1 million customers a year, 80 percent of which are regular car drivers. On average, this would mean 300 trucks or 1,500 total vehicles per day. He said the county traffic engineer said that area is Level A, and the only part they are worried about is by 2040, the roundabout at Woodcarver Road and Old Denver Road may need to have an extra lane added. The Colorado Department of Transportation just rebuilt this interchange, so re-striping would be needed to create a westbound left turn on Baptist Road south to the new Terrazzo Drive, Jones said.
Several trustees and residents asked questions about crime. Shaver said crime happens in all industries and that Monument is not a rough community. "We will do what it takes (against crime) because we don’t want to go out of business after making this big investment," he said. Police Chief Jake Shirk said the Diamond Shamrock truck stop has had four total criminal reports in the last 18 months, and reports of some suspicious incidents that did not result in observed criminal activity.
During public comments, seven people spoke against the project citing concerns with quality of life, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, traffic, lack of opportunity for public input, drug trafficking from Mexico, vagrants, safety concerns about children, the height of the sign, light pollution, and tree maintenance once they are planted. The overall sentiment was, what do we want Monument to grow into, a truck-stop town or a retail and professional town?
One person spoke in favor, saying extra lanes would be put in for traffic, residents seem prejudiced against truck drivers, and the revenue could help the town.
Trustee Kelly Elliott said if builders meet the zoning requirement, the board cannot pick and choose what kind of business or development builds. She added that she had not heard any comments from Jones on ways this project did not legally meet the 2017 Comprehensive Plan, which calls this a mixed-use and industrial area.
Murphy said, "I don’t like thinking there is a gun to my head having to vote a particular way because it seem to fit with the Comprehensive Plan and the zoning ordinance…. I would just like more dialogue."
Town Attorney Alicia Corley said the town gave proper notice and procedures for the planning commission and the board hearing that night. "We did everything legally required to do."
Fireworks sales now illegal
The trustees also voted 4-2 to make it illegal to sell fireworks within the town boundary. Town ordinances already made it illegal to use any fireworks that leaves the ground or "booms" within the town. Wilson and Elliott voted no.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance
Melissa Evans-Bagnall, who volunteers as president of board of directors for the Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance (TLSA), explained the goals and needs of this unique local senior center which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It is housed in the modular building on the campus of Lewis-Palmer High School and is the only senior center between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock.
TLSA provides exercise classes, social groups (women’s tea, card groups, bingo), educational workshops, crafts, music, a free meeting location for senior-oriented presentations, and day trips for those who may not be able to join the country clubs, YMCA, or assisted-living excursions. The free Senior Beat newspaper lists all the details; call 464-6873.
"The list of offerings goes on, and the demand is growing… the senior population can use our facilities for free," Evans-Bagnall said. However, annual revenues are dependent on variable donations. TLSA volunteers also run a thrift store at 755 Hwy. 105, and all proceeds go toward TLSA’s $68,000 annual expenses, she said.
Goals for Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance include:
• Serve a lot more seniors, in more ways, in a nicer facility.
• To have a permanent building that is reliably funded, staffed and supported by our local government.
• Provide transportation for shut-ins to the facility.
At 10:11 p.m. the board went into executive session for legal advice on the Forest View Estates lawsuit. Town Clerk Laura Hogan said no announcements or votes were made when the open session resumed.
Thank you to Monument resident Cheri Hysell for this headline. Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
The Sept. 9 Monument Planning Commission meeting began with a special presentation from the Lewis-Palmer School District (LPSD) and then segued into discussion and approval of a proposed sketch plan amendment to the Monument Ridge Planned Development Site Plan, discussion and denial of a site plan amendment for Les Schwab Tire Center, and adjustments to the Landscaping Ordinance.
Approximately 19 people attended, and Commissioners David Gwisdalla and Kenneth Kimple were absent. Chairman Ed Delaney was also absent, so Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick led the commission.
Swelling population affects school district
Representatives from LPSD, Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman, and Matt Dunston, member of Charter School Board of Education and D-38 Long-Term Facilities Planning Committee, addressed the planning commission in an effort to establish a lasting relationship so the Town of Monument understands the school district’s needs. The primary concern of the presentation was to make it clear that the district’s student population increases each year the equivalent of up to a third of an elementary school, and elementary and middle-school classrooms are filling up quickly.
A committee from across the district recently gathered, comprising mostly parents and retired teachers, to review area population growth data. After developing potential scenarios and ranking them in terms of effectiveness and value to the community, the committee concluded that the school district should request that two new elementary schools be built on either side of I-25.
The committee recommended that the existing Bear Creek Elementary School be changed back into (Creekside) middle school again because it is less expensive per pupil to build elementary schools than middle schools. Zoning changes in Monument have allowed more houses to be built than the district originally planned for, the school district representatives said, and there is no more room for new classrooms in the existing elementary and middle schools.
LPSD is currently having similar conversations with the El Paso County government, but it looks like the next two elementary schools should be built in Monument, Wangeman said.
Other topics discussed included the question of whether to put sixth-graders in elementary or middle school, and how high school education is changing as students are provided with different options to modify their education. See related LPSD article on page 7.
Monument Ridge plan approved
Planner Jennifer Jones said Challenger Homes has proposed amendments to the sketch plan for a 9.88-acre vacant lot in the Monument Ridge development across Baptist Road from the King Soopers, east of Fairfield Inn. The proposal was to designate the density of the proposed multifamily housing development to allow 20 to 24 dwelling units per acre. There will be four access points to the development, and it would likely be comparable in height to the nearby Fairfield Inn, but this would come before the board for approval first. According to a recent traffic study, the amount of traffic generated in this area by multifamily housing units will be less than what a commercial development would have generated in the same spot.
Jones said Triview Metropolitan district had agreed to provide a water will-serve letter when the applicant pays water in-lieu-of fees, which will be used to purchase more water from Triview because the land does not have enough water rights on its own.
During the public hearing, resident Debra Grandia noted concerns about high density, traffic, and storm drainage damage problems.
Commissioner Michelle Glover also discussed how the recent community study showed that most Monument residents polled were opposed to building apartment complexes. Commissioner Melanie Strop registered the opinion that such increased population density goes against the town comprehensive plan, which designates this site as commercial. (The comprehensive plan does not have a category for high-density multifamily residential.)
This proposed sketch plan amendment passed 3-2 at the Monument Planning Commission, with commissioners voting to recommend approval to the board of trustees. Strop and Glover voted against the plan.
If the proposal moves forward at the board of trustees level, the applicant will propose a final Planned Development site plan with more specific details.
Les Schwab Tire Center plan denied
Jones said the proposed Les Schwab Tire Center would be located north of the existing Qdoba, across Jackson Creek Parkway from Staples. The potential site plan amendment raised before the Planning Commission on Sept. 14 would increase the tire center’s size, changing it from one store in a multi-tenant building to the sole institution in the 10,000-square-foot structure. The discussion at this meeting was related only to architecture, as the development of the Les Schwab Tire Center by Jackson Creek Parkway was approved in 2015. Les Schwab will no longer be building the shop that had been approved on Baptist Road due to a drainage issue. (See http://www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#mpc0812, www.ocn.me/v15n12.htm#mpc-1112)
The goal of this Les Schwab Tire Center will be to function as a tire store only, intended just for shopping and not auto repair. A showroom lined with glass windows would face Jackson Creek Parkway. The nearest comparable store to the north is in Castle Rock. The planning staff recommended conditions for approval of the modified site plan, including the request that Les Schwab Tire Center move the tire storage area inside the building instead of situating it by the dumpsters.
During the public hearing, citizens Dee Rademacher and Kathryn Johnson noted concerns about the trajectory of development in Monument. Rademacher wondered whether there could be a stricter selection process for businesses so that the area’s potential could be more fully realized. She suggested that Monument might become known for car shops, changing the reputation and appearance of the town in a way she’s seen happen to other communities. Johnson, too, was disappointed that the "small-town feel" a lot of people pay a good deal of money for might be impeded by the direction of business development.
Principal Planner Larry Manning said that if a retail business is listed as a permitted use in the zoning, "Then we cannot differentiate between one retail business and another."
In the end, Commissioner John Dick motioned to approve the application with conditions, but the motion failed due to lack of a second. Strop then moved to deny the application, and this motion passed 3-2, with Dick and Fitzpatrick voting against. The proposed amendment will still move on to the board of trustees, with the understanding that the planning commission denied the site plan amendment application.
Landscape ordinance revised
The highlights of the planning department’s landscape ordinance revisions include adding a section where staff can approve projects that prove they’re more closely aligned to the new ordinances on an administrative level, as well as the condition that applicants must have eight plants, including shrubs and trees, per 100 square feet that is maintainable and aesthetically pleasing.
Many similar-sized communities require only four plants per 100 square feet. One tree is now required per 1,200 square feet as well. If a business maintains more trees than what’s required, they can be compensated by not needing to have as many other plants. Manning said he believes the combination of plants matters more than the number when creating landscaping designs that look nice and last well.
