This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.Town manager and police chief on administrative leave; investigation initiated
the PDF file. This is a 30 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.
By Allison Robenstein and Lisa Hatfield
During the Feb. 5 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) listened to public comments in support of the police chief and department and voted to place both Town Manager Chris Lowe and Police Chief Jake Shirk on administrative leave, pending an investigation into the town manager.
The trustees also approved three planning ordinances and agreed to set a public hearing on the continuing Village Center Metropolitan District financial situation.
Mayor Jeffrey Kaiser was absent.
Town manager leave and investigation
At the beginning of the meeting, Trustee Kelly Elliott made a motion to amend the agenda to include an executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss a personnel issue involving the town manager. This was approved unanimously, without discussion, by the trustees.
During the public comments portion near the end of the meeting, attorney Erin Jensen stepped forward to speak on behalf of all except one of the officers in Monument Police Department, as well as all the other town employees (except two that he had not met with). He asked the board to approve an additional executive session to discuss a "very sensitive" human resource and personnel issue from Shirk’s Feb. 1 memo to Lowe that was copied to the board. He asked that the police officers be allowed to participate in that executive session, since they were "unable to do their jobs effectively because of fear of retaliation" by the town manager.
Jensen also asked the board to grant an emergency temporary removal of the town manager as direct supervisor of the Police Department pending the allegations review.
He asked the trustees if they were aware that Shirk had been placed on administrative leave by Lowe after Shirk sent the memo in question. Town Attorney Alicia Corley said she wasn’t told about the issue until Feb. 5, which was why she had already asked for an executive session on this issue. Apparently, Trustee Greg Coopman was the only one of the six trustees present who had received the copy of the emailed memo that Shirk sent to all of them, so Jensen distributed printed copies of the memo to the trustees during the public session of the meeting.
Lance Farr, a retired San Diego police officer with expertise in narcotics and in training other officers, spoke in support of Chief Shirk. Monument resident Don Billings asked the board to do the right thing regarding this issue. Greg Fell, a resident of Monument and former El Paso County Sheriff’s deputy, noted that "every officer has had to hire an attorney" and repeated the request for a motion to hold a third executive session to discuss removing Lowe as director of the Police Department. John Bird, a county resident, directed his comments to the officers and chief of police, expressing his gratitude for their service.
Once Jensen’s request for a third executive session was unanimously approved, many in attendance clapped.
After public comments were complete, Trustee Bornstein asked, "Why is the chief on administrative leave?" Corley said it wasn’t something that she did, but she wanted to talk about it during an executive session. Bornstein continued to ask why this is happening and followed by saying the memo is a public document, and wondered aloud if he should leave it for all to read.
The meeting went into executive session at 9:31 p.m. to discuss Village Center Metro District and the two personnel items concerning the town manager, and at 10:42 p.m. it returned to open session.
The trustees then took several votes, which were all approved unanimously:
• The agenda was amended to remove the third executive session, since it was now unnecessary.
• They authorized the town attorney to arrange an investigation into the town manager, in cooperation with CIRSA, the town’s risk-sharing agency.
• They put both Shirk and Lowe on administrative leave with pay for two weeks.
The town attorney was asked to arrange for an interim town manager. Commander Steve Burke will serve as acting police chief during that time.
Eagle View Patio Homes
The first 2 1/2 hours of the meeting covered three land use items. First, Town Planner Jennifer Jones presented an ordinance to rezone and create the final plat for Eagle View Patio Homes, "a very efficient in-fill development" that might not use as much water as typical single-family homes do. The vacant parcel on Beacon Lite Road was originally zoned for a single-family home. After rezoning to R3, the site will be used to create four lots. Each lot will be a minimum of 6,000 square feet. The developer, Darwin Anderson, intends to build attached, ranch-style patio homes, two of which will face Buttonwood Court and two facing Buttonwood Place. He planned to do xeriscaped, low-maintenance landscaping.
