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By Helen Walklett
At its May 23 meeting, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved both the Academy Gateway development at Struthers Road and North Gate Boulevard and the Gleneagle Golf Course residential infill development. The Gleneagle project saw an eleventh-hour agreement reached between county staff and the developer concerning unresolved drainage issues to enable the project to move forward. Both projects had been recommended for approval by the county Planning Commission at its May 3 meeting.
The commissioners approved a preliminary plan and final plat requests for Academy Gateway, the proposed commercial development on an 18-acre parcel of land at the northwest corner of Struthers Road and North Gate Boulevard. The preliminary plan was approved by a 4 to 1 vote (Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, who was concerned about a water supply waiver, voted against). The final plat request was approved unanimously.
The preliminary plan includes 11 commercial lots and one tract that will be used as a private loop road serving the development. The applicant requested three waivers to allow for the construction of a private road instead of a public road, to modify the design standards for a private road, and to allow for a water sufficiency finding for a 100-year water supply instead of a 300-year water supply from Donala Water and Sanitation District. All three waivers were granted.
The final plat request included four commercial lots and two future development tracts. The initial phase will see development of a small hotel, a coffee shop, and a convenience store.
The developer had proposed constructing turn lanes, curb and gutter, and sidewalks along Struthers Road and curb and gutter along North Gate Boulevard. The county Department of Public Works and its consultant are developing a preliminary design for a roundabout at the Struthers Road/Gleneagle Drive intersection, which will include a public storm drain system. County staff has coordinated on this project with the developer, and a development agreement has been drawn up that will address overlapping improvements between the proposed development and the roundabout. The agreement is intended to avoid improvements by the developer that would later need to be demolished when construction of the roundabout begins. Instead, the developer will make a financial contribution to the roundabout’s construction.
The development agreement also provides that the developer construct a portion of the regional drainage system, with the county supplying the pipe materials and the developer’s construction costs being credited toward drainage fees. Again, this is to avoid so-called "throw-away construction." Detention of water and water quality will be handled on-site. When a regional detention pond is completed nearby, detention volume on-site may be reduced with the possibility that the on-site detention pond may be no longer needed.
Kari Parsons, project manager/planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, told the BOCC that the county had notified seven neighboring properties about the development and received no written responses. It had received an email from the Western Museum of Mining & Industry and staff had worked to directly address the museum’s concerns.
Gleneagle Golf Course development
The commissioners considered concurrently five items relating to the development of the abandoned golf course land along Gleneagle Drive. The applicant, Westbrook Capital Holdings LLC, had applied to build 56 single-family homes spread out on 28 acres of the land instead of the 47 patio homes that had been planned for the driving range area but which were never built.
The commissioners unanimously approved two rezoning requests and a sketch plan that together annulled the previous approval for the patio homes and restrictions on the use of the rest of the golf course land, and rezoned the area to be developed as "residential suburban" to enable the development of the 56 homes. The preliminary plan for 56 homes was also unanimously approved. However, the final plat was approved only after an agreement was reached between county staff and the developer to overcome ongoing disagreement concerning drainage toward Westchester Drive. This agreement saw 44 single-lot homes final platted, with 12 left to be final platted at a possible future date once drainage issues are resolved.
The applicant had made two waiver requests as part of the preliminary plan request, both of which were granted. The first requested a waiver of the county requirement for a maximum of 25 lots on a dead-end roadway, the Mission Hill Way cul-de-sac. The development would add 22 more single-family-home lots, only accessible via Mission Hill Way, which already serves two townhome developments and multiple single-family lots. The second request, supported by Donala, was to allow for a water sufficiency finding for a 100-year water supply as required by the state instead of the county’s required 300-year water supply.
At the Planning Commission hearing on May 3, there was considerable discussion surrounding unresolved drainage issues. At the end of that hearing, Craig Dossey, executive director, county Planning and Community Development Department, stated that a policy decision was needed to resolve the outstanding drainage issues and that that could only be done by the BOCC. (see www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#epcpc).
Specifically, two proposed private detention ponds would drain through a proposed surface outfall ditch between two existing single-family homes at separate locations along Westchester Drive, and there is currently no drainage easement between the lots.
Parsons explained in great technical detail to the commissioners that they had three options to resolve the drainage issues.
Before adjourning for a break, President Darryl Glenn stated that he was having difficulties with the engineering disagreements and urged county staff and the applicant to use the break to find a solution.
After the break, Parsons announced that a solution had been worked out based on the third option presented to the commissioners. The applicant would revise the final plat to remove the 12 lots on the Stone Eagle Place part of the development that contributed to the drainage issues between lots 10 and 11 on Westchester Way.
The revised final plat will show this removed area as a future development tract that could be final platted later as a separate final plat filing. This solution allows the applicant to move forward with the remaining 44 lots, which have no outstanding drainage issues. It would also allow the applicant to either sell the tract to another developer to solve the drainage issues and for them to come back before the BOCC in accordance with the normal platting process or for the applicant to do so later. The applicant is required to submit amended engineering documents to reflect the changes made to the drainage by the removal of the 12 lots. The BOCC granted Dossey, as executive director, the power to carry out administrative review of the revised final plat and the president of the BOCC the authority to sign it, without need for a further BOCC hearing.
The development agreement ensures preservation of the remainder of the former golf course as open space for the use of the Gleneagle community. The developer is required to complete public and private improvements to the open space, including demolition of the existing clubhouse, tennis courts, and pool. These improvements must be approved by county before the land is handed over to the Gleneagle Civic Association (GCA), the homeowners association. The GCA will have the ability to re-plan the open space for recreational purposes and will be responsible for ongoing maintenance. Of the two existing tunnels providing access under Gleneagle Drive, the northern tunnel will remain open to allow pedestrian access to the open space tracts and will be maintained by county. The southern tunnel will be filled in and closed by the developer.
County staff sent out 323 notification letters in relation to the five requests associated with this development. They received 72 replies in favor overall and 34 letters of opposition. At the BOCC hearing, Kevin Deardorff, president of the GCA, and Ken Judd, a GCA board member, spoke in favor of the application. Judd said that negotiations with the developer had focused on minimizing the impact of the new development while maximizing the amount of open space. More than two-thirds of the Gleneagle community had voted to incorporate the new homes into the GCA and to take on the open space. No one spoke in opposition.
Caption: The Gleneagle Golf Course infill development was approved by the El Paso Board of County Commissioners on May 23. The 12 lots re-designated as "future development tracts" are along the cul-de-sac on the lower left. Graphic courtesy of William Guman & Associates Ltd.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board discussed an engine taken out of service due to the current low staffing situation, public meetings regarding the proposed mill levy increase ballot measure, and impact fees, on May 24. The board also welcomed three new firefighters and celebrated Kris Mola’s promotion to battalion chief.
President Jake Shirk was excused.
Engine at Woodmoor Station 3 taken out of service
Truty said the fire engine based at Station 3 in Woodmoor had been taken out of service on May 8 due to continued concerns about reduced staffing and stress on the firefighters related to the required overtime to maintain certain staffing levels. See www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#tlmfpd0224, www.ocn.me/v16n9.htm#tlmfpd, www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#tlmfpd.
Truty said that Station 3 was still open and that the ambulance from Station 1 had been moved to Station 3, "So from an emergency services perspective, it’s good." His goal was to have enough full-time staff to put the missing engine back in regular service by around Aug. 1, since by then three new firefighter/EMTs would be finished with training. The district also hopes to have hired four new paramedics by then, said Deputy Chief Randy Trost.
"Should daily environmental conditions change such that there is a heightened risk to our area on any given day, we will return, for that day, to a normal if not overstaffed, model," Truty said.
Secretary Mike Smaldino, who is a firefighter for Colorado Springs, made many comments including:
• Since I have been on the board, our daily staffing has continued to reduce ... but our expenditures have not reduced.
• We are trying to fix some things done in the past, but it does not feel good, because we have one less engine on the street (in Woodmoor), the biggest wildland-urban interface (WUI) in our area.
• I don’t want to go down this road again.… Other districts are having staff retention issues too, but not everyone is shutting down an engine. Our first effective firefighting force has been reduced.
• I need you (Truty) to lead us in the right direction. It is not my role to come up with something.
• I understand that the stress of firefighters needs to be reduced … but to have one, two, three people leave and we have to shut down an engine feels like we are way far behind where we should be.
Truty said, "This does not feel good to us. We agonized over this decision…. The mill levy increase would help us be more proactive instead of reactive."
Mill levy information meetings and citizens task force update
Truty said about 65 people attended the two community information meetings held in May and that so far 325 public opinion surveys had been turned in. Both meetings included 90-minute explanations of exactly how the hoped-for increased revenue from a mill levy increase would be allocated to five categories of expenditures. See answers to frequently asked questions at http://tlmfire.org/mill-levy. He was also scheduled to speak at the Woodmoor Improvement Association on May 25. See the related WIA article.
Truty’s statements at the May 17 community information meeting included:
• District revenue comes only from property taxes (78 percent), special ownership taxes, and emergency services billing. Neither the state nor the county pitch in.
• If the increase from 11.5 to 18.4 mills is approved by voters, it would add about $2.7 million a year to the district’s $6 million budget. This would help the district continue with "catchup" on firefighter/paramedic turnover, outdated technology, vehicles, equipment, and facilities, and maintenance but not address new development growth the district.
• TLMFPD ambulance service is not a profitable business model and is just done as a service to the community.
• Taxes go toward overall "readiness," but ambulance fees are for when you use the service.
Note: In three letters mailed out to all registered district voters, TLMFPD stated that the cost ("tax impact") of the proposed 60 percent mill levy increase of 6.9 mills would be $40.92 per year ($3.41 per month) per $100,000 of a home’s actual value. This is true only if you also include the predicted drop in the residential property tax assessment rate from the 7.96 percent (collected in 2017) to a possible 7.2 percent (collected in 2018), but that was not explained in the letters. Because of questions from residents, TLMFPD has now listed a series of calculation examples at http://tlmfire.org/mill-levy-calcs.
Truty explained that additional revenue generated by the 2017 increase in assessed home values seen in the Tri-Lakes area will be offset by this anticipated drop in the residential tax assessment rate determined by the state due to the Gallagher Amendment.
The residential property tax assessment rate will be determined by the state, and due to the 1982 Gallagher Amendment, which froze the non-residential tax assessment rate at 29 percent and said residential assessment rates have to be adjusted periodically to maintain a 55-45 proportion between commercial and residential revenue. The state can lower that rate, but another complication is that if the residential tax rate ever needed to increase to maintain the required ratio, TABOR would require that to be approved by voters statewide.
OCN has also calculated total taxes paid to TLMFPD using a $300,000 home value example with four sets of assumptions:
• If mill levy remained at 11.5 mills and the tax assessment rate stayed at 7.96 percent, $300,000 x .0796 x .0115 = total $274.62 per year ($22.89 per month)
• If mill levy increased by 6.9 mills to 18.4 mills and tax assessment rates stayed at 7.96 percent, $300,000 x .0796 x .0184 = total $439.39 per year ($36.61 per month)
• If mill levy remained at 11.5 mills and tax assessment rates dropped to 7.2 percent, $300,000 x .072 x .0115 = total $248.40 per year ($20.70 per month)
• If mill levy increased by 6.9 mills to 18.4 mills and tax assessment rates dropped to 7.2 percent, $300,000 x .072 x .0184 = total $397.44 per year ($33.12 per month)
Truty said June 13 would be the last meeting of the citizens’ task force, and at that point it would get the survey results and make its recommendation to the board about whether or not to go ahead with a mill levy increase ballot measure this fall. The board will then make its decision at the June 28 or July 26 board meeting.
BOCC still considering impact fees
Colorado HB 16-1088 authorized fire protection districts to impose impact fees on new development with the consent of local governments. The town of Monument has already voted to allow TLMFPD to collect those fees. See www.ocn.me/v16n9.htm#tlmfpd, www.ocn.me/v17n4.htm#tlmfpd.
Truty said that on May 30, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) would consider a resolution generally supporting the concept of fire districts assessing impact fees in the unincorporated areas of the county. If that were approved, then on June 6, TLMFPD itself would be put on the BOCC’s agenda and have a chance to present the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) signed by the TLMFPD Board of Directors and the results of the 2016 study by BBC Research & Consulting showing the reasons the district needs to assess such fees on new development.
The directors voted unanimously to accepted the IGA proposed by the BOCC for fire district collection of impact fees.
Other items reported by Truty, Trost, and Bumgarner:
• Trost gave the month’s run report as the board had directed last month, but it was done verbally and not included in the board packet, so it was hard to follow or summarize.
• Fleet vehicle maintenance is being tracked using VIN numbers now.
• The May 6 Neighborhood Wildfire Leadership Summit went well.
• Staff is working with Bethesda Gardens senior care center to finalize expectations and procedures for assistance on non-fire calls.
• Before construction begins, staff is working with Jackson Creek Senior Living on placement of hydrants, sprinklers, and other firefighting infrastructure.
• Plans for the TLMFPD administrative office location was still in flux. The lease at the current Gleneagle Drive location, which is not inside the district, will be up presently.
• Truty owes the board a statement of goals.