Glover expressed interest in hearing what the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District has to say about whether the landscape ordinances are appropriately "fire safe."
On the subject of penalties, the new goal is that if an institution doesn’t conduct promised landscaping maintenance the town will have the work done and then bill them.
The planning commission was encouraged to feed comments to Manning, going forward, as this goes before the board.
The next Monument Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. For information and to check the October meeting agenda, call 884-8017 or check https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
Editors Note: Two of these decisions were not upheld at the Oct. 2 Monument Board of Trustees meeting.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Monument Board of Trustees heard public comments begging the town to put professional planning staff behind vital land-use decisions to maintain the small-town identity that so many residents and the 2017 Comprehensive Plan support. Before the Sept. 18 meeting, Town Manager Chris Lowe presented a summary of proposed water capital improvement plan projects that town staff recommended. The trustees also considered and then postponed a request from Village Center Metropolitan District to amend its service plan.
Mayor Jeff Kaiser was excused.
Public demands more restrictions on types of growth
During public comments, Allison Catalano of Grow Smart Monument got a round of applause from the audience after she asked the trustees if Monument had any restrictions on types of stores moving into the town. She said at the Sept. 13 Monument Planning Commission (MPC) meeting, "a multi retail spot was changed to a single retail spot," which would allow yet another tire store to move in, this one right next to a residential area. Note: in fact, the MPC denied this request, but it will still move on to the board of trustees. See related MPC article on page 19.
"Do we have any kind of restrictions that would (legally) allow us to stop an adult retail store from moving in next to the library?" Catalano asked. "Or a tattoo parlor or a pawn shop wanting to move in next to In the Moo? I have nothing against those businesses, but towns can make choices about what they want in their communities… It is time for paid professionals to take over this role." She also implored the town to work with haste to combine "crazy, disjointed, and overlapping districts into one so that growth can be planned in a cohesive manner… We are weak when we are divided."
Six other speakers echoed Catalano’s remarks, adding comments about missing sidewalks, the need for diversification of amenities and stores, appropriate comingling of land uses, the need for more schools, and weeds in medians.
Remington Hill resident Kathryn Johnson said she participated in the 2017 Comprehensive Plan focus groups but now felt it was a waste of time, because, "no one told me that the small-town atmosphere only meant downtown. East of the highway, we are being treated like gutter wash. I paid three times the cost of my prior home in Colorado Springs to avoid having that in my backyard, but ‘Autopalooza’ is what I am living in."
Note: The town controls land use planning and decision-making, including what new businesses can come in and where sidewalks are required to be built, for all parts of Monument including within Triview Metropolitan District, where about two-thirds of the town’s resident live. Principal Planner Larry Manning and Planner Jennifer Jones deal with applicants and prepare staff reports for consideration when needed by the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees. Meanwhile, Triview is responsible for landscape, streets, park maintenance, and water and sanitation services within its district.
Neither Manning nor Jones attended the Sept. 18 meeting.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education is responsible for school building. See related LSPD article on page 7 including information on its long-term planning.
Water capital improvement plan presentation
Lowe presented a summary of the 2018 Water Capital Improvements Plan for key components of Monument’s potable water service area, which is entirely on the west side of I-25. (Triview Metropolitan District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District also supply potable water to some town residents on the east side of the highway.) His comments included:
• Management of return flows is not a luxury; it is a necessity to take advantage of water we already own that flows down the creek now without being recovered, treated, and reused. At least three options are under consideration by the town.
• Regionalization is not a choice; it is survival. Monument must take the lead in regionalization and take advantage of economies of scale regarding storage and transportation of renewable water, but this board must give us direction to do this. It is time for us as to tell other entities that the train is leaving the station. They need a deadline.
• Renewable water sources will require buying renewable water rights, finding ways to transport the water uphill 30 miles or more, and developing a reservoir for storing that water here.
See related NEPCO article on page 22 mentioning delays in the purchase of Home Place Ranch by Challenger Homes, delaying negotiations on a possible reservoir site. Lowe said Challenger Homes has already done some design work with the town’s planning department.
Lowe explained that the staff agreed that finding a connection with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU)to bring renewable water to Monument was not what they wanted to pursue due to the very high known costs, the series of likely additional costs, delayed timelines, and lack of control that connecting with CSU as a water supply would include. (See https://prezi.com/view/kgHnwYKVVAUjvQ7cIbfM/ for the complete presentation including cost estimates for the next five years totaling tens of millions of dollars. For background, see www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#mbot, www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#mbot0619, www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#mbot)
Village Center Metro District decision postponed to Oct. 2
Lowe presented a resolution approving an amendment to the service plan for the Village Center Metropolitan District (VCMD), which is within the town. VCMD has filed a petition to amend its service plan to increase its mill levy from 35 to 50 mills because the district is not producing enough revenue to make its full debt service payment and cannot fund an operations reserve account for street, storm sewer, and landscaping major repair.
The district also requested that the town take over its snow removal, maintenance, and repair of public streets. For background, see www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#mbot.
Lowe said if the town takes on those responsibilities, it would be paid for by property and sales taxes. Engineering Assistant Tom Martinez had estimated roughly $620,000 over the next five years for street repairs including resurfacing. Public Works Superintendent Ron Rathburn also submitted a wide range of estimates for snowplowing varying intensities of snowstorms. These figures did not match the ones presented by VCMD, and the consensus was that firm cost estimates were needed for the discussion to continue.
After many questions and discussion, the trustees voted unanimously to postpone their vote on the two-part resolution to the Oct. 2 meeting.
The meeting went into executive session at 7:59 p.m. to consult with the town attorney about the town manager’s contract. Town Clerk Laura Hogan said no votes or announcements were made afterward.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Oct. 2, the Monument Board of Trustees made two land-use decisions that went against what the planning commission had recommended concerning the Les Schwab Tire Center site plan amendment and the Monument Ridge sketch plan that would determine its designated use. They approved a new landscaping ordinance, heard about multiple communication options from the town, and left Village Center Metropolitan District’s (VCMD) service plan unchanged.
Trustee Kelly Elliott was excused.
Monument Ridge high-density sketch plan denied
Planner Jennifer Jones presented an amendment to the Monument Ridge Planned Development (PD) Sketch Plan regarding 10 acres east of the Fairfield Inn, southeast of Struthers Road and Baptist Road, and immediately north of a neighborhood of residential homes on five-acre lots in unincorporated El Paso County.
Jones said in 2005, the site in question was designated for multifamily residential with density of 10 to 12 dwelling units per acre (DU/acre). Then in the 2010 PD site plan approval changed it to a commercial designated use. The applicant, Challenger Homes, is requesting the designated use be amended from Community Commercial to multifamily residential with a density of 20 to 24 (DU/acre).
She clarified that for land that is zoned PD, a PD sketch plan is what assigns the designated use. In the future, the applicant would come back before the board with a Final PD Site Plan application that would deal with specifics on a proposed project, but that would not be the time to do a further review of land use or density.
Jones’ comments included:
• Past traffic studies predicted that multifamily use would generate significantly less traffic than commercial use would.
• Only 4 percent of the town’s developed residential acreage is multifamily.
• The Monument Planning Commission (MPC) approved the request by a 3-2 vote. (See related MPC article on page 19.)
• The only other development in Monument close to this proposed density might be The Vistas apartments at about 19 DU/acre.
During public comments, no one spoke either for or against this item.
Trustee Greg Coopman said people overwhelmingly said in surveys on the comprehensive plan that they did not want to see high-density housing in Monument.
Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson said that if residents really wanted the best and brightest young teachers to move into the area and teach in this exceptional school district, they need more affordable housing options.
The application failed by a tied 3-3 vote. Trustees Dennis Murphy, Coopman, and Jeff Bornstein voted no.
Les Schwab Tire Center amendment approved
In December 2015, the board of trustees approved the site plan for a Qdoba restaurant and a 9,600-square-foot "inline retail establishment" on the northeast corner of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. See www.ocn.me/v16n1.htm#mbot1210. Jones said on Oct. 2 that the proposed Les Schwab Tire Center is a use by right in the Planned Mix Use (PMD) zone, and that the specific use of the site was not up for debate. The reason for the amendment application was the significant changes to the site plan due to the proposed building size of 10,000 square feet and revisions to the architecture.
Jones said there was nothing in the 2015 site plan approval that required "multi tenants." However, on Sept. 13, the Monument Planning Commission had denied the PD site plan amendment by 3-2 vote, citing concerns about it changing to a single tenant. Murphy, Bornstein, and Coopman asked questions about the decision-making criteria and how the planning commissioners were trained in the quasi-judicial land-use decision making process. Answering a question from Mayor Jeff Kaiser, Town Attorney Alicia Corley said there were some concerns that the planning commission motion was not based on appropriate approval criteria in the town code.
