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By James Howald
In March, the Palmer Lake Town Council met twice, on March 9 and 23. After a debate spanning several months, on March 23 the council voted to restrict access to the popular trail adjacent to the town’s reservoirs, due to the risk of fire. They also voted to approve the vacation of a road and a minor subdivision request from developer Jim Stiltner. In addition, they filled a vacant position on the town’s Planning Commission, discussed the proposed design for the bridge that will connect the Palmer Lake park to downtown Palmer Lake, approved Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) as the town’s insurance carrier, and agreed to hire a consultant to review bids to upgrade the sound system in the Town Hall building.
Hikers and fires banned from Palmer Lake reservoirs and trail
Town Administrator Cathy Green-Sinnard told the board that the Palmer Lake Fire Department had met with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) and some members of the community to discuss the town’s efforts at fire mitigation. A consensus emerged from that discussion that the town should close the parking lot and the trail to the town’s reservoirs due to the extremely dry conditions and the risk of fire, Green-Sinnard said, mentioning that the Fire Department reported extinguishing campfires left smoldering by hikers. Green-Sinnard suggested the board should consider raising the fines for open fires, smoking, and dogs off their leashes at the town’s reservoirs.
Board members Paul Banta and Mark Schuler proposed raising the fines related to fires to a minimum of $1,000.
Board member Mitchell Davis pointed out that a fire near the reservoir could have a catastrophic impact on the town’s water supply, and Mayor John Cressman added, "it’s almost negligent if we don’t close it."
While the town owns the land surrounding the reservoirs, the trail leading to the reservoirs is owned by the Forest Service, Green-Sinnard said, adding that she believed the Forest Service would agree to close the trail if the town requested it.
The board discussed communicating the trail closure and fines to the public using signs, the town’s website, and social media, and several board members agreed the town Police Department would need to increase the frequency of its patrols of the trail and the reservoirs.
Town Attorney Maureen Juran said the board should consider an ordinance to address the trail closure, and pointed out that the fines would have to be determined at a future board meeting.
Banta made a motion that the trails to both the upper and lower reservoir be closed whenever El Paso County announced stage 1 fire restrictions, or at the discretion of the Palmer Lake mayor, and the motion was approved unanimously.
Board vacates undeveloped road and approves subdivision request
In February, Jim Stiltner of Masterbilt Homes requested that the board vacate Gillia Street, an undeveloped road, and approve a minor subdivision of several lots east of Upper Glenway, so that he could build three houses at that location. The board tabled the requests at the February meeting.
On March 9, the board took up these issues again. The board heard several people from the neighborhood who argued that the vacation and subdivision should not be approved, and that no more than two houses should be built, to maintain the character of the neighborhood.
Stiltner maintained throughout the lengthy discussion that if the vacation and subdivision were not approved, he would be forced to build a road that would be too steep for the town to maintain, and would also build a total of four houses on the property.
Eventually the board voted to approve both the vacation and subdivision, stipulating that Stiltner provide $2,500 worth of materials to improve Upper Glenway Street.
Board fills vacancy on Planning Commission
Resident Charlie Ihlenfeld applied for the open seat on the Planning Commission. Ihlenfeld said he was a general contractor who had lived in Palmer Lake for 28 years. The board voted unanimously to appoint him to the commission.
Bridge design sparks controversy
Green-Sinnard showed the board the proposed design for a bridge to span the railroad track and more directly connect Palmer Lake park to the rest of the town. The design, developed by architect Bill Fisher and partially funded by the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant the town received, uses shipping containers to suggest railroad cars, making an indirect reference to the lake’s use in the past as a watering station for trains.
Schuler and Banta questioned the use of shipping containers in the design.
Questions were also raised about whether Awake the Lake, the nonprofit administering the GOCO grant, was properly consulting the board before taking action.
The board decided to invite Fisher to a future meeting to discuss his design.
Board approves new insurance carrier
Town Clerk Tara Berreth recommended to the board that they contract with CIRSA to provide the town government with insurance. CIRSA could provide coverage for property lawsuits, which the current insurance provider does not do, Berreth said. The board voted unanimously to approve CIRSA as the town’s insurance carrier.
Audio consultant to review bids for sound system
Banta suggested to the board that they engage a consultant to review the bids the town has received to upgrade the sound system in the Town Hall building. Banta said he had spoken informally to a consultant, and felt the consultant could save the town money on the equipment proposed in the bids.
The board authorized Banta to work with the consultant.
The two meetings for April will be at 6:30 p.m. on April 13 and 27 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 the Coalition for the Upper South Platte
As part of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) is partnering with the Town of Palmer Lake and the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department to increase fuels mitigation awareness in the Palmer Lake community by offering free home assessments and a chipper day. Some of the techniques are:
• Raking the needles away from your structure
• Looking for gaps in structure integrity where embers could lodge
• Trimming back tree branches and shrubs near your home
These techniques can go a long way to protecting your home against wildfire. For a limited time this year, CUSP staff is reaching out to homeowners in Palmer Lake to conduct free in-depth home and property assessments to make site-specific recommendations to reduce wildfire risk. Funding for this effort is limited, so we encourage Palmer Lake residents to schedule an assessment soon. CUSP can be reached at 719-748-0033.
CUSP also will host a weekend of events as part of the National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day that will support community efforts to reduce wildfire risk. On May 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., residents of Palmer Lake will be able to transport slash from their property to a site on County Line Road where it will be chipped for free. It’s important to note that as you accumulate slash for chipping, the branches must be arranged in a parallel fashion with all butt ends pointed to the rear of the vehicle for ease of feeding the chipper.
Items not acceptable are stumps, roots, lumber, tires, dirt, household trash, metals, weeds, grasses, and pine needles unattached to branches.
This is directly related to reducing wildfire risk in Palmer Lake. All efforts are funded by grants or donations. CUSP is a nonprofit organization that has worked in the Palmer Lake community since 2014.
On May 7 at the Baptist Road trailhead access to the Santa Fe Trail, CUSP will host a fundraising event called Pack for the Platte, where you can sign up to take the arduous pack test that every firefighter must pass each year and see how you stack up. Alongside our wildland firefighting crew and other firefighters, you will try to carry 45 pounds for three miles in 45 minutes. Donations from this event will be used to support CUSP’s Wildland Fire Team. For more information, please visit www.cusp.ws/P4P/.
By Lisa Hatfield
On March 6, the Monument Board of Trustees approved engineering work that would allow the town to make use of Well 4/5, which is shut down now because it cannot run efficiently with its current configuration. The trustees also heard updates on the town’s radium treatment project, emergency water interconnection options, the water reuse plant project in the brainstorming phase with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD), and the search for a new town clerk.
Mayor Jeff Kaiser and Trustee Shea Medlicott were absent.
Engineering work order approved for Well 4/5 plant
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented a resolution for a $66,200 work order with Forsgren Associates to complete the final design for water treatment plant improvements at Well 4/5 and prepare the documents for review by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Forsgren has been the town’s "on call" engineering firm since 2012, he said, and it has already worked on preliminary phases of this project.
Tharnish said because the water from Well 4/5 is full of iron and manganese, which clogs up the filters many times a day, it currently costs more to operate that water treatment plant than the revenue it generates, so right now that well is only used in emergencies.
By doing this project, Well 4/5 could go back online this summer, and the $350,000 total project cost was included in the 2017 budget, Tharnish said. The goal is to increase production from this well to bridge the water production gap until the Well 3/9 plant radium issue is resolved, he said.
Tharnish said that at the next meeting, he would explain more about the Request for Qualifications for the construction and installation, which will be bid out separately once CDPHE approves the design improvements and would cost around $290,000. See related March 20 Board of Trustees meeting on page 8.
The trustees approved the work order resolution unanimously.
Updates on radium, emergency water interconnection, and reuse plant
Tharnish said that since Well 3/9 was a bigger source of water for the town than Well 4/5, the elevated radium issue there was a higher priority than the Well 4/5 plant. As soon as CDPHE approves the town’s proposed design for treating the Well 3/9 water, the town would send out bids for construction, he said. Currently, Well 3/9 is only running when radium sampling is needed, but it is not being used for water supply to the town. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017.
Tharnish reminded the trustees that the "water supply" amendment to the town’s Water Master Plan was outlined by Forsgren Associates in October. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1003.
He updated the trustees about the options regarding an emergency water connection for the town’s drinking water system west of I-25. His comments included:
• If Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) were ever able to provide water to Monument, it would be available only in the off-peak season, at best.
• Any regional water from CSU would come at a very high cost. Donala District Manager Kip Petersen explained this to the board in October. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1003.
• Tharnish recommended implementing the raw water emergency interconnection between WWSD and the town, which would become available upon the opening of the new water reuse plant. See Emergency Water Interconnection in www.ocn.me/v17n3.htm#mbot0206.
Trustee Dennis Murphy said three years was "too long" to wait to get the emergency connection with WWSD, even if it were free. He asked that Donala and Triview talk to the board again to explain all the pros and cons of connecting with their systems. "It is access to something versus access to nothing." Trustee Greg Coopman agreed, saying he wanted to hear about other options.
The proposed water reuse plant discussion was intermingled with the emergency water interconnection topic. Murphy and Coopman asked that Tharnish cite examples of other municipalities with successful indirect potable water reuse facilities the town could look at.
Town Manager Chris Lowe said various advanced technologies for water reuse were available and that he and Tharnish were discussing these with WWSD District Manager Jessie Shaffer and had met with him the week before this meeting to toss ideas around. Lowe explained that since potable reuse is an emerging technology, a wide range of sizes and technologies needed to be considered to meet the town’s water supply configuration. "Jessie and I are in agreement. We are open to any process as long as the water we give to our citizens is safe…. We are not yet ready to give a recommendation." See related Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee article on page 16.
Murphy and Coopman said since the water reuse technology decision was so complicated, they did not want the emergency water interconnection slowed down while the town made its decision on water reuse. As an example, Coopman referred to Triview Metropolitan District’s need for emergency water last summer, which came from neighboring Donala. Tharnish said the town’s water system was "more robust than Triview’s, which has weaknesses.… The risk analysis we do on a routine basis does not lead to that type of catastrophe." Lowe added that the town’s system is 70 years old, and "we do not know of a night there was not water." He said comparing the town to Triview was like "comparing apples … to ... not even oranges … but to camels!"
Trustee Kelly Elliott asked how long the town had to wait for the reuse system and if there was any collaboration with Triview. Tharnish said Triview was working on its own water reuse plant. Meanwhile, the town’s reuse plant was being planned in two phases: Phase 1 would include WWSD and the potential raw water emergency interconnection, and Phase 2, the building of the town’s treatment plant, where the bulk of the town’s cost would be. He hoped the sampling and design portion of Phase 1 would be done by end of 2017.
Elliott, who is a resident of Triview, asked, "I don’t think (Lowe) is responsible, but who will contact Triview to come back and report to us about progress on their long-term water plan, debt, $40-million-plus debt paydown, and all of the things that are of extreme interest in Triview?" Lowe replied, "We will endeavor to persevere to build those relationships and have those discussions."
Note: Triview Metropolitan District, on the east side of I-25, includes two-thirds of the population of Monument. Triview was created as one of the first Colorado Title 32 developer special metropolitan districts within the Regency Park development, which was annexed into the town in 1987. Triview provides roads, parks, and drainage maintenance, as well as water and sanitation utility services, to the residents of Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe. Triview’s water system is wholly independent of Monument’s Public Works water system located on the west side of I-25. The Town of Monument only provides police services, within the Triview service area for Triview’s property owners, and more recently land use services, when the town and Triview land use and building codes were unified during the period when the town staff took over Triview operations for several years.
2016 unaudited financial summary
The 2016 end-of-year financial report was included in the consent agenda, which the trustees approved unanimously without comment. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s 2016 financial report included:
• General fund revenues—$5.4 million, 99 percent of the budgeted amount
• General fund expenditures—$5.9 million, 98 percent. Expenses included $350,000, which was the town’s portion of the $900,000 litigation settlement check to Colonial Management Group (CMG), after residents rallied against CMG’s proposed methadone clinic on Second Street. The Monument Board of Adjustment revoked the administrative approval of the license, and CMG sued the town. See www.ocn.me/v16n4.htm#mbot0311.
• Water enterprise fund revenue—$2.3 million, 138 percent of the budgeted amount
• Water enterprise fund expenditures—$1.7 million, 95 percent
• Revenue included $471,000 for accrued tap fees for the new water line at Lake of the Rockies and $211,000 in capital lease financing. The much-debated water base rate and volumetric rate increase began with the May 2016 billing. See www.ocn.me/v16n4.htm#mbot0307.
• Capital projects building, police and town hall revenue—$365,598, 100 percent.
• In November 2005, Monument voters allowed the limitation on water sales tax revenue use to be modified, and in 2009 they approved that 35 percent of that revenue would be diverted to build the new town hall and police building on Beacon Lite Road, and the final payment for the town hall was made in 2016. So in 2017, all the revenue from the one-cent sales tax will again go to the 2A Water Acquisition, Storage, and Delivery (ASD) fund, used for obtaining and, sometime in the future, using new town-owned water rights. See www.ocn.me/v5n12.htm#bot1107, www.ocn.me/v9n4.htm#monbot.
• 2A Water ASD fund revenue—$485,373, 116 percent
• 2A Water ASD fund expenditures—$1.2 million, 64 percent
• Expenses included professional services, the new water tank site study, land purchase for the water tank site, and land purchase for the water reuse site.
The consent agenda also included one check over $5,000.
• Lytle Water Solutions LLC water engineering on six projects—$5,684
Town manager’s report
Lowe said, "We have a possible candidate," for the town clerk position that had been held by Cynthia Sirochman, after narrowing down the pool with the help of "three city clerks from surrounding communities." He asked the trustees to send one or two representatives to the interviews for the three candidates who would be interviewed within the next week. Trustees Jeff Bornstein, Elliott, and Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson volunteered to available. Coopman asked to see all 20-plus resumes that had been submitted, and he wanted to "bring some in here for interviews as we have in the past for other appointed positions." Lowe said he would to send all the original application documentation to Coopman and any trustee who requested it, and the consensus was that he would also let all the trustees know when interviews would occur. "I would like to move fast," he said. See related March 20 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 8.
Lowe introduced Cassie Olgren, the town’s new master gardener.
Public comments on water sources and wildfires
During public comments, Palmer Lake resident Allen "Dave" Miller, a water, energy, and environmental planner, read from a letter he had written to Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers about a high altitude, reversible pumped-storage water reservoir for multiple river systems that was proposed as the Central Colorado Project, including the Taylor Park Reservoir. He proposed many alternative solutions that could still be built that would make much better use of Colorado’s water rights and energy than, for example, the less-efficient Southern Delivery System that now brings water upstream from the Arkansas to Colorado Springs.
May 6 is National FireWise Day. "Think about who could represent your neighborhood at the free Neighborhood Wildfire Leadership Summit which will happen here in the Tri-Lakes area," Lisa Hatfield requested of the trustees. At this training and networking event, neighborhood leaders will learn about:
• How to join the FireWise and Fire Adapted Communities recognition programs.