The only point of contention was a request by the applicant for a 50 percent reduction in the cost of an in-lieu-of water shortage on the property, which is short by just over one acre-foot. The trustees just set an in-lieu-of water fee of $10,000 per acre-foot in January, as passed by Resolution 04-2018. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#mbot.
Bornstein asked Jones why the town would charge a discount rate for water for four homes if the state is in partial drought. The consensus of the board was to defer the water question. Full payment of the water shortage fee is expected at the time the land use permit and building permits are issued, Jones said. However, Corley said there was no procedural way to bring the water question back to the board, and it must be decided at this meeting. None of the trustees made a motion to amend the ordinance to reduce the in-lieu-of fee as a condition of approval. The original ordinance was then unanimously approved.
Conexus Business Park
The ordinance approving the rezoning and preliminary site plan for the Conexus Business Park also passed unanimously. Jones and Andrea Barlow of NES, which represents the property owner, explained that the parcel is a 23-acre portion of the larger Regency Park development that was annexed into the town in 1987. Currently, the Conexus land has outdated Planned Industrial Development (PID) zoning, which permits uses including manufacturing, processing or fabrication businesses, and allows for building heights of up to 90 feet. The suggested zoning is Proposed Development (PD), for which the board could then designate specific land uses in the PD sketch plan. In the February issue of OCN, reporter Kate Pangelinan outlined the types of businesses proposed within the new PD zoning for this site. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#mpc.
Coopman was concerned about the broadness of the business categories allowed to exist in the business park. Barlow said the board and Planning Commission would have to define these categories more specifically within the town municipal code, rather than have her client dictate the definitions to the board.
Trustee Dennis Murphy confirmed that water and sanitation will be provided by Triview Metro District. Black Hills Energy will provide gas, and Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) will provide electrical to the site.
During public comments, Terri Hayes, president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corp. and Visitor Center said she supported the Conexus development because she felt the town needs more jobs near where people live. Resident Cheri Hysell voiced concerns about the future land uses.
Monument Ridge Planned Development
The ordinance for a sketch plan amendment to the Monument Ridge Planned Development passed 4-2. This property is about 10 acres at the southeast corner of Struthers and Baptist Roads. This ordinance was denied by the Planning Commission by a 3-3 vote at its Jan. 24 meeting. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#mpc.
The developer requested an amendment to the PD sketch plan, which designated the land use as commercial, in order to build 16 to 20 multi-family dwellings on four lots. After Jones provided an overview of the plan, Elliott asked if the homes would be apartments for rent or townhomes for purchase, which would affect workforce housing affordability. Coopman wanted to know the benefits to the town of such development and worried it might have a negative fiscal impact to the community by removing commercial sales tax revenue.
John Romero of Goodwin Knight gave a presentation on the benefits of the development, which would have a 50-foot buffer between it and the single-family 5-acre lots to the southeast, in El Paso County. He cited the need for "mixed use" affordable housing for the growing workforce, including police officers, firefighters, and teachers. He said the dwellings would be apartments for rent that would attract first-time renters, millennials, and retirees, in the $900-$1,700 range monthly. Coopman said he understood the need for more affordable housing in the area, but this price point would not attract low-income earners. He was also concerned about high-density housing. Romero also said less traffic would be generated by a residential project than a retail use of the land.
During public comments for the ordinance, Ed and Jody Ellsworth, the owners of the property, made a plea for the ordinance to pass. They said after four years of owning the property, they have had zero interest in commercial development. Ed crunched the numbers, saying a successful financial plan supports higher density housing, and figured this will be just enough dwellings to make it work fiscally. Hayes also supported the project, saying it would be a great location for apartments and that the price point would be affordable if roommates shared costs.
Trustee Shea Medlicott thanked the developer for the presentation and said, "I get chills down my spine when government tells someone how to use their land." Coopman and Murphy voted against the ordinance. Now that it has been approved, the next steps include review and approval of preliminary and final PD site plans by both the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees.