No members of the public spoke either for or against this amendment.
The trustees voted 5-1 to approve the amendment with the conditions that the tire storage area be moved inside the building and that they meet town landscaping criteria (which is currently being revised) that is in place when they make the site plan application. Murphy voted no.
Later in the meeting, the trustees asked for a joint training workshop with the planning commissioners about "Planning 101" and how they could legally make smart-growth planning decisions. Lowe said he would develop a draft curriculum for review.
Landscaping code updated
Principal Planner Larry Manning presented an ordinance repealing and replacing Chapter 17.52 of the Monument Municipal Code regarding landscaping plans that would be more flexible than the current ordinance. The ordinance was approved unanimously. See https://library.municode.com/co/monument/codes/code_of_ordinances.
Village Center service plan unchanged
After a brief executive session for the trustees to confer with Corley, Town Manager Chris Lowe said on Sept. 18, Village Center Metro District (VCMD) had a public hearing requesting a material modification to its service plan, and the discussion was continued to Oct. 2. VCMD is asking for the ability to increase its mill levy and to transfer maintenance of its streets to the town. See related Sept. 18 Monument BOT article on page 21 and www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#mbot.
VCMD representative Forrest Hindley asked to speak, but Corley said the public hearing on the item was closed at the Sept. 18 meeting. No trustee made a motion on VCMD’s requested modification.
VCMD representative Dustin Sparks said he also thought he would get to speak tonight, and then he asked the board about steps going forward to help VCMD with its financial situation. He believed that the $500,000 per year cost estimates done by town staff was higher than actual yearly maintenance would cost. He also said he felt the town had some responsibility in the situation getting to where it was now.
John Howe showed photographs of the machinery stored outside and overall disrepair and grungy feeling of the town’s public works facility, asking the trustees to get the new public works building in the 2018 budget.
More ways of communicating with people
Robert Bishop, deputy town clerk, outlined methods of communication that the town is making available to the public in addition to required posting locations. They include:
• Updated town website http://townofmonument.org that is easier to navigate.
• Public meeting audio and minutes https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com
• Twitter and Facebook
• Live video streaming of board meetings
• To receive text alerts including street closures, snow delays, and board packet links, text "Monument" to 41411.
Bishop asked that people who use the live streaming or town website and have comments could write to him at email@example.com.
The meeting adjourned at 8:43 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 next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16. Note: The Nov. 6 board meeting has been rescheduled to Oct. 30. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information about live video streaming of meetings. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Board of Trustees or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees. To see whether or not you live within the boundaries of the Town of Monument, see https://arcg.is/0TTjib.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
At its Sept. 14 meeting the Palmer Lake Town Council approved a special event permit for the Palmer Lake .5K race, addressed two street vacations, granted a request to rezone and subdivide a property, and passed a moratorium on new construction. The council also heard a request from Mayor John Cressman to rezone a property he owns with former mayor Nikki McDonald.
Palmer Lake .5K race to raise funds for park improvements
Chris Cummins of Awake Palmer Lake asked the council to approve a special event permit for the Palmer Lake .5K race. Town Administrator Kathy Green-Sinnard told the council that all the money raised by the event goes to improve the recreation area at Palmer Lake, including projects that are part of the Great Outdoor Colorado grant.
Cummins said the race will begin at 10 a.m. on Oct. 8, and that doughnuts will be served at the midpoint of the .5K route.
Details about the race, and an online registration form, can be found on the Awake the Lake website, http://AwakePalmerLake.org.
The council voted unanimously to approve the event permit.
Two street vacations discussed
The council voted unanimously to approve the vacation of Clarence Street, at the request of John Kerr, on the condition that Kerr provide proof that Level 3 has no interest in the property. A vacation is an administrative action by the town council where a parcel that is owned by the town is given away to a private owner. (See www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#pltc and www.ocn.me/v17n4.htm#pltc)
The council also voted unanimously to table a request from Richard Willian to vacate a portion of Spring Street, pending the notification of neighbors about the vacation.
Property on Mystic Lane rezoned, subdivided
Green-Sinnard gave the council the background on request from David and Sandra Tenance to rezone their property at 0 Mystic Lane from commercial zoning designation to a residential designation. Green-Sinnard said in her opinion the original C1 zoning was a mistake.
The council voted unanimously to rezone the property to residential and to grant the other request to subdivide it into four lots.
Council moves forward with emergency moratorium on new land-use permits
Cressman told the council that many of the undeveloped lots in Palmer Lake have issues of steepness and poor drainage, and that the current permitting process needs to be changed to include more information about drainage, gradient, and dust control. Currently, the permitting process checks only setbacks, he said. Cressman requested a moratorium on new permits to allow town staff to improve the permitting process.
The council voted unanimously to put in place a 90-day moratorium on permits for new construction. Permits for remodels are not included in the moratorium.
Cressman requests zoning change
Cressman asked the council to approve a zoning change to a property that he owns with former mayor Nikki McDonald. The property is currently zoned for a single residential fourplex, and he asked that it be rezoned to permit four single-family homes instead.
The council voted unanimously to approve the change, with Cressman abstaining from the vote.
The two meetings for October will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 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 Jennifer Kaylor
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) featured county commissioners Darryl Glenn of District 1 and Stan VanderWerf of District 3 at its Sept. 9 meeting. Glenn, VanderWerf, and El Paso County Department of Public Works engineer Jennifer Irvine answered questions and received feedback about local growth, transportation projects, funding, and priorities. Matt Steiner, El Paso County deputy public information officer, also attended.
Ballot question promoted
A ballot question in November’s election gives El Paso County voters the opportunity to direct a one-time use of $14.5 million in excess funds to transportation and other infrastructure that has long been neglected due to budget cuts.
"If you’ve been here long enough you understand how difficult things were financially for us … the county had to make some significant cuts. … We’re now to the point where things are really rebounding," said Glenn.
Glenn and VanderWerf enthusiastically supported the measure to set aside $6 million toward county roads, county parks and trails, and matching funds for disaster recovery. Another $6 million would be invested with other funding entities to widen I-25. VanderWerf described a potential fiscal partnership with Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Association (PPRTA), Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Douglas County, and Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG). Despite I-25 being under state and federal jurisdiction, "the unfortunate reality for today is, if there’s not local money as part of the investment, it just isn’t going to happen," VanderWerf said. This partnership has the potential to leverage $80 million to $100 million, he estimated
The second part of the ballot, VanderWerf explained, does not increase taxes but asks voters to allow the county to reset the TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) restriction line. If the question passes, funds generated would primarily be used to support transportation infrastructure for the next several years.
Best practice highlighted
Irvine stated that El Paso County must now maintain more than 4,000 lane miles of roads in addition to other types of infrastructure. Under the guidance of the commissioners, the county initiated efforts to streamline fleet management processes and reduce expenses. Improvements include lease-to-own contracts for new fleet equipment, restructured work schedules to promote weekend fleet repairs, modernized communications equipment, and more effective and environmentally friendly ice/snow melt chemicals. VanderWerf reminded association representatives that their input is key in helping the county prioritize projects.
Associations apprised of local development
NEPCO Vice President Tom Vierzba summarized local construction activity with a focus on the Nexus Business Park, which is slated to occupy the southwest corner of I-25 and Baptist Road. Emphasizing NEPCO’s desire to maintain an open view of mountains west of I-25, Vierzba intimated that the park fits the contours of the land well and may even provide a sound barrier for its neighbors. Potential concerns appear in the plans for traffic and the competition it may present to other incoming businesses such as the Pilot Travel Center and the Forest Lakes Tech Center.
With much of the area’s open space being developed, Vierzba commented on recent attempts by NEPCO representatives as well as local, regional, and national open-space representatives to retain an open parcel in Home Place Ranch. Having made significant progress with Challenger Homes, negotiations reverted to square one when Green Brick Partners recently purchased 49.9 percent of Challenger Homes.
On a final note, Vierzba mentioned that the El Paso County Highway Advisory Commission (HAC) District 3 seat and a District 1 at-large position are currently open. HAC meetings, which are open to the public, provide citizens a vehicle for sharing concerns, providing input, and receiving information. HAC meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at 9 a.m. at 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs. See the El Paso County website for more information: http://bcc.elpasoco.com/VolunteerBoards/Pages/HighwayAdvisoryCommission.aspx
Business items addressed
NEPCO seeks nominations for four open director positions. Individuals who are currently active members of NEPCO may self-nominate. Elections will occur at the Nov. 18 meeting. NEPCO membership has reached 40 member associations that represent 8,651 homes and lots, seven business members, and five honorary members.