• Successful local wildfire prevention programs
• Training on how to assess their local fire risk and develop efforts for property owners to improve their outcome in wildfires
Follow-up after this meeting will feature mentorship for neighborhoods that want to become FireWise communities, develop action plans, and execute mitigation and preparedness efforts. To register or for more information, see http://epcwildfire.eventzilla.net.
The board voted unanimously to go into executive session at 7:49 p.m. to receive legal advice concerning current litigation. Deputy Town Clerk Laura Hogan said that no votes were taken, and no announcements were made, after the executive session.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
The March 8 Monument Planning Commission meeting primarily featured the Lake of the Rockies North Filing 1 plan, which is a proposed housing development on the northeastern side of Monument Lake, southwest of Mitchell Avenue and North Monument Lake Road. The property owners’ request for rezoning from Planned Commercial Development to Planned Development was approved with conditions, alongside the proposed preliminary/final plat and the preliminary/final PD site plan. The vote was 5 to 1, with Commissioner David Gwisdalla opposed.
Andrea Barlow of NES represented the property owners, Gulf Coast Resorts Inc., as the applicant at this meeting. She explained how in January 2003 a deal was struck by the Board of Trustees with Gulf Coast Resorts that guaranteed the developer this parcel of land for the eventual development of six single-family homes beside Monument Lake. Commissioner Michelle Glover requested to be briefed on exactly what the ramifications of the agreement were, and what ability the Planning Commission had to forbid or modify these agreed-upon terms. Town Attorney Gary Shupp explained that the number of residential lots could not be reduced. The town could not now announce that only four lots can be developed, as Gulf Coast Resorts was originally guaranteed six.
The Lake of the Rockies North Filing 1 project covers a 2.23-acre parcel of land and would feature the six single-family houses originally proposed in 2003. The maximum building height would be 35 feet. Lot 1 would be a one-story ranch home, an accommodation the developers made for the project’s neighbors to help maintain surrounding views of nature. This will be a gated development, according to the plan presented in the meeting’s packet. It will be served by a private road called "Lake Vista Point," leading from an existing access road to Monument Lake, via Mitchell Avenue. Lot sizes for the project would range from 13,260 to 22,804 square feet. While all six homes would be built beside Monument Lake, no lake houses or docks could be built in the "backyard" areas of the properties.
The existing access road is also planned to be improved and paved alongside the building of this development. Another off-site agreement would be the "buried storm sewer facility that is designed to take drainage from Third Street to the east and change the historic flow from overland to a pipe that will flow to the lake," as described in the meeting’s staff report. Conditions for this project include the completion of all off-site intended modifications and repairs, as well as the inclusion of a 50-foot no-build area on the development.
Also, even though the developer hopes to start up this project while employing the same metro district as the Lake of the Rockies, one of the conditions insisted upon by the Planning Commission was that there never be a separate metro or special district serving the development. Instead, a homeowners association would be developed and utilized once feasible.
It will be known whether the metro district serving the Lake of the Rockies will accept this project later in development, if the Lake of the Rockies North Filing 1 plans are approved by the Board of Trustees on April 3.
Public comments included questions from John and David Wilson, brothers whose mother donated an easement for the Monument Lake access road. They had concerns about the road becoming private. Terry Cummings also presented questions about the storm drain.
The Comprehensive Plan—discussed at both the February and January Monument Planning Commission meetings—is now being polished up. Shupp said the new plan will be presented to the Board of Trustees and the Board of County Commissioners, although the boards’ approvals are not required to finalize the document. A letter from El Paso County acknowledging receipt and recording of the new Monument Comprehensive Plan is also required.
One official planning commissioner vacancy remains, as well as two alternate positions.
Further information on this March 8 Monument Planning Commission meeting is available for public view online at the Town of Monument’s website, by going to the "Documents-on-Demand" page and selecting "Planning Commission Packets." Recordings of Planning Commission meetings can now be found there, too, by selecting "Planning Commission Recordings." https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com/.
Caption: (in yellow) Lake of the Rockies North, a 2.23-acre parcel, consisting of a private road and six single-family lots, located north of the Monument Lake access road (Swenson Lane), on the east edge of the lake. Map courtesy of the Town of Monument.
The next Monument Planning Commission meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12 at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
After an extensive, heated discussion about the amount of involvement the trustees had in the interviewing process, the trustees appointed a new town clerk at the March 20 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees. They also approved an ordinance allowing commercial businesses to operate at Monument Lake and heard about the process that will be used to renew the town’s on-call engineer list.
Trustee Shea Medlicott was absent.
At the beginning of the meeting, Trustee Jeff Bornstein made a motion to move the executive session from the end of the meeting to immediately after the consent agenda, but when asked, he would not give a reason for his request. His motion failed by a tied 3-3 vote, with opposing votes from Mayor Jeff Kaiser, Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson, and Trustee Kelly Elliott.
Hiring search for town clerk debated
Town Manager Chris Lowe said that the town began accepting applications for a new town clerk on Feb. 15. "We received and reviewed 47 applications prior to conducting interviews. The top six candidates were invited to interview with a panel that consisted of city clerks from Castle Rock, Fountain, and Foxfield. The top three candidates from that round of interviews were invited back to a second round of interviews with a panel that consisted of Mayor Pro Tem Wilson, Trustee Elliott, and myself."
He said the candidate that performed the best throughout the selection process was Laura Hogan, who is currently the town’s code enforcement officer and deputy clerk.
Trustee Greg Coopman initiated a 40-minute discussion regarding the "agreeable way to proceed on narrowing down the search for the town clerk." He said, in part, "This board did not have the opportunity to participate in establishing what we wanted the hiring criteria and guidelines, process, procedure, etc., to look like.… This was not labeled as the final step in the process…. This board was not in the loop."
Trustee Dennis Murphy said he did not like how the process had worked either, although he had not spoken up about it at the March 6 meeting. Bornstein said he was embarrassed about the whole situation, "This is why I didn’t want to come to this meeting tonight."
Wilson, Elliott, and Kaiser all offered countering viewpoints on the intention of the discussion from the March 6 meeting. See related Board of Trustees article on page 4.
Residents Nancy Swearengin and Maggie Williamson voiced support for the process and berated some of the board for "micromanaging" the staff. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said it was the same process that had been used for at least 12 years and, "It would be a miscarriage of justice … to not appoint a town clerk tonight."
New town clerk appointed
Bornstein made a motion to appoint Hogan to be the new town clerk. The motion was seconded by most of the trustees simultaneously and approved unanimously. Kaiser congratulated Hogan on her appointment, and the audience cheered. Hogan will be sworn in at the April 3 meeting by a notary or a municipal judge.
Commercial groups will be allowed at Monument Lake
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented an ordinance Amending Section 12.28 of Monument municipal code relative to park and recreation areas, saying that there have been numerous requests for commercial use of the lake from paddle board rental companies to summer camp requests to teach children about the outdoors and learn how to paddle board and kayak.
His comments included:
• A limited number of businesses would be allowed due to space considerations along the lakefront.
• They would be required to have a business license, use permit, and guidelines.
• We have opened the new parking lot at Second Street and Mitchell Avenue, which will soon be a three-way stop, and plans for a crosswalk across Mitchell are ongoing.
• The town does not monitor ice thickness, and it will be each company’s responsibility to make sure it is safe.
The trustees approved the ordinance unanimously.
On-call engineering system
Tharnish explained that the intent of the on-call engineering system was to give the Planning and Public Works Departments "the ability to choose an engineering firm that has been vetted thoroughly and has submitted the required documentation of the personnel that could be available to support the projects that they would be assigned. The firms selected through this process," which includes review by the Board of Trustees, "will submit their qualifications to serve as the town’s general engineering consultants on an "on-call" status."
He said the current system started in 2006, was renewed in 2012, and now needs to be renewed for the next four-year term. Kaiser thanked Tharnish for spelling out the criteria and the process that would be occurring soon.
Trustee comments on Triview
Elliott asked again if Lowe had made progress on bringing Triview Metropolitan District representatives to the trustees for a quarterly update. Lowe said he was talking to Triview about a format for that presentation and that he "could not make a summons for Officer Lundy to go get them."
Elliott also said she was concerned that Town Attorney Gary Shupp is also the legal counsel for Triview. "Eventually we may run into a conflict." Shupp agreed, saying, "If that occurred, we would have to deal with separate council." Coopman said he would like to discuss what the board would do in the event a conflict came up, and the board reached consensus to include this in the April 3 meeting.
Town manager report
Kaiser asked Lowe about the town manager report. Lowe paused to compose a short answer that said a lot about the overall tone of the meeting. "I have a lot of things I could say … but I have nothing to report."
At 7:43 p.m., the trustees voted to go into executive session for a conference with the town attorney to receive legal advice regarding litigation. Newly appointed Monument Town Clerk Laura Hogan told OCN that no announcements were made nor votes taken after the executive session.
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 April 3. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information about live video streaming. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
On March 21, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board received public questions and comments regarding the district’s short-term and long-term plans, approved changes or updates made in the Employee Manual, and discussed progress regarding steering committee feedback and the potential November mill levy election.
President Greg Gent invited public comments and questions.
Gary Rusnak, resident and former Wescott board member, inquired if the board had received any applications for the vacant director position.
Note: Director John Fredell resigned his board position in February leaving a vacancy. For background, see www.ocn.me.v17n3.htm#dwfpd. Gent stated that the board received four letters of intent and would choose a new director by the next meeting. Rusnak asked if the board intended to conduct interviews, and Gent replied that the board had not discussed interviewing applicants. Three of the four director applicants attended the meeting and introduced themselves: Rachel Dunn, Rusnak, and Matthew Fisher.
Rusnak asked if the letter requesting reimbursement from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) for automatic aid calls had generated a reply. Chief Vinny Burns stated that a response had not been received. Burns speculated that the delay may be due to the complexity of structuring and dispatching emergency call codes. He said it was probable DWFPD would end up only responding to true emergency calls in TLMFPD’s southern portion, "which would drastically reduce the alarm load coming out of here." See related TLMFPD article below.
Resident Russell Robinson thanked the board for their work and strongly encouraged them to pursue consolidation with TLMFPD. Robinson cited the external forces of budget and downsizing, as well as DWFPD’s strategic location, as substantive reasons for seeking consolidation. Robinson referred to past political "hemming and hawing" and stated that it’s time to move beyond it, especially since the district is reaching a critical size threshold.
At the close of the meeting, resident Bill Fillion expressed concern about the time limit for full-time operational staff to use additional vacation hours. He recommended that the time be flexible or floating to serve as a better incentive. Assistant Chief Scott Ridings replied that the extra vacation time is temporary.
Resident Dennis Feltz, a former Wescott board member, commented that the 2016 meeting summaries were not available on the website because the link did not function properly. Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich stated that she would research the situation.
Resident Jay Kelly asked if there was a strategic or master plan such as a merger with Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) or TLMFPD. Gent replied that the current focus is approving the mill levy increase in November because everything hinges on the mill levy decision. Gent added that DWFPD’s relationship with BFFRPD changed significantly when the fire chief and board were fired after the Black Forest fire. Ridings stated that a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is planned. Financial stability by 2019 is the primary goal. Ridings added that merger opportunities will be considered but emphasized the district’s desire to become more operationally efficient, to grow as a district, and to develop a training center. A merger doesn’t necessarily translate to cost savings, he said.
Lois Williams expressed concern for the operational staff’s morale because of the district’s unpredictable future and apparent lack of planning. Director Harland Baker explained that, although the district has known of the impending changes since 2000, no specific timeline existed and the Colorado Springs Fire Department provided only a three-month notice prior to the annexation. Baker added that the board attempted a mill levy increase two years ago to prepare for the inevitable shrinkage of the district, but the levy was voted down. Baker noted that people were reluctant to support additional taxes when the funds were not immediately needed. Ridings commented that the district’s leadership has communicated openly with the staff.
Seeking creative ways to support staff
The board unanimously approved Burns’ proposal to increase vacation accrual for full-time operational staff to two additional 24-hour days in 2017 and 2018 to compensate for overtime restrictions due to the budget crunch. Because the additional "comp" days cannot be rolled or cashed out, the budget is not affected. "We have lost some good experienced people already," Director Bo McAllister commented.
Steering committee update
Burns reported that the final steering committee meeting was conducted on March 15, and mill levy recommendations from Pinnacle Consulting Group should be available by the April 18 board meeting. Resident and past board President Bill Lowes asked about the results of the straw poll. Ridings replied that the board is not ready to disclose that information yet. It is waiting for Pinnacle’s recommendation and a complete staff report.
Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich presented the January and February bank balances and financials: Total cash for January was $876,198, and for February $782,295.
Popovich noted that insurance expenses were paid in a lump sum in the beginning of the year and although they are within the budget, expenses are slightly ahead. Resident Rusnak stated that he would submit additional questions about the current budget in writing.
Burns reported that a crew of firefighters had been deployed to Kansas and Oklahoma, and that all those costs would be reimbursed. DWFPD also sent a tender and a brush truck to provide mutual aid on a grassfire in southeast Colorado Springs.
Burns added that the fire danger is steadily increasing and the entire county is under a stage 1 fire ban. See http://wescottfire.org/information/fire-danger/ for more information on fire restrictions.
Ridings compared the 215 emergency calls in February 2016 to the 229 emergency calls in February 2017, a 7 percent increase. Sixty-seven of the calls coded as Good Intent were dispatched and canceled en route. The incident report by type included:
• Overpressure Rupture, Explosion, Overheat (No Fire)—0,
• Rescue and Emergency Medical Service Incident—136,
• Hazardous Condition (No Fire)—2,
• Service Call—15,
• Good Intent Call—71,
• False Alarm and False Call—4,
• Severe Weather and Natural Disaster—0
• Special Incident Type—0.
Additional approvals, acknowledgements and announcements:
• The board unanimously approved the February meeting summary. Popovich explained that meeting minutes are made public only when they have been approved by the board. The meeting packets provided to the public included the January minutes instead of the February minutes, which had just been approved.
• Burns announced that the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted on March 21 to deny the Sun Hills Homeowners Association appeal and uphold the administrative determination. Burns clarified that DWFPD can now "do what we feel we need to do with the (Sun Hills Station 3) property." See BOCC article on page 21. Further discussion or action regarding Station 3 was tabled until after the mill levy.
• Director Bo McAllister praised Popovich for her excellent work in keeping the board informed and prepared.
The board adjourned at 7:57.
The next Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting is scheduled to include a Volunteer Pension Board meeting and will begin at 6:30 p.m. April 18 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.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On March 11, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) held a special meeting regarding impact fees. And on March 22, the board heard a detailed presentation, which the Citizens Advisory Task Force had also heard, outlining rough estimates for funding to maintain current service levels in the district.
The directors also learned how the imbalance of calls between TLMFPD and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) will be solved. And they heard about the need for citizens to represent their families, neighbors, and friends at the Neighborhood Wildfire Leadership Summit coming to the Tri-Lakes area on May 6, National FireWise Day.
President Jake Shirk and Director Jason Buckingham were absent.
Some impact fees to be refunded
In a public statement made after the special meeting on March 11, TLMFPD announced that in 2015, TLMFPD staff discovered that in 2006 an approval process for the implementation of impact fees was not completed thoroughly. Impact fees are assessed on builders of new construction to help offset any capital expenditures that the district may incur due to the impact the new growth has on the services the district provides to the community. Once this was discovered, the district immediately halted its collection.