The meeting adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Caption: Matthew Edmunds, left, AJ Armstrong, and Golden Rains just graduated from the 14-week firefighter academy at West Metro Denver and are now doing more training as new hires within the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. On May 24, they were sworn in by Chief Chris Truty, and then they presented the district with their class flag and a plaque with a fire bell listing the graduates as well as the West Metro and TLMFPD officers who taught the classes. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Caption: Newly-promoted Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Kris Mola was sworn in by Chief Chris Truty on May 24. Mola’s wife Marnel, along with Emma and Jackson, pinned on his new badge. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 28 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911. For upcoming agendas, see http://tlmfire.org/board-agendas-minutes.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board met May 17 to review administration of the district’s finances and April’s call volume, and to receive public comments. A resident questioned the board about the future of the district if the proposed mill levy increase fails. The firefighters of DWFPD supported the mill levy increase in a letter that represented them collectively.
All board members were present except Harland Baker, who was excused. Attorney Dino Ross of Ireland Stapleton Pryor and Pascoe PC also attended.
Public questions and comments
District resident Gary Rusnak continued to press the board for answers about the fate of the district if the mill levy increase fails. Rusnak asked if DWFPD would become all-volunteer and if the Colorado Springs Fire Department, as part of the annexation agreement with the city, bore any responsibility in supporting DWFPD. He asked when the board would vote on the mill levy, if the vote would take place in executive session, and whether the public would have an opportunity to make comments on the vote.
Rusnak also disputed the steering committee survey results of 2:1 in support of the mill levy increase, stating that many of the "yes" voters were not confident that the mill levy proposal would pass. Rusnak added that the steering committee vote did not accurately represent home owners’ associations (HOAs) in the district and cited that all nine residents of his HOA would have voted "no" had they been surveyed individually.
Board President Greg Gent asked Ross to address Rusnak’s questions. Ross stated that the citizens of the district ultimately decide if and/or when the district becomes an all-volunteer fire district and what level of services can be provided by the district. He stated, "This isn’t a make-or-break situation. The sub-district has already been set up; whether the voters choose to support it this time with the mill levy or next time or the following time … there’s no all or nothing as far as that’s concerned. Should the district at some point become financially unviable, which I think is where you’re going.... At that point Rusnak answered, "Correct."
Ross continued, saying, "Actually, what you’re saying is they’d [DWFPD] be a lower level of services, they’d be all volunteers, which you don’t agree with, you don’t agree with a volunteer department." Rusnak responded, "That’s the alternative that we talked about ... it [DWFPD] would be financially unable to support the services without being an all-volunteer [district]." Ross reiterated, "So, the citizens will have to decide what level of services." Rusnak added, "Correct. So, if the citizens vote it [the mill levy increase] down, then it’d be a volunteer [district] effectively or no service at all.
Ross stated, "Yeah, I don’t know what your service is going to be in the future if they vote it [the mill levy proposal] down and I don’t know if voting it down once means they’ll never support it. I mean, I’ve been in elections for districts that have gone 3 in a row before they passed." Rusnak responded, "I don’t know all the rules ... for example, I thought a mill levy was every two years, [that] you can’t do it every year." Ross replied, "Well, no, you can do it every year." Rusnak repeated, "You can’t do it every year." Ross explained, "You can do it in November of the off year so it’s either in November of the general elections or November of the off year."
In response to Rusnak’s question regarding the timing of the board’s mill levy vote and if it would be made in executive session, Gent stated that the vote would most likely be made in June and stated, "I don’t think anything that has to do with voting on a mill levy should go into executive session, so myself, I wouldn’t support us going into executive session. Everything should be in open session when it comes to that."
Lt. Brian Ackerman, a volunteer firefighter, addressed a question about volunteer firefighters. Ackerman explained that DWFPD currently has 12 volunteers to assist calls and provide backfill for the station during calls. The district plans to recruit a new batch of volunteers in the next few weeks. Gent added that volunteers use their training as a stepping stone to a paid position, either at DWFPD or another fire department. Chief Vinny Burns confirmed that all paid DWFPD firefighters were once volunteers.
Firefighters back board, tax increase
The board invited Luke Jones, DWFPD firefighter, to read a letter composed by the professional staff in response to questions raised at board meetings and steering committee sessions. Highlights of the letter included:
• Being a firefighter is a personally fulfilling career that provides camaraderie, a chance to help others, and pride and satisfaction in serving the community. Despite the sacrifices of sleep deprivation and missed family time over holidays, birthdays, and after-school activities, DWFPD firefighters are insanely loyal, feel honored and privileged to serve the community, and rise to the challenge to provide the highest level of emergency services.
• The DWFPD chiefs foster an environment that encourages personal and professional growth, offer insight from years of experience, and support strong bonds among the firefighters.
• The suggestion to reduce the number of firefighters, reduce benefits, reduce pay, and ignore safety standards potentially places lone firefighters in hazardous situations meant to be handled by multiple firefighters. Downsizing endangers the professional ranks unnecessarily and is unacceptable. Cost-saving measures may look good on paper, but in practice may be the difference between life and death.
• DWFPD firefighters have complete confidence in the Board of Directors and chiefs to navigate this season of adversity. The board and chiefs have been transparent and actively involved the firefighters in finding a solution.
• Because DWFPD provides a level of engagement and interaction that is unparalleled in El Paso County, the firefighters are confident that the majority of constituents understand that an investment in DWFPD pays dividends in potentially dire situations.
• The firefighters invite anyone who concludes that laying off firefighters is the solution to the current financial problem to stop by the station for a cup of coffee and talk face-to-face about the challenges confronting the district and the community, and how DWFPD can serve the community better.
Regular board business
DWFPD Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich presented the board with the draft of the 2016 fiscal audit. The auditor will review the final report at the June board meeting. Popovich said total cash held as of April 30 was $1.458 million, an increase of $36,988 from March. She explained that the cash increase is largely due to wildland income. DWFPD received $36,217 for two deployments earlier in the year. After a brief review, the board accepted the April financials and meeting minutes.
Burns announced that Penrose-St. Francis Hospital had honored DWFPD with an appreciation plaque for helping the hospital rank among America’s 50 best hospitals. Burns thanked Capt. Sean Pearson for going above and beyond in coordinating the DWFPD and North Group fire trainings. Burns remarked that Pearson adds many hours to his regular duties in keeping the fire professionals of the district and surrounding agencies trained and up-to-date. Burns recognized the generous gift of a treadmill donated by Volunteer Firefighter/EMT George Laugensen.
Burns thanked the staff, volunteers, and vendors who participated in making the May 13 Safety Fair a success. An estimated 350 people attended the fair, and children from Antelope Trails Elementary School were eligible to submit entries in a safety message drawing contest. The winners were: first grade, Charlie (last name unknown); second grade, Abby Lance; third grade, Alyson Fisher; and fourth grade, Keira Armenta. The winning pictures are posted at https://www.instagram.com/p/BUkKwTrgltB/.
Burns noted events scheduled for May that included a Fire Mitigation Chipping Clean-up Day at the Pleasant View Social Club, the Gleneagle North Home Owners Association Clean-up Weekend, and the Live Fire Training at the former Gleneagle Golf Course clubhouse. The Gands Development Co. generously donated the clubhouse for the firefighters to hone readiness skills and test equipment. The burn exercise allows firefighters to gain experience in a structure built with less mature lumber and rapidly deteriorating support systems, and filled with present-day furnishings typically made of synthetics and petroleum-based materials. The event was cancelled due to weather. If the live burn is rescheduled, information will be posted at http://wescottfire.org/gleneagle-golf-club-live-fire-update/.
Burns ended his report with a request to post the Pinnacle study and the DWFPD Mill Levy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) documents on the district’s website. The board unanimously approved the chief’s request.
Assistant Chief Scott Ridings said April 2016 calls totaled 188 and April 2017 calls totaled 260, an increase of 38 percent. DWFPD responded to four fires, three of which were mutual aid responses with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD). The chief’s Incident Type Report Summary listed 143 calls under Rescue and Emergency Medical Service Incident (126 of which were designated EMS calls, excluding a vehicle accident with injury) and 105 calls under Good Intent Call (102 of which were dispatched and canceled en route). One call was designated as a police matter and the remaining seven were listed under False Alarm and False Call. Ridings stated that the district anticipates an increase in call volume of 10-15 percent in the summer months.
The next Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 20 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Please call (719) 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On May 1, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) appointed a new town attorney, wondered what to do about their missing trustee, heard a request from Village Center Metropolitan District to modify its service plan, and approved a contract for modifications to Well 9 to deal with the radium issue. "Equality of information" to all trustees, and communication with the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) were concerns voiced during several portions of the meeting.
Trustee Shea Medlicott was absent. Town Manager Chris Lowe was excused, and Town Treasurer Pamela Smith filled in for him.
Town attorney will resign as of Aug. 1
Town Attorney Gary Shupp tendered his resignation as of Aug. 1. Smith said the 90 days he would still be here was a golden opportunity for him to share his 18 years of experience in service to the town.
Resolution appointing a town attorney
Human Resources Director Robert Bishop presented a resolution to appoint Alicia Corley as the new town attorney. He said she has been wanting to work with the town for over a year in some capacity, but that if the town delayed on its decision tonight, she might accept another offer.
Trustees Greg Coopman and Dennis Murphy brought up more concerns about lack of communication with all the trustees on the hiring process. Coopman said he had not received any emails about any of this. "I was never clued in we would be seeking a replacement, or actively pursuing one candidate and not posting the position, until the board packet came out.…Where was the communication with the full board?"
Murphy said, "I am a little concerned about the cavalier attitude about equality of information…. When (only certain) individuals get critical information, but it does not get out to the whole board." He said he had attended the pertinent executive session but had not gotten all his questions answered about the timeline, strategy, duties, responsibilities, and salary. Trustee Jeff Bornstein agreed that communication could have been better.
Trustee Kelly Elliott said she got to know Corley when she interviewed for the town clerk position this winter and was so overqualified, having extensive experience with municipalities and public works cases. "We are fortunate that the right candidate fell right into our laps," and it was not necessary to post the position.
Kaiser said Corley was extremely qualified and that the executive session on this included an excellent discussion. "I think that has been equality of information because we did have an executive session." Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson asked Coopman to recuse himself from the vote, since he had missed that executive session, but Coopman refused.
The trustees voted 5-1 in favor of appointing Alicia Corley as town attorney. Coopman voted no.
Questions about missing trustee
Wilson asked if there were a process or policy for board positions being abandoned. "When people vote, they expect to be represented. Our Town Clerk Laura Hogan has not heard anything from (Trustee Shea) Medlicott. The public has a right to know that."
Shupp said the standard rule is three unexcused absences, and then the board may take action. He recommended that someone contact the missing trustee to ask him if he intended to step down and if so, if he would submit a resignation letter. Bornstein said he would contact him to find out more.
Village Center asks for modification to service agreement
Forrest Hindley of the Village Center Metropolitan District Board spoke during public comments. "We members of Village Center Metro District board have begged, cajoled, and pleaded with the trustees for help, but we can’t even be put on the agenda! To quote your 2004 Service Agreement, ‘should material modification occur (such as such as a decrease in the financial ability of the district to discharge the existing or proposed indebtedness) as described in C.R.S. 32-1-207(2), the district shall apply for approval of such modifications to the town of Monument.’ Town trustees, we are hereby applying for modifications, as specified in the Colorado State Code."
He said due to the service agreement, none of Village Center’s projected revenue was going for road and park maintenance, snow plowing, electric lights, and flood control. Instead, all the revenue was going to the bond repayment. Also, in 2014, the Monument trustees further exacerbated the problem by approving a zoning change for the commercial portion of the district to be residential instead, which sliced district revenue in half and increased the number of roads and parks the district was required to maintain, he said. See www.ocn.me/v14n12.htm#mbot1103, www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#mbot1107, www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#mbot.
Contract awarded for Well 9 treatment modifications
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented a resolution awarding a $71,102 contract to Velocity Plant Services for the Well 9 treatment modifications that will allow sufficient dilution to occur to satisfy the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on the radium issue. That needed to be solved before that high-producing well could be used for water production again. He said the state preferred the treatment of blending the Well 3/9 water with water from another well with significantly less radium to dilute the radium, instead of other types of treatments that would have byproducts to dispose of.
Since early 2016 when it received the notice of violation for exceeding the Radium MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) at the discharge point of the Well 3/9 Water Treatment Plant, the town has considered several treatment options including dilution, an ion exchange system, HMO System (Hydrolyzed Manganese Oxidation), and adsorptive resin. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017.
Murphy asked, "When did we talk about our radium approach with the TLWWTF? Have we talked with them?" Tharnish said he talked with TLWWTF "in minor detail quite a while ago when we first started have the (radium) issue." He said since Well 3/9 has been shut down, the impact to wastewater has been minimal.
Note: TLWWTF’s Joint Use Committee (JUC) has been asking questions at its public meetings since October about the town’s proposed plans for both radium treatment and a possible potable water reuse plant, which could involve a new CDPHE-regulated discharge point that could have huge repercussions for all entities involved. The JUC’s position was that they should have been consulted so they could help inform the decisions the town was making. Read each TLWWTF article starting with November 2016 issue at www.ocn.me.
Murphy brought up the concerns noted in the OCN article included in this meeting’s board packet, specifically the JUC’s allegations that the town was not being responsive to their questions. He was concerned that so much time had gone by without Tharnish notifying the trustees and that they heard about the communications issues in the newspaper.
Tharnish said he had communicated with the JUC about nine months ago, but that at that point the town had not decided which technology to treat the radium issue in the drinking water. He said, "We can definitely give them a call and tell them that’s what the decision is, but I get a feeling that they are aware of that portion of it."