Above: District 1 County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and District 3 County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf address members of the Northern El Paso Coalition of Community Associations. Glenn and VanderWerf encouraged association representatives to communicate questions, concerns, and priorities through the county’s Highway Advisory Commission and to get involved with local and state transportation authorities. The commissioners promoted the TABOR ballot question that asks voters to approve a one-time use of excess funds for transportation improvements, not just in El Paso County, but along the I-25 corridor. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor
The next NEPCO meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to noon, at Monument Town Hall conference room, located at 645 Beacon Lite Rd, off Hwy 105.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Aug. 23 and Sept. 27 to approve a new business application form, discuss banners, and update the covenant fine schedule.
New business application form
Noting that Woodmoor allows home-based businesses, the board unanimously approved a new business application form for short-term rentals. Short-term rentals are defined as rentals of 30 days or less.
Although they recognize community concerns, the board believes that a legal review of the covenants, rules and regulations, and court opinions do not support prohibiting short-term rentals.
After receiving feedback from current short-term rental owners and the community, a committee was formed to revise the business application to provide better protection for both owners and other residents. Business applications for short-term rentals as well as other businesses are reviewed by the Architectural Control Committee, which will look at the availability of off-street parking, density, and previous covenant violations.
WIA banners approved
Public safety director Brad Gleason requested board approval on the design of new banners alerting residents of rules banning fireworks, campfires, and open burning along with associated fine information. These signs would be hung in WIA sign holders before the Fourth of July, around New Year’s, and any other red-flag warning days. Board discussion included additional ideas for banners regarding the 25 mph speed limit and the annual meeting.
Updated Covenant Fines
Vice president Brian Bush noted that the covenant fines schedule has been updated for the first time in 17 years. Most of the fines have been doubled, and the board retains some discretion over fines for third offenses. Bush noted that the board would prefer resident compliance over fine collection, which would be used as a last resort. In the service of transparency, the updated covenant fines will be available on the website shortly.
Board report highlights
• The board unanimously approved a $50,000 concept plan to build a trail system in the Fairplay median between Higby and Highway 105 where available upon county approval. The project will include drainage work and safety improvements for walkers and joggers.
• The board approved, as an exception, residents placing temporary small signs to alert drivers about children playing. Signs must be taken in when children are no longer playing outside.
• The board approved a request to purchase weather-resistant reflective jackets for the Woodmoor Public Safety officers for approximately $1,000.
• Three board positions will be open next year. The nomination forms, which are due on Nov. 15, are available in the WIA offices at the Barn or on the website.
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 be Oct. 25. The WIA calendar can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
September started off warm and dry, then ended wet and cool. Like the previous two Septembers, almost no accumulating rainfall fell through the first three weeks of the month. However, a slow-moving storm system brought several rounds of rain and cool temperatures during the last week of the month. Overall, the month was warmer and wetter than normal.
The first four days of the months were warm, with record highs widespread on the 3rd. Highs reached the low to mid 80s on the 1st and 2nd, then upper 80s to low 90s on the 3rd. The temperatures on the 3rd not only set daily record highs, but in some cases set new September monthly records. Cooler air moved in briefly on the 5th, knocking highs down 20-25 degrees to the mid-60s, then warm air moved back in. Highs were above average from the 7th through the 15th, with 80s common almost every afternoon. A couple of areas did see some brief rain showers and thunderstorms. However, the very dry lower levels of the atmosphere meant no significant accumulations occurred.
The dry, warm weather that was controlling Colorado’s weather during early to mid-September also effected much of the northwestern United States and southern Canada. Several wildfires were burning in the region, resulting in a constant smoke haze across the region from the 4th through the 9th. An unusually long stretch of smoky conditions for us, as no storm came through to clear things out.
The strong ridge of high pressure that had been providing the warm and dry conditions through the first two weeks of the month finally began to weaken around Sept. 16. Initially, this meant fluctuating temperatures, but still dry conditions. Highs ranged from the upper 60s to the low 80s from the 16th through the 22nd. During this period, an area of low pressure slowly developed over the Southwest. This storm was cut off from the main flow and therefore meandered through the region over the next week or so. This sent several rounds of showers and thunderstorms into the region. This also changed the wind direction and allowed upslope conditions to dominate. These factors resulted in wet and cool conditions from the 23rd through the 30th.
The change was abrupt, with heavy rain during the late afternoon through early evening on the 23rd. Flash flooding resulted in many areas when 1-2 inches of rainfall fell in a short time. This was quite a shock after all the dry, warm weather. Temperatures were stuck in the upper 40s to upper 50s in the next week. Each day saw areas of fog, drizzle, and rain showers at times. During the period most of us accumulated more than 2 inches of much-needed moisture. At the same time, the wet and cool conditions meant snow in many of our higher mountain locations, another signal that winter isn’t too far away.
A look ahead
October can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region with snowy conditions often experienced by the end of the month. Most years, we seem to get a good snowfall around Halloween, and after a warm and dry September, we could be in for a good storm this year. Snow can be heavy at times during any part of October as when more than 20 inches of snow fell Oct. 9-10, 2005, and 2006 saw more than 24 inches of snow fall in less than 24 hours on Oct. 26. And for those of you who were around during October 1997, you won’t forget the nearly 4 feet that shut everything down for several days. Of course, the weather can also be very dry and mild, so enjoy those sunny days when you can.
September 2017 weather statistics
Average High 73.2° (+1.5)
100-year return frequency value max 7.5° min 63.5°
Average Low 44.2° (+3.2)
100-year return frequency value max 46.7° min 36.1°
Monthly Precipitation 2.07" (+0.27")
100-year return frequency value max 4.34" min 0.40"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" (-0.5")
Highest Temperature 90° on the 3rd
Lowest Temperature 37° on the 6th, 20th, 30th
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (-0.5", 100% below normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 7.71" (-0.46", 5% below normal)
(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 199 (-50)
Cooling Degree Days 10 (+4)
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.
Why does Wescott Fire District seek a tax increase?
It never fails, another elected/appointed board of directors mismanaging our tax dollars. Yes, our Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, will see their tax revenue permanently reduced 66 percent in 2018/2019 when the city completes annexation of 70 percent of Wescott’s current coverage and tax revenue base. Residents residing in the what remains of Wescott will be asked in a November 2017 ballot measure to approve a mill levy tax increase from 7 to 21 mills (200 percent), to keep the exact same level of service, equipment, and manpower, but for 30 percent of the coverage area.
"All or nothing," the district says. Pay up or lose fire protection and emergency medical service (EMS). THIS IS NOT TRUE! A no vote will not end EMS because AMR provides EMS and pays Wescott to provide an EMT driver. Our tax dollars DO NOT fund EMS.
Wescott Board of Directors claims they could not take actions until they knew the "final" date. Why not start two years ago when Colorado Springs Fire Station no. 22 on Voyager Parkway construction started? Not one action was taken to soften the impact. During annexation negotiations in the fall of 2016, the Wescott staff proposed and the board approved the 2017 budget without any savings initiatives.
The November 2017 ballot asks us voters to keep the poor fiscal management by approving this ridiculous tax increase.
Many individuals, with years of financial management or fire districts management experience spoke for us taxpayers, providing rational/factual analysis and alternatives that would/could minimize the tax increase and balanced the service. Yes, a tax increase is still needed, but the burden was shared and not a threat to our safety.
Become an educated voter, challenge the doom and gloom they threaten if the increase is not approved. Aren’t you tired of bailing out the governing we entrust with our tax dollars to?
Hawkins has what D-38 needs
Successful organizations know that part of being good means a commitment to getting better. To continually improve, the pursuit of excellence needs to be at the forefront of any great organization’s mission. That has been the goal of Lewis-Palmer School District for many years.
I believe Mrs. Sherri Hawkins, school board candidate for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, will provide the focus, drive, and commitment to continue making improvements in the future of our schools. I have known Mrs. Hawkins for 10 years, and as former superintendent of schools in D-38, I had the opportunity to work with her as she served on the school board in 2014. Mrs. Hawkins will strive to keep D-38 on the upward path so that the education for our children will be outstanding, our property values and quality of life in the Tri-Lakes Area will prosper, and our graduates will be successful members of society. Please visit Mrs. Hawkins’ website at sherri4lpsd38.com and view the qualifications that make her a great candidate for D-38 school board. Please vote in November, and when you go to the polls, be an informed voter.
I am proud of our school district’s heritage, our teachers, and administrators, who strive daily in the classrooms and schools to ensure excellence, and my opportunity as a former superintendent to be part of a community that supports our schools and students.
Vote for Hawkins and DeAngelis for school board
We have two D-38 School Board seats up for election. District 1, which is the Palmer Lake area, and District 3, the north Woodmoor/Sherwood Glen area. All registered voters within the D-38 boundaries vote for all board member candidates regardless of the director districts in which they live.
Sherri Hawkins is running for reelection in District 1. Sherri’s performance as board president this past year clearly merits her reelection. She is a rational leader who creates a respectful environment that allows all voices to be heard. She is fully committed to sustaining D-38’s academic excellence. Sherri deserves to retain her seat on the board.