The TLMFPD board will be returning a portion of the fees to builders who engaged in new construction from 2006-15 and who make a claim. Questions can be directed to TLMFPD Fire Chief Chris Truty at 719-484-0911 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mill levy citizens advisory task force
Truty offered the following three statements on the first meeting of the 25-member citizens advisory task force on March 21. The task force’s goal is to evaluate TLMFPD’s situation, with data from staff, to make a recommendation on the amount of a possible mill levy increase that could be put on the November ballot.
1. The question under discussion is how to maintain the same level of service the district has been providing, since current funding will not be adequate to meet the continuing needs in these categories:
• Replace outdated breathing apparatus, rescue equipment, cardiac monitors, etc.
• Replace and maintain aging fire engines, ambulances, brush trucks.
• Update essential communications equipment.
• Provide competitive wages to attract and retain firefighters and medics and address training needs.
• Address critical health/life safety improvements to fire stations.
• Maintain emergency services, address revenue lost due to Gallagher Amendment.
2. The figures staff and citizens are discussing include current commitments, equipment replacements and maintenance, and wage increases to encourage trained staff to stay with the district instead of leaving for higher salaries elsewhere as they have already been doing, and attract more paramedics and other trained staff. "This is so we can operate responsibly, nothing extravagant," Truty said.
3. That being said, those preliminary numbers do not include projections for the population growth that will inevitably be occurring within the next few years. Truty said the district needs to begin now to shape and update the organization to then be ready to deal with the growth that is coming.
Truty, Deputy Chief Randy Trost, and Administrative Battalion Chief/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner said preliminary calculations done by the district show that a mill levy increase between 7 and 8 mills would generate about $16 million over five years. These are still just ballpark figures, Truty emphasized.
Note: OCN will report more specific numbers and details in coming months as the district works with residents and its mill levy election consultant, George K. Baum & Co., to decide whether to put the measure on the ballot at all and, if so, exactly how many mills to ask voters to approve.
Meanwhile, Truty and Bumgarner said any group of citizens in the district that would like to hear the detailed presentation, including all the rationale for the estimated amounts, should contact the district to arrange for an informational meeting. See related NEPCO article on page 22.
Wescott will respond only to life-threatening calls in TLMFPD
On March 22, Trost said he met with DWFPD Chief Vinny Burns and they had agreed on a way to even out the imbalance in the number of automatic aid responses between the two districts. Starting on April 3, by altering how the dispatch system works, DWFPD will automatically respond to only the most life-threatening calls in the southern part of TLMFD. Officers on duty would still have the option of calling DWPFD for additional resources if needed. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#tlmfpd.
In answer to Secretary Mike Smaldino’s question, Bumgarner said that TLMFPD had had 479 calls so far this year, compared to 545 by the same time in 2016.
Neighborhood Wildfire Leadership Summit needs you!
Bumgarner announced that the May 6 Neighborhood Wildfire Leadership Summit was open to anyone who wants to increase the wildfire preparedness of their own neighborhoods.
TLMFPD and the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management are coordinating the event at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church to get leadership from homeowners’ associations across the county to learn from experts and share experiences about how specific communities have accomplished momentum. This includes how to do successful FireWise chipping days and mitigation programs and get more neighbors trained in lot evaluations to help each other. "It’s really promising," Bumgarner said. Register for this free event at http://epcwildfire.eventzilla.net.
Director Tom Tharnish said that when residents of the town of Monument do mitigation, they could drop off brush, trees, and slash at the south end of Limbach Park for chipping.
The meeting adjourned at 8:54 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911 or see www.tlmfire.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on March 9 to reorganize the school’s operational structure, discuss hiring a new principal, and report on other activities. Board members Scott Saunders and Patrick Hall were absent.
Reorganization of operational structure
Executive Director Don Griffin presented a recommendation for reorganizing the operational structure of the current school and putting in place an initial structure for the development of the proposed high school. Griffin noted that the reorganization is needed due to the growth of MA and has the goal of giving employees more access to management, preserving the current K-8 program, protecting the MA philosophy, and preparing for the proposed high school.
Monument Academy has over 1,000 students of whom 60 have special needs, 75 are on Response to Intervention programs (RTIs), and about 25 are on Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The principal currently has 65 "direct reports," meaning that 65 employees report directly to her.
Griffin said the new operational model will have several deans. This is a model that has been proven at other charter schools. He noted that this new model does not affect the Board of Directors which, by charter and statute, has fiduciary oversight as well as responsibility for strategic planning. However, the board’s scope will increase to cover the high school even if they are operated as two different schools. Griffin also noted that MA will also need to hire a principal, however the role will change to be a mentor and overseer for the deans, help get the high school application approved, and get the high school operational in the time frame set by the board. The principal will write the Unified Improvement Plan (UIP), have a seat on the School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC), and be in charge of the high school curriculum.
There will be a dean of the elementary school, dean of the middle school, and dean of Student Services. The elementary school dean will be responsible for K-5 teachers, paraprofessionals, and staff, including hiring, evaluations, and discipline. The middle school dean will be responsible for grades 6-8. The dean of Student Services will be responsible for any special services such as Extended Student Services (ESS), RTI, or any sort of educational plan. The staff and operations associated with those students will report to the dean. They will be responsible for the day-to-day operations, including parent meetings, district interactions, and staff evaluations. Preschool is a private entity not under the charter of K-8 so will report directly to the principal.
The next level is the director level, which will not see a lot of changes except in scope. The director of Educational Technology is responsible to help get technology into the classrooms and directly reports to the principal. The director of Instruction and Evaluation will also report to the principal.
The board unanimously approved the recommendation on reorganization.
Principal Richard to leave MA
Principal Lis Richard is leaving Monument Academy to become superintendent of Creede, Colo., School District 2. Creede is in Mineral County in southwestern Colorado. Richard will be on the MA payroll through June 30 and starts in her new position on July 1.
The initial phase of the search to hire a new principal is under way. The job has been posted on the MA website and the Charter League of Schools website. The plan is to gather applications and complete the screening process by late April. The goal is to get the new principal in place before Richard leaves so they can spend time together.
• Director Griffin, Principal Richard, and Director of Finance Nancy Tive met with Lewis-Palmer District 38 Superintendent Karen Brofft and Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman to discuss MA’s decision to go forward with the high school application and certain procedural aspects of recent student discipline meetings.
• Tive reported that MA spent $574,214 in February 2017 compared to $510,584 the previous year. This was $12,000 more than budgeted. The net loss was $5,354 compared to a net income of $27,585 the previous year.
• Parent Michael O’Hare spoke about recent articles in the Tribune and OCN on statements made during the February District 38 Board of Education meeting. He stated that everything done was directed toward the school board and superintendent rather than teachers. He stated that as far as he could see, it has been a very respectful disagreement regarding philosophy and charter school funding.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, April 13 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. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
Controversy over meeting behavior continued at the D-38 Board of Education meeting on March 16. Sixteen community members voiced their opinions early in the meeting. Due to the number of individuals who spoke, each was allowed only two minutes to voice their opinions because board policy limits the comments to a total of 30 minutes. Some of their comments were:
Derek Araje said that Mark Pfoff falsely accused him of threatening someone on social media, when in fact he was responding to comments the woman had posted. He said no threats of violence were made and that he intends to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.
Michael O’Hare said he was a victim of a smear campaign by Pfoff, board President Sherri Hawkins, and Treasurer John Magerko and asked for an apology from the board to individuals whose names he said were slandered in the February meeting.
Ivan Anthony and Elissa Brooks spoke in support of Director Sarah Sampayo and were disappointed in what they said was the general lack of tolerance on the board and a lack of public apologies to Sampayo. Brooks emphasized Sampayo’s hard work on curriculum and attention to legislation and stressed that attention must once again be devoted to the business of the district. She said the feeling now is that one must align with the liberals in the administration or be ignored or face repercussions for speaking out.
Terry Ladau said that he is a satisfied customer of the district and that it is producing college-ready students by providing a rigorous curriculum including foreign languages, science, and math to prepare them to understand people from all over the world. Wendy Ladau concurred that her children are receiving an excellent education and said there will always be disagreements but attention must be focused on education.
Cheryl Darnell also expressed support of the board but is disappointed at what she said was a lack of tolerance for conservative viewpoints, the change in rules on public speaking at this meeting, and inappropriate conduct by some administrators at the February meeting.
Terry Miller praised the district and regretted the fact that opinions are classified as liberal or conservative and that the district is being assaulted by a small group making caustic remarks. Teacher Susan Odenbaugh and a group of staff members from Lewis-Palmer High School expressed their support of the board and superintendent and regretted that students could not attend board meetings.
Heather Jacobson, who spoke in February in praise of Path 2 Empathy, said that she loves the district and the quality of education her children are receiving. However, she said that as a result of her public comments she has received accusations of being part of a smear campaign.
Tammy John was disappointed in the letter administrators presented at Feb. 16 meeting and the way children’s photos and personally identifiable information were being shared with testing companies.
Tammie Oatney, who moved here a few years ago from Florida, praised Principal Jenny Day, and thanked the district for its Path 2 Empathy program, explaining that it has helped her children recover from past bullying.
Amy McKenzie referenced a board policy that says it is important to engage with parents and the community, pointing out that a limited time allotted for comment and no board response does not fulfill this requirement and the environment discourages parents from speaking up. She requested that the board reinstate community coffees so that dialog on "our common goal, our children" could resume.
Jackie Burhans referred to the ad in Our Community News signed by "D38 Community," saying that she had heard from individuals whose names appeared without their permission and that she does not consider herself to be represented by the group and wanted to know specifically who placed the ad since she could not find a "D38 Community" online.
James Howald referred to state statute and board policy against running for the board as a member of a political party and that the board should not be used as a vehicle to forward the opinions of a particular party rather than the needs of the district. He referred to emails soliciting names for the OCN ad with no reference to education but only to conservatism.
Teacher Phyllis Robinette thanked teachers for being connected to the community by making donations to Tri-Lakes Cares.
Board comments followed a similar tone. Treasurer Magerko spoke of being accused of being part of a group to orchestrate the previous month’s comments and of falsely accusing Sampayo. He said that board members can only speak as individuals and administration members were only calling for civil discussion. He said all board members have detractors and that individuals should seek a more productive outlet to their energy by volunteering for a committee or in a school.
Board Secretary Mark Pfoff said that he has much to be thankful for to this district and its role in his children’s education. He said that he did call out people by name at the February meeting and chose his words carefully. His hope was to "knock off" the bullying atmosphere at meetings. He asked for an end to attacks between individuals on social media and at meetings. He also stressed that individual board members can say what they wish, but there should be respect and that the board is wasting time on this controversy.
Vice President Matthew Clawson said that he hoped students would soon be able to come to board meetings and acknowledged a Boy Scout in the audience. He praised Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman and her staff for receiving an award for financial reporting and praised the Lewis-Palmer boys basketball team for reaching the finals in the state championship and behaving with class. He wished Monument Academy Lis Richard best of luck in her new job. He encouraged community members to attend public meetings about long-range planning for growth in the district. See Our Community Calendar on page 28.
Board President Hawkins said that she had attended a robotics meeting at the middle school and several other district events and agreed that the behavior of Lewis-Palmer students is always to be commended. She said that the Lewis-Palmer High School band had just returned from an event in Indianapolis, and the Palmer Ridge choir was about to attend an event at a theme park. Regarding the atmosphere at recent meetings, she said that a few people are causing disruptions and urged all to act with dignity and respect. She encouraged those who are dissatisfied to contact board members directly and individually and ask questions to resolve disagreements.
Sampayo spoke of visits to various district events, including participating in International Day at Monument Academy and reading at Bear Creek Elementary. Regarding recent controversy, she said that people are too quick to judge one another and the district has the three things needed for an outstanding district: quality teachers, supportive parents, and eager students. She commented that the people singled out at February’s meeting were falsely accused and were her vocal supporters.
She suggested that following Robert’s Rules of Order would eliminate the possibility that some speakers would be given more time to speak or other advantages. She asked that Pfoff’s alleged false statements be retracted and that the current pattern of behavior end. Tolerance and inclusion should be stressed and the freedom of speech should be foremost above political reasons.
Sampayo said that the duty of elected officials should not always be to protect the status quo and that the best work would be done while practicing tolerance and patience and including freedom of thought, speech, and religion. The federal government’s national standards, assessments, and data collection erode the freedom of parents to train their children according to their own values, she said.
Superintendent Karen Brofft also praised the achievements of the Lewis-Palmer basketball team and especially their team spirit. She announced that Monument Academy Principal Lis Richards has been hired as the new superintendent in Creede and thanked her for her service to the district.
The open enrollment period has just closed and Brofft listed the number of student requests for each school. There were 22 requests for entry to Prairie Winds Elementary, but that school is closed to new students due to lack of space. Brofft said that the policy is to give priority to residential students over those wishing to enter the district or go to other than their neighborhood school. She said that as the student population grows, the district will be able to accept fewer new students from outside the area.
Brofft reported that there have been questions about a new tool for post-secondary planning called Naviance. This tool involves the use of questionnaires to help students plan for college. Parents may ask that their students not participate in the use of this tool and may come to the administration building to view the questionnaires. Parents should also be aware that there are links in the tool that enable students to learn of scholarship opportunities at colleges, and these links may ask for personal information.
Brofft congratulated Bear Creek Elementary and Palmer Ridge High School for receiving John Irwin School of Excellence awards. Prairie Winds Elementary received a John Irwin Award and a Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award. The district was once again Accredited with Distinction and received an ELPA (English Language Proficiency Act) Excellence Award.
Kilmer Elementary Principal Drew Francis and Kilmer PTO Treasurer Ashley Hamershock were presented a certificate of appreciation to be given to The Grainger Foundation, which recently donated $5,000 for a new shade structure at the school.
The board discussed and approved curriculum for high school biology, World Cultures and Languages, and Advanced Placement Human Geography. While discussing the biology curriculum, Sampayo suggested that supplemental materials be offered to encourage students to think independently about such theories as evolution.
Clawson agreed that students should see various viewpoints but said that parents could help balance these viewpoints. Magerko and Pfoff said that the teachers should be trusted to offer additional sources and discussion.
The board heard a first reading of policies on School Wellness (regarding nutrition education and physical activity) and Privacy and Protection of Confidential Student Information.
The board approved routine matters concerning personnel, finances and district operations.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer D-38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting is on April 20.
In the Feb. 16 D38 board article, Ana Konduris’ name was spelled incorrectly. Also, Tammy John’s name was not one of the names Pfoff mentioned in the list of individuals. OCN regrets the errors.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met on March 9 to consider two contracts with consulting companies, to reschedule its meeting in April, and to hear operational reports.
Board renews contract with Resource Based International
District Manager Jessie Shaffer presented the board with an updated contract with Resource Based International (RBI) covering 2017. RBI assists the district with revegetation and weed control work on the JV Ranch. The updated contract specified that RBI’s charges not exceed $75,000 for 2017, according to Shaffer. RBI actually charged the district $52,000 in 2016, Shaffer said, and he expects the final charges to be similar in 2017.