Equality of information questioned again
Coopman had requested an agenda item, "Discussion of OCN article, "Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC), March 14: Still Working Toward Relationship with Town of Monument" (published on April 1). See www.ocn.me/v17n4.htm#tlwfjuc.
He said his observation was not about the content of the article. Instead, he asked, "Do we communicate with the JUC? It seems like another pool of experts wanting to participate?"
Tharnish said, "There would be a benefit, but at this time we have no new information we could give the JUC about our (water) reuse plans." He said he would make a formal presentation to the BOT before presenting anything to the JUC, but that was months away.
Coopman then asked Tharnish, "Were you are aware of these concerns (of the wastewater treatment plant)? I had no idea until I read Ms. Hatfield’s April 1 article. But I have a letter from the JUC to the trustees dated March 20, that the town answered on April 4, that I did not receive until May 1.…This might have been a whole different dialogue response if that information was shared with all the trustees. Transparency, equality of information, it’s all I’m getting at."
Note: Both the letter from Monument Sanitation District on behalf of the JUC and the response from Lowe were distributed at the April 11 JUC meeting and discussed in the TLWWTF JUC article in www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#tlwtfjuc.
Tharnish said the March 20 letter was an invitation for himself and Lowe to go to the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) meeting, "and you saw Chris’ response, that we are not ready to discuss detailed information at this time."
Triview will be billed for road plowing done by town
The trustees and staff had a very animated discussion about Triview Metropolitan District’s "lack of responsiveness," as Elliott called it, to the town’s emergency requests for more snowplowing in Triview during the April 30 storm. Public Works Director Tharnish said that the town had finally sent out its own plows to help deal with icy roads in Triview, which is supposed to do its own plowing.
Police Chief Jake Shirk said he had also sent a letter to Triview District Manager Valerie Remington telling her that the lack of plowing was a "serious, serious safety issue that cannot continue or there will be repercussions!"
Bornstein said, "We did not see head nor tail of them in our part of the town (that night). Should the town get paid for doing their job for them?" Mayor Jeff Kaiser said the town could send Triview a bill, and Shupp said that was true, but, "whether they will pay it is another thing." Smith said Tharnish’s tracking indicated Triview should receive a bill for $246 for personnel, equipment, and material.
Department reports included in the board packet again
The town manager’s report will now be included in the trustees’ packet (which is also available to the public) instead of sending it to just the trustees in the Friday night highlights. It will include reports from department heads. The May 1 reports included:
• 25 car break-ins have occurred over the last few weeks.
• Cemetery improvements continue.
• New stop signs and cross walk at Mitchell Avenue and Second Street.
• Section of Fourth Street removed.
• Preparing to install dock at Monument Lake.
• Well 3 and 9 radium removal project is proceeding.
• In various phases of development approval process: Jackson Creek Senior Living, Jackson Creek Townhomes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pilot Travel Center, Sanctuary Pointe Phase 2.
The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.
Caption: Forrest Hindley, of the Village Center Metropolitan District board, addressed the Monument Board of Trustees during public comments on May 1, saying the district wanted to apply for approval of modifications in the 2004 Service Agreement, since the town’s rezoning of 330,000 square feet of the district’s planned commercial space to residential areas in November 2014 and the allocation of all the debt service to the bondholders has left Village Center with absolutely no money to maintain its streets and parks. Hindley said, "We members of Village Center Metro District board have begged, cajoled and pleaded with the trustees for help, but we can’t even be put on the agenda!" Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lisa Hatfield
On May 15, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) met four applicants for the Planning Commission, approved a contract that would put Well 4/5 back in service again, and discussed a proposal to move the Public Works facility.
Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson and Trustees Kelly Elliott and Shea Medlicott were absent.
Attorney Gary Shupp recognized
Town Manager Chris Lowe recognized Gary Shupp, who has been the town attorney for the last 18 years, "and has forgotten more law that I ever learned in law school." Lowe thanked him for his many years of public service and hoped that Shupp would remain part of the town as the prosecutor for municipal court after he leaves the town attorney position in August.
Four Planning Commission applicants interviewed
Principal Planner Larry Manning presented the BOT with four applicants for one regular and two alternate positions on the Monument Planning Commission. Two of the candidates mentioned that they had applied for vacant positions in November. The applicants’ comments included:
• Melanie Strop – The municipalities and zoning around here drives me nuts. There is no cohesion between municipalities. I want effective, smart growth.
• Kevin Geisberg – I understand bureaucracy and can contribute perspective. We need managed growth for business and infrastructure plus managed expansion of communities.
• Ken Kimple – We have to meet peoples’ needs and desires for small-town atmosphere and meet needs of small businesses so they can hire from within the community.
• Danny Ours – The only preconceived idea I have is to be alert to the balance between businesses’ and cities’ need for revenue and decent enjoyment of homeowners and their property values.
The trustees were impressed with all four candidates and were aware of how hard it is to find volunteers, so they did not want to eliminate any of them. After consulting with Shupp, Lowe, and Manning, the trustees opted to replace one of the current commissioners with so many years of experience and dedicated service to the community and to direct staff to research how to amend the bylaws for the Planning Commission to add a third alternate so that any other current commissioner now felt free to move on, since other people had now stepped forward to serve the community. Kaiser said, "I would be happy seating at least two of these new candidates on a full-time position, because we have new blood, new ideas here, but I also appreciate all the years of meritorious service."
Current Monument planning commissioners are:
Kathy Spence: vice chair (18yrs), first appointed 2001, latest appointment expired December 2015
Ed Delaney: chair (14yrs), first appointed 2003, latest appointment expired December 2015
David Gwisdalla: (10yrs), first appointed 2007, latest appointment expired December 2015
Jim Fitzpatrick: (7yrs), first appointed 2010, latest appointment expired December 2015
John Dick: (7yrs), first appointed 2010, latest appointment expired December 2016
Michelle Glover: (2yrs), first appointed 2015, latest appointment expired December 2016
Lowe also suggested they establish term limits for the commissioners, as Bornstein had asked about at the last two BOT meetings. Final decisions and changes will be made at a future meeting.
Well 4/5 treatment plant upgrades approved
Tharnish presented a resolution to approve a $40,000 contract to EPS Wastewater for Well 4/5 treatment plant upgrades. Plate settlers are used to hydraulically remove heavier metals (such as iron and manganese) from a water system and increase the efficiency of the treatment process, he said. Jason Broome, PE, and Claire Koch, EI, of Forsgren Associates Inc. had prepared the technical memorandum considered by the trustees. Will Koger of Forsgren Associates said he hoped to have Wells 4/5 back in water production by the fall. The trustees approved the resolution unanimously.
New Public Works building discussed
Lowe and Tharnish explained the current dismal situation and limitations of the Public Works facility at 506 N. Jefferson St. and why the town needs to build a new facility on the seven acres of land it purchased last fall at the southeast intersection of Mitchell and Synthes Avenues for a combined public works and water reuse plant. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#mbot section on potable water reuse plant.
All the trustees agreed that Public Works was in need of an upgraded facility, but Coopman and Murphy wondered if other items should take higher priority on the list. Other items discussed included the emergency water interconnection (more information will be presented at the June 5 meeting, Lowe said), and a connection to a renewable water source for the town.
Koger and Lowe said the potential water reuse plant, proposed to be built on the same land, could take three to five years to get online. This would include sampling for at least a year, then testing. Lowe said, "The technology we recommend to you has to be right. We cannot get that one wrong. We will move slowly and deliberately in the right direction. We have a good concept, and a good partner in Woodmoor (Water and Sanitation District) (WWSD), but we need a quality recommendation to give you."
The consensus was to talk about the Public Works building more at a future meeting.
Amendment to master lease approved
The trustees unanimously approved Town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s resolution for a supplement to the Wells Fargo master lease of the approved and budgeted 2017 capital projects. She said this was to secure financing at the least expense possible.
The town manager’s report for May 15 included:
• Police: We have had close to 40 unlocked vehicles entered during the early morning hours. Guns, computers and various other items have been stolen. We are working with both El Paso Sheriff and Colorado Springs Police, as they have been hit also. We have also done a number of public announcements to "lock your car door."
• Planning Department: We have a submittal for a Pilot Travel Center at Baptist Road and I-25.
• The plat and the site plan for the Jackson Creek Senior Living facility will be recorded in anticipation of the Land Use Permit/Building Permit to follow.
• Water Department: Pre-construction meeting for Well 9 Water Treatment Plant treatment modification project for radium.
• Upgrade of chemical feed to Well 8 in progress.
• Received the proposals for on-call engineering. Thirteen companies are now under review.
• Met with WWSD and Tetra Tech regarding water reuse plant.
• Public Works: New equipment installed in skate park.
• Human resources: Attorney Alicia Corley will begin work on June 5.
Kids’ ideas on how to improve Monument
Lowe shared artwork from students at Prairie Winds Elementary School showing some of their ideas, which included:
• Add water features to the parks.
• Take care of homeless people, pets, and the elderly.
• Provide a petting zoo that elderly people could visit.
• Make a zipline!
"This is a town with a lot of talent and a lot of intelligence," Lowe said.
The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.
Caption: On May 15, Town Manager Chris Lowe, left, recognized Town Attorney Gary Shupp for his many years of public service and his "steady and sage advice." Mayor Jeff Kaiser said he was a man of honor and integrity and had given great advice to the town in the 18 years he has been here. This month, Shupp tendered his resignation as of Aug. 1. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
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 June 5. 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 email@example.com.
By James Howald
In May the Palmer Lake Town Council met once, on May 11. Most of the meeting was devoted to a presentation from architect Bill Fisher, who designed the bridge that will span the railroad tracks and connect the Palmer Lake Recreation Area to the town of Palmer Lake. The council also approved a special event permit.
Bridge design sparks debate
Fisher gave the council some background on his bridge design, which will make use of shipping containers modified to suggest boxcars. The design has generated controversy over the last two months as some council members questioned the design’s esthetics and practicality. Also, some council members felt there was insufficient communication between the Awake the Lake group, which is managing the bridge planning and construction, and the council.
Fisher pointed out that cost was an important factor in using storage containers for his design. According to Fisher, there was an $87,000 gap in funding, which Awake the Lake has been working to fill. Some extra costs derived from requirements demanded by the railroad, Fisher said.
In his final analysis, Fisher believes the use of storage containers in the design saved about $48,900.
Council members raised a number of objections to the design. Trustee Paul Banta said he did not think storage containers would look good, and argued many members of the community agreed with him. Trustee Bob Mutu felt graffiti and snow might be problems.
Trustee Glant Havenar, on the other hand, found the design attractive.
The discussion concluded with Fisher pointing out that the design has already been submitted to the railroad—some changes were made to accommodate railroad requirements—and with Trustee Richard Kuehster asking for more frequent communication from the Awake the Lake group.
Special event permit approved
The council voted unanimously to approve a special event permit to the Tri-Lakes Lions Club for a fishing derby to be held at Palmer Lake Recreation Area on June 3. The fishing derby, which is free to all children in the community, has been an annual event, and 300 children participated in 2016.
The Tri-Lakes Lions Club made a $2,500 donation to the town to show its appreciation for the town’s support.
The two meetings for June will be at 6:30 p.m. on June 8 and June 22 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
Board members of the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts 1, 2, and 3 (PPMD 1, 2, and 3) met jointly May 1 to discuss the requirement to try to form a Citizens Advisory Committee, and District Counsel Russell Dykstra specified necessary changes in district management practices to achieve proper Title 32 procedures regarding approval of unbudgeted expenses. Board members also raised the public infrastructure fee (PIF) for the PPMD 3 commercial area to 2.5 percent and made more plans to use water from Bristlecone Lake for irrigation of district parks. The May 1 joint meeting was the first since December.
FLMD, west of I-25 at the end of West Baptist Road, is a Title 32 service district in El Paso County established in 1985. FLMD is the half-acre operating district responsible for the public infrastructure and utility and general governmental services for the residents of PPMD 1, 2, and 3, which actually collect the property taxes. PPMD 1 and 2 are not part of the town of Monument, but the commercial section PPMD 3 is within the town limits. FLMD holds joint board meetings with PPMD 1, 2 and 3, which were established in 2004.
Note: FLMD has no relationship with the separate Forest View Acres Water District in the foothills west of Monument.
Board members for all four boards are President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance of Classic Homes; Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes; and Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes. One board member vacancy exists now.
Ann Nichols is the manager for all four districts. District Counsel Dykstra and Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, also attended the May 1 meeting. For more background on the history of FLMD, see www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#flmd, www.ocn.me/v3n7.htm#epcpc, www.ocn.me/v3n8.htm#bocc, www.ocn.me/v4n12.htm#triview.
Forest Lakes Metropolitan District seeks Pinon Pines Metro District residents for Citizens Advisory Council
In 2003, when the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the restructuring of Forest Lakes Metropolitan District into an operating district (FLMD) and three taxing districts (PPMD 1, 2 and 3), the BOCC provided for the creation of a Citizens Advisory Council for residents within the FLMD service area. The creation of the Advisory Council is to occur when there are at least 50 dwelling units constructed within the Pinon Pines areas. Nichols said FLMD is now approaching that 50-unit threshold and will be trying to determine if there are five Pinon Pines residents who would be interested in serving on this Advisory Council. FLMD will support the Advisory Council in arranging for council meetings at times and locations convenient to the council members and other Pinon Pines residents. The council will serve as a forum for Pinon Pines residents to learn about district issues and to advise FLMD on resident issues.