We are fortunate Tom DeAngelis has stepped forward to replace John Magerko in District 3. Tom is a VP with Global Technology Resources, Inc.—a market leader in information technology solutions for business and government. Today’s D-38 educational environment is steeped in applied information technology—both as a useful, but costly educational resource, as well as an essential administrative tool. So D-38 and its taxpayers can profit in many ways from having Tom’s IT expertise.
Tom, incidentally, is truly joined to our area at the hip. He is a 2000 USAFA graduate; his wife, Karin, has a Ph.D. and a faculty position at the Academy; and their two kids are budding members of the D-38 student body. So we are indeed fortunate to be able to replace John Magerko’s quality with a candidate of equally high educational and professional credentials, and a family equally commitment to education.
Carefully weigh the alternative candidates by their credentials. I expect you will reach the same conclusion I have and vote for Sherri and Tom. `
D-38 establishment candidates predictably progressive
District 38 voters will elect two school board members this November. The teachers’ union and their supporters are gushing over their preferred candidates on social media: Board President Sherri Hawkins and Democrat Tom DeAngelis. Insisting school board elections are nonpartisan doesn’t hide the fact that these two candidates stand in grand opposition to grass-roots conservatives Chris Taylor and Tiffiney Upchurch on the issues.
DeAngelis’ website reveals a concerning assumption that children attend school to be raised, not educated. He plans to staff schools with mental health experts for "programs and access to properly trained professionals when our kids need a place to go for help" to create what he considers "a necessary supporting structure." This means taking money from teachers to hire a staff of de facto social workers. It’s the community center model approach to education, where government officials override parents’ authority over their own children.
Ignoring the well-known cognitive damage that digital overuse has on children, DeAngelis wants to "introduce additional use of technology, to "get [laptops, tablets] into our kids’ hands." This means less privacy and more data-mining. It will eventually relegate teachers to the role of "facilitators" as districts replace them with digitized instruction.
Moreover, hold on to your wallets. DeAngelis praises district officials for paying consultants $100,000 to predict population growth a full eight years out—to justify asking taxpayers for two new schools. His pledge to "maximize our taxpayer provided funding" means "tax hikes."
DeAngelis also pledges to "keep public education public," a common slogan for school choice opponents who falsely claim that charter schools are private schools. He joins Hawkins in her prejudice against Monument Academy.
Taylor and Upchurch will support real fiscal conservatism, the primacy of parents, school choice, and redirecting our budget to living, breathing teachers. For our kids and community.
Upchurch is a proven leader
I have known Tiffiney Upchurch since I took on my Board of Education role for the State of Colorado in 2014. She has actively demonstrated her dedication in Lewis-Palmer D-38 for almost nine years, holding several leadership roles, including the chairmanship of Lewis-Palmer Elementary School Advisory Committee and membership in the D-38 School Accountability and Advisory Committee. I highly recommend Tiffiney Upchurch for the position of school board for District 38.
Mrs. Upchurch has a record as a proven leader in overseeing budgets and large projects. She has always demonstrated a willingness to discuss differing ideas and strategies to meet goals. She understands her role as a representative of a larger body and will bring that to the board as a leader and advocate. This willingness to foster inclusive collaboration is essential for success within any organization and is especially important for a school district board. Tiffiney Upchurch is fiscally responsible, being quick to question undefined expenditures. Her focus on the rights of children as individual learners, rights of parents, respect for educators, and the desire to build trust with taxpayers will be an asset to D-38 in the coming years.
I am joining a number of distinguished members in our area that endorse Tiffiney Upchurch for the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board. These include: Kent Lambert, state senator, vice-chair Joint Budget Committee; Owen Hill, state senator, chair Senate Education Committee; Dan Nordberg, state representative; Peggy Littleton, El Paso County Commissioner, former State Board of Education Director; Stan VanderWerf, El Paso County Commissioner; Longinos Gonzalez, El Paso County Commissioner; Joe Woyte, El Paso County GOP Executive Committee, United States Air Force Academy Class of 1996.
Please consider voting for Tiffiney Upchurch in the upcoming D-38 election.
State Board of Education, Congressional District 5
Our picks: Chris and Tiff
If there is anything learned it’s friends, neighbors, and good people in your community can get caught up in the schemes and agendas of outsiders doing more harm than good. In recent years our friends and neighbors who run D-38 have become willing participants in the federal takeover of our schools. In the name of achieving a national system that has a "Common Core."
So it is with local leaders, many of whom consider themselves to be conservative, seem to have quietly watched as new textbooks, tests, surveys, and mental health professionals have poured into our schools. This is why we endorse both Tiffiney Upchurch and Chris Taylor to restore local control within our district.
Upchurch has the ability to unite others with differing views. She not only believes in collaboration but exemplifies it.
Tiffiney has 25 years’ experience involving various educational leadership roles including serving on several committees; PTO, DAAC, etc. The mother of a gifted/autistic child, she understands and can empathize with diverse individuals.
Taylor, as chief executive officer of P3 Data systems, he instilled guiding principles based on strong core values including unwavering integrity. The same attributes and character Chris will bring to the board allowing for equitable discussion among members and community to positively ignite innovative ideas. He brings expertise in technology deploying Lean Six Sigma initiatives.
Both candidates recognize the powerful role of parenting and being able to partner with educational experts to achieve the highest level of a quality education.
Not long ago many good people thought a methadone clinic centralized in Monument would be both dutiful and necessary to resolve some problems that state officials claimed we had while ignoring the problems a methadone clinic would bring. Restore local control!
Hawkins brings focus on children
I would encourage members of our community to support Sherrie Hawkins, who is running for a second term for our local LPSD school board. My professional experience as a former principal of Palmer Lake Elementary School, educator for over 30 years, and community member since 1978 leads me to believe that Sherrie Hawkins has what it takes to keep the tradition of excellence in our district alive and well. I have seen her attend many district-wide events and stand up for doing what is best for our students, parents, teachers, and community. Her main focus is on the success and support of our children. In these trying times, she is the person that we need because she just cares about kids, doesn’t have hidden agendas, and loves our community. In my opinion Sherri is the candidate that we need to cut through the politics and get on with doing what is right for our great district. Let’s support someone who keeps children first.
Keep D-38 on the right path when voting for school board
This fall there will be an election for the D-38 School Board. D-38 is an outstanding district, both academically and financially. It is incredibly important to elect members to the D-38 board who will keep D-38 on this path.
Conversely, while Monument Academy is academically successful, its finances are in bad shape. Refer to their most recent audit report: http://www.monumentacademy.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/MA-Audit-Report-06_30_17.pdf
See note 5 on page 25. In December 2014, they refinanced their building debt, increasing their total debt to more than $14 million on a building valued at $10 million. This debt runs until 2040, totaling more than 30 years of debt payments.
See page 6. Net position over time is an indicator of an institution’s financial position. The MA Net Position is currently $12.6 million in the red. Per note 6 (page 28), this indicator continues to worsen by $9 million over the next four years.
This is $21 million in debt in 2021.
It’s no wonder the MA leadership has come after money from D-38. Executive Director Don Griffin threatened to sue D-38 in 2016. Sonya Camarco, an MA Board treasurer and president for the past three years, announced her candidacy for the D-38 board, until the SEC alleged she stole $2.8 million from her investors.
Camarco has been replaced by Chris Taylor, a candidate with the same supporters and agenda.
Before you vote, ask each candidate what his/her position is on bailing Monument Academy out of their financial situation. Ask each candidate which D-38 schools they have supported the last few years. Remember that the MA Board is not publicly elected or accountable.
Elect board members who are not tied to a financially troubled charter school. Vote for Hawkins and DeAngelis for D-38 Board of Education. (See www.kktv.com/content/news/Colorado-Springs-woman-accused-of-misappropriating-more-than-850000-in-client-funds-448002293.html)
Taylor brings vision, expertise
We live in School District 38. Both of our daughters now have families and careers. They attended several K-12 schools for their first 18 years because we served in the U.S. Air Force for over 30 years with 18 moves. We saw good and not so good programs. If there was one common denominator, it was the quality of the school board. We have lived in D-38 for 14 years and have followed the successes and challenges of the school board. Our current understanding is that the challenges facing the district are resource-centric. Thus, it is our belief that the board needs directors that understand how to efficiently manage resources (budgets, overhead costs, capital improvement, etc.).
Members of our district recruited Chris Taylor for this role, and he did not hesitate in agreeing to run. Chris is our neighbor, his wife is a former teacher, and they have two children attending school in this district. As with many subdivisions, we have a homeowners association. We had serious issues, and Chris, as a seasoned certified public accountant, offered to become the association’s corporate treasurer. Chris conducted the research necessary to bring clarity to numerous property issues haunting our association. His research resolved lingering problems and led to tremendous efficiency in terms of financial obligations. Now, all current and future corporate funding obligations have been met while enabling annual dues to be reduced by 50 percent. Chris also guided us through capital improvements.