Village Center Metro District will be heard
The trustees voted unanimously to set a public hearing for March 5 on the Modification of the Service Plan for Village Center Metro District, which is petitioning the town for permission to raise its property taxes so that it can reach financial solvency. See www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#mbot.
Town manager report includes 2017 crime statistics
Bornstein asked Lowe when Triview would be presenting the trustees with a status report on its roads and water system. Lowe only said, "Jim McGrady’s got a phone number." McGrady is Triview’s district manager. Wilson then asked Robert Bishop, who is Human Resources director and assistant to the town manager, if he would invite a Triview representative to the next meeting. Bornstein asked if the HR director was now the board’s liaison with Triview. Corley interrupted to say she would invite Triview.
The town manager’s written report for 2017 included:
• A new tourist-friendly map of Monument was made available.
• The town is starting a "placemaking" project with Downtown Colorado Inc. for downtown revitalization. Placemaking is defined as "the art of creating public ‘places of the soul,’ that uplift and help us connect to each other."
• Public works installed a small T-shaped dock at Monument Lake that was used all summer and winter.
• The Monument Water Department worked with many local and state agencies, including the Colorado Stormwater Council.
• This was the 24th year of Santa on Patrol.
• According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, Monument was rated as the 20th safest town in Colorado, reported Shirk. See case report table above.
Caption: This photo, taken from the video recording of the Feb. 5 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, shows attorney Erin Jensen asking the trustees to hold an executive session, at which the Police Department could be present, to discuss a personnel issue involving Town Manager Chris Lowe. To watch "live" meeting streaming, go to http://bit.ly/2uZxjfa. Photo courtesy of The Town of Monument at https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com.
The regular Feb. 20 BOT meeting was canceled. The board usually meets at 6:30 pm on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for March 5. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonuent.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
A work session by the Board of Education was convened Jan. 30 to pose last-minute questions to the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee (LTFPC) and receive input from an alternative architectural firm before a public deliberation event scheduled the following week.
During its January meeting, the board addressed the use of Grace Best Education Center with options including reconverting it to an elementary, selling it, or demolishing it. At that time, board Treasurer Chris Taylor proposed seeking a second opinion on the potential cost of the alternatives and the cost of building a new elementary on the campus of Bear Creek Elementary.
Taylor proposed consulting the architect of Bear Creek to see if there was a variance of opinion on advisability and cost. Taylor said that Brian Risley of CPR architects essentially agreed with the original firm RTA on basic questions of feasibility.
About a dozen members of the LTFPC present initially explained how they reduced the number of proposed actions from more than 30 down to three. Committee member Ashley Cook explained the process, saying that capacity issues could not be solved by moving sixth-graders into the present single middle school and that building a new middle school, due to the need for labs and other special facilities, would be much more expensive than building a new elementary.
The utilities for a new elementary are already in place on the Bear Creek campus, and Jackson Creek is the primary area of growth among elementary-age students.
Cook pointed out that the committee considered several sites for the new school, and most were impractical because they were not in the area of maximum growth or did not have sufficient infrastructure. A site in the new Forest Lakes development was favored because the developer has set aside the land and the committee wished to have one of the schools on the west side of the highway, because parents preferred not to bus their kids from one side to the other.
Growth predictions might be conservative
Committee member Michelle Glover said that the committee strove to get Tri-Lakes demographics specifically and that the committee feels that growth predictions may be conservative. There is also pressure to change local zoning from commercial to residential, which would increase the demand for school services.
Developer and committee member Matt Dunston said that the schools need to be where the people are. Jackson Creek is where the kids are. By changing Bear Creek back into a middle school and moving sixth-graders into the two middle schools, 10 to 15 percent of space in existing schools is made available. In that way, fewer of the present students at Bear Creek would need to be accommodated in a new elementary.
Board Treasurer Chris Taylor asked about the growth rate of the district over the past three or four years. RTA Architect Doug Abernethy responded that the rate is increasing.