The board voted unanimously to authorize President Jim Taylor to sign the contract with RBI.
Consulting services for ozone testing considered
Shaffer said three consulting companies had bid on consulting work to test the use of ozone treatment to improve the taste and odor of the district’s lake water. AECOM’s bid was $234,000, Forsgren and Associate’s bid was $242,000, and TetraTech’s bid was $211,000, Shaffer said.
TetraTech has worked for the district before and has a master contract already in place with the district, according to Shaffer.
The board voted unanimously to increase the budget line item for the testing by $62,000 and to authorize Shaffer to begin the testing effort with TetraTech.
April board meeting rescheduled
The board voted to hold its next meeting one week ahead of schedule, on April 6 at 1 p.m., to accommodate the schedules of board members.
Operational report highlights
• The financial report showed a $200,000 payment from Misty Acres for supplemental water service.
• Construction of the equipment storage building at JV Ranch is nearly complete.
• Following a discussion in executive session in February’s meeting, the board voted to waive 90 percent of the supplemental water surcharge for Dina Newton. The reduced surcharge payment will be $7,331.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 6 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On March 14, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) discussed its need for communication from the Monument Public Works Department and questions about technical issues related to the town’s proposed water reuse plant.
TLWWTF operates as a separate joint venture public utility and is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: WWSD board Director at Large Rich Strom, president; MSD board Chairman Ed Delaney, vice president; and PLSD board and JUC Secretary/Treasurer Ken Smith. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
Town’s relationship with JUC
Wicklund said, "If the Town of Monument is going to be planning things, you would think they would involve this board, because we have a facility here." He said if they are talking about wanting to move TLWWTF’s discharge point, or have another discharge point, to facilitate the water reuse plant it is considering building with WWSD, they should apply to the JUC for permission. However, no such communication or application has come from the town. He also said the JUC ought to be informed about the town’s plans for treating radium in its drinking water, since several alternatives have been discussed that could affect TLWWTF. "Being in the dark is not fun," he said.
The only time a town representative came to a JUC meeting since the radium or water reuse issues (which surfaced in August and September), was in December when Jonathan Moore of Forsgren Associates, the town’s water engineers, attended the JUC meeting just to listen. He did not present any information. See www.ocn.me/v16n10.htm#mbot0910, www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1003, www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017, www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#tlwtfjuc.
Strom said that he assumed that Wicklund, as district manager of the Monument Sanitation District, would take the responsibility to be the lead interface with the town. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#tlwtfjuc, www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#tlwtf, www.ocn.me/v17n3.htm#tlwtfjuc.
Wicklund said that was partially right, but that MSD alone could not commit to what TLWWTF would do, since facility co-owners PLSD and WWSD would also need to agree.
The consensus was that MSD would invite representatives from the town to meet with MSD representatives, with the goal of also having the town present its intended plans at a JUC meeting in the near future. "And (all three owners) get to say whether or not you agree with it," said Jim Kendrick, MSD Environmental Compliance coordinator.
Considerations for potential new discharge point
Wicklund said he wanted the JUC to be aware of a potential problem with the Town of Monument’s and WWSD’s possible indirect potable water reuse project. He said, "If we allow the town to put a pipeline from this facility up to discharge in Crystal Creek, which would change this facility in a very big way. Colorado has rules about chlorophyll a and disinfectant byproducts (DBPs)."
Background: The town and WWSD are brainstorming about teaming up on a water reuse plant. They might pump TLWWTF effluent upstream to Crystal Creek, north of Monument Lake, and then withdraw water from Monument Creek downstream of Monument Lake, at Arnold Avenue, and treat it to drinking water standards using chlorine and other treatments. See www.ocn.me/v17n3.htm#mbot0206.
While TLWWTF’s effluent is well below the current Nutrients Management Control Regulation 85 limit for total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) according to the facility’s discharge permit, this new discharge point would increase the overall amount of total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) in Monument Lake. "We would definitely have an impact," Burks said. If levels of a nutrient like nitrogen get too high, it would be considered a pollutant, because it could encourage the overgrowth of algae, measured in terms of chlorophyll a.
And when chlorine is used to remove harmful microorganisms from the water to bring it to safe drinking water standards, it also interacts with the algae to create disinfection byproducts (DBP), which can be harmful to humans, Wicklund said. The state of Colorado limits chlorophyll a in lakes and reservoirs because of these concerns, he said. http://www.denverwater.org/WaterQuality/WaterSafety/DisinfectionByproducts/.
Note: Regulation 31, The Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water, sets an interim numeric value for chlorophyll a in direct use water source (DUWS) lakes and reservoirs of 5 micrograms per liter (µg/l) and 150 milligrams per square meter in warm water rivers and streams in Nutrients section 31.17 (d).
Wicklund’s concern was that TLWWTF and its three owner districts (WWSD, MSD, and PLSD) would be responsible to the state for that upstream discharge point and the nutrients entering a direct use water source, rather than the Town of Monument. Monument Lake is regulated by CDPHE’s "lakes and reservoirs" regulations, which are separate and different from "streams and rivers" regulations.
Note: Downstream of TLWWTF, the situation is different. The effluent TLWWTF discharge pipe is the first point-source discharge on Monument Creek, downstream of the Monument Lake reservoir. It includes TIN concentrations of 4 to 6 milligrams per liter (mg/l), which is well below the state’s Regulation 85 TIN discharge limit of 15 mg/l for streams and rivers.
Once the TLWWTF treated effluent enters Monument Creek south of the Arnold Avenue bridge, its TIN concentration is further reduced by dilution because the creek’s ambient TIN concentration level is less than 1 mg/l. TIN is also consumed by the aquatic life in the creek. By the time this flow reaches the new Baptist Road bridge, the in-stream TIN concentration is already significantly less than TLWWTF effluent TIN concentrations. Ongoing periphyton sampling efforts by Arkansas River/Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE) demonstrate that chlorophyll a is not a problem in Monument Creek downstream from TLWWTF to the Baptist Road bridge. See www.ocn.me/v16n10.htm#tlwtfjuc.
Facility manager’s report
Burks said that Aslan Construction still had a list of unfinished items included in the construction documents that Aslan needed to complete on the TLWWTF total phosphorus (TP) chemical removal clarifier expansion. "They missed quite a few things," he said.
After 30 days of operation, the TP clarifier is removing phosphorus down to the 0.5 mg/l range now, Burks said. This is already below the new 1 mg/l facility discharge permit requirement that starts on Nov. 1, 2019. This 1 mg/l limit is for a rolling annual median. Because it will take a full year to calculate the first rolling annual median under this permit’s TP compliance schedule, the first report of an annual median to the state and EPA in the monthly TLWWTF discharge monitoring report will not occur until Nov. 1, 2020.
Burks had previously told the JUC at the regular April 11 meeting that he would be able to report baseline radium test results from an influent grab sample done in February. However, he told the JUC that he did not get an influent composite sample since an operator misinterpreted the collection schedule. Burks said that he intends to try to get a composite sample again in May when the town notifies him that its Public Works Department drinking water operators are pumping backwash water from the town’s Well 9 sand filter into the MSD collection system. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#tlwtf.
Financial report and cash flow discussion
TLWWTF accountant Jackie Spegele of Numeric Strategies LLC attended the meeting to explain her February meeting request to increase the amount of the facility’s available cash flow reserve. She said a larger reserve would allow her to pay bills for the facility early in the month without running short of cash before distributing invoices to the owner districts for payment at the regular JUC meetings. The problem was not that districts were not paying, but the timing of the payments was off.
The JUC considered making a second amendment to the existing cash flow reserve agreement that stipulates how much money each owner district puts into the cash flow account. Wicklund said that since 90 percent of the bills were divided between the three owner districts not by equal thirds, but according to the percentage of flow and BOD per district, it didn’t make sense for MSD and PLSD to put equal amounts of cash into the cash flow account. (WWSD generates about 60 percent of the flow and BOD to the facility each month, with MSD and PLSD each generating roughly 20 percent each.)
Wicklund wondered if the cash flow escrow agreement needed to be revisited so that each district would put in its pro-rata share to the cash reserve, and Strom agreed. Wicklund added, "We do own a third (of the facility), but it’s a different part of the billing. We are very tight with money at MSD right now. We are in a lawsuit." Burks said, "I see your point."
After a detailed brainstorming session, Strom moved that the JUC would invoice each district by the third day of each month, based on estimated amounts for incoming bills and for regular recurring monthly budgeted items such as payroll. Then a second invoice would be sent to each district based on the remaining actual amounts. These two invoices would then be approved by the JUC at the regular meetings each month, and the districts would promptly pay their share of the second invoice. The motion was approved unanimously.
The JUC also voted unanimously for Burks to sign a Letter of Engagement to pay Spegele an hourly rate for her work, instead of a flat fee for the year paid in 12 installments.
Nutrient stakeholder meeting report
Burks said that at the March 7 AF CURE meeting, Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District dropped out of AF CURE without explanation, so AF CURE now has 10 instead of 11 members contributing both data samples and funds to AF CURE-sponsored water quality studies related to the Arkansas River Basin.
Burks said that AF CURE is creating a board for its own leadership now, too. The plan is to keep the Brown and Caldwell engineers as the executive director and find a chairman from within AF CURE to have a structure parallel to that of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA).
Kendrick reported on the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) Nutrient Stakeholder Workgroup’s third meeting, held on March 6, to gather stakeholder input on potential modifications to the implementation schedule that may be made at the WQCC Rulemaking Hearing on Reg. 85 and Reg. 31.17 this October.
Kendrick said since the EPA "took no action" on the WQCC’s proposed Reg. 31.17 interim numeric values for TP and TIN in rivers and streams water quality standards last June, the Water Quality Control Division has been searching for a way to "show progress" on limiting nutrients to the EPA, since not very many facilities will be able to meet the Regulation 85 TIN limit of 15 mg/l TIN or the TP limit of 1 mg/l TP.
Kristy Richardson of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment discussed some alternatives under consideration for future permit limits. She said that after a lot of analysis, the most "bang for the buck" is to focus on the compliance of the largest 49 plants in the state that are subject to Reg. 85 limits, of which only a few are compliant. But to get to 99 percent removal, by requiring all plants over 0.2 million gallons per day (such as Academy Water and Sanitation District) to comply, that would apply to 180 plants, which is still less than half the number of facilities in the state.
Kendrick said, "There are only four plants in the whole state that are meeting both TIN and TP limits right now, and we are one of them! In the whole state!"
In memory of Alan Miller
The JUC meeting paused for a moment of silence to remember Alan Miller, from Palmer Lake Sanitation District, who passed away in February. Strom told the group that Miller is the person who designed the iconic "Ski Monument Hill" poster.
The meeting adjourned 12:04 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 11 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053 or see www.tlwastewater.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jason Gross
During the Triview Metropolitan District public meeting held on March14, the district board responded to a question on its financial status, discussed Promontory Pointe Homeowners Association (HOA) concerns, introduced a new member of the district Streets and Parks team, and prepared for its March 31 long-term planning meeting.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within the town of Monument that provides roads and open space maintenance, water, and sanitation services to the residents of Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe.
Question on Triview’s financial status
During public comments, district resident Jason Gross noted that Triview’s $54 million debt is significantly more than that of other special districts. He then asked the board for its assessment of the financial health of the district. District President Reid Bolander said the district was "financially as healthy as we’ve ever been but not exactly where we’d love to be."
Bolander explained that in years past, the district struggled to make debt payments and provide the services and maintenance it was responsible for, but due to increased revenue and refinancing of debt the district was now in a better position. Bolander highlighted that fact that they were spending more than ever on road improvements and "short of a dramatic shift in property value or major recession" the district was well-positioned.
District Manager Valerie Remington said the district was rated "A-" by Standard and Poor’s for the recent refinancing of its debt. According to Standard and Poor’s, a debt holder with an "A-" rating is considered to have a "strong capacity to meet its financial commitments."
Promontory Pointe HOA concerns
Treasurer Marco Fiorito was recently elected treasurer for the Promontory Pointe HOA, and he relayed concerns from the HOA. Due to explicit graffiti being written on park equipment, the HOA desired a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the Train Park and Swing Parks in Promontory Pointe. The board recommended the HOA discuss the issue with the Town of Monument, since curfews are in the town’s purview.
He also said a letter will be coming from the HOA requesting a "no outlet" sign at the east end of Lyons Tail Road near Gleneagle Drive. Promontory Pointe residents noticed a lot of turnarounds on Gleneagle, apparently because people thought the street was a thoroughfare through the residential area. The board was open to ideas and will look into cost.
Remington reviewed the January financials, and all were assessed to be on track. The board approved one check over $5,000 to Electrical Excellence for light calibration and a redo of walk signs at the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive.
Remington also presented to the board options for investing short-term cash. The board chose those with highest rate of return and AAA rating.
Josh Cichocki, Triview water superintendent, also reviewed 2016 water production and discussed February’s data water revenue vs. water loss. Analysis indicated the district’s non-revenue water loss was 6 percent. Remington explained some amount of water loss was expected and the industry standard was 15 percent. The board was impressed with the low loss rate, but Cichocki explained additional data over the coming months was necessary to verify the accuracy and that the district could expect the loss rate to increase over the summer when irrigation systems are in use.
The ongoing purchase of a Promontory Pointe generator set was discussed with board members concerned about the noise created during generator maintenance runs. Cichocki agreed that noise may be an issue with the types of generators available on the current budget. The board requested Cichocki report back on how much more it would cost to purchase a quieter generator.
Cichocki informed the board that Trent Milburn was hired as a new Street and Parks technician. Milburn is a local resident who grew up in Monument.
Monument Police Department staff request median painted
Cichocki said the Monument Police Department staff requested that Triview paint the raised median just north of Wells Fargo on northbound Jackson Creek Parkway to help drivers see it. The board noted there are already reflectors in place, and a painted median wouldn’t be seen in the snow. The board concluded improving reflectors would be a better approach.
Board prepared for long-term planning meeting
The board used much of the meeting to converse back and forth on issues and ideas related to the long-term planning meeting scheduled for March 31. Topics could include:
• When to start the drilling process for another well in preparation for future growth.
• Drafting a five-year plan, including projected income and costs.
• Ensure future capital improvement needs are on track. Are rate structures adequate?
• If the district proactively completed Jackson Creek Parkway widening, would it speed up development and bring more tax revenue to the district?
• Improving district website clarity and usefulness and reducing costs.
All residents who would like email notifications from the district in case of emergencies need to write to the Triview office, firstname.lastname@example.org, with their email address. A separate step is to register for the county’s reverse 9-1-1 notifications at http://www.elpasoteller911.org.
The meeting adjourned at 7:16 p.m.
The next Triview meeting will be held April 11 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.
Jason Gross can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
On March 16, District General Manager Kip Petersen told the Donala Water and Sanitation District board that there was a water leak at 150 Desert Inn Way on Feb. 23. The Donala crew of Troy Vialpando, Ronnie Wright, Joe Lopez, and JR Vialpando responded at 1:30 p.m. Water service was shut off to four homes for the repair. Upon excavation as it started to snow, the crew found two leaking saddle taps at the end of their service lines that needed removal and replacement.