Chris will bring (a) a vision for an excellent education for our children, and (b) seasoned expertise for the efficient management of resources and capital improvements for the future. A vote for Chris Taylor is a vote for our children, quality teachers, and respect for the taxpayer.
Build upon the previous success of the school district
Conservative Leadership – The conservatism principle of accounting influences my perspective. Accountants should be fair and objective. I’ll bring that perspective to the Lewis-Palmer School District 38’s Board of Education ("Board") goal setting to deliver top-notch education for students and to manage district resources efficiently and effectively.
Top-Notch Education! Put Kids First – Board decisions must be focused for student achievement and growth. As the board establishes goals within its policy development practices such practices must consider the impact on student achievement.
Listen to Parents – The board must strive to reflect parental values in its policies. An ongoing engagement process can ensure a clear voice of parents is reflected in policy-level deliberations.
Support Great Teachers – Teachers are central to student achievement and growth. Our students deserve great teachers and leaders. The board should design policy that rewards its educators for ensuring that an effective teacher is in every classroom.
Accountable to You! Increase Transparency – Board meetings reflect mostly 5-0 votes, indicating unanimous decisions are commonplace. However, districts function better when the board arrives at a decision through a split vote. A healthy debate leads to better board decisions while informing community and staff that the board considered all information and viewpoints before reaching its conclusion.
Work Within the Budget – Scarcity of resources and the allocation of those scarce resources in achieving goals is a constant management dilemma. As a member of the board, I will bring my accounting, process management, and technology insights to bear in the policy development process.
Listen to the Community – My goal is to build upon previous successes of the LPSD 38. To do so requires a listening ear to the legislative community, the administrative community, the student community, the teacher community, the parent community, and the taxpayer community. It would be my honor to serve this community.
New Young Adult and Children’s Books
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all." — Jacqueline Kennedy
As the seasons change, it’s a wonderful time to settle some place comfy with a great book or read aloud to your young children. Here’s a selection of new books for children and young adults.
The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey
By Chris Colfer (Little, Brown and Company) $9.99
In this thrilling fifth book in the best-selling series, Alex and Conner realize they may be in possession of the greatest weapon of all: their own imaginations. The twins journey into Conner’s very own stories to gather an army of pirates, cyborgs, superheroes, and mummies as they band together for the ultimate fight against the Masked Man. Meanwhile, an even more dangerous plan is brewing—one that could change the fates of both the fairy-tale world and the Otherworld forever.
By Katherine Applegate (Feiwel & Friends), $16.99
Red is the neighborhood "wishtree." Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood. When a new family moves in, not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever. Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, Wishtree is Newbery Medalist and best-selling author Katherine Applegate at her very best.
Sarabella’s Thinking Cap
By Judy Schachner (Dial Books) $17.99
Sarabella is always thinking—conjuring, daydreaming, and creating new worlds from her imagination. There is so much going on in her head that it can barely be contained. But there are times when daydreaming is decidedly not a good thing—like when you’re supposed to be doing multiplication tables. Luckily, Sarabella has an understanding teacher, and with his encouragement she comes up with her own idea to show everyone who she is.
Baabwaa and Wooliam: A Tale of Literacy, Dental Hygiene, and Friendship
By David Elliott (Candlewick Press) $16.99
Baabwaa is a sheep who loves to knit. Wooliam is a sheep who loves to read. It sounds a bit boring, but they like it. Then, quite unexpectedly, a third sheep shows up. A funny-looking sheep who wears a tattered wool coat and has long, dreadfully decaying teeth. Wooliam, being well-read, recognizes their new acquaintance: the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. The wolf is so flattered to discover his literary reputation precedes him that he stops trying to eat Baabwaa and Wooliam. And a discovery by the sheep turns the encounter into an unexpected friendship.
By Mira Bartok (Candlewick Press) $21.99
In this extraordinary debut novel with its nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartok tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny in this high-adventure fantasy.
All Rights Reserved
By Gregory Scott Katsoulis (Harlequin Teen) $18.99
In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented, or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society.
All the Crooked Saints
By Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press) $18.99
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colo., is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars. At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future. They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
By Jessica Townsend (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) $17.99
This is the first book in a new series about Morrigan Crow, a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world, but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination. In order to join the Wundrous Society, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
All Pikes Peak Reads events continue in October
By Harriet Halbig
The All Pikes Peak Reads (APPR) program for 2017 with the theme of Cultures, Conflicts and Cuisines continues through October with author visits and related special programs.
Children’s and family programs
Come to the library from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 for Spooktacular, a magic show with master magician Mark Strivings. Dress the kids up and enjoy laughs, fun, magic, and mystery. Nothing too scary.
A special presentation on Celtic music for kids will be offered by Willson and McKee from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. The genealogy and science of their instruments will be explained along with stories, history of the kilt, humor, and participation.
Lego Build will meet from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct.21. We provide the Legos and you bring your creativity.
An intergenerational knitting group will meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 11 and 18. Practice materials are provided and basic instruction is available, but feel free to bring your own project and materials.
Inside/Out is a group partnering with the Pikes Peak Library District to provide a safe space for LGBTQ youths ages 13 to 22 years. You can find support, conversation, and fun every first and third Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the study room at the Monument Library.
Having trouble with math? AfterMath is a free tutoring program offered every Monday from 3:30 to 7 p.m. for all levels of math. Adult volunteers offer this service throughout the school year. No appointment is necessary. AfterMath will not be offered on days when the schools or library are closed.
An APPR program on "Trail Food" will be offered on Friday, Oct. 20 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. In keeping with the APPRP book, "Under a Painted Sky," you will learn to make trail food and quick meals to eat on the go. Registration required.
Learn to make your own spell book in anticipation of Halloween. All supplies will be provided on Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Registration is required.
Join us for an after-hours teen Halloween party on Oct. 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. We’ll be watching a Halloween-themed movie, learning how to do special-effects makeup, eating creepy foods, and doing other Halloween-themed crafts. Registration required.
See above description of intergenerational knitting.
Monument Library is introducing a new evening book group, the Monumental Bookworms, on Tuesday, Oct. 10 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. This month’s selection is "Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.
Enjoy an evening of Celtic music and stories from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. Willson and McKee, Celtic musicians, and touring folklorists. Bring history and culture alive. Rich stories and humor dance with hearth shadows take you a step back in times. No registration required.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Oct. 20 to discuss The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. All patrons are welcome to attend.
Are you interested in hand spinning? The library’s spinning group meets on Thursday, Oct. 26 from 1:30 to 3:45 p.m. in the community room.
Come to the library for an introductory program on Pranic healing on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. You will view a CBS 2 News video, engage in group energy exercises, see a Pranic healing demonstration, and offer a nondenominational prayer for planetary peace. No registration required.
In the display case during October will be Assemblages by Annie Dawid. On the walls will be gouache/acrylic creations by Dawn Horst.
Palmer Lake Library events
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month.
Story times for preschoolers are on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and Toddler Time for 1- and 2-year-olds is on Friday at 10:30 a.m.
This month’s special event is "Not So Scary Stories" from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26. Join us for some spooky and fun stories, suitable for ages 3 to 9. Costumes optional.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On Sept. 21, an audience of about 50 people enjoyed a firsthand glimpse into the historic significance and architectural beauty of some of the homes featured in the book, Historic Homes of Colorado Springs and Vicinity. The text for the book was written by Helen M. Anderson and illustrated with photographs by her son, Gordon Anderson, the program’s presenter. Mrs. Anderson began the book in 1983 at age 77 and completed it one month before she passed away at the age of 99, three months before her 100th birthday. Her son provided a biography of his mother for the audience, commenting that, sadly, she did not live to see her book in print. Anderson started his presentation with a clip of an interview of his mother by a local Colorado Springs TV station.
Anderson divided the discussion of the historic homes into two categories: The first was homes built by wealthy "East Coasters" who came to Colorado Springs for treatment of tuberculosis, and the second group included the "nouveau riche" whose successful mines, mills, timber, and banking business, and railroad entrepreneurs allowed them to build ostentatious homes in and near Colorado Springs. Each group favored a particular style of architecture based on their background and the time the homes were built.
At the end of the program, Gordon Anderson donated two large photographs from the book to the Society: the Reynolds Ranch House and Estemere. Both were most appreciated.
Gordon Anderson moved to Colorado Springs as a young boy. He graduated from Palmer High School in 1966 and in 1971 earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Colorado State University. He learned landscape photography as a seasonal park ranger/naturalist in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Employed for 12 years at the Air Force Academy, he founded the Academy’s Outdoor Adventure Program, served as staff photographer for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, and was stationed at Farish Memorial Recreation Area. Currently an active commercial photographer, his work has appeared in local, regional, and national publications, including the cover of the inaugural edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, Oct. 19, when The Palmer Lake Historical Society will present the program, "A Potpourri of Rarely-Seen Rich Luckin Videos," by multi-award winning documentary filmmaker Rich Luckin. Twelve of Rich’s films have been shown on PBS nationally, airing on more than 130 stations. This program exemplifies that variety is the spice of life. Selections range from a 1971 film chronicling Amtrak’s yearlong tour entitled Tour of the Turbo, to a 2008 GrandLuxe promotional short filmed in Montana, as well as GrandLuxe’s Copper Canyon Train. Palmer Lake Historical Society events and programs are held in the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; program begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to all. Visit www.palmerdividehistory.org for more information. ■
Caption: One of two photos donated to the historical society shows the Reynolds Ranch House.