Director Mark Pfoff asked whether the committee was limited to certain sites and whether cost was a major factor in decisions.
Committee member Anne-Marie Hasstedt responded that the committee first considered land owned by the district. She also pointed out that if the district wants to build only one large elementary school, more land would be needed.
Superintendent Karen Brofft said that as more developments are built there may be other sites available. Perhaps it is wiser to think in terms of geographical location than a specific site.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said that the district has only enough land to accommodate a school for 650 students. To avoid redrawing boundaries, the schools at the Bear Creek location would have to serve grades K-4 and 5-8.
Committee member Teresa Barnes said that the district should build a school west of the highway because the Beacon Lite corridor is beginning to grow with entry-level homes and apartments appropriate for young families.
Tri-Lakes Chamber President Terri Hayes said that traffic should also be considered. An advantage of smaller schools is less traffic.
Pfoff asked whether there are limitations to the Forest Lakes site. Abernethy responded that the Forest Lakes site has the newest roads and utilities and good access for emergency services. Glover also commented that Forest Lakes has the least commercial traffic.
Taylor commented that it would take two years to build and populate a school. Brofft responded that by centralizing preschool services, some space could be claimed in existing schools. This solution would also benefit the preschools by making it easier to identify students who may require special service. Preschool students are not included in the numbers considered by the committee. (Please see www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#d38 in the December issue about DAAC discussing preschool options.)
Board Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch said that each current preschool room only serves up to 15 students. By freeing up these rooms, more students could be accommodated. Wangeman agreed, saying that a centralized preschool would require seven or eight classrooms.
Taylor asked whether there was space for a preschool at Lewis-Palmer High School. Pfoff said that there was a preschool at Palmer Ridge High School at one time, but parents like to drop their preschoolers off at the same school as older siblings.
Pfoff suggested that Kilmer Elementary should continue to be pre-K to 6 due to its distance from other schools. He suggested that parents would be less willing to drive their students to a central location for preschool services from that distance.
Abernethy suggested that by building two elementary schools, the decision to centralize pre-K could be postponed to a phase 2.
Uses for Grace Best
The committee discussed uses for Grace Best Education Center. The options were to keep it as is, tear down the entire building, or tear down the older part and retain the newer, two story part. Advantages of keeping it include:
• The district already owns the land
• Central location
• Has less traffic in its present use than it would as an elementary
• Much of the building is not up to code
• There is too little land for a 650-student elementary school
• New construction is quicker and cheaper than a remodel
Pfoff commented that by making Bear Creek an elementary, the flow of younger students to District 20 was slowed. This confirmed that an elementary in Jackson Creek is needed.
Pfoff added that the district is already using the newer section of Grace Best, and dealing with problems in the older section would make the new section unusable for a time. The old part is now used as storage. Wangeman said that the building is in compliance in the way it is used now.
Brofft asked if the committee concluded that Grace Best is something not to pursue. The district cannot use the old part as a solution to population growth.
Dunston suggested that perhaps Monument Academy could use Grace Best as a middle school. This would allow the academy to accommodate more students, including elementary students at their present campus on 105. Pfoff said that he didn’t think it wise to bring up this alternative at this meeting.
Taylor commented that money is being invested in Grace Best regardless of its use and should therefore be discussed.
Taylor said that his meeting with Brian Risley of CRP resulted in a report that Bear Creek, when it was built 15 years ago, was intended to be a middle school with an elementary on the same site. It could be converted back into a middle school relatively inexpensively. Another option would be to create a K-8 campus with the two buildings. He asked whether the K-8 campus should be part of the deliberation discussion.
Pfoff said that perhaps ask about K-8 versus K-5 and 6-8 at the deliberation the following week.
Taylor said that Bear Creek and the middle school are currently near capacity. The RTA suggestion is to build two elementary schools.
Board President Matthew Clawson suggested designating a certain population before considering a second school.