Note: If you are a FLMD property owner who would be interested on serving on this Advisory Council, please contact your homeowners’ association administrator, Steve Emery of Hammersmith Management, at 719-389-0700. (https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com/blog/)
Refinement of management procedures requested
Nichols mentioned that FLMD had been making expenditures over the last few months, and there would be additional expenditures to complete the surface water treatment plant for drinking water and the parks irrigation project. Dykstra questioned the fact that Nichols was already approving expenditures and agreements for work for FLMD projects before the board had approved them. "Now that we are more into operational mode, we cannot be approving things after the fact," he said.
Nichols and Stimple disagreed with Dykstra on this point. Stimple said, "We are an operating district. We ratify expenditures (that Nichols has already made) all the time."
Background: Special districts such as FLMD, organized pursuant to Title 32, are quasi-municipal corporations and political subdivisions of the state of Colorado organized for specific functions. As such, their activities are subject to strict statutory guidelines. For more information, see www.colorado.gov/pacific/dola/special-districts-0. To read the 470-page Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 on the Special District Act, go to https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/crs2016-title-32.pdf.
Nichols’ comments included:
• To actually operate effectively, you can’t have everything wait until you can take it to the board.
• The way I am used to operating is you set parameters around what the district manager is authorized to do so that you can make expenditures every day.
• The administrative resolution says that everything is approved after the fact.
• Unbudgeted items come up all the time, like a backup pump for the lift station or automating the water treatment plant. The plant work could cost $42,000.
Dykstra said that the administrative resolution was just on an annual basis for board functions and was meant as a catch-all, not a standard operating procedure. His comments to Nichols included:
• Yes, you can take everything to the board! That’s the way you are legally supposed to do it.
• When you are expending funds and contracting with people, those are board functions that statutorily must be approved in advance, because otherwise you are personally responsible for those. Or else the district manager can be authorized by the board to spend up to a certain dollar amount.
• You might want to read Title 32, because (without board approval), you would be personally responsible.... That’s what I am worried about.
• I am nervous that these are unbudgeted expenses. Next year in the budget you’ll have a much better feel for what expenses should be.
• I am just hearing a lot of work being done where those contracts should be on the agenda for approval by the board.… George (Lenz) is signing the checks, but he is not the board.
After more discussion, the board unanimously approved a motion authorizing the district manager to have general administrative authority to enter into contracts and spend funds up to $50,000 subject to subsequent board ratification. This could include both budgeted and unbudgeted items, Nichols and Stimple said.
Nichols summed up by saying she thought the way it was working with the operating budget was OK but that she would be a little more diligent on the capital side.
Add-on public infrastructure fee set for PPMD 3
The board discussed an agenda item titled, "Agreement to Assignment of PIF Revenues and Acceptance of Assignment of lGA (intergovernmental agreement) Dated January 9, 1989 with the Town of Monument." This concerned only the PPMD 3 commercial property, which is inside the town of Monument, southwest of the intersection of I-25 and West Baptist Road. PPMD 3 would issue bonds to reimburse the cost of its share of the public infrastructure, which FLMD would end up owning.
The board unanimously approved adding an extra 1.5 percent to the existing 1.0 percent PIF. The existing 2005 1.0 percent PIF covenant was dissolved and replaced by this new 2.5 percent PIF covenant. This "before sales tax" 2.5 percent add-on PIF would be applied to every retail transaction in PPMD 3, excluding diesel gasoline. This would be in addition to the 3 percent sales tax that the Town of Monument already adds to retail transactions, Nichols said.
The board also approved PPMD 3 to act as the collection agent, subject to future agreements to be negotiated when PPMD 3 issues infrastructure construction bonds. Blunk anticipated the first commercial real estate deal in PPMD 3 could be completed this summer.
The board also discussed ways of calculating development fees for commercial property that could be borne by the market, but it did not make any decisions. Both PIFs and development fees have to be disclosed to potential buyers before they close on a piece of property.
Lake water for irrigation
Boulton and Stimple explained that the trenching for a pipeline from Bristlecone Lake to the new surface water treatment plant would now have a second pipe added to take lake water into the separate irrigation system for some of the parks and common areas. By making the decision to put both pipes in the same trench, instead of doing a separate trench next year for the irrigation line, the district would save money. However, this idea just came up so it was not included in the 2017 budget, Stimple said. JDS-Hydro engineering consultants and All American Landscaping are both working on this project.
The irrigation water would be directly pumped from the lake and not be treated to drinking water standards, so it would be cheaper and put less stress on the treatment capacity of the district than watering turf grass with potable water. Also, using renewable lake water instead of well water from aquifers for irrigation makes more sense in the long run, Loidolt said. The district has water rights and is allowed to use Bristlecone Lake water this way as long as it is retained on-site, Stimple said.
The board unanimously approved a motion to approve watering certain public facilities owned by FLMD directly from lake, subject to unanimous board approval of the subsequent specific cost recommendations from Nichols when those are made and circulated electronically to all of the board members. If any board member disagrees then, the FLMD board would hold a special meeting to discuss the situation, Dykstra said.
Financial reports not presented yet
Nichols said that the district accountant still owes the district its financial statements for February and March, so the board did not discuss or approve any monthly financial statements.
Nichols said the 2016 audits are in process by Hoelting & Co.
The meeting adjourned at 10:58 a.m.
The next joint meeting of FLMD and PPMD 1, 2, and 3 is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, June 5, in the Classic Homes office at 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs. Meetings are usually held the first Monday of each month. Meeting notices are posted on the district website http://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com and at 3625 Mesa Top Drive, Monument, which is an open space tract owned by all four districts. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at 719-327-5810 or at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On May 9, the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) had anticipated a report on its 2016 audit, but that did not occur.
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, who was acting secretary/treasurer for this meeting; MSD board Chairman Ed Delaney, vice president; and PLSD board Chairman Mark Bruce, who said he was looking for a PLSD representative to serve as the JUC secretary/treasurer to replace 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 District Manager Jessie Shaffer and Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette. Terri Madison and John Howe were also present.
2016 audit report delayed
John Cutler of John Cutler and Associates did not attend the meeting via conference call as had been previously arranged with him and Burks, so he did not give his 2016 basic financial statements audit report to the board.
Strom and Shaffer asked questions about the audit report showing a long-term liability in the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) pension fund on the facility’s financial statement. Strom hoped that TLWWTF would never have to actually write a check for that amount. Wicklund said it was a new state statute designed to show taxpayers how much the pension funds were underfunded, but no particular local government would be responsible for paying those shortfalls. The consensus was to ask Cutler about it when he gave the audit report.
Facility manager’s report
Burks presented the monthly discharge monitoring report as required by the Joint Use Agreement. In particular, he said that the levels of both total inorganic nitrogen and total phosphorus were even lower than expected, to the delight of the group.
Burks also mentioned:
• The biennial removal of biosolids from the sludge lagoon would begin earlier than expected, since the biosolids press was arriving as he spoke. The facility’s treated sludge is pumped to the biosolids press for dewatering, then hauled away by 18-wheel trucks for direct agricultural land application. Note: at a previous JUC meeting, Burks was directed to have this treated sludge tested to establish a baseline measurement of radium concentrations.
• TLWWTF passed its quarterly whole effluent toxicity (WET) test with no issues, showing that fish and wetlands macroinvertebrates can reproduce at normal in-stream rates in the facility’s treated effluent that is being discharged into Monument Creek.
• The new total phosphorus (TP) clarifier expansion still needed final work done on the sprinkler system and on a problem with digital communication between two of the automatic control components.
• Gabe Racz, TLWWTF’s environmental attorney, might make a presentation to the JUC soon about reuse, concerns TLWWTF should have about (the town of) Monument (Water Department’s proposed plan for a possible drinking water reuse facility), and the assortment of future regulatory possibilities regarding nutrients.
• GEI’s benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic life) study was completed in February and was a joint effort with Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Monument Creek was still impaired, "but a little better than last time we did this," and overall was "pretty healthy." See www.ocn.me/v16n10.htm#tlwtfjuc.
• The Water Quality Control Commission’s triennial San Juan, Gunnison (River Basin) Water Quality Standards Regulations 34 and 35 rulemaking hearing will be held in Durango on June 12-13. It will include a discussion of regulations on stream temperature and nutrients. The Commission hearing decisions on these issues might affect TLWWTF and other facilities statewide even though they are not in that river basin. See regulations discussion in www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#tlfjuc1108.
Delaney pointed out to Burks that a credit was needed for MSD in the estimated monthly invoice for April. This was the second month of a new twice-monthly billing system designed to help ensure sufficient revenue on the third day of each month so that payroll and other occasional large payment requirements can be met at the start of each month. Burks said he would look into it. See www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#tlwtfjuc.
District managers’ report
Orcutt and Gillette reported that both PLSD and WWSD would be doing line cleaning soon. Wicklund did not have anything to report.
The meeting adjourned at 11:10 a.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 13 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.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met on May 11 to make a final decision on a request to transfer pre-paid tap fees, to provide guidance to District Manager Jessie Shaffer on long-range planning issues, to vote on a water lease agreement, and to hear operational reports.
Tap transfer request approved
Following a discussion in executive session, the board voted unanimously to approve the transfer of 39 pre-paid multi-family taps originally purchased by The Cove to single-family residences being built at The Dunes at Woodmoor. Since single-family residences typically consume more water than multi-family residences, the 39 original taps were replaced with 29 single-family taps in the agreement.
Long-term plan for 2017 comes before board
Shaffer asked the board for input on certain parts of the long-range plan he has been working on since February.
Shaffer said that demand management came to the fore in the district in 2002, a drought year, and took the forms of watering restrictions and a tiered pricing model. In 2004 the district made further efforts to implement "full-bore demand management." These policies led to decreased water consumption on a per-family basis that continues to the present, Shaffer said. Effective demand management policies will have an impact on the long-range plan, according to Shaffer.
The highest demand was 362 gallons per day per household, and the lowest was 231, Shaffer said. The district is using 297 as its planning base.
The amount of precipitation in any given year influences this measure, according to Shaffer.
Shaffer asked the board members whether they wanted to be conservative in their estimates about the effectiveness of demand management, or less so. The chosen strategy will affect the district’s plans to drill additional wells and schedule other projects, Shaffer said, adding he preferred to plan based on the continuing effectiveness of demand management. Demand management has been built into some aspects of the building code, and should be permanent, Shaffer said.
According to consultants employed by the district, historically the area has grown at an annual rate of 2 percent; in 2017 that growth rate has doubled to 4 percent.
There was a consensus on the board that future planning should be based on conservative water demand estimates, and on growth projections of 3 percent. The board also expressed a willingness to consider adding indirect potable reuse technology to the district’s infrastructure.
Board re-approves water lease agreement
The board considered the execution of a water lease agreement for 2017 with Colorado Water Protective and Development Association (CWPDA). The association works to protect and develop water resources in the Arkansas River basin. The agreement between CWPDA and WWSD must be renegotiated annually.
According to Shaffer, the 2017 agreement contains few changes to previous versions. The agreement says CWPDA will pay the district $70 per acre-foot of water for up to 500 acre-feet of water that the district provides as return flows to Monument Creek, but does not obligate the district to provide any water.
Shaffer added that, historically, the district has provided between 200 and 450 acre-feet of water to CWPDA.
The board voted unanimously to approve the 2017 agreement.
Operational report highlights
• The financial report showed the district continued to collect tap fees at a historically high rate in April.
• The district’s audit will be presented at the July board meeting.
• Changes to PERA requirements have increased the unfunded liability portion of the Joint Use Committee’s audit by about $60,000.
• Repair work on the siphon at the JV Ranch has been slowed by excess ground water, but should be complete by the end of May.
• The district continues to isolate some portions of its pipeline infrastructure near Highway 105 in an attempt to identify potential leaks.
• Work is being done to remedy the metering for well 17.
• Work is progressing on the ozone pilot project, and the equipment should be online in July.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 8 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
On May 18, District General Manager Kip Petersen reported to the Donala Water and Sanitation District board that he had expected the revision of the state’s residential assessment rate after the recent updates to property appraisals would result in a reduction from the current 7.96 percent to 6.56. However, the Special District Association had just reported on May 12 that the Legislature only reduced the state residential assessment rate to 7.20 percent just before it adjourned for the year on May 10. He now expects Donala will receive the same amount for residential property tax revenue in 2018 as in 2017.
Petersen also reported that Donala would close on its purchase of the Laughlin water right on May 23 for 324 acre-feet per year of Fountain Creek renewable surface water. This purchase increases Donala’s surface water right portfolio up to roughly 70 percent of Donala’s potable water demand at build-out. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#dwsd
The absences of President Dave Powell and Director Ed Houle were excused. Vice President Ken Judd chaired the meeting.
No cut in 2018 special district tax revenue after all
Petersen also reviewed the status of some 2017 bills that the state Legislature considered and passed.
House Bill 17-1349 was passed at the end of the session. This is an El Paso County assessor reappraisal year, and appraisals have been generally higher. Although it was expected that the residential assessment rate on the increased reappraisals would be 6.56 percent, Petersen said the Special District Association reported that the Legislature only reduced the state residential assessment rate down to 7.20 percent just before final adjournment for 2017. He now expects Donala will receive the same amount for residential property tax revenue in 2018 as in 2017, rather than the 17 percent reduction he had forecast that a residential assessment rate of only 6.56 percent would have produced.