By Janet Sellers
Ethnobiology is the scientific study of dynamic relationships among people, flora and fauna, and environments. As local gardeners, we become successful at gardening when we become skilled in the rich relationships between our human efforts and the biological world. In our local ponderosa forest environment, given that the human density is growing, the issues of ethnobiology become vital to learn and understand especially as our environment makes its adjustments with the changing seasons.
Are we in the last days of the gardening season? We may not know when that is, but we can leave our gardens in a good way that helps our environment. The migrating birds and other creatures benefit from our gardens enormously when we leave it natural in the fall. Our local wildlife thrives with what experts call the championing of "lazy gardening," and that helps us thrive. We can keep our habitat healthy just by letting things go, and it does not have to look messy—it just needs to contain what nature needs for the creatures and the important decay cycle that is vital to our environment and soil health, and for next years’ growth.
Here in Tri-Lakes, we have unpredictable weather as usual, but we can protect our land and homes in unique ways as taught by Cornell University. The natural, functional overwintering process has a huge impact on the health of our local forest habitat and on us. Since ancient times, our area has evolved to take care of itself optimally. On local and national levels, the National Science Foundation, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and its Habitat Network of international Yardmap volunteers (a citizen science project transforming landscapes) encourage us to take a pledge to be what they call a "messy gardener." Items on the list include: leaving leaves on the property, letting the grass grow tall and seed, building a brush pile with fallen branches instead of removing them, forgeting the chemicals, and delaying garden cleanup until springtime after several 50-degree days, allowing overwintering pollinators to move on.
Be a National Lazy Garden winner! To be eligible, submit a photo of your "Messy Garden 2017" to the Habitat Network (email@example.com). They’ll upload the image to Facebook for you. All photo submission names will be entered, and the winner will be chosen in January 2018.
Janet Sellers is an active ethnobiologist and prolific lazy gardener. She can be reached at JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
Arts month is an opportunity for communities and our nation to start creative conversations about the humanities in our busy lives. The arts diffuse and express feelings as a liberating recreation, so we simply feel better and act better with creative arts outlets. It helps to be reminded—and act on—what it means to be human and creative instead of only feeling work pressures and rushing from tech to tech. Our engagement with art gets an expressive conversation going. The essence of being human is akin to the essence of expression in the arts.
National Arts and Humanities Month, aka Arts Month, is the largest annual celebration of arts and the humanities in our nation. A month showcasing creative intent to reach out to all of the communities and engage us all with art and creativity, it raises public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives.
As humans, we have a need to express ourselves, and we can share it optimally in art, whether we make it or take it home from an artist’s studio or an art gallery. Arts Month is a nationwide celebration, and while many of our Tri-Lakes area events will just "pop up" spur of the moment on Facebook, the regional calendar on www.PeakRadar.com events page is "ARTpop 2017."
Join our arts venues, take a class, or just pull out the pencils and crayons with friends and relax!
October art events
• Bella Art and Frame Gallery: An ongoing exhibit of resident artists and special exhibits monthly. Bella Art and Frame Gallery, 183 Washington St., Monument.
• Bliss Studio and Gallery: Metalsmith artist Jodi Bliss offers her small to monumental metal fine art in the eponymous art gallery, and tours by appointment. For details, visit www.forgeyourbliss.com, 243 Washington St., Monument.
• Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts: The juried photo exhibits, Monochrome and Color Chrome, are ongoing through Oct. 29. The 2017 Member and Resident Artist Show call for entries deadline: Oct. 12, 2017, (still time to join as a member artist) details: www.trilakesarts.org.Opening reception is Friday, Nov. 3, 6-8 p.m. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, 80133.
• Local Pop-Up Holiday Shops: Pop ups with local artists for art, jewelry, and more at surprise venues for decor, gifts, and shopping. Weekly, possibly daily, updates are on Facebook, search Local Pop-Up Holiday Shops.
Janet Sellers is an award-winning artist, writer, and speaker. She teaches art and creative writing in the studio and on location. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sparky Shares Fire Safety Tips
Caption: Locals enjoy a day at the firehouse: Sparky welcomed pint-sized hugs at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District’s open house Saturday, Sept. 9. Area kids had the opportunity to shower affection on their favorite firehouse dog while sipping lemonade, munching hot dogs and snacks, and exploring the district’s fire trucks and equipment at Station 1 located at 18650 Highway 105. Parents learned about topics such as "Top Tips for a Safe Home," "Poisoning Prevention Tips," and "Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Tips." Firefighters provided courtesy car seat safety checks for their littlest visitors as well. The district also provided information regarding its mill levy proposal that will be included on the 2017 November ballot. Residents who wish to learn more about the proposal may request a "Frequently Asked Questions and Answers" packet from the district by calling 484-0911 or visiting their website at www.tlmfire.org. Caption and photo by Jennifer Kaylor. For additional fire district coverage see Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Sept. 19: Budget depends on mill levy vote and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Sept. 27: How mill levy outcome will affect 2018 budget.
Triview Metro listens
Caption: Greg and Laura Wall, residents of Promontory Point, asked questions of Marco Fiorito, a director for the Triview Metropolitan District board. Fiorito represented District Manager Valerie Remington at the Aug. 31 Coffee Break with Valerie Remington, an opportunity for district residents to pose questions, provide input, and receive feedback on topics pertaining to the district. Triview Metropolitan, a quasi-municipal corporation and political subdivision of the State of Colorado, provides water and wastewater services through fees, and provides services such as road maintenance, snow removal, landscaping, and signage through its share of Colorado taxes. The Walls, the only residents to attend the Coffee, voiced concerns about the lax landscape maintenance of a common area in their neighborhood. Fiorito explained that "eyebrows," the term used for the small, grassy areas in neighborhoods, demand substantial time, energy, and expense and the district is considering a variety of options to address maintenance issues. Coffee talk with the district manager was discontinued in September after Remington went on administrative leave Sept. 11. See www.colorado.gov/triviewmetro for announcements and meeting agendas. Caption and photo by Jennifer Kaylor
Sawyer Fredericks at TLCA
Caption: On Sept. 1, Sawyer Fredericks, season eight winner of The Voice in 2015, dazzled the audience at a sold-out show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). Fredericks, who considers himself a contemporary folk artist, says winning The Voice "opened me up to different musical genres that enabled me to improve my guitar playing and songwriting." Both were clearly on display that evening as he performed with his backup band as well as doing a number of songs solo. Regarding his songwriting technique he says, "I think of a story and put myself into that story to draw out the emotion for the song." The depth of his songwriting ability at the age of 18 captivated the audience throughout the evening. His musical development also led him to writing and producing his own songs including the recent release, Hide Your Ghost. Photo by David Futey.