Taylor said that the second opinion on Grace Best is the same as RTA’s—it does not offer a solution to growth and capacity problems. Money would be better spent elsewhere, but the district needs to decide whether it’s an asset or a liability. CRP said that a nonprofit has expressed interest in it. If it’s not good for D-38, is it good for a charter? The architect said that charters have different conditions to meet and there would not be buses for a charter.
Pfoff suggested just offering the alternatives of keeping it as is or selling or leasing it at the deliberation.
Pfoff said in closing that the board will need to start the ground work soon if it plans to put a bond on the November ballot to support these plans. The board needs to determine an amount and describe what it would cover. Brofft said that if the board did not begin proceedings in February, it would have to wait another year.
The board adjourned into executive session at 9:30 to discuss lease or sale of real property.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) representatives met an overflowing crowd—four times the typical response—and strong opposition to the proposed I-25 express lane option at the Feb. 8 Listening Session held at Monument Library. The Listening Session was one of many in-person and telephone opportunities for residents to comment regarding CDOT’s plans to address traffic congestion along the Gap—the 18-mile length of I-25 extending from Monument to southern Castle Rock. Regional Communications Manager Tamara Rollison and Resident Engineer John Hall provided statistical information to explain CDOT’s promotion of the express lane, whose use would require a fee.
Rollison explained that CDOT’s Planning and Environmental Linkages study provided preliminary public input regarding the project. Hall described the Gap as being fraught with accidents and subsequent congestion. From 2011 to 2015, 1,800 accidents occurred along the Gap and one-third of the accidents involved injury or fatality. The current proposal would add a third lane and widen shoulders to significantly decrease the cost impact of collisions, prevent travel delays, and protect emergency responders.
Although CDOT includes a third general purpose lane as an option, Hall showed that express lanes encourage carpooling since High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV)—vehicles with three or more people—would not incur a fee, and express lanes provide reliable, manageable travel. With express lane entry and exit points limited to one in Larkspur and one in Castle Rock, CDOT anticipates capturing Denver-bound traffic which, Hall explained, improves traffic flow for commuters who are headed to the same basic location. He demonstrated an example of a Denver widening project from about 10 years ago where congestion is now common because the design did not provide a reliable means of escape from accidents and peak travel times.
Hall enumerated successful express lane projects throughout Colorado that included US-36, I-25 from central Colorado to the north, C-470 south of Denver, I-70 from I-25 to I-225, and the I-70 mountain corridor. Not making any promises regarding express lane fees, Hall estimated a cap of $6 for peak time use and possibly $3 for average time use.
Rollison described the numerous funding sources and their respective financial commitments for the $350 million project price tag. CDOT pledged $250 million with the stipulation that local governments such as Douglas and El Paso counties and Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority provide $35 million in support. A federal grant called Infrastructure for Rebuilding America may add $65 million to the funding, but the application is pending. CDOT’s funds, Rollison continued, get stretched and challenged continually. She stated that CDOT identified $46 million in basic road maintenance and repair needs from 2016 to 2040. With expected revenue of $21 billion during that same period, CDOT anticipates a $1 million annual shortfall.
Public comments overwhelmingly opposed the third lane designated for express. Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Chair Rich Schur, speaking on behalf of the Chamber’s 450 business members, vehemently opposed the express lane, anticipating that it would inhibit commerce.
Some individuals supported three general purpose lanes with a fourth lane designated for express. Hall responded that CDOT’s goal is to work within its existing property since property acquisition is time-consuming, expensive, and what seems to be nearly impossible because of wildlife conservation easements. State Rep. Shane Sandridge commented that sufficient funding for the project exists. Cautiously optimistic that CDOT will receive the necessary support, Sandridge added that political pressure is growing and citizens are demanding that their government officials listen.
Other comments pertained to width and basic access of exit and entrance ramps, cost comparisons to other projects throughout the state, and frustration over decades of delay. Residents who access SR-83 inquired if CDOT would add signals or left turn lanes in anticipation of the influx of drivers attempting to escape congestion created by the project.