Note: The widely reported increase in county appraisals this year has been roughly 10 percent. However, this zero net effect on Donala property tax revenues in 2018 should apply to the other special districts in the OCN coverage area––no net decrease in 2018 residential property tax revenues.
House Bill 17-1297 was approved and passed to the governor for his signature. This bill allows special districts to pay a total of $2,400 per year, up from $1,600, to their directors who are elected or appointed after Jan. 1, 2018. The maximum individual meeting payment remains at $100 per meeting.
House Bill 17-1198 was approved and passed. It allows special district boards to vote to expand their board size from five members to seven members. No election is required for this expansion. Once a board decides to expand its board to seven seats and attempts to fill the two new empty director seats, this action is irrevocable.
Petersen also discussed his participation, as president of Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, in hosting the April joint Arkansas Basin Roundtable and Arkansas River Forum meetings. He noted the growth in the county’s stormwater control program staff (28 people in 2016 and 52 people now) and the amount the county is now spending on stormwater infrastructure ($25.6 million in 2016.) The Upper Arkansas Voluntary Flow Program is now helping ensure that Arkansas River flows are sustained after the spring snowmelt flows dry up to provide for longer rafting and fishing seasons. These longer sustained flow periods help preserve the aquatic life in the Arkansas River basin ecosystem as well.
Petersen noted that Will Koger of the Forsgren Associates engineering firm was not available to make a presentation on the state’s Area 3 Infrastructure report at this meeting as planned, but is scheduled to give this presentation at the June 22 regular board meeting
Petersen also noted that Roger Sams of the GMS Inc. engineering firm is scheduled to brief the Donala board on arsenic removal plans on June 22. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#dwsd
The preliminary project concept cost for additional treatment equipment for removing groundwater arsenic from Donala and Triview Metropolitan District by the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) would be about $2.1 million, which would be paid for by Donala and Triview. Currently, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, the other co-owner of UMCRWWTF, plans to supply its customers solely with renewable surface water with no detectable arsenic. Forest Lakes will therefore not need to remove arsenic from its sanitary sewer wastewater influent that it delivers to UMCRWWTF.
Petersen reported that Donala’s operating expenses and revenues were normal for the first four months of the year.
Total tap fees for 2017 were expected to be much higher at this point, but the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had not yet approved the additional 12 new homes proposed to be built on now-vacant former Gleneagle golf course land. Nor has the BOCC approved the commercial development proposed for the vacant land between I-25 and the intersection of Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive to the east. See the BOCC article on page 1 for more recent information about these two land use proposals.
Petersen said Donala’s water sales have also been a little lower than normal, due to a "wet year" so far in 2017. On the other hand, electric utility expenses are much lower than average due to Donala’s ability to supply its customers entirely with renewable surface water later into spring than usual. The district has not had the usual lawn irrigation demand to date that normally requires the district to operate its large electric well pumps to supply deep groundwater as a supplement the district’s surface water being drawn out of storage in the Pueblo Reservoir.
Petersen noted that Donala’s annual cost for space-available storage in Pueblo Reservoir for its renewable surface water from Willow Creek Ranch near Leadville will likely rise in 2018 from about $61 per acre-foot to $104 per acre-foot. Donala currently leases 499 acre-feet of storage from the federal Bureau of Reclamation. This is 0.2 percent of the reservoir’s total storage capacity of 250,000 acre-feet. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons. (www.ocn.me/v17n5.htm#dwsd)
Operations and projects
Donala’s groundwater treatment facilities have been deep cleaned in anticipation of operations to meet the summer irrigation production loads. A tri-annual state Health Department sanitary survey inspection of cleanliness, security, operations, and paperwork was scheduled for the end of May.
The district has been distributing potable surface water almost solely from its storage in the Pueblo Reservoir for several months to make room for storage of heavier-than-average snowmelt from its Willow Creek Ranch south of Leadville. The district’s snowmelt storage window starts May 1 each year.
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. The design work for this project continues. When the design is completed, the project will go out for bids. Residents will receive notices from Donala, and the district will hold an open house before this construction begins. (www.ocn.me/v17n4.htm#dwsd)
The meeting adjourned at 3:54 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on June 22 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org. Regular meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month, except in June and November.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By John Howe and Lisa Hatfield
OCN attended the May 24 Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board meeting expecting to hear a discussion of the district’s monthly water fees, which, according to the district website, rose from $87 to $90 per month on May 1 for reasons related to capital improvement loan covenants due to a water infrastructure upgrade from 2012, but that discussion did not occur. Residents pay those fees in addition to actual monthly water use fees ranging from $8 to $16 per 1,000 gallons per month and an annual 5-mill property tax levy to cover administrative costs.
No district residents attended the meeting to make public comments, but President Gene Ashe said the board always welcomed residents’ questions about the district’s financial situation.
FVAWD is in the northwest corner of unincorporated El Paso County between the base of Mount Herman and Colorado Highway 105. FVAWD serves customers on over 300 lots in six subdivisions: Cloven Hoof, Red Rock Ranch, Red Rock Reserve, Shiloh Pines, Sundance, and The Villas.
The board did discuss many other topics, including:
• Shamrock Water Services explained its recommendations to repair 39 of 67 fire hydrants and guard valves to bring them up to National Fire Protection Association and American Waterworks Association standards. Information from Shamrock’s report will be added to GIS maps showing the layers of district infrastructure. No action was taken by the board.
• The booster pump station piping modification is done.
• Clyde Penn, district operator, ORC Water Professionals, said the pressure regulator will be updated soon, and he explained upcoming improvements to the surface water treatment plant. The leak map will be updated as necessary.
• Water metering and customer billing issues. Plans to install new water meters were put on hold.
• Phase 4 of the water main rehabilitation project is done, but site revegetation is still in progress.
• John McGinn of JDS-Hydro gave his monthly report on capital items. The county will be doing asphalt roads overlay. Valve boxes full of rocks need to be cleaned out.
• The monthly financial report was reviewed by Treasurer Hans Zimmermann.
The 2016 annual financial audit is in progress.
The meeting went into executive session at 8:45 p.m. to discuss legal items pursuant to §24-6-402(4)(e), CRS, determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, related to the Revised 1985 Agreement and items associate with a 40-acre land swap with the U.S. Forest Service. Ashe told OCN that the board did not take any votes or make any announcements after the meeting returned to open session and adjourned at 9 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 28 at the Monument Sanitation District boardroom, 130 Second St. As of May 24, the board meetings have moved to the fourth Wednesday of each month. Information: 488-2110 or www.fvawd.com . Contact the Board of Directors at BOD@fvawd.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on May 22 to hear the School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC) report, review the board self-assessment results, and consider other agenda items.
SAAC public member Al Brown reported on the survey results to the board and executive director. 278 surveys were completed, for a 13 percent response rate. Brown noted some options to increase participation. Preschool results were great, elementary school results were mostly positive, and middle school results were partially positive. He noted that middle school is a trying time for everybody. Results, including 400 comments, will be published at www.monumentacademy.net/sac/ with names redacted.
Brown called attention to subjects that require board attention, including the following schoolwide recommendations:
Traffic flows, congestion, and safety: The drive line (the student drop-off and pickup lane) is going as well as can be expected, but Highway 105 is a real issue. There have been meetings but, so far, no results. Brown noted that the board doesn’t think we should wait until someone gets injured. He said this is an area of special interest. He suggested setting up one or more town halls with people who understand concerns and can make decisions.
Communication: Respondents felt that communication was sometimes missing and sometimes duplicated. The SAAC recommendation is that there be a schoolwide communication strategy for teachers, deans, administration, and the board.
Security (bullying, internet, facilities): There was a new question on security including physical security, bullying, and internet misuse that got a 90 percent positive response. While that is a good result, he noted that the remaining 10 percent represent a real concern. Brown felt this was the top job for the board.
The concerns include overcrowded hallways, visibility, vulnerability of the playground in front of the school, and internet controls. The SAAC suggested considering moving the middle school to the new high school went it opens, limiting playground visibility, involving the D38 safety officer. MA Executive Director Don Griffin noted that Homeland Security advises MA rather than D38 on safety. Brown relayed suggestions for more security on the doorways as well as busing from/to common locations such as Walmart or Home Depot. Griffin asked if that might be done on a fee-for-service basis.
Other SAAC report highlights include:
• Everybody wants a new gym, a full-size track, new turf, a stage, and an auditorium.
• Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for special needs takes teachers out of the classroom where they are needed. Perhaps the dean of Student Services can address this issue.
• The Gifted and Talented Program was less effective this year than in the past and should be reviewed.
• Disruptive students rob the rest of the kids of faculty time. Increase involvement of parent volunteers and administration support if possible. Re-evaluate current discipline deterrence and maintain consistency.
• Concerns from the 5 percent who responded on iPad use that it will lower handwriting skills and be a tremendous distraction. Additional training may help.
Board member Scott Saunders reported on the results of a board survey that contained rating questions and open comments. He noted one question had split results between strongly agree (2) and agree (4). The question was, "I feel my board members participate actively in meetings raising constructive questions on and offering pertinent guidance on matters of strategy and policy." He stated that he tries to ask questions in advance of the board meeting. He felt that the board was cohesive, all on the same page, sharing strengths, and presenting a unified front to the community.
• The board unanimously approved a revised Policy 1511 to include using placement tests to properly seat new students. The policy can be read at http://bit.ly/ma-policy1511.
• Board President Sonya Camarco presented Tiffany Alexander an award for her service representing the Middle School faculty, and took a commemorative photo.
• Dr. Elizabeth Davis, principal and chief academic officer, reported on the staffing effort for next year. MA needs a seventh-grade English teacher, an eighth-grade Social Studies teacher, and a seventh-grade Math teacher. Interviewing is underway, and she feels the applicants are very well qualified. They are also hiring a new fifth-grade and second-grade teacher, for an 8 percent teaching staff turnover rate. Additional positions have been posted for Art, Extended School Services teacher, occupational therapist, a part-time psychologist, and a part-time reading specialist.
• The first annual Grandparents Day hosted more than 600 grandparents and was covered by The Gazette.
• Only two candidates filed to run for the open board seats. Since there are only two open seats, no election will be held, and Mark McWilliams and Mike Molsen will be considered to be elected/appointed to terms beginning July 1, 2017 and ending June 30, 2020.
• D38 Board of Education President Sherry Hawkins toured MA for nearly two hours with MA board member Matt Dunston and Executive Director Griffin.
Caption: At the May meeting of the Monument Academy School Board, the board presented Tiffany Alexander with an award certificate in appreciation of her service to MA as a teacher representative for middle school faculty. Pictured left to right: Matt Dunston, Tiffany Alexander, Scott Saunders, Sonya Camarco, and Julie Galusky. Photo by Janet Sellers.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, June 15 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, committees, and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The May 18 meeting of the Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education was abbreviated due to inclement weather. Because of a snowstorm earlier in the day, a number of agenda items were postponed until the June meeting. At this meeting, a new principal was approved and the board heard that the district’s per-pupil revenue will increase significantly for the next school year.
The board approved the appointment of Tony Karr to the office of principal at Lewis-Palmer High School.
Superintendent Karen Brofft introduced Karr as a current assistant principal at Palmer Ridge High School. She said that Karr acknowledges that each school has its own identity and that he will respect this fact. Karr also has been a dean of students and has worked in a number of districts.
Per-pupil revenue jumps
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said per-pupil revenue for the upcoming year will be $53 per student higher than anticipated, making available $289,000 in unanticipated revenue. She asked the board to discuss the use of this revenue in August.
District Accountability Advisory Committee report
District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) Co-chairs Melissa Hinton and Anne-Marie Hasstedt reported on DAAC activities during the 2016-17 school year. Among their goals was an emphasis on two-way communication between the committee and individual schools. They received updates from liaisons to the board and administration and from various committees.
DAAC created a teacher assessment subcommittee this year to examine the process in detail and supported a waiver of the October deadline for charter school applications.
In the coming year, the committee looks forward to participating in the long-term planning process.
Brofft reported on the district response to that day’s snow emergency, stating that a prime consideration was the continuation ceremony for students at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Once students had reached school, she thought it important for the ceremony to continue, while allowing parents to pick up their children early if they wished.
She outlined plans for teacher training during the summer, including training in social media for secretaries and others.
Brofft also announced that the district’s technology department was recognized by Extreme Networks as an Exemplary District and a "visionary 21st century learning environment" and for enabling personalized education through technology. Only two districts nationwide receive this award each year.
Wangeman reported that the consent agenda included an item regarding a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant for repair of the roof at Palmer Lake Elementary School. The grant will cover 35 percent of the $599,000 cost. These grants are available to schools that are fully utilized and have been in continuous use for 20 years or longer, and are to be applied to the building.
Wangeman reported that previous estimates for enrollment appear sound.
She said that the Long-range Planning Committee has requested a feasibility study to be performed over the summer before presenting a report and recommendations to the board.
Board Secretary Mark Pfoff said that in the past the board had asked for options, not recommendations, and that he wished to see all things considered by the committee. He said that he feels that he hasn’t seen enough to understand where the committee is going and stressed that the budget must be approved in June. He wishes to see the committee’s charter and the expectations held by the board.
Brofft responded that RTA (the consultant overseeing the process) gave a presentation on its process at the time it was hired. There will be a report on the analysis of information and a list of viable scenarios in August.