Petersen said it was "cold, wet, and miserable" work as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up while they worked in residual knee-deep water, and their clothing was coated with ice. The repair and restoration of water service was completed at 10 p.m. and the excavation backfilled by midnight.
Petersen noted a Feb. 24 email to Donala from Kelly and Joe Wallroth that thanked the "crew for fixing the leak in their cul de sac last night. They worked late into the night, in the cold and snow." Petersen added, "I’m very proud of the guys." Board President Dave Powell said, "We like to make sure they are appropriately recognized."
The absence of Director Ken Judd was excused.
Note: The district’s annual spring water conservation workshop on "Making Water Wise Changes When You Have Little Change to Spare" will be held on April 12 at 6 p.m. in the district boardroom. Normally there are over 30 attendees for this popular event. Registration at 488-3603 for the event will close on April 5. There were already 12 residents registered on March 16.
Operations and projects
The Triview wastewater influent Parshall measurement flume at Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility had been removed, replaced, and calibrated, though some final grouting remained to be completed. Triview owns and maintains the flume.
Petersen noted recent statements by the state’s Water Quality Control Division staff members that are attending the current round of Nutrients Stakeholder workgroup meetings in Denver that they are planning to recommend the state Nutrient Control Regulation 85 water quality standards for total phosphorus (1 mg/l) and total inorganic nitrogen (15 mg/l) be extended for five more years, through 2027.
Doral Way excavation planned
Donala will undertake a major $775,000 water main replacement in the area of Doral Way of 3,250 feet of 8-inch pipes that are about 50 years old. Also, the district will replace service lines between the mains and the curb stops for homes, primarily within county right-of-way but within private property in some cases. Petersen said that design work for this project is underway. District crews have been out in the area "potholing" the street and easements to make sure the existing Donala water and sewer lines have been properly located before excavation begins. The construction will go out for bids in late April. Residents will receive notices from Donala, and the district will hold an open house before this construction begins in May. There will be several other Donala capital projects this year, "but the Doral Way project will be the most visible," he said.
Petersen reported that questions had been raised by El Paso County attorneys during county development review about whether the proposed conversion of some abandoned Gleneagle golf course property to residential lots (the Gleneagle golf course infill project) would fall under a 100-year or 300-year demonstrated groundwater availability rule. Donala has been supplying potable water to this land since the mid-1970s using Denver basin wells. In 1985, Donala began providing reuse treated wastewater to the golf course for irrigation only. The historical golf course use has been 25 acre-feet per year, enough for 41 single-family homes.
This level of Donala potable groundwater service to the golf course began under the previous statewide 100-year groundwater rule. However, 56 homes have been proposed in this residential conversion project. Petersen said the additional 15 homes would be provided with 9.15 acre-feet of Willow Creek Ranch renewable surface water, which should not be subject to the state’s groundwater guaranteed 300-year aquifer lifespan rule. He stated that both sources should be considered under the 100-year rule since service to the land by Donala has been uninterrupted.
Petersen noted that the county is also considering applying El Paso County’s 300-year groundwater rule, passed in 1986 (after construction of the Gleneagle golf course in 1978), to two proposed vacant parcels for development on Struthers Road near the Gleneagle Drive and Northgate Road intersections. However, the county has already approved three recent Donala will-serve letters for other previously proposed developments based on the 100-year rule.
Under the county’s current position of imposing the 300-year groundwater commitment from Donala as a condition of approval, each of these three new projects would not have enough "will serve" water available from Donala. To date, the Donala board has declined to provide the extra groundwater needed to satisfy the much higher allocations that would be required in excess of the historic 100-year requirement to satisfy the county’s proposed 300-year groundwater requirement. Each developer would have to have a water waiver approved by the county Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners. The board has told these developers that otherwise they must provide very expensive new water rights to Donala to augment the historic uses.
Petersen advised the board that Donala’s auditor, Tom Sistare of Hoelting and Co., had suggested that the board raise the threshold for capitalizing a district acquisition from $2,000 to $5,000 to more accurately reflect current conditions of value. A motion to approve an increase in the threshold by $3,000 was unanimously approved.
Petersen and Director Ed Houle said they learned at the March 8 Arkansas Basin Roundtable from representatives of the state Health Department, Colorado Water and Regional Power Development Authority, and the Department of Local Affairs that Donala will not be eligible for state grants due to Donala’s good "economic health" and its comparatively high median household income compared to depressed state areas in rural Colorado. However, Donala will remain eligible for low-interest state loans from the authority. There were no discussions regarding financing of future reuse projects.
Petersen said that as the 2017 president of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, he would be the host for the Arkansas River Forum to be held on April 26-27. He said no significant water bills had been passed by the state Legislature to date.
Petersen noted that Donala’s accountant Sharon Samek would be moving to Pennsylvania and that her last day would be March 17. The staff planned to hold a luncheon for her that day. He added that he had started the interview process for a new district accountant. Petersen and the directors thanked her for her hard work and dedication. www.ocn.me/v13n9.htm#dwsd, www.ocn.me/v14n8.htm#dwsd0717, www.ocn.me/v16n7.htm#dwsd-0623 .
Petersen reported that the district and Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility financial reports through the end of February were "tracking" normally. Donala supplied 99 percent of its potable water to its customers from the district’s stored renewable surface water at the Pueblo Reservoir in February. Colorado is having another "wet winter" that will increase the headwaters snow melt from the district’s Willow Creek Ranch near Leadville this spring.
The meeting went into executive session at 2:25 p.m. concerning the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of a property interest. No motions or decisions were made after coming out of executive session before adjournment.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on April 20 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
In March, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) denied the appeal by Sun Hills Homeowners Association (HOA) of an administrative determination made by the Planning and Community Development Department concerning the parcel of land at 15000 Sun Hills Drive, which is currently the site of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s (DWFPD) Sun Hills Station 3.
Also during March, the BOCC received an update on wildfires, and the commissioners were asked to help spread the word about mitigation measures.
Sun Hills Station 3
At its March 14 meeting, the BOCC heard arguments for and against the HOA’s appeal of the decision made by the Planning Department in January about the legal status of the parcel of land where the DWFPD’s Sun Hills Station 3 is located. The vote was tied 2-2 (Commissioner Mark Waller was excused). Consequently, the matter was put on the March 21 agenda to allow Waller to cast a deciding vote.
Background: Station 3 was built on a 0.44-acre piece of land sold to the DWFPD in 1981 for $1 by the then owner of the 5-acre Lot 14 at Sun Hills Estates. The DWFPD stopped using the fire station in late 2011/early 2012, and it has been maintained as a storage facility since then.
In November 2016, the DWFPD Board of Directors voted to put the Sun Hills Station 3 on the market. The DWFPD is in a financial crisis with its revenue being cut by 66 percent in 2019. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#dwfpd.
The following month, George German, the current owner of Lot 14, protested this decision, saying the land for the station should revert to the donor instead of being sold as a residential property on 0.44 acres of land in the Sun Hills HOA where all lots are 5 acres (RR-5).
In response, DWFPD delayed putting the station on the market to allow time for more research. It subsequently went to the Planning and Community Development Department to request a decision on the legal status and allowed uses of the property. The Planning Department determined that there was no condition included in the original approvals from 1981 and 1982 that stated that the property was only to be used as a fire station.
It was this determination, which would allow the parcel of land to go for residential use, that the HOA appealed. It believed that approval would adversely affect the residents of Sun Hills by setting a precedent for residents to seek approval to subdivide their properties into lots smaller than the 5 acres required by the RR-5 zone. Speaking at the March 14 BOCC meeting, David Woody, chairman of the Sun Hills Architectural Control Committee, said "the infrastructure can’t handle it [subdivision of lots] and it would undermine the integrity of the neighborhood."
Bill Eckert, a Sun Hills resident and a past president of the HOA, also spoke in support of the appeal. He said, "This is not about not wanting to support my heroes in the Wescott Fire Department. This is about community and covenants." He explained that the lots at Sun Hills are protected by covenants made by the original purchasers that run with the land and that include undivided 5-acre lots and allow only one residence per lot.
Eckert said that as part of Sun Hills’ many decades of support for the Fire Department, in 1981 the owner of Lot 14 agreed to let Wescott have a 0.44-acre piece of the lot to build a fire station. He quoted from the agreement between the Fire Department and the Sun Hills Architectural Control Committee (SHACC), which has covenant authority over all land in Sun Hills. The agreement, which was recorded with the county clerk, stated that Wescott is "hereby granted the right to use the premises so as it is described for the erection and maintenance of a fire station."
Eckert further said that the then Wescott board chairman signed the agreement that clearly stated, "This modification to the covenants of Sun Hills is intended to extend only to the Board of Directors of the Wescott Fire [Protection] District for the purposes of erecting a fire station on said property." Eckert ended by saying, "As Wescott is bound by these covenants and we believe it would be both a breach of their contract and a breach of the covenants that apply to them if they put a second residence on Lot 14, I ask you [the commissioners] not to abet that breach of covenants by allowing such a variance to current county subdivision regulations."
German, who had protested the DWFPD board’s November decision to sell the property, said "putting a second residence on that property is just wrong. If I were to buy it, I couldn’t meet the covenants of Sun Hills."
County Project Manager/Planner II Nina Ruiz of the Planning and Community Development Department explained that the Board of Adjustment had approved the dimensional variance relating to the parcel of land in 1981 with the condition that a special use and a subdivision exemption be requested and approved. These were approved by the BOCC in 1982. She said, "The only condition included in those approvals was that a site plan was filed with the department. There were no conditions included saying that the property is to be used only for this purpose or if it’s converted in the future you must do X, Y, and Z."
Ruiz said that one area of contention is the standard resolution at the time that stated, "Whereas the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District intends to utilize this parcel solely for the location of an emergency facility (fire station)." Ruiz said the department had consulted with the county attorney to see if the standard resolution used at the time could be interpreted as saying that a condition of approval was that the property could only be used for a fire station. The county attorney had determined that that was not the case.
Lori Seago, assistant county attorney, explained to the BOCC the decisions it could review in making its determination this time. She said that, because the BOCC approved the 1982 special use and subdivision exemption, it could look again at those and determine whether the department had correctly interpreted them as saying that they contain nothing that specifically prohibits the parcel of land from being used for anything other than a fire station. Seago was clear that the BOCC does not have the authority to look at the dimensional variance because this was made by the Board of Adjustment.
Seago also advised that, "BOCC does not have the authority to enforce covenants and there is nothing in the Land Development Code that would allow you to consider covenants in your decision. BOCC does not have the authority to even consider whether covenants are being complied with or violated in making its decision."
Seago added that if the BOCC chose to deny the appeal, that would in no way detract from the property owners’ ability to initiate a private action in court to enforce those covenants and/or agreement that was signed between the fire district and the HOA at the time that they approved the use of the fire station.
Kelly Duke, attorney for DWFPD, said that she believed the county Planning Department had correctly interpreted the dimensional variance and the special use approval, stating that all the special use approval did was confirm that the parcel, which at the time and still is zoned for residential use, could lawfully be used as a fire station. She said, "They basically layered another use on top of the residential use that didn’t necessarily get rid of the underlying presumptive use, which is residential."
Duke continued, "The (fire) district is obviously sympathetic to the concerns of the homeowners. Frankly, the district doesn’t know yet what it’s going to do with this property. The property is not going on the market as of now … but they needed to know what their options are, because frankly a fire station is not being used on this property and hasn’t been for several years."
Duke stated that she took issue with some of the statements made about the content of the private agreements and covenants. She said that, in fact, the covenants in effect to date do not have any lot restriction sizes. She also said, "The slippery slope argument is also I think misplaced. The district is certainly not arguing everyone should be able to come in and subdivide their lots. That’s certainly not what we’re looking for. We believe that the administrative determination is really confined to the interpretation of an existing variance which has been on the books since 1981. Any other landowner that seeks to subdivide their property is going to have to go through the same process as anybody else would."
Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez moved to approve the appeal to overturn the decision made by the Planning Department, and District 1 Commissioner Darryl Glenn seconded it. Commissioners Stan VanderWerf and Peggy Littleton were opposed.
On March 21, having listened to the testimony from the previous week, Waller voted no, meaning that the motion failed and the appeal was denied. The Planning Department’s administrative determination therefore stands.
Waller said that there was no doubt in his mind that when the deal was originally made, it was designed to provide the parcel of land for a fire station. He said that the appellants in the case looked to the resolution made by the BOCC at the time as evidence that the BOCC approved this based on the idea that this parcel would be used only as a fire station. Waller said that as he read the resolution from that time, "DWFPD intends to utilize this parcel solely for an emergency facility [fire station]," and the resolution does not say the BOCC is approving this special use solely for a fire station. The BOCC just recognized the deal that had been made. He further stated that the BOCC cannot determine single uses for a parcel of land in perpetuity because this would violate contract law.
The BOCC’s denial of the appeal means that the property can be sold for another use allowed within the RR-5 zoning.
Fire chief warns of wildland fire danger
During public comments at the March 2 BOCC meeting, Carl Tatum, Hanover fire chief, updated the commissioners on the grassfire burning in southeastern El Paso County. Tatum warned that the wildland fire season is here and asked that the commissioners help to get the word out about the need for fire mitigation.
He said, "If homeowners can’t help us get a safe space and help us protect their homes with fire mitigation, we’re going to lose some homes this year." Creating defensible space includes clearing away flammable materials and debris from around your home or business, cutting down weeds and grasses, trimming trees near buildings, and using fire-resistant materials in construction. The commissioners thanked Tatum and all the firefighters for their brave work in saving homes.
Minor subdivision approved for Happy Landing Estates
On March 2, the BOCC unanimously approved a request for approval of a minor subdivision to create two single-family residential lots at Happy Landing Estates, located on the east side of Happy Landing Drive and Higby Road. The 35.57-acre parcel is zoned RR-5 (Residential Rural). It will be divided to create a 17-acre lot and an 18-acre lot. The application was heard and recommended for approval by the El Paso County Planning Commission at its Feb. 7 meeting.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
At its March 21 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission considered a preliminary plan and final plat approval requests relating to the development of the golf course land in Gleneagle. After three hours of discussion, the commission voted to continue the items to its April 18 meeting to allow time for the applicant to secure missing drainage easements and for county staff to approve the preliminary and final drainage and erosion control plan and reports.
The Gleneagle golf course property is located north of Northgate Road along Gleneagle Drive. In 2009, the driving range portion was converted to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning district so that 47 patio homes could be built. It included an agreement limiting land use changes within the remaining golf course.
However, the applicant, Westbrook Capital Holdings LLC, is now applying to build 56 single-family homes on a 28-acre portion of the land, including three new cul-de-sacs, instead of the patio homes that were planned for the driving range area. The remaining land, 73 percent of the old golf course, would remain as open space, maintained by the Gleneagle Civic Association for the use of the Gleneagle community, and as drainage and buffer tracts.
Multiple concurrent land use requests are being processed for this development. At its Oct. 18, 2016 meeting, the Planning Commission approved the map amendment (rezone). The sketch plan amendment request, which establishes broad land uses and compatibility, and the rezone request (from the RR-5 to the RS-6000 zoning district) for a portion of the overall sketch plan amendment were both approved at the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 6.