One resident stated that the current plan appears to lack long-term congestion relief and speculated that the same problem would resurface within a decade. The express lane theory seemed to defy logic for another commentator who stated that the general purpose lanes appeared to be congested in the demonstration slide. Everyone remained cordial throughout the session, but pronounced and repeated frustrations spoke to the crowd’s expectations—no express lane.
Caption: CDOT Resident Engineer John Hall and CDOT Regional Communications Manager Tamara Rollison present information in a Feb. 8 "Listening Session" that promoted the inclusion of an express lane in the I-25 Gap improvement project. Photo and caption by Jennifer Kaylor.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein and Lisa Hatfield
The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held a special meeting Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. All board members were present. During the very short open session, the board voted to enter an executive session to conference with Town Attorney Alicia Corley. The board received legal counsel from Corley concerning the interim town manager and town manager. See related Feb. 5 BOT article.
After the executive session, Mayor Jeff Kaiser reminded everyone that executive session discussion and dialogue are "not for public consumption." He then recognized Corley for her impartiality, expertise, advice, and professionalism. He also thanked Town Treasurer Pamela Smith for her advice, professionalism, and leadership during this difficult situation.
Then, the trustees unanimously passed two motions:
• Smith was named acting town manager.
• Town Manager Chris Lowe’s administrative leave was extended until further notice, at the discretion of the town attorney.
Note: Smith was also interim town manager from January 2013, when Cathy Green resigned, to Oct. 5, 2015, when Chris Lowe was hired as town manager. See www.ocn.me/v13n2.htm#bot0115, www.ocn.me/v13n2.htm#bot0122, www.ocn.me/v15n11.htm#mbot1005.
Note: There was no mention of Police Chief Jake Shirk’s administrative leave enacted by Lowe on Feb. 1 or Shirk’s two-week administrative leave, which the trustees enacted Feb. 5.
The meeting adjourned at 6:22 p.m.
Note: The regular Feb. 20 meeting was canceled. The next regular BOT meeting is scheduled for March 5.
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. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonuent.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
The Feb. 14 Monument Planning Commission meeting centered on discussion of Phase 2 of the Sanctuary Pointe housing development. Phase 2 would be built west of the existing Phase 1. The project’s Preliminary/Final Planned Development (PD) Site Plan was discussed at this meeting, with public interest focusing largely on expectations for the exit roads serving this development. The proposed plan was approved in the final vote and will now be discussed at the March 19 Board of Trustees meeting.
Commissioners Jim Fitzpatrick, Kenneth Kimple and Michelle Glover were absent. Over 20 citizens were in attendance. The meeting is also available to watch on YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA/videos, or see https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com for archived recordings.
Planner Jennifer Jones provided a presentation describing the Sanctuary Pointe development, which is located just north of Baptist Road and west of Fox Run Regional Park. The sketch plan for Phase 2 of the Sanctuary Pointe project was originally approved in 2006. The property has not currently been platted—this meeting was to determine layout and density.
Classic Homes held a neighborhood meeting on this topic in January. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#road.
Jones said Phase 2 would include 273 new single-family residences on about 196 acres, with the largest properties lining the edge of the development. Property sizes within Sanctuary Pointe Phase 2 would vary to provide options for home buyers. Phase 2 is expected to be built by following Internal Phases A-G, so the project would come to life in steps. The original agreement for the Sanctuary Pointe development allows for up to 600 homes, of which the Phase 1 and Phase 2 developments will total 530 residential units. Phase 3 will follow farther west, with a maximum of 70 homes.
Two exits are required for any property with 25 lots or more built in Monument now, and with this proposal, Sanctuary Pointe’s two exits would now be Sanctuary Rim Drive, which will run through the property and connect to Baptist Road in the east, and a second passage to Baptist Road south through Kingswood Drive. This leads to a point of contention surrounding the property’s development, which is whether there should be a connection between Sanctuary Rim and