2017-18 budget process review
Wangeman gave a brief presentation on the budget process for 2017-18. She said that because the School Finance Act was not finalized by the Legislature until May 11, figures presented to the board were not up to date. She requested that the board approve the budget as previously presented and discuss the per-pupil revenue increase in August.
The board passed a consent agenda consisting of routine items such as insurance renewal, minutes of previous meetings, renewal of a food service agreement with St. Peter Catholic School, and other items.
The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer D-38 School District meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at its Learning Center at 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on June 20.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following information was compiled from the monthly El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) Neighborhood News. OCN’s report covers only EPSO District 1 and does not include criminal activity from the Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake, or Colorado Springs addresses:
Arson: 19500 block Hidden Springs Gln.
Burglary: 14400 block Tierra Dr.
Criminal Mischief: I-25/N. Academy Blvd.
Criminal Trespass: 15200 block Paddington Cir.
Criminal Trespass Auto: 2100 block Stella Dr., 18000 block Furrow Rd., 100 block Avocet Lp., 500 block Portland Rd.
Manslaughter: 19800 block Alexandria Dr.
Motor Vehicle Theft: 16200 block Rickenbacker Ave.
FOR EMERGENCIES: DIAL 9-1-1
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch (non-emergency crime reporting): 390-5555.
EPSO Telephone Reporting System (for minor crimes without suspect information: 520-7111.
EPSO Traffic Hotline (for reporting problem areas or traffic violations): 390-5555 option 5.
EPSO Tip Line (for reporting suspicious activity or the location of wanted persons): 520-7777 Always remember to report criminal activity or suspicious behavior promptly.
For more information, contact the Crime Prevention Coordinator: Merody Broom 719-520-7151 MerodyBroom@elpasoco.com.
By Friends of Monument Preserve
Friends of Monument Preserve (FOMP) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance the 1,000 acres of open space surrounding the Monument Fire Center on Mt. Herman Road. The facility itself was originally built as a U.S. Forest Service tree nursery in 1907 and was used in that capacity until 1965. Today the Pike Interagency Hotshot Firefighting crews live and work there, responding to fires throughout the West.
FOMP was organized to assist the U.S. Forest Service in preserving the land in as natural state as possible while still allowing for a wide variety of recreational uses. Members and supporters live near the preserve or use it on a regular basis. Supporters can simply donate funds—used to support various projects—or participate in volunteer activities. FOMP maintains a website at www.fomp.org, distributes a newsletter, and sends announcements via email for trail maintenance nights and other programs.
FOMP members and volunteers sponsor numerous projects throughout the year to maintain the trail system and protect the wildlife habitat and the historic significance of the area. They focus on:
• Trail maintenance, such as digging water bars and re-routing trails.
• Organizing and assisting with area cleanups.
• Forest husbandry, such as planting pine seedlings in burn sites and seedling release in deforested areas.
• Helping local scouting and 4-H clubs in community service projects.
• Serving the annual Hotshots potluck dinner during spring training to welcome crews back to the area each year.
Interested in volunteering? Visit the website to add your name to the email list and find information on trail nights and other activities. Ask questions at email@example.com.
Meet at the Mt. Herman Trailhead every second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. to participate in trail work nights on June 14, July 12, Aug. 9, and Sept. 13.
By joining the group, you’ll have a greater understanding of the historical and archeological importance of the area. Plus, you will be supporting and protecting a treasured local resource.
The next FOMP Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on May 25 to discuss an upcoming event that will close some streets in Woodmoor, vote on changes to rules and regulations, and hear from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) Chief Chris Truty about the need for a mill levy increase.
5K run to close some streets
Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that a 5K run sponsored by the Ascent Church on Saturday, June 17 will close some roads in Woodmoor from 9 a.m. to noon. The event, the 2017 Run to the Ascent 5K for Schools, will donate all its proceeds to local schools for suicide prevention. The course, where street closures may occur, starts at Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Woodmoor Drive and continues to Lake Woodmoor and White Fawn, then back down Deer Creek Road to end at the church. Nielsen noted that they had not received a lot of notice as the county and Sheriff’s Office are responsible for approving the closure. The application was not specific about which roads would be closed.
President Peter Bille suggested asking the organizer and the county what sort of signs will be placed in the community to alert residents to closures. For more information on the event, see http://www.theascentchurch.com/5k.
Rules and regulations updated
Board members unanimously approved revisions to the rules and regulations. Updated rules and regulations will be posted on the website at https://www.woodmoor.org/governance/ in the WIA Governing Documents section at the bottom of the page. Changes include the following areas:
• Mailboxes must be in good repair and have house numbers visible.
• Nuisances on property rule L, number 1 has been split into two paragraphs for noxious weeds and uncut grasses respectively.
• Exterior lighting complaints and other abstract nuisance complaints must be verified by WIA.
• Playground equipment must be kept in good repair and proper working condition.
• Firewood stacks are limited to two full cords of a specific measurement and volume, must be cut and stacked according to specifications, and should be substantially reduced after the winter season. Concerns about property setbacks can be regulated as a nuisance upon receiving a complaint.
Fire chief presents case for mill levy hike
TLMFPD Chief Truty spoke to the board on the need for funding through a mill levy increase to replace outdated equipment, attract and retain firefighters, and address health and safety issues at the three fire stations in the district. He talked about the history of the district, the projected budget, and what the district has done to live within its means. Truty also discussed the impact of the Gallagher amendment, which will reduce the residential real estate assessment rate from 7.96 per cent to 7.2 per cent in 2018. This reduction would partially reduce the impact of any mill levy increase. This was similar to the presentations given at two community meetings held earlier in May. The board asked questions, provided feedback, and asked what they could do to help.
Board report highlights
• Resident Tom Smith of Woodmoor noted that the board was going to entertain a motion to limit the size of wood piles and asked that they consider the possibility of requiring a setback.
• The Toboggan Hill parking lot now has 21 paved parking spaces. Riprap was installed at the bottom of the lot to control erosion. Landscaping and reinstallation of the fence was scheduled for the week of May 29.
• Slash Days will be held on June 3 and Aug. 5 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The board determined it was not feasible to pick up slash at homes. The board agreed to waive the chipping fee for Woodmoor residents.
• A common area improvement survey is being reviewed and will be posted online to solicit community input on what they would like to see done.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting be on June 28.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
For the second month in row, temperatures were below normal and precipitation was above normal in May. This, of course, is exactly what we hope for as we head into the heart of the growing season, although heavy wet snow during the third week of May wasn’t ideal for plants just starting to leaf out.
May started off cool and a little wet, with temperatures below normal from the 1st through the 4th. A light dusting of snow also occurred on the 3rd as a few rounds of snow showers fell on the region. More typical May weather then moved over the next few days. High temperatures reached into the 70s from 5th through the 8th. We got our first taste of more summer-like weather conditions as a few afternoon and early evening thunderstorms developed over the region.
The higher levels of moisture left behind low clouds and fog each morning from the 9th through the 11th. This held temperatures down, with highs only reaching to the mid- to upper 50s. But at night the opposite occurs, where the low clouds and fog act like a blanket and hold the warmth in, keeping overnight lows on the mild side. Also, weak disturbances moving over the region allowed rain showers to develop each day. The pattern changed again just in time for the weekend, with dry and mild conditions returning. Highs reached the 70s on the 12th and 13th, about 5-10 degrees warmer than normal.
The third week of May was more like March, as we were visited by a cold, wet storm during the end of the week. Conditions were seasonal and dry to start the period, with highs in the mid-70s on the 15th and mid- to upper 60s on the 16th and 17th. However, conditions changed quickly during the late afternoon and early evening of the 17th as a powerful storm began to approach the region. Rain showers and a few thunderstorms developed in the area and temperatures began to drop. As the storm continued to approach, cold air was drawn into the region from the north. This allowed the rain to change to snow around 2 a.m. the morning of the 18th. Snow increased in intensity that morning and continued through the afternoon. Snowfall rates were great enough to overcome the strong May sunshine, and several inches accumulated that morning through the afternoon.
The effects of elevation were very evident with this storm, with areas above 7,000 feet accumulating 6-15 inches of snow, while areas below this elevation accumulated very little snowfall. This is typical with late-season snowstorms, where the snow line is very close to the top of the Palmer Divide. Highs only reached the 30s the 18th and the 19th, a good 30 degrees colder than normal for mid- to late May. The heavy, wet snow also took a toll on many trees and plants. Low temperatures dipped into the mid- and upper 20s each morning as well—again, not real friendly to tender plants.
But at least we got a lot of beneficial moisture out of the storm. For the period, most of us picked up 1-2 inches of liquid equivalent, which is just what we need going into the heart of the growing season after a dry winter. Although snow in May isn’t unusual, the amount of snow with this storm so late in the month was unusual. It’s not often that the students in D38 can claim an early dismissal because of snow on or near their last day of the school, but that’s what happened this year.
As the main storm departed the region, it opened the door for more unsettled weather as a series of fast-moving weather systems crossed the region over the next few days. Each of these brought areas of rain and snow showers. The most organized of the systems affected the region later on the 22nd. This storm brought an initial area of rain in the early evening that turned to snow as temperatures dropped into the mid-30s. Less than a half inch of heavy, wet snow accumulated, but during the overall event another half- to 1-inch of liquid equivalent accumulated.
Conditions quieted down the next couple of days, allowing things to dry out and warm up. Highs reached well into the 70s and just about touched 80 on the 24th and 25th. Moisture began to work back into the area over the next few days, with daily showers and thunderstorms popping up from the 26th through the end of the month. During this period, temperatures were cooler than normal. There were plenty of clouds and showers around for most of Memorial Day weekend, and temperatures were 10-15 degrees cooler than normal. In fact, if you were up early on the 28th, hopefully you were dressed warm as low temperatures bottomed out in the upper 20s.
The final few days of the month saw a return to more normal late May weather, with quiet mornings giving way to afternoon and evening clouds and isolated thunderstorms. Rain showers were brief around the Palmer Divide with only a few hundredths of an inch accumulating in any one location.
A look ahead
By June we can usually say goodbye to our chances of snowfall, but hello to frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms. The majority of the time we can expect warm, sunny days with afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
May 2017 Weather Statistics
Average High 63.3° (-2.8°)
100-year return frequency value max 75.7° min 57.9°
Average Low 35.8° (-2.5°)
100-year return frequency value max 43.2° min 32.5°
Highest Temperature 79° on the 24th
Lowest Temperature 24° on the 1st, 20th
Monthly Precipitation 3.51" (+0.87", 25% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"
Monthly Snowfall 13.7" (+8.0" 60% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 97.8" (-24.4" 20% below normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 16.85"
(-3.04" 15% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 480 (+54)
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.
County urged to step up efforts against gangs
In February, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit gave a presentation on gangs in the local area. With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, gangs from all over America and Mexico are moving here to set up profitable trades of diverted marijuana for opioids. Because of geography with I-25 running from Mexico to Canada, the gangs find it very profitable to operate in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. I-25 provides a cheap and convenient highway to move drugs. With the increase in gang members, they also engage in other crimes. To avoid scrutiny, gang members will often locate to smaller communities where law enforcement lacks the people and specialized resources to address gangs.
The El Paso County Commissioners are unwilling to fund, to staff, and to provide the resources for a fully functional gang unit. Similarly, the Colorado Springs City Council disbanded the CSPD gang unit. Typically, an 80/20 rule applies where 20 percent of the criminals commit 80 percent of the crimes. If law enforcement focused on the top 20 percent of hardened criminals, you could see a dramatic reduction in crime. Gang units can use mapping software to document links between gangs, and it is often highly effective to break up critical links within gangs and between gangs, making them less profitable and less effective.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has excellent software to start capturing and mapping links within gangs and between gangs, but the El Paso County Commissioners have not provided the resources or the direction to do that to increase the crime-fighting effectiveness of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office informal gang unit.
None of this is being done.
Richard R. Allen
By the staff at Covered Treasures
Celebrate dads and grads this month with some great books!
"Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad."—Anne Geddes
"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young."—Mark Twain
The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before Heading into the Wild (And How to Get Back in One Piece)
By Brendan Leonard (Scribner), $24.95
A thorough guide to your next adventure, covering everything from mountain climbing to skiing, sledding, and sailing. Organized thematically and written in short takeaway entries with line drawings, it provides quick access to the information before and during your adventure. And if the reader finds himself at the point of man vs. nature, he or she will appreciate Leonard’s tips on survival skills, including how to bandage a wound, read a topographical map, and how to drive on sand and remove a tick.
The Tug Is the Drug
By Chris Santella (Stackpole Books), $24.95
These 37 inspirational stories take readers from leaping makos near the fairways of Torrey Pines to midnight Atlantic salmon fishing on the fabled Ponoi, to encounters with the very friendly mujeres on the streets of Havana—and even offers an unauthorized (yet unequivocal) account of Bob Dylan’s 1970s obsession with fishing.
My Dad Had That Car: A Nostalgic Look at the American Automobile 1920-1990
By Tad Burness (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers), $35
Burness provides a unique look at 70 years of automotive ingenuity, with more than 1,300 pages and 12,500 illustrations covering more than 10,000 American automobiles and more than 250 manufacturers. You will find information about original prices, engine sizes, horsepower, and other specifications, including unusual options and differences found within a model.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
By Adam Grant (Penguin) $17
Adam Grant explores how individuals can recognize good ideas and speak up without getting silenced, parents can raise creative children, and leaders can build cultures that fight groupthink and promote innovation. Using remarkable studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, this book offers groundbreaking insights about how we can all become more successful in championing our best ideas.