See links here to an October OCN article and the December El Paso County Planning Commission website: www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#epcpc1018, or http://adm.elpasoco.com/Development%20Services/Pages/PlanningCommission2016.aspx for the Dec. 6 Planning Commission minutes.
The developer has requested that all five requests relating to the project be heard concurrently at a future BOCC meeting.
Two waivers requested
Westbrook Capital Holdings has requested a waiver of the requirement that a maximum of 25 lots on a cul-de-sac in this case, in relation to Mission Hill Way. Staff had no objections to this waiver request.
Senior Assistant County Attorney Cole Emmons explained that the applicant and Donala Water and Sanitation District have also requested a waiver of the county requirement that the water supply be sufficient for 300 years (known as the 300 Year Rule) and using the state’s 100-year water supply rule instead. The staff report stated that the water supply for the subdivision comes from two distinguishable sources: the district bedrock non-renewable groundwater sources that are considered to have a 100-year aquifer life, and Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch surface water supply, which is considered annually renewable and which does meet the 300-year water supply requirement. It is some years since such a waiver has been requested, but such waivers have been granted for several projects served by Donala due to its excellent operating record, its sound practices in water management and operation, and its successful water conservation measures.
Donala District Manager Kip Petersen also addressed the commissioners’ questions about the application for a waiver of the 300-year water rule
Bill Guman spoke on behalf of the applicant, Westbrook Capital Holdings. He was asked about the lack of drainage study material and concerns with one particular area of the golf course where there were no drainage easements linking the golf course to the drainage infrastructure on Westchester Drive. Guman said there was a design proposal in place that would resolve this issue, but negotiations had not yet been successfully concluded.
Speaking after all testimony had been heard, Commissioner Jerry Hannigan said, "I think the application is getting ahead of itself." He said he felt there was enough information to deal with the water waiver and preliminary plan but not enough to deal with the final plat request. He also said that it bothered him that the application did not yet have BOCC approval of the zoning requests. Commissioner Jim Egbert agreed, saying, "We need to have a solution in place for drainage and that doesn’t currently exist. I agree we are in good shape in terms of a water waiver."
Commissioner Timothy Trowbridge, chair of the Planning Commission, disagreed that the commission could go forward with the preliminary plan because the issues raised concerned both the preliminary plan and the final plat. He did say that the water waiver did not concern him, stating that Donala has reduced demand and has an excellent record.
The commissioners voted unanimously to continue the items to the April 18 meeting, by which time final drainage details would hopefully have been completed by the applicant and approved by the staff.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) met on March 11, hosting a forum featuring Fire Chief Chris Truty and Fire Marshal/Battalion Chief Jamey Bumgarner of Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) and Chief Vinny Burns of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD). They provided information about their respective district’s history, response times, funding and oversight, and community outreach. NEPCO Secretary Bob Swedenburg moderated the forum.
All board members were present and 31 of the 39 member homeowners associations (HOAs) were represented.
Fire Protection District demographics
Truty explained that Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District merged in 2004 to create the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, which voters then approved to form TLMFPD in 2007. TLMFPD comprises about 52 square miles that extend from the mountains to Black Forest Road, and from County Line Road to roughly Baptist Road/Hodgen on the southern border. www.ocn.me/v7n10.htm#tlmfra, www.ocn.me/v8n2.htm#tlmfpd
Note: Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, was formed in 1975 and the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District was formed in 1977. On Jan. 1, 2008, the Woodmoor-Monument district was dissolved and incorporated into a merged district under a new name, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. www.ocn.me/v8n1.htm#tlmfra
TLMFPD covers a population of about 33,000 people, 9,652 households, and 418 businesses. Physical resources include three fire stations, one ladder truck with a pump, two fire engines, and two ambulances. The staff includes 42 firefighters and four administrators. Average response time is seven minutes, 16 seconds, which is significantly affected by the large geographic area. The district receives about 2,500 calls per year, 70 percent of which are medical. A budget of $6.02 million supports TLMFPD for 2017.
Burns reported that DWFPD was established in 1981. Originally, the district ran from Dublin Boulevard through Briargate between I-25 and State Highway 83, to Baptist Road/ Hodgen Road on the north. Progressive annexation by Colorado Springs steadily reduced the district’s geographic area, establishing Northgate Boulevard as the current southern boundary. Burns referred to Montezuma Estates as the "island," a section not annexed by Colorado Springs, which also falls within the district’s borders. http://wescottfire.org/about-wescott-fire/history-of-wescott-fire/.
DWFPD serves about 10,000 residents (down from 30,000), 3,100 households, and 50 businesses; operates two active fire stations and uses a third primarily for training and storage; employs 17 career firefighters and officers and one administrative assistant; and receives support from 17 volunteers. Burns described the equipment "at our disposal" as three engines, one combination engine-aerial device, one brush truck, a brush squad (utility truck), and a water tender. DWFPD partners with American Medical Response (AMR) for the district’s one ambulance operating out of Gleneagle Station 1. He said Wescott tries to respond to dispatches within eight minutes at least 90 percent of the time, and did so 96 percent of the time. DWFPD responded to 2,709 calls in 2016, but Burns expects fewer calls and a much smaller budget—down from the 2017 annual budget of $2.1 million—due to the Colorado Springs annexation and DWFPD’s subsequent shrinking geographic area.
Mutual aid and automatic aid defined
Burns explained that mutual aid is a signed agreement between two or more fire districts to assist one another when the initially dispatched station verbally requests aid. Truty emphasized that the fire districts reciprocate to their neighboring jurisdiction as an operational model despite occasional imbalances that may arise in aid given versus aid received. On the other hand, Truty described automatic aid as "a formal arrangement between two jurisdictions where one will automatically dispatch resources into a neighboring jurisdiction as part of an initial response." As soon as the county sheriff dispatcher software recognizes that the dispatch address is in an area designated as an automatic aid address, the county dispatcher software will simultaneously send a dispatch to the other jurisdiction, because the latter will likely arrive first. Truty added that those secondary units "automatically respond" rather than wait for the first jurisdiction’s fire crew to verbally ask the county dispatcher for assistance. TLMFPD and DWFPD belong to the North Group, which combines automatic aid and mutual aid agreements between districts.
Revenue and oversight
Burns described revenue sources for DWFPD as the property tax base; a special ownership tax from license renewals, new car sales, and registrations; and deployment to national forest fires and other large incidents. A five-person elected board ensures that the chief has the tools necessary to operate and oversees the district’s fiscal accountability.
Note: Wescott’s mill levy was last increased from 1.94 mills to 7.0 mills in 2004 to finance full-time service. See www.ocn.me/v4n4.htm#jfpd,
Truty stated that property taxes and emergency medical service (EMS) billing support TLMFPD, and the board is composed of seven individuals.
Note: Tri-Lakes Fire Authority raised its mill levy from 7.0 mills to 8.5 mills in the Nov. 5, 2007 election (www.ocn.me/v6n12.htm#tlmfra), and from 8.5 mills to 11.5 mills in the Nov. 5, 2012 election. www.ocn.me/v12n12.htm#tlmfpd.
Both districts plan to propose mill levy increases in the fall.
Insurance Services Organization (ISO) ratings
Bumgarner discussed Insurance Services Organization (ISO) ratings, which rank the ability of a fire district to effectively handle a fire within its own boundaries. Bumgarner and Burns listed apparatus, communications, staffing, training, and dispatching as some of the criteria used to determine the rating on a scale from 1 to 10, with a "1" being the best. TLMFPD and DWFPD have "3" ratings (where there are hydrants.) Bumgarner added that the impact of a fire district’s ISO rating on a homeowner’s insurance has more to do with the individual insurance company than the fire district’s ISO rating. (Note: Bumgarner said that in areas within these two districts with no hydrants, the ISO rating is now 3Y.)
In summary, the fire districts promote fire mitigation on individual properties, and engagement and communication to and from the community as the best means for safeguarding properties from fire.
Transportation Committee update
Tom Vierzba, NEPCO vice president, summarized the Transportation and Land Use Committee’s commentary pertaining to various road projects throughout Tri-Lakes. He confirmed that the county is planning a roundabout, instead of a traffic signal, for the Gleneagle-Struthers interchange, but a completion time frame is not available. The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) restored funding for Beacon Lite Road improvements due to additional revenues and cost savings in 2016. The section of I-25 that extends from Monument to Castle Rock, known as "The Gap," remains a top priority. Funding also exists for improvements on Monument Hill Road and State Highway 105 beginning in 2018.
NEPCO presented a tentative 2017 program schedule of forums and speakers:
• May 13 – HOA attorney Lenard Rioth
• July 15 – Water districts’ General Managers Forum
• Sep. 9 – County Commissioner Darryl Glenn
• Nov. 18 – Energy Providers Forum
NEPCO’s mission is to promote communication and interaction among HOAs of northern El Paso County, exchange ideas on topics of common interest, and develop collective responses to the county on issues affecting the quality of life of NEPCO member associations. NEPCO meets every other month on the second Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in the Monument Town Hall conference room, located at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. off Highway 105. The next meeting is scheduled for May 13.
All formal and informal HOAs in northern El Paso County are invited to join NEPCO and should call Bob Swedenburg at 481-2723 or visit the website www.nepco.org. Other websites of interest are http://wescottfire.org, http://www.tlmfire.org, and https://www.greateducation.org/statistics-faqs/funding-faqs/tabor-gallagher.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, March 22: Forestry director named; concerns about Walters property
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on March 22 to announce the new director of Forestry, hear concerns about the possible sale of the Walters property, and approve reserve study expenditures. Directors Robert Benjamin and Brad Gleason were absent.
Citizen comments on Walters property
Resident John Ottino, former WIA president, who regularly walks his dog on the undeveloped Walters property north of Higby and east of Jackson Creek, reported that he spoke with an appraiser who was on the property. The appraiser indicated that the Walters family was considering selling the property, which is zoned for single-family residences. Ottino raised concerns about potential development and asked the board to consider setting a minimum lot size or modifying the Project Design Standards Manual (PDSM) to set limits. Ottino explained the history of Walters property, the nearby development of the Pulte townhomes, and previous statements about setting up a conservation easement. (For more information, search on http://ocn.me for related articles.)
Vice President Brian Bush noted that WIA has never regulated minimum lot size and questioned the justification for doing so now. It was noted that the covenants for Woodmoor do define the minimum dwelling size (Article V, Section 2) and required setbacks (Article V, Section 3). Ottino stated that no one wanted to see houses packed in and noted that Woodmoor had few open spaces. Ottino offered to share documentation from his personal files on previous statements about a possible conservation easement.
New Forestry director given additional authority
President Peter Bille announced the appointment of resident Ed Miller as director of Forestry. Director Bush moved to delegate the authority to review and approve all tree requests and Firewise lot evaluations as they pertain to project application packets without prior approval or consultation of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) for the calendar year 2017. The authority of ACC to approve the clearing of trees is covered by Article V, Section 8 of the declarations of protective covenants. The motion was passed unanimously.
Reserve study expenditures approved
The board considered and unanimously approved expenditures for the reserve study to dredge Hidden Pond and replace conference room chairs. ACC and Commons Area Administrator Bob Pearsall indicated that it was the perfect time and conditions to dredge the pond; he was able to save $11,000 from the estimated cost. The pond will be dredged and the area under Deer Creek Road will be graded to better define the streambed to avoid flooding. This will be paid for out of budgeted funds from reserves and not from operating funds.
Vice President Bush noted that conference room chairs are falling apart need to be replaced. He made a motion to replace 12 chairs for an amount not to exceed $3,000 from the reserve study. The new chairs will have a lifetime guarantee, and the board will attempt to recover the cost by selling the old chairs. The motion passed unanimously.
Board report highlights
• Mountain pine beetle evidence was identified in a tree in the Hidden Pond area, and the tree is marked and scheduled to be removed by a contractor. See information on the mountain pine beetle at https://www.woodmoor.org/forestry-firewise/. WIA will save some cross-sections of the tree for display.
• Director Jennifer Cunningham reported that The Great American Cleanup will be held on April 22 and there will be three local locations. See http://gacppp.com to register to participate.
• The Stamp Out Hunger food collection will occur on the second Saturday in May. Residents can leave non-perishable food at their mailbox for delivery to Tri-Lakes Cares.
• Treasurer Hanson reported that WIA is on solid financial standing and is ahead of schedule on collecting annual dues.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on April 26. The WIA calendar can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
March came in like a lamb and stayed that way for most of the month, before finally going out like a lion. After record warmth and dryness for the first three weeks of the month, the pattern finally changed and brought some much-needed moisture. Of course, we usually don’t come out of exceptionally dry and warm periods gracefully, and this time was no different as a quick but powerful blizzard changed things on March 24.
The record warmth and dry weather dominated the region from March 1 through March 23. Temperatures were above average every day except on the 1st and 2nd and these days were a little below normal, mainly because overnight lows were chilly, reaching the single digits both mornings. But these cold temperatures were soon a distant memory, as temperatures from the 3rd to the 18th were above normal, except on the 6th. High temperatures hit the upper 50s and low 60s from the 3rd to the 5th. A quick shot of cool weather moved in on the 6th and even produced a brief snow shower during the morning that if you blinked you might have missed. Even more unusual was that this turned out to be our only precipitation through March 23rd, very unusual for March, normally one of our more active weather months.
After the 6th, warm weather quickly returned as a strong ridge of high pressure re-established itself over the region. This blocked any storms from moving into the area, and the lack of snow on the ground and dry conditions allowed temperatures to soar. Every afternoon from the 8th through the 18th reached the 60s and even low 70s, the only exceptions being some upper 40s on the 11th and mid 50s on the 13th. Temperatures reached record high levels on several afternoons, with monthly record highs reached for the second month in a row on the 18th. This is highly unusual for any single month, but to set new monthly record highs in consecutive months is almost unheard of.
Making things even more extreme was the fact that no precipitation fell except for brief flurries on the morning of the 6th and we now have had two months in a row of dry and warm weather. This combined with a dry and warm fall and early winter to produce what will likely be record low snow amounts for the season. Also, many of the plants in the region were getting "tricked" into thinking winter was over, which of course it wasn’t.
But just when you thought spring had sprung, winter made an abrupt return. The first signs of changes moved in late on the 23rd as bands of rain showers moved over the region. Cooler air continued to rush into the region as an area of low pressure wound up over southeastern Colorado. Around midnight, the rain began to switch over to heavy, wet snow. At the same time, winds began to strengthen as air rushed into the center of the low pressure. This produced blizzard conditions during much of the morning hours as winds as high a 60 mph blew the heavy snow into significant drifts and created near zero visibility at times. I-25 was closed for several hours as well between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs. As often happens during late March through April, elevation plays a key role in rain versus snow and the amount of snow. With this storm, almost all the snow accumulated in areas above 6,500 feet, with mainly rain below those elevations.
The storm quickly departed, with quiet conditions returning before the end of the day. We were in between systems on the 25th, but the next storm was quickly moving toward the region. Skies turned cloudy by late on the 25th, and scattered showers returned by the morning of the 26th. However, this system was much smaller in size and did not wind up over southern Colorado like the previous one. This meant a short time of unsettled weather as it moved through the region.