John Howe bench dedicated
Caption: On a sunny, peaceful day, the Town of Monument staff formally presented a white marble bench that was installed in the center of town to honor former trustee and indefatigable volunteer John Howe. Town Manager Chris Lowe served as master of ceremonies noting Howe’s many hours spent for the Cemetery Committee while updating and correcting the records and locations of all those interred, briefing his progress to the Board of Trustees and Palmer Lake Historical Society, and helping organize memorable Memorial Day commemorative ceremonies that honor our veterans at this cemetery. Howe’s service to our community since 2010 also ranges from reading poetry at a Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Music-Poetry-Arts Café to serving dishes of ice cream at town ice cream socials, contributing to OCN, and serving on the Monument Sanitation District board. His ubiquitous partner in this work, Sharon Williams, also attended. Howe has also helped his Eagle Scout project partner Kent Matthews. Howe noted that the familiar Mark Twain misquote, "The report of my death is greatly exaggerated, meaning, as you can see, I am not beneath this bench." He thanked everyone who has helped him improve this "sacred place" where the first burial took place in 1860. "May this bench be a place for comfort and peace to those who come to Monument Cemetery," he said. "Thank you for this beautiful bench. It’s gorgeous." Of course John made the cookies to save someone else from having to. Photo by Jim Kendrick, retired colonel (USAF)
Films laud women’s contributions
Caption: The sisters of Benet Hill Monastery in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute hosted Shorts Night, a showing of five short films that were guaranteed to make viewers "smile and be awe-inspired." Ranging between five and 30 minutes, the films varied dramatically from one another but maintained the theme of having a woman at the helm of the creation process. The audience chuckled throughout Strudel Sisters: A Sweet Treat for the Soul, which portrays Hungarian sisters Ilona and Erzsébet who verbally joust with one another while masterfully creating their specialty confection. Pickle, a story about a couple who found it impossible to resist animal rescue opportunities, also produced laughter by depicting the couple’s creative endeavors to provide comfort and care. The final film, Mama Rwanda, focused on the lives of women who refused to be defeated by post-genocide Rwanda’s pain. Creative collaboration and determination bolstered their efforts to step beyond survival and into prosperity. Pictured above are (left to right) Yolanda Aragon, Isabel Aragon, and Emily Ulrich. Ulrich is a director of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute board. Caption and photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
Community engagement seminar
Caption: On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Lewis-Palmer School District hosted a half-day seminar at Lewis-Palmer High School led by Martín Carcasson, director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University. More than 40 people attended including district administrators and staff, parents, school board candidates, and representatives from the Town of Monument, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Tri-Lakes Cares, and the city of Castle Rock. A similar session had been held the day before for the school district principals, administrators and school board members. The seminar, titled "Tackling Wicked Problems: Getting Beyond Partisan Politics," addressed three key questions: What is the nature of problems facing our communities? What communication and processes help us address those problems? How can we build community capacity to support those processes? Additional information can be found on YouTube under "Martín Carcasson" and on the Facebook page, "Wicked Problems Mindset." Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Tim Watkins remembered
Caption: On Sept. 23, the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department led the mountain bike procession (inset above) to remember local cyclist Tim Watkins. More than 150 mountain bikers assembled at the parking area at the base of Raspberry Mountain and rode down through Red Rock Ranch to join those assembled at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, where over 300 people gathered for a memorial service (pictured above) held on the green. Many wore T-shirts with a picture of a mountain biker headed into the hills, with the admonishment, "Ride like Tim." Watkins was a longtime Palmer Lake resident and worked at several area bike shops, starting with Criterium in 1988. He cycled competitively on the road, track, and mountain bike. In 2000, he, Trina Lutwiniak, and Tom Loots opened Balanced Rock Bike and Ski on Beacon Lite Road in Monument. Over the years, he had enthused many new riders and helped them with their mechanical problems. He was very active in building and maintaining mountain bike trails, wrote several columns on riding local trails for Our Community News, and had been a major contributor to the Palmer Lake Yule Log celebration. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Watkins death as a homicide. Photos and information by Chris Pollard.
Caption: The Monu-Palooza event organized by Charlie Searle presented four bands: Skin and Bones, The Matt Bloom Band, The VooDoo Hawks, and (seen above) The Ashtonz. Concertgoers enjoyed the day at Limbach Park on Sept. 3. Photo by John Howe.
Funds benefit suicide prevention
Caption: Approximately $20,000 in proceeds from the June 17 Color Run 5K fundraiser were distributed to four high schools for suicide prevention programs on Sept. 7 at the Ascent Church. Shown here are representatives from local churches and two school districts that got together to touch students’ lives and find ways for all kids to have a voice. Pastor Scott Campbell said teen suicide has become a defining cultural issue in northern El Paso County. Student Minister Taylor Shade told the administrators, "The best defense is a good offense." A long list of local churches and businesses helped sponsor the 5K, and Discovery Canyon, Lewis-Palmer, Palmer Ridge, and The Classical Academy high schools each received $5,000. All four schools plan to use the funds for the Sources of Strength program, and the two District 38 high schools are also enlisting the help of the Value Up program. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Volunteers install smoke alarms
Caption: On Sept. 23, volunteers gathered to participate in the Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign. This campaign seeks to help save lives and increase the odds of survival in home fires by installing free smoke alarms in the homes of at-risk communities as well as replacing batteries in existing alarms, and providing fire prevention education. Teams of volunteers worked in the mobile home parks of Monument and Palmer Lake with one person to install the smoke alarms, one person to educate the residents about fire safety, and one person to document the information. After only three hours, volunteers were able to install 30 smoke alarms to help improve the lives of the residents. For more information about the Sound the Alarm Campaign, visit https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm or contact Heidi Juell at email@example.com. Photo by Lauren Jones
Keeping our creeks clean
Caption: On Sept. 30, hundreds of volunteers throughout the Colorado Springs area participated in the fourth annual Creek Week Community Cleanup event. This organization’s mission is to bring communities together to achieve and sustain a healthy Fountain Creek watershed. Volunteers in Monument helped foster this healthy environment by picking up trash around Limbaugh Park, Dirty Woman Park, the Santa Fe Trail, and other areas of Monument. For more information about Creek Week, visit http://fountaincreekweek.com. Photo by Lauren Jones.
Shredding and recycling
Caption: Legacy Sertoma’s Sept. 9 shredding and electronic recycling event saw more than 2½ tons of paper pulverized and more than six tons of outdated electronic equipment diverted from landfills. The club sincerely thanks the Tri-Lakes communities for their great support. Photo courtesy of Legacy SerToMa.
Harvesting Hope Fundraiser
Caption: Tri-Lakes Women’s Club held its second annual Harvesting Hope fall fundraiser at the Spruce Mountain Ranch event center on Sept. 21. The event featured food from a variety of local restaurants including La Rosa Southwest Dining, Cowboy Star Restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen, the Sugarplum Cake Shoppe, and more. It also included assorted beverage vendors offering tastings of wine, craft beers, and spirits as well as coffee and tea from Wesley Owens Coffee & Café. Other highlights included a silent auction featuring hundreds of gift baskets, a raffle, door prizes, music and dancing, complimentary hand-painted wine glasses and charms, and much more. The event is expected to earn more than $25,000 in profits. All proceeds benefit qualified nonprofit service organizations and public schools in the Tri-Lakes area. For more information, go to http://www.tlwc.net. Photo by Jackie Burhans
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.
Ringers needed for handbell choir
High school and adult ringers are needed for a local community choir or a church choir. For more information, contact Betty Jenik, 488-3853.
Volunteers needed for Pioneer Village Public Improvement District Advisory Committee
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve on its Pioneer Village Public Improvement District Advisory Committee. Applications are due by Oct. 23. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.
YMCA 5K Race Series and Kids Fun Runs, register early to save
The three-race series includes the Creepy Crawl Oct. 28 on the Santa Fe Trail in Palmer Lake, Turkey Trot Nov. 23 at the Briargate YMCA, and the Jingle Bell Dec. 9 at Fountain Creek Regional Park. Sign up online at www.ppymca.org/programs/adult/running-races/ymca-5k-race-series.
LEAP—Help for heating bills begins Nov. 1
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1-April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
MVEA essay contest, enter by Nov. 20
High school juniors, enter to win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, or win a stay at the Colorado Electric Education Institute’s Youth Leadership Camp in Clark, Colo. Last year’s 1st Place winner was Gavin Hornung from Palmer Ridge High School! To enter, write a 500-word essay on the following topic: "What is the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency? Do you feel that members should use one method over the other if they want to use less energy?" Essays must be received by Nov. 20. For entry qualifications and to complete an online entry form, visit www.mvea.coop/youth-programs.
MVEA Scholarships, enter by Jan. 16
Each year, MVEA awards $1,000 scholarships to 14 graduating high school seniors. Applications are due by Jan. 16, 2018. See ad on page 18. For entry qualifications and to complete an online entry form, visit www.mvea.coop/youth-programs.
Monument text alerts
Text "Monument" to 41411 to receive updates and news of meetings, weather alerts, openings and closings, as well as important town information to your phone or personal mobile device.
Forest Lakes/Pinon Pines residents needed for Citizens Advisory Council
Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) seeks five Pinon Pines residents to serve on a Citizens Advisory Council. The council will serve as a forum for Pinon Pines residents to learn about district issues and to advise FLMD on resident issues. If you are interested in serving on this advisory council to FLMD, please contact your HOA administrator, Steve Emery of Hammersmith Management, at 389-0700.
Residence Vacation Check
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will conduct vacation checks of homes in El Paso County for residents who are on vacation. This is a great way to add security to your home when you’re away for multiple days. Either a deputy or trained volunteer will visit your home while you’re away and check it periodically. To add your home to their schedule, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com. Info: 520-7151.
Volunteer weather observers needed
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is seeking volunteer weather observers in this area. The nationwide network is made up of volunteers who help measure and record precipitation in their areas. Volunteers are expected to purchase a rain gauge which costs about $30. Learn more and sign up on the network’s web page at www.cocorahs.org.
Monthly arts and crafts group forming
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center is looking for anyone interested in various types of arts and crafts such as needlework, knitting, beading, coloring, or quilting. If you’re interested in any of these activities or have a suggestion of your own, contact Sue, 464-6873.
Silver Alliance Thrift Store needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed for various tasks. The store is located at 755 Highway 105, Suite N, in the West End Center and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. See ad on page 32. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
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 Mon.-Fri. at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
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 & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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