You Are a Badass at Making Money
By Jen Sincero (Viking), $25
Sincero breaks down life-changing concepts into bite-size, ready-to-implement advice and exercises that give you the tools to make the kind of money you’ve never made before and to live the life that’s always seemed to be beyond your reach.
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World
By Adm. William H. McRaven (Grand Central Publishing), $18
Adm. McRaven shares the 10 principles he learned during Navy SEAL training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life. He explains how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves and the world for the better. This timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire readers to achieve more, even in life’s darkest moments.
Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity
By Charles Duhigg (Random House), $17
Duhigg provides eight key concepts, cutting-edge research, and case studies from the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, Broadway songwriters, and more, that can help us become smarter, faster, and better at everything we do.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
By David Grann (Doubleday), $28.95
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma after oil was discovered beneath their land. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were also murdered. It was one of the FBI’s first major homicide cases, but the bureau badly bungled the investigation. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to former Texas Ranger Tom White, who put together an undercover team. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The Pikes Peak Library District’s summer reading program, Summer Adventure, kicks off on June 1 and continues through the end of July. This year’s program consists of many activities in addition to reading, with a variety of online badges and the final prize of a book for younger patrons and a T-shirt for teens. You can register online at www.ppld.beanstack.org and begin right now.
As in the past, we will have enthusiastic teen volunteers on hand to help you register and record your progress, as well as many special programs. Pick up a full list of the special programs at your library and prepare to have an exciting summer!
Adult discussion groups will continue at their regular schedule during the summer, but the yoga and AfterMath programs are on hiatus until after Labor Day.
Tuesday morning’s Story Times will be replaced by a single program from 10:30 to 11:30 each week.
Each Monday at 2:30, there will be a program for elementary-age kids, including watercolors, pop art, self-portraits and bubble art.
Summer Morning Fun will be held each Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:30. These programs are for all ages and include music, science, yoga, and magic.
Thursdays at 2:30, there will be programs to include painting, a petting zoo, and building a roller coaster maze for a ping pong ball.
A list of all events is available at the library.
Teens and tweens
Tuesday, June 6, from 3:30 to 5, there will be a video game tournament with Wii games and snacks.
That same day, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., will be the monthly Monument Teen Creative Writing Group (ages 12 to 18), where you are welcome to share your interest in writing with others.
Wednesday, June 14, will be Teen Movie Night (ages 12 and up) from 6:30 to 9.
See the list at the library for other special teen events.
An intergenerational knitting group will meet on June 7 and 21 from 3 to 4:30. Practice materials are provided, but patrons are encouraged to bring their current project. Some instruction provided for those new to the art of knitting.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, June 16 to discuss Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.
On Saturday, June 24, from 10 to 11:30, Allison Plute from Colorado Springs Utilities and the nonprofit Greenway Fund will give a presentation on rain barrels and understanding the local water table.
On the walls of the library during June will be watercolors and oils by Jean Pierre de Vernay. In the display case will be a collection of items related to France.
Palmer Lake Library Events
At the Palmer Lake Library, Toddler Time will be at its usual time of 10:30 each Friday.
On Wednesdays each week at 10:30, there will be special summer programming in place of story time. These programs, recommended for elementary-age children from 5 to 11, include fairy tales, a washboard band, a science and circus arts show, and a program on alpacas.
On Thursday each week will be a program for ages 7 and older. These will include creating a pop-art style self-portrait, drawing, and a construction challenge.
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the latest selection.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
Caption: Annika, left, and Adriana Pogar enjoyed the Tea for All Ages on May 13, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Vanessa, left, Paul, and Isabelle Krause at the Tea for All Ages on May 13. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Kimberly, left, Marissa and Seth Kraft at the Tea for All Ages on May 13. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
By Sigi Walker
On Thursday, June 15, the Palmer Lake Historical Society will present Hummingbirds—Up Close and Personal by Palmer Lake resident Jerry DalFerro. Learn about the fascinating world of hummingbirds presented through a slide show of stunning photographs. The free program will be at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7.
On Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, the Historical Society will continue the tradition of honoring fathers with a free Ice Cream Social. Singer/guitarist Nick Davey provides the entertainment. This year, the event is preceded by a program, Charles Goodnight in Colorado, presented by Pueblo residents Laurel Campbell and Linda Crawford. This program is free and open to all at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the program begins at 1:15. Pie and ice cream will be served at about 2 p.m.
This column originally ran in the June 2011 issue of Our Community News
By Elizabeth Hacker
I enjoy hearing from readers, and the month of May was especially rewarding. Sherry Sieg e-mailed a photo of a female western tanager at her feeder and noted that a male had been there a few days earlier, which may indicate that they are nesting in her area. Grant Swango posted a photo of a lazuli bunting at a feeder he made in Boy Scouts this year and mentioned that he saw a Bullock’s oriole in his Palmer Lake yard. OCN publisher John Heiser sent a great horned owl photo he took from the deck of his home near Roller Coaster Road. The owl appears to be a male yearling and may be one of the owls hatched last summer at Home Depot. Enthusiastic birders like Sherry, Grant, and John make my day!
Western tanagers, lazuli buntings, and great horned owls all nest on the Palmer Divide at the edge of the forest in ponderosa pine trees or scrub oak shrubs. All are shy and none of these species frequent feeders. Sherry also e-mailed a photo of a rose-breasted grosbeak, which I occasionally see west of I-25. In recent years, sightings of this bird have been infrequent, a serious concern noted by local birders. The location was interesting because she lives east of I-25 in Woodmoor where none have been reported for quite some time.
In the United States, birding is the fastest-growing hobby and attracting backyard birds is a craze that is sweeping the country. My conversations often turn into discussions on how to attract birds, and I enjoy sharing methods Randy and I use.
Feeding and landscaping
Feeding and landscaping are the two methods we employ. For those who seek immediate gratification, providing watering stations, continually stocking feeders and treats, and keeping nesting boxes clean and disease-free work well.
It works for us only because Randy is methodical about stocking feeders and birdbaths. I’m more of an observer than a doer, so I prefer to attract birds to plants in our landscape, and in the long run, I believe this maybe a more sustainable approach to attracting birds.
We use a few types of feeders. My favorite is a hopper-style feeder with two glass sides and a removable top for refilling. As birds consume the seeds, more seeds fall out onto an edged platform where birds perch while eating. An even simpler feeder is a platform mounted on top of a metal pole where seeds are placed on top of it. Both attract birds.
My objection to the platform feeder is that a predator can easily get a little bird, whereas the hopper provides some protection. Randy’s objection to both these feeders is squirrels. He prefers a squirrel-proof variation where the door closes with the weight of a squirrel. Did I say squirrel proof? In truth, we haven’t found such a feeder. Many seed mixtures are available, but we only use the black oil and stripped sunflower seeds because we find that millet attract starlings, my least favorite bird.
Another type of feeder is a tube feeder. We use two types: one for liquids to attract hummingbirds and the other we fill with nyjer thistle seed to attract finches and grosbeaks. We locate the thistle feeder under a tall scrub oak in a quiet area of our yard away from the other feeders. Hummingbird feeders are located near our deck because hummingbirds don’t seem to mind us watching them. Oddly, we find hummers nesting in the scrub oaks near the thistle feeder!
Randy sets out an assortment of treats, including suet cakes, fruit, nuts, and meal worms (to attract bluebirds) that have been effective in attracting many species. Randy’s favorite is the bluebirds that return to the same nesting box every year. If we don’t have it out in time for their arrival, they will circle our yard till we put it out.
The sight and sound of water attracts birds, so we have several birdbaths. Our newest one has a mister, and the birds love it. When birds are drinking and bathing, they are more vulnerable to predators, especially cats. So we locate ours in areas where cats can’t easily hide. We still lose some birds to wandering cats, but at least the birds have some chance of escaping the cats.
Water is as important as food for birds, but a note of caution: Water should not be allowed to stagnate, because birds (and people) are susceptible to the West Nile virus spread by mosquitoes that breed in standing water.
As you might imagine, feeding and watering is maintenance intense. A more sustainable method is to landscape with trees, shrubs, and flowers to naturally attract birds and butterflies. It’s more sustainable because the birds won’t leave when you’re on vacation.
For most songbirds, the rigors of survival take place under cover, so providing cover increases the possibility of them nesting in your yard. First, consider where you live and what types of plants are already in your area and established in your yard. Micro-climates, sun angle, and soil and moisture conditions vary considerably between Gleneagle and Palmer Lake.
On the Divide, coniferous trees that tend to be must successful are the ponderosa pine, Colorado spruce, and cedar. All provide good cover and a source of food for birds. Deciduous trees that attract birds include scrub oak, mountain ash, hawthorn, serviceberry, American plum, and crabapple, most of which will require supplemental watering. Due to fire danger here, it is recommended that trees be planted at least 30 feet away from a structure.
Many songbirds nest at the edge of a forest in shrubs that grow between open meadows and tall trees. They provide cover for nesting birds to hide from predators. My favorite ornamental shrubs is the old-style French lilac, which is not on any bird lists but I’m amazed at the diversity of birds and butterflies that are attracted to it in summer and winter. This variety grows tall and can be shaped into a small tree.
Other shrubs for consideration include junipers, gamble oak, sumac, chokecherry, Korean lilac, honeysuckle, viburnum, dogwood, and spirea. All shrubs attract birds, so plant the ones that will survive in your yard.
Our variety of native wildflowers is one reason birds fly to the Palmer Divide. Flowers provide nectar and attract insects: both are necessary for nesting songbirds. We use a wildflower mix formulated for our area. Some flowers must be reseeded annually while others, like blue flax, reappear each spring.
Over the years, we have planted many perennials and continue to try new ones. Some of my favorites include daylily, coneflower, aster, Russian sage, delphinium, yarrow, salvia, iceplant, soapwort, and the list goes on. We have found that the hummer’s favorite flower is monarda, often called bee balm.
We are always looking for new ways to attract birds, but sometimes a bird will just show up for no apparent reason. Why the great horned owl came to John’s yard or the pileated woodpecker stopped in our yard is anyone’s guess!
Above: Rose breasted and evening grosebeaks taking turns at a backyard feeder in Woodmoor. Photo by Sherry Sieg.
Above: Lazuli bunting making a rare backyard appearance in Palmer Lake. Photo by Kathy Swango.
Above: A great horned owl. Photo by John Heiser
Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to share bird pictures and stories.
By Janet Sellers
Garden friends: fungi, forests and sunflowers
Warm days are here, so we can finally put in our spring and early summer plants snow-free! Many sow seeds or plants for summer now. Do protect the soil fungi for success. Soil is a living material that has minerals and organisms with gases and water in between. My favorite helper is aged live compost.
Ja Schindler, researcher at Fungi for the People, says, "Many factors determine the balance of organisms, and the fate of the soil itself. In Nature, the water content, temperature, and pH control the direction of ongoing activities. Anthropocentrically speaking, human activity and interest often affect the fate, as we have invested interests in soil and its health."
The health of the soil begets the richest support for our gardens and proven results. Plants and fungi have evolved over millions of years together to create their relationship of plant and microbe diversity. Our forests and wild places are intact ecosystems that are home to the greatest gene pool for this; most are yet to be studied because our understanding of fungi has been based on cultivated mushrooms.
Did you know plants can help heal the soil? Sunflowers at the Fukushima nuclear accident site and rafts of sunflowers floating in the pond at the Chernobyl nuclear accident site decontaminate the areas of cesium, and will be disposed of safely. The search is on for bioremediation for glyphosate contamination from herbicides such as Roundup.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior research scientist at MIT, in recent years has coauthored a number of papers exploring links between glyphosate and human health problems. The glyphosate goes through the plant, to the roots and into the soil, effectively killing the plant but also the vital microorganisms in the soils, and available evidence shows the harm going to the human gut biome as well. Penn State University has made studies on successful organic herbicides that are safe around kids and pets that use a compound of vinegar and clove oil (cinnamon oil also works).
The safest removal for garden weeds is to hand pick them or mow to 4-6 inches before they flower. As a green mulch, this length of grass or weeds protects soil from wind and water, is good between raised beds, and will slow weed propagation.
Pretty but deadly plants in our local hiking areas: death camas, western water hemlock, larkspur, locoweed, lupine, poison oak, poison ivy, sumac, and myrtle spurge in Woodmoor roadsides. Wearing protective clothing, remove by hand weeding.
Also, the Palmer Lake noxious weed group meets at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays at the Town Hall.
Janet Sellers is an avid nature and garden enthusiast. For local high-altitude nature and garden information collected just for you, visit www.facebook.com/MonumentCommunityGarden. Janet can be reached at JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
This time of year, we can go outdoors on most days—or the sunny parts of them—and hike, paint, or photograph to our heart’s content. I take mental pictures as I walk, and in my paintings I can edit things into and out of the art.
The amazing part is that in painting out of doors, plein air, the art is vastly different than when done from a photo or indoors in the studio. There are urgency and vibrancy to the art, not to mention the fact that the sunshine offers true colors to the viewer, and for the artist that means better use of light and color. And an overcast day is also a good day to paint or photograph art or people, as the colors are true and the shadows are becoming to the subject.