Quiet conditions returned later on the 26th through the 27th before another storm affected the region through the end of the month. This one had a little more moisture to work with and moved through more slowly. This led to wet weather again, first starting as rain and rain/snow mixed showers on the 28th and changing to snow on the 29th. Another 6-12 inches of wet snow accumulated for most areas above 7,000 feet. This storm cleared out by late on the 29th, with mostly sunny skies returning on the 30th. Yet another storm began to affect the region on the 31st, with rain and snow developing, but most of the fun with this last storm held off until the 1st of April, so more on that next month.
A look ahead
April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region and is on average our snowiest month of the year. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Several recent years have seen over 50 inches of snow accumulate during the month. Of course, it also melts very quickly, often adding very beneficial moisture to the soil and helping the vegetation, which is just getting started. We can hope this year will bring abundant moisture and hopefully make up for some of the dry conditions we’ve experienced over the last year.
March 2017 Weather Statistics
Average High 57.2° (+7.0°)
100-year return frequency value max 57.9° min 38.0°
Average Low 26.7° (+5.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 27.0° min 12.0°
Highest Temperature 74° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature 1° on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 2.39" (+0.76", 25% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 4.29" min 0.22"
Monthly Snowfall 20.5" (-0.6", 35% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 57.2" (-32.8", 43% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 10.10" (-4.23", 30% abv normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 715 (-198)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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.
After soliciting opt-ins, D38 laments it’s running out of room for students
Be warned: District 38 has begun holding "Community Meetings" with its $81,850 consultant to convince us we need to build a new school. The meetings featured a presentation focused on a projected student population surge they claim will happen in the next 10 years, based on projected new home construction. Having attended these meetings, district observers familiar with local history report:
• D38’s consultant never discusses rising interest rates or Trump’s plan to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction; both will inhibit housing market demand and new construction.
• D38’s consultant doesn’t discuss Grace Best: a viable school building in a prime location, whose complete renovation would cost a fraction of a new building and whose asbestos cleanup could be funded by federal grants instead of local taxpayers.
• D38 has every legal right to refuse non-resident student opt-ins if it lacks space or personnel.
• D38 has spent years manufacturing this crisis by aggressively recruiting non-resident student opt-ins by running costly television, radio, and newspaper ads in neighboring areas.
• D38’s last 10-year construction boom yielded a net gain of only 233 students (only 23 students a year).
Further, D38 appears to be misrepresenting individual school-building capacity numbers. Compared to capacity D38 reported to the state just last summer, space has mysteriously decreased: D38 now claims their school buildings hold 437 fewer students than they did eight months ago!
Worse still is Superintendent Brofft’s dissembling about non-resident opt-ins at February’s board meeting. She emphasized, "there is a statute" and "there are very limited conditions under which we can deny [opt-ins]," never quite admitting that being short on space or teachers allows districts to refuse opt-in requests.
There’s no law requiring our community to build buildings for students who don’t live here, but if D38 leaders have their way, that’s exactly what taxpayers will be tricked into buying.
Don’t put ideology ahead of education
My husband and I moved to this area last year, and although retired and no longer having children of school age, we feel it’s important to locate in a good school district where education, understanding the world we live in, and moral integrity are values the district fosters.
The Lewis-Palmer School District appears to support and reflect these values in the teachers and students. We are shocked and dismayed to read the current articles in this paper concerning individuals who put political ideology ahead of the education of the future citizens of the country and the world.
How can any intelligent person in the present time not understand that we all live in a global society and to attempt to isolate this country, this city, let alone this school district is an absurd and extremely backward jingoistic attempt to limit development and progress in our nation and society.
We applaud the district’s mission statement and hope it continues to strive for excellence in education and maintain focus on good judgement and decision-making for all students and staff.
Same old story for D38
As Yogi Berra would say, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Almost 10 years ago, D38 opened its second high school, Palmer Ridge. They opened it without the necessary voter-approved funds to support the school’s operations—a really bad decision. Ever since, the D38 school board has tried many times to pass a property tax hike, and they have failed. Now D38 is on a mission to build a new elementary school. They will need the voters’ approval. Are the school board’s past mistakes hindering their ability to convince the taxpayer they need a new school? Or is it just a public relations problem?
Recently, I viewed a Facebook post written by a D38 mom. The mom challenged a father whose children had already graduated from D38 schools. She suggested that those of us who no longer have kids in school are not "current and informed." Therefore, our opinions do not matter. By the way: The older father responded with kindness.
Some of my senior citizen friends will never ever vote for a tax increase—period—end of story! But some might consider one if they could trust that their taxpayer dollars were spent prudently. We have a new leadership team, yet the same old story: Inexperienced superintendent awarded a three-year 22 percent salary hike, a proposed salary hike of $10,000 for six-figure central administrators, over $100,000 spent on consultants and advisors to sell a tax hike, and the list goes on. Bottom line: The D38 community does not trust today’s school board, and they resent the board’s arrogance.
This is a great school district—we all agree. But endless streams of money and shiny new schools are not the answer. We already have the formula: caring parents, quality teachers, and motivated students. One final thought: 70 percent of D38’s voters are senior citizens.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."—Robert Frost
April is National Poetry Month, inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Most of us seldom think to pick up a book of poetry to read as adults, but many of the favorite picture books you read to your children when they were small were probably written in a rhyming, rhythmical form. If that format hooked you, or a child of yours, on reading, maybe it’s time to revisit the poem? Here are some collections for your consideration:
The Rain in Portugal
By Billy Collins (Penguin Random House) $26
Billy Collins sheds his ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. Often whimsical, his imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. Entertaining, engaging, enlightening poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in American poetry.
Journey On: Beauty and Grit along the Way
By Anna Blake Godbout, (Mountain Tapestry Press) $12.95
Lives head toward all manner of destinations: the physical, mental, emotional, soulful, and symbolic. Yet it is this journey’s path of to and fro that life itself means to observe and commemorate. These poems are landmarks from a woman’s life as a daughter, granddaughter, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.
Water, Rocks and Trees
By James Scott Smith (Homebound Publications) $16.95
"Walk in the day as/ if all things must be/ touched and felt as real." Poet, psychotherapist, and wilderness guide James Scott Smith’s first collection of poems explores our relationship to the natural world. Water, Rocks and Trees was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2015 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize.
By John Blase (Bright Coppers Press) $9.99
John Blase is a pastor’s son, writer, poet, collaborator, and editor. His writing is intensely personal, filtered through a brass-knuckled optimism, the perspective of a first-born, and the gratefulness of a strange thing called grace. The Jubilee is his newest book and debut book of poetry.
Milk and Honey
By Rupi Kaur (Andrews McMeel Publishing) $14.99
Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Split into four chapters, each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache.
One Minute Till Bedtime: 60-Second Poems to Send You off to Sleep
Selected by Kenn Nesbitt (Hachette Book Group) $19.99
Former Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt presents a blockbuster collection of all-new poetry penned by some of the most beloved and celebrated poets of our time, including Jack Prelutsky, Jon Scieszka, Mary Ann Hoberman, Nikki Grimes, Lemony Snicket, Jane Yolen, and many more. Illuminated with dreamlike wit and whimsy by New York Times illustrator and award winning artist Christoph Niemann, this will be your new bedtime favorite.
A Child’s Garden of Verses
By Robert Louis Stevenson (Penguin Random House) $15.99
Robert Louis Stevenson’s rhymes have charmed children and adults alike since 1885. Stevenson’s joyful exploration of the world speaks directly from a child’s point of view and celebrates the child’s imagination.
By Kwarma Alexander (Houghton Mifflin) $7.99 (May)
2015 Newberry Medal Winner and Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book, The Crossover is a middle-grade novel in verse that’s Love That Dog meets Slam. Twelve-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. The poetic rap and rhythm is simultaneously razor-sharp and tender. (Recommended for ages 10-14.)
April 27 is Poem in Your Pocket Day, which originated in 2002 in New York City. People celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In 2008 the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all 50 states, and it extended to Canada in 2016. You can find more than 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month at the Academy of American Poets website: www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home. Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
There are events for all ages at the library in April. The One Book 4 Colorado program will kick off with a Mouse Party, teens will celebrate Earth Day by making seed bombs, and adults will be able to attend an author signing and create a new anime club.
The library’s Coloring for Everyone program will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 on Friday, April 7. This program, open to all ages, will feature the theme of Wild Animal Fun. We provide a selection of coloring pages, pencils, gel pens, and crayons. You are also welcome to bring your own supplies. Drop in anytime between 3 and 5:30. No registration necessary.
Come to a Mouse Party on Saturday, April 8 from 2:30 to 3:30 to kick off this year’s One Book 4 Colorado program. Every 4-year-old will receive a free book and have a squeaking good time! This statewide initiative was created by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to emphasize the importance of early literacy and reading to children.
On Friday, April 14 from 11:30 to 12:30 and again from 4 to 5, make some Easter crafts at the library, including one that’s edible. Please register so that we know how many are coming.
The Lego Build Club will meet on Saturday, April 15 from 10 to 11:30. We will provide the Legos as you bring your imagination.
Join the Monument Teen Creative Writing Group on Tuesday, April 4 from 6 to 7:30. This is a writing group for ages 12 to 18. No registration is required.
April is National Poetry Month. Join us to celebrate it by creating your own customized magnetic poetry set using old magazines. The program will be held from 4 to 5 on Tuesday, April 11. All materials will be provided and registration is required.
Join an intergenerational knitting group from 3 to 4:30 on April 5 and 19. This group meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Practice materials are provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own materials. Some instruction provided for beginners.
Having problems with math? Experienced tutors will assist students of all ages and grade levels each Monday from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Drop in for help; no appointment needed. There is no charge for this program.
Celebrate Earth Day by making seed bombs on Saturday, April 22 from 1 to 3. These small clay balls contain local seed and fertilizer and when thrown they will grow on their own. Ages 9 to 18 are welcome and registration is required.
The Teen Arts and Crafts Open Studio will be held from 4 to 6 on Wednesday, April 26. Use our meeting room as space to create. Supplies will be provided as available, and feel free to bring whatever you are currently working on. No registration needed.
See above for details on intergenerational knitting and coloring programs.
April’s Second Thursday Craft program is Basic Drawing with Debbie Ross on Thursday, April 13 from 2 to 4. Join us for a basic pencil drawing class presented by Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) first Artist in Residence. Supplies are provided and registration is required.
The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, April 21 from 10 to noon to discuss These is My Words by Nancy Turner. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.
On Saturday, April 29 join local author LeAnna DeAngelo for a reading and signing of her novel Maestro Satriano, based on the life of the first musician to perform at Red Rocks. Copies of the book will be available for sale. No registration necessary.
Every Thursday from noon to 1, join PPLD’s first established yoga group. Classes are held following D-38’s calendar.
Interested in founding an Adult Anime Club? Come to the library study room from 6 to 6:30 on April 27 to discuss how you’d want a club to look and possible activities. There will be snacks! This group will be for ages 18 and up.
On the walls during April will be editorial cartoons by Chuck Asay, In the display case will be Depression Glas.
Palmer Lake Library Events
The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 7. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection. All patrons are welcome to attend.
Come to the Palmer Lake Library at 10:30 on Saturday, April 15 for a One Book 4 Colorado party. Enjoy mouse-themed crafts and games and have a squeaking good time. Each 4-year-old will receive a free book from this program developed by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to emphasize the importance of early literacy and reading the children.
Regularly occurring programs at Palmer Lake include Story Time on Wednesdays at 10:30 and Toddler Time on Fridays at 10:30.
Please note that all PPLD facilities will be closed on Sunday, April 16.
Caption: Brittany Thiele, with children Avi and Jason, enjoyed reading together during the Monument Library Dr. Seuss Day. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Mike and Sigi Walker
As part of the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s monthly history series, Bob Easterly presented "An Act of Congress" on March 16. Easterly told the story of Lewis Henry Easterly, his great-grandfather. Lewis arrived in Monument in 1878 and lived for five years in the Palmer Divide area. While obtaining his teaching credentials, he worked for the school board. He then taught school in Pring, Pratt, Rich Valley, and elsewhere in El Paso and Douglas Counties. The one-room Spring Valley School still stands and has been restored.
Easterly was born in 1852 in Murphysboro, Ill. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, he traveled with his 21-year old uncle to deliver horses to the Union Army. It was commonplace for family members to travel with soldiers, so when his uncle was recruited by the 9th Illinois Infantry Volunteer Regiment, 9-year-old Lewis became a boy soldier serving in the fife corps. The commanding officer of the fife corps was Major Warren Jenkins. At the end of his eight-month enlistment, Lewis was returned home as his uncle was a casualty at Shiloh. His honorable discharge was verbal and never recorded.
In 1883, Lewis moved to Gunnison where he became a rancher, outstanding citizen, and one-time deputy sheriff. During a Memorial Day parade, he met Civil War veteran Jenkins, who encouraged him to apply for membership in the Grand Army of the Republic. Lewis’ application was rejected because he did not have documentation of his service or honorable discharge.
Through Jenkins’ efforts and those of members of the GAR and politicians, "Private Act No. 79 of the 70th Congress" awarded Lewis Henry Easterly his discharge certificate in 1928—80 years later. He became of distinguished member of the GAR and was grand marshal of the Pittsburgh Encampment Parade in 1939. He died in 1943.
Caption: (Left) Bob Easterly with his great-grandfather’s fife. Photo by Mike Walker. (Right) Lewis Henry Easterly was grand marshal of a parade in 1939. Photo courtesy of Bob Easterly.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 20, when Steve Antonuccio will present "The Alexander Film Company." Founded in 1919, the company moved to Colorado Springs in 1928 and purchased 260 acres on North Nevada Avenue. The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce purchased an additional 90 acres of land for an airfield and raised $50,000 in private subscriptions to ensure the firm’s relocation. The 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s saw sustained growth until the late 1950s—the advent of television and the closing of many local theaters throughout the country. Find out what dealt the most crippling blow, making it impossible for national advertisers to use Alexander-produced commercials.
This program is free and open to all. Venue is the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7. Light refreshments are served after the presentation.
By Janet Sellers
In the March issue of the Harvard Business Review, a leadership article reported that the dandelion is a powerful metaphor for leadership, stating, "The resilient, flexible, nurturing style of the dandelion might be more emblematically better suited to today’s modern digital world and its constant change than the rigid, inflexible style of leadership reflected by the banyan tree." (The banyan tree has long been a symbol of leadership in Southeast Asia).
The dandelion (or lion’s tooth in the French translation), of the sunflower and daisy family, is an abundant ancient foodstuff worldwide, offering superb nutritional and medicinal benefits. Commonly, people deride the dandelion, but in looking at local flora in terms of forest living and healthy gardens, one surprising helper is the humble yet powerful dandelion.
Although the plant is native here, European settlers brought their own, valued root to flower, as food just in case the New World didn’t have any. Dandelions provide the first nectar food for birds and our vital honeybee population, and are our natural predictors for garden season readiness. They truly support our gardens, bringing up deep earth nutrients closer to the surface via their long taproots. It may seem they fight for garden space, but their season is short and the benefits last. We just need to optimize them for ourselves.
All parts of the plant support human and animal life. The roots make a medicinal tea that has been used in Asia for thousands of years, the leaves offer beneficial nutrients in a salad or cooked greens, the flowers are tasty in salads, batter fried as fritters, piled into a batter for a pancake, pickled with ginger, and used in cookies and wine.
Not only is the dandelion a rich source of nutrients as a food, it offers powerful healing qualities against disease. Canadian researchers found that dandelions can kill cancer cells without harming normal cells. It slows the growth and eventually kills the cancer cells. I read the research article edited by Keshav K. Singh, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, "Efficient Induction of Extrinsic Cell Death by Dandelion Root Extract in Human Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML) Cells," and it seems the humble dandelion has proved itself a hero.
We think of dandelions as a pervasive plant in most places, but it’s interesting that we do not see many dandelions in our rich, pine-filled forests. Looking further, I found that the ponderosa forest is not only nutrient and moisture-protected by its rich, pine needle-thatched floor, but also protected from predatory weeds via the layer of pine needles that knit together into a mulch that decays into nutritional layers for the ponderosas. My own garden bed, described below, has no weeds thanks to the pine needle mulch, and asks for less watering than I ever expected.
The forest has a zillion years’ experience with pine needle mulch success, and truth be told, the old story about so-called "acidity" effects on garden beds does not hold true. Whatever is right under the pine needle mulch stays moist and just right for what is intended, be it our beloved pine forest or a garden veggie section.
The forest activates specific fungi and microbial processes for its tree and forest health, and a lasagna garden bed, using kitchen scraps, activates its own specific fungi and microbial cycles to support vegetables and flowers. A caveat on animal manures is that these days, many animals are chock full of antibiotics and medicines, and that will go right into your food from the soil. I don’t use manure except organic llama beans or alpaca poop. Nope, dog and cat poo will not do, and neither will they decompose here—there are no microbes to decompose them into soil, they just become a moldy, rank pile. The forest habitat just does not know what to do with it.
Suggestions for a layered lasagna garden bed are below. Be sure to spray water on each layer as you go. The composting process needs moisture as well as nitrogen and carbon.
1. Begin with single layering of corrugated cardboard, place flat over grass or ground.
2. Add green clippings (use your carefully plucked dandelions!) or veggie kitchen scraps/coffee grounds, organic llama beans (high nitrogen element).
3. Add brown manure—it’s high carbon—such as brown leaves, shredded paper, dead vegetation (sticks, dried grasses, etc., also help aerate). I like to use straw (hay has seeds that will sprout) or tall grasses inside mine. Pile on as many layers as you please. Mine was 20 inches high, but flattened out to 3 inches after the first season.
4. Top it off with 3 inches or so of finished composted soil.
5. Spread a 2 inch or so layer of pine needles on top. They will knit together as a mulch that keeps it moist underneath but allows for vital air circulation.
You do want to cover the bed with mulch or further rain or snow will make the bed soggy, and the composting process will halt. Unlike other composting methods that take months, it’s ready immediately: Part the pine needles, poke a hole in the moist soil, drop in the plantlet or seed, gently replace the soil, then gently replace the pine needle mulch. The slightly warm lasagna bed heats due to microbiological growth turnover in situ per their daily evolvements, which is optimal for short root starts such as lettuces and strawberries. I’ve also same-day planted the Native American Three Sisters garden via seeds for beans, corn, and squash with success.
Janet Sellers is a High Altitude Nature and Garden enthusiast and welcomes your handy hints about natural gardening. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Spring in our locale is a way of saying that at any given moment we should just rush out and enjoy our warm sunny days before they give way to snowstorms. I still like to get out and make art, but it’s easier to duck out of the weather with a camera than an art easel setup, so that is what many of us artists do nowadays.
In some recent (indoor) talks and workshops I’ve been doing, we created paintings using the techniques Claude Monet used outdoors, aka plein air, in Giverny, France. The methods and techniques will translate beautifully to our natural scenes in Colorado. In the workshop, we practiced using the underpainting and color and brush techniques that Monet used.
When a person in the audience at my art talk asked me, "I don’t know anything about art, these are wonderful … but ... what is Giverny? I’ve heard the word, but I don’t know if it is a kind of art, or a place, or a kind plant or kind of art tool." I explained that Giverny was Monet’s home town in the French countryside. It was where he made his home, and most often, when people refer to Giverny, they refer to Monet’s home and grounds, where he painted hundreds of paintings of his beloved waterlilies, and hundreds more of his gardens and the nearby landscapes.
Art was not that questioner’s field, but he was intrigued by the art that I was showing and asked about it. What made me happy was that he felt comfortable enough to ask me about it. That is how artists are—most of us truly enjoy interacting and talking about art with people at an event. I resolved to include more of the information about the plein air workings and places in my art talks, as well as how things are made, materials, and aesthetic value.
We have some art venues here in our community with friendly artists and some artists’ receptions coming up. Let’s get out and support our local art and artists this month. Next month, the Art Hop starts up again!
Call for artists
Artists are invited to submit entries for ARTSites 2017, the yearlong outdoor public art exhibit to be installed in the Tri-Lakes area. The juried exhibit will be installed in June and on display for one year. For questions or to email entries, contact email@example.com.
Local art exhibits
Bella Art and Frame Gallery, 183 Washington, Monument—ongoing exhibit of over a dozen of their gallery artists.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake—Delicate Balance, Reven Marie Swanson sculptor exhibit through June 2; Predictions and Perceptions from the Spiritual Realm, also through June 2. Opening reception Friday, April 7, 6 to 8 p.m.
Southwinds Fine Art Gallery, 16575 Roller Coaster Road, corner of Rollercoaster Road and Baptist Road—viewing by appointment, call 719-481-6157, featuring the work of James Wider, John W. Anderson, and others.
Janet Sellers is a local fine artist, writer, and art teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Front Page Photo
Caption: On Saturday, March 11, dozens of people gathered to watch the unveiling of a new road in Monument. This road, leading to Monument Lake, was named Swenson Lane after Kevin Swenson (center) to recognize him for all the service he has done for the community and to show the town’s appreciation. Swenson was the first police officer to be hired in Monument and worked for the Monument Police Department from 1978 to 2011. However, even before he was a police officer, Swenson served the community as a lifeguard for Monument Lake. Monument Trustee Jeff Bornstein, Monument Town Manager Chris Lowe, Monument Chief of Police Jake Shirk, and Chamber of Commerce President Teri Hayes all attended to dedicate this new road as well as present a certificate to Swenson as a way of honoring him. Also attending were Trustee Greg Coopman, Mayor Pro Tem Don Wilson and Kevin Swenson’s wife, Claudia Swenson. Photo by Lauren Jones.
Fallen Heroes honored, Mar. 2
Caption: The organizations Fallen Heroes Honored and Boots 66, in a memorial tour called "Thank You 4 My Freedom," visited Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) on March 2 to honor two fallen former LPHS students, James Hessel and Michael Yashinski. The tour’s mission is to preserve the legacies and memories of Fallen Heroes and provide healing to their families through commemorative Fallen Hero Bibles. Members of the LPHS Choir opened the ceremony with the National Anthem. A poetry reading and a moment of silence marked a POW/MIA tribute. Audience members participated in the 22-push-ups challenge, which raises awareness that about 22 veterans commit suicide every day. The presentation included biographical sketches of Hessel and Yashinski and a tribute to military service dogs for the more than 10,000 lives they have saved. LPHS Principal Sandi Brandl received an "Oath Has No Expiration Date" plaque on behalf of the school, and Hessel’s parents offered a few remarks to conclude the ceremony. Additional information regarding the tours can be found at http://fallenheroeshonored.org. Photo and caption by Jennifer Kaylor and John Howe.
Shane Koyczan at TLCA, Mar. 11
Caption: On March 11, internationally renowned "spoken word" artist Shane Koyczan provided an emotionally connecting and charged performance at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). Koyczan wanted to provide the audience with "a sense of connecting to their emotional space" because the "world today suggests we should shut off our emotions." Growing up in his grandparents’ home in Canada’s Northwest Territories, he "wrote stories to create his own world based on what was happening in the actual world," which, refined today, gives space to relatable experiences with the audience. By weaving background experiences with poems regarding lost love, reminding ourselves who we are, and the things we want most is something that already happened, each verse seemingly provided a moment of reflection with the next verse delving further into a shared realm of experience. Some members of the audience came from as far away as Kansas and Utah to hear Koyczan. Upcoming events at the TLCA can be found at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
The Purrfect Crime at PRHS
Caption: On March 16-18, Palmer Ridge High School presented its spring play, The Purrfect Crime. This was the world debut of the new play written by Todd Wallinger, who is an award-winning playwright in Phoenix. The Purrfect Crime is about a Texas rancher who leaves his entire fortune of $36 million to the house cat, leaving the rest of the family scrambling to take it for themselves. However, when the cat is kidnapped, they must work together to save her. This play was put on by the Bear Necessity Theatre Company, which is Palmer Ridge’s extra-curricular theater program. Every year, this program produces a fall musical and a spring play as well as several improv shows and a one-act play. Photo by Lauren Jones.
Randy Stonehill at TLCA, Mar. 24
Caption: On March 24, Christian Music Hall of Fame 2010 inductee Randy Stonehill performed at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). This is Stonehill’s 47th year performing Christian music since leaving home at the age of 18 in San Jose, Calif., for the music hub of Los Angeles. Stonehill said, "Jesus came crashing into my life on that first day; I felt changed and my view of life changed forever." Through his performances, he "desires to share God’s hope and love with a hurting world" and express how "Jesus is relevant to our humanity and culture today." He started playing guitar at 10, writing "bad love songs" at 13, then began "writing what I knew," which was for "a global need for Christ." Photo by David Futey.
Panning at WMMI, Mar. 18
Caption: Hayden and Natalie Swyers, Lina Limpede, and Ellie Papineau and her dad enjoy panning for colorful rocks and gold at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s Family Science Exploration Day. The annual event, held this year on March 18, turns this Colorado Springs museum into an open house for families to explore local science-based clubs and organizations, such as the Discovery Center Space Foundation, Colorado Springs Utilities, Pikes Peak Soaring Club, Science Matters and Palmer Ridge Robotics Club. Each organization provided hands-on activities or demonstrations for all ages to teach scientific principles in fun ways. There was a 3D printer creating objects throughout the day, experiments with electricity, a radio-controlled model plane demonstration, and make-your-own harmonicas to teach kids about the properties of sound waves. For the price of regular admission, families saw not only the museum’s exhibits, but also interacted with people working in science around our community. For more information about the nonprofit museum, go to www.wmmi.org. Photo by Erin Poole.
Monument Teen Writers Group
Caption: Monument Teen Writers Group is saving seats for you! Jillian Curry and Jayden Scarpella enjoy time at the Monument Library discussing creative writing recently. Any teen (grades 6-12) is invited to join this monthly group that meets the first Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Come for fun, games, snacks, lively discussion, and laughter (sometimes the librarians have to tell us to be a little quieter!). Photo by Angie Curry.
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.
Tri-Lakes Y Youth Spring Sports, register now
Practices began March 27 for outdoor soccer, volleyball, and flag football; practices will begin April 8 for indoor soccer. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. See ad on page 6.
Free wildfire risk home assessments for Palmer Lake residents
The Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP) is partnering with the Town of Palmer Lake and the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department to offer free home assessments to make site-specific recommendations to reduce wildfire risk. The partners are also holding a free chipping day May 6. To schedule a home assessment, phone 719-748-0033.
Free income tax help
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, Pikes Peak United Way, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service, provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of $52,000 a year or less. To find out if you qualify or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; or visit www.ppunitedway.org/vitaeitc.html.
MVEA board nominations, due April 24
Are you are interested in being a candidate from District 7 (Monument, Woodmoor, and a portion of the surrounding areas)? If so, contact Erik Stensland, 963-2285; or the board nomination information line, 494-2528; or email@example.com. If you are petitioning for nomination, the candidate questionnaire must be submitted to either MVEA office with your petition by April 24. For more information and the required candidate questionnaire, visit www.mvea.coop, click on "Community," then "Community Events," then "Annual Meeting." See ad on page 18.
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother Project, donate through April
Lillian’s of Monument is accepting donations of gently-used, ready-to-wear prom dresses, shoes, and accessories to give to teen girls for prom. Receive 20% off one regular-priced item when you bring in your donation. You may drop off your donations through April 30 at 251 Front St. Suite 4, Monument. For more information, phone 488-3550. See ad on page 19.
Slash-Mulch season begins April 29
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) April 29-Sept. 10. Mulch will be available May 13-Sept. 23 or when mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024; or the County Environmental Division, 520-7878.
Monument Hill Foundation Call for Grants, apply by May 15
The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. The foundation provides funds in support of the club’s mission to support youth and the community, with a focus on the Tri-Lakes community. Club fundraising projects include the annual Empty Bowls Dinner that supports Tri-Lakes Cares and the Holiday Red Kettle Campaign collections that go directly to the Salvation Army. The club works on many other activities each year to raise funds that go to the Monument Hill Foundation for direct granting. The grant application form and information can be found at www.monumenthillfoundation.org. See ad on page 11.
Woodmoor Waves Summer Swim Clinics, enroll now
Two 3-week swim sessions will be held at the Country Club at Woodmoor, 18945 Pebble Beach Way, Monument. Classes are Mon., Wed., & Thu., 10-10:45 a.m., Jun. 5-Jun. 22 and Jul. 10-Jul. 27. Registration forms are available at the pool or online at www.woodmoorwaves.org. See the ad for $5 off. For more information, contact Chris Bains, 303-506-0089, firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 18.
County launches new community website
Check out all the interesting county data available for you at http://community.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
Become a host family in July
Host a student from Spain, France, Germany, or Italy this July. The family will receive a stipend to support activities. For details, contact 481-4412, www.xploreUSA.org. See ad on page 5.
LEAP—Help for heating bills, ends April 30
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Application packets were automatically mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at their address at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling for 2017-18
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org. See ad on page 2.
Become a CASA volunteer
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) offers a volunteer opportunity like no other. As appointed representatives of the court, CASA volunteers are empowered to make a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. Learn more at a CASA 4-1-1 Hour, April 5, noon-1 p.m., 701 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs; or contact Kelly, 447-9898, ext. 1033; email@example.com; www.casappr.org.
CSU Extension launches "Your Energy" website and blog
The Colorado State University Extension now has a "Your Energy" website to help Coloradans make more informed energy decisions. The site includes decision tools, fact sheets, and a blog. The decision tools can help you figure out energy savings from using more efficient lighting, low-flow showerheads, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and more. Other tools can help you understand how much you spend on heating, cooling, and baseload electricity and your bottom line if you install a wind turbine or solar array. Visit the site at http://yourenergy.extension.colostate.edu/.
Free transportation and safety services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and safety services to Tri-Lakes seniors. If you need a ride to a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or the local senior lunches, a volunteer driver will be happy to help you. Call 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message. For more information, visit www.TriLakes-mcts-sshs.org.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center programs
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include bridge, pinochle, National Mah-jongg, line dancing, tea time, bingo, and more. Ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table are also available. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Mon.-Fri. at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
WEEKLY AND MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
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