I’ve been working on a series of forest paintings, very big ones and very small ones, and researching forest habitat and health as I do it. I’ve always found that creativity in art and creativity in life are closely related. Both require adaptation, resilience, imagination, and support to thrive. The forest has shown me the same motivations, in great harmony and constant activity. Our forests support our wildlife and offer us recreation and peace, all the while with a mysterious beauty to consider.
Our May 18 Art Hop was snowed out by a foot of snow, so four local arts venues created an art evening the following Thursday and there were a surprising number of attendees. I dropped by Bella Art and Frame to visit with photographer Kim McFadden-Effinger. We chatted about her recent travels to Honduras on behalf of a water project. Fluent in Spanish, she had been a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador and had worked in Mexico City. Her current exhibit displays aspects of her travels and her keen eye for the intimacies of daily life in the places she’s visited.
Art Hop is a monthly art event on the third Thursday of each summery month in Historic Monument, like a pop-up art fair. We’ll showcase these and local arts venues.
Art Hop: Act 2 DIY from thrift shop finds. 245 N. Jefferson St.
Bella Art and Frame Gallery, June 1-26, Douglas Mann art exhibit. 183 Washington St.
Santa Fe Trail Jewelry, June 15, Local Artists Pop Up shop; Janet Sellers demonstrates plein air watercolors in the courtyard. 106 Second St.
Caption: From left, Steve Castle, Donna Merrifield, Kim McFadden-Effinger, and Maggie Williamson talk about McFadden-Effinger’s travels and her photography show at Bella Art and Frame. Photo by Janet Sellers
Janet Sellers is a Colorado artist, writer, and teacher. Her artworks are exhibited in Colorado cities and galleries; she teaches art locally. JanetSellers@ocn.me
Pine Forest Show gets better with age
By Harriet Halbig
The 41st annual Pine Forest Show and Sale, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, was held on May 6 and 7 at Lewis-Palmer High School.
The show has grown and evolved through the years from a handmade craft show and an antiques show to its newest iteration, which includes antiques, plants for the garden, home décor, artwork, bird feeders, glass repair, and food trucks. The ever-popular bake shop featured a variety of items prepared by club members.
The club supports the activities of local schools and organizations through a grant program funded by this show and other events. This year’s show featured 85 vendors and earned about $20,000. Attendance was estimated at 736. The show was co-chaired by Andrea Keough and Cindi Monahan.
Caption: Second Vice President of Special Events Andrea Keough, left, and Bakery Chair Becky Hassler pose in the bake shop during the show. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Wildfire Leadership Summit
Caption: Carley Lehman and Judy Rickman identified their neighborhoods on a map at the countywide Neighborhood Wildfire Leadership Summit on May 6 at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. The goal was to encourage individuals to get training and help their neighborhoods find ways to do wildfire risk reduction work in an ongoing and sustainable way and teach "Ready-Set-Go" emergency preparedness planning to the residents. Speakers included Robin Adair, El Paso County Office of Emergency Management; Jamey Bumgarner, fire marshal, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District; André Mouton, leader, Emergency Preparedness Group of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church and emergency manager for the Air Force Academy; and Steve VanderWerf, El Paso County District 3 commissioner. KRDO News 13 aired a story about the event, and they also had visits from the El Paso County Wildland Fire Team, our region’s Homeland Security representative, and Byron Spinney of Hope Restored. For more information to make your neighborhood safer, contact your fire district or email@example.com. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Pack for the Platte
Caption: The Arduous Pack Test: Can you go 3 miles in 45 minutes—carrying 45 pounds!? The May 7 "Pack for the Platte" pack test on the Santa Fe Trail included Mine Rescue Team members from the Newmont CC&V Mine in Cripple Creek who needed to be recertified in this test, the same one wildland firefighting crews must conquer to be ready for deployments during wildfire season. The event was a fundraiser for the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP), which strives to protect watersheds for wildlife, drinking water, and recreational use. Funds raised went to CUSP’s Wildland Fire Team. CUSP also sponsored fire risk-reduction chipping work in Palmer Lake the same weekend. For more information, contact Rachel@cusp.ws, 719-748-0033, www.cusp.ws/P4P. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Pikes Peak Antique Machinery Days at WMMI
Caption: The Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) hosted the first annual Pikes Peak Antique Machinery Days on the weekend of May 12. Attractions included a silent auction, antique tractor pull, antique engines and tractors, and operating steam engines. Folks big and small could enjoy a "barrel train" ride around the grounds and displays of the antique tractors and vintage cars at the WMMI. Photo by John Howe.
Palmer Lake Glow Run
Caption: The clear sky, remains of a warm day, and lazy sunset of Saturday, May 13 made the perfect conditions for an evening at Palmer Lake. About 75 community members gathered for a brightly glowing jaunt around the lake during the second annual Palmer Lake Glow Run. As participants gathered and waited for the sun to set, they activated glowing gear while being entertained by a DJ who came equipped with his own light show to get things started. Cries of "On your mark, get set, glow!" sent babies in strollers, kids, adults, and even dogs walking, running, and skipping around the lake. Participants were encouraged by cheerleaders and a canopy of blinking lights around the lake. A food truck and candy store (with glowing candy, of course) were at the finish line. Prizes were awarded not to the fastest runner, but to the runner with the most glow-gear. Participants received glow-in-the-dark T-shirts with the slogan, "Everything is brighter in Palmer Lake." Proceeds from the event support the Palmer Lake Fourth of July celebration and fireworks. Pictured at left: Glow-clad participants wait for the start of the second annual Palmer Laker Glow Run. Photo by Erin Poole.
Billy Bob Thornton at TLCA
Caption: On May 9, Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters rocked their sold-out concert at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). Thornton, an Oscar and Golden Globe award-winning actor, holds singing, songwriting, and drumming as his first passion. Even though this was the Boxmasters’ final performance of 31 concerts in 37 days, the energy emanating from the stage was palpable and enthralling. Thornton forewarned the audience that we "are not a country-western band" and will "call audibles depending on the venue," as they have played casinos, outdoor venues, and rock ‘n’ roll clubs in this tour. During the nearly two-hour set, Thornton engaged the audience through conversation and with the background inspiration on the band’s original songs, from life experiences growing up in his native Arkansas, living in Glendale, Calif., to socio-political statements. Influenced by "Memphis blues, Southern California surf and British Invasion ‘60s music," the band played songs from their new album, Tea Surfing, and previous releases. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
WMMI Picnic ‘N’ Planes
Caption: On May 24, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) held its annual Picnic ‘N’ Planes event in conjunction with the Air Force Academy graduation. For a small per car donation, over 300 attendees picnicked, walked the museum grounds, played some catch, enjoyed each other’s company and set up cameras until the main viewing activity. The museum’s hilltop provided a 360-degree view of the flight acrobatics of the Air Force Thunderbirds. The six-plane team used the Front Range mountains and clear sky as a backdrop. Following the Thunderbirds’ show, attendees received a discount to do a tour of the museum and its exhibits. Information on WMMI is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by Mark Aggers. Caption by David Futey.
Caption: The Western Museum of Mining & Industry’s hilltop provided a 360-degree view of the flight acrobatics of the Air Force Thunderbirds. Information on WMMI is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey. See additional photo on page 1.
Memorial Day in Monument
Caption: At the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Monument Cemetery May 29, the crowd of about 300 salutes flags at half-staff.
Caption: World War II veteran Wayne Bowe. Photo by Jim Kendrick.
Caption: Wreath Presentation Ceremony: Representative Terri Carver, House District 20; Colonel, USAF (retired); and representatives of VFW Post 7829 Auxiliary and Tri-Lakes Leo Club. Photo by Jim Kenrick.
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.
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. To schedule a home assessment, phone 719-748-0033.
Slash-Mulch season is underway
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) through Sept. 10. Mulch will be available until 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.
Clerk’s office proposes precinct and commissioner district boundary changes, comment by June 24
Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman presented proposed changes to precincts and commissioner district lines within El Paso County at the Board of County Commissioners meeting May 25. Citizens can share their opinions on the proposals to change the commissioner district lines during a 30-day public comment period. All five county commissioner districts are subject to population adjustments no more than once every two years. According to Colorado law, commissioner districts must be relatively equal in population, and the existing deviation between districts is just over 3 percent. Electronic versions of the precinct map and the three options for county commissioner district lines is available online at http://car.elpasoco.com. Public comments about the proposed changes should be sent by 11:59 p.m., June 24, to Mattie Albert at MattieAlbert@elpasoco.com or 520-6226.
Tri-Lakes Y Summer Swim Camps, register now
For children 6-12 years old, Mon.-Thu. sessions through July 31, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost: $95 members/$120 non-members. Financial assistance is available. For more information, call 481-8728 or stop by the YMCA, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument.
Woodmoor Waves Summer Swim Clinics, enroll now
Two three-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., June 5-22 and July 10-27. Registration forms are available at the pool or online at www.woodmoorwaves.org. See the ad on page 18 for $5 off. For more information, contact Chris Bains, 303-506-0089, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Nonprofits form Northern El Paso County Nonprofit Council
Twelve of the region’s nonprofit organizations’ leaders met May 17 to explore the benefits of establishing a nonprofit council. This initiative and initial meeting were led by the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club (MHKC) and hosted by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. R F Smith, president of MHKC, noted increasing demand for services for needy families and individuals along with concurrent growth in the number of nonprofits serving the region. The ultimate goal of the new council is to have the nonprofits (churches, schools, and service organizations) collaborate to maximize the services and financial support available to needy families and individuals. The group agreed to meet quarterly, with the next meeting planned for early August. The council welcomes all nonprofit organizations to join. For more information, contact Rich Strom, 481-0943, or email email@example.com.
Monument Academy now enrolling for 2017-18 school year
Monument Academy, a free public school of choice, features academic excellence, award-winning programs, and more. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 481-1950 or visit www.monumentacademy.net.
St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling for the 2017-18 school year
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.
Pinon Pines residents needed for Citizens Advisory Council
Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) seeks five Pinon Pines residents to serve on a Citizens Advisory Council. The council will serve as a forum for Pinon Pines residents to learn about district issues and to advise FLMD on resident issues. If you are interested in serving on this advisory council to FLMD, please contact your HOA administrator, Steve Emery of Hammersmith Management, at 719-389-0700.
Plant a row for Tri-Lakes Cares
Local gardeners from the Monument Community Garden encourage all gardeners in the area to plant a row in their vegetable garden for the Tri-Lakes Cares food pantry. Find out more at www.facebook.com/Monument community garden. To arrange a time to drop off your harvest when it’s ready, call 481-4864.
Parkinson’s support group forming
The Silver Alliance Senior Center is looking for family and friends who would be interested in participating in a monthly Parkinson’s support group. Day and time will be determined if there is enough interest. The meetings will be held at the senior center. Please contact Sue: 719-464-6873, or John Hobson: 719-368-7833.
Free transportation and handyman services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman 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 or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
Volunteer drivers needed for seniors’ transportation service
Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. The program needs additional volunteer drivers. For information, email MCSS at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the MCSS dispatch hotline at 488-0076.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center, new expanded hours
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA). With the addition of 16 morning exercise classes, the new hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 8:45-10 a.m.; and Sunday, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include bridge, pinochle, bingo, National Mah-jongg, Zumba, Line Dancing, Yoga, Chair Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, Total Body Strength, Better Balance and Strength, and many more! There’s also ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org or call Sue Walker, 719-330-0241.
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 and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
Help the Black Forest Animal Sanctuary (BFAS) rescue animals
Southern Colorado Animal Rescue BFAS is an animal rescue and rehab farm that has been helping animals since 1994. The all-volunteer organization has rescued thousands of horses, farm animals, dogs, cats, and various small wild animals and birds. BFAS provides rescue operations, adoption programs, foster and sponsorship programs, a student/horse education program, service dogs to veterans, and local and national rescue efforts. They also work with local schools and scouts. Donations are needed for supplies, and volunteers are needed for day-to-day operations. To find out how you can help, call 494-0158, email BFASFarm@gmail.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.
County launches new community website
Check out all the interesting county data available for you at http://community.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
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 gun-lock kit
The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gun lock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For information, phone 481-3253.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
WEEKLY AND MONTHLY EVENTS
July 4 events
7 a.m., Palmer Lake 4 Mile Fun Run, Palmer Lake Santa Fe Trailhead. Register at www.july4funrun.com.
7-10 a.m., Pancake breakfast, tickets at the door, St Peter Catholic Church, 55 Jefferson St.
8 a.m.-3 p.m., Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Street Fair, 2nd Street and Washington Street
9:30 a.m., Monument Hill Kiwanis Children’s Parade, Starts at Grace Best School
10 a.m.-noon, Monument Hill Kiwanis 4th of July Parade, Downtown Monument. Register to participate: www.monumenthillkiwanis.org.
10 a.m.-7 p.m., Tri-Lakes Chamber Beer Garden, family-friendly, Limbach Park, 2nd and Front streets, Monument
Noon, Monument Community Presbyterian Church Open House, 3rd & Jefferson: cool air, treats, and rest rooms available.
Noon-7 p.m. Live music in Limbach Park, 2nd and Front streets, Monument
Noon-7:45 p.m., Live Music at Bliss Studios, 143 Washington St, Monument
7 p.m., Music and fun at Palmer Lake, fireworks at dark.
Parade spectators are encouraged to come early, park at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., or Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., and ride the free bus to and from downtown Monument.
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to email@example.com or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on November 30, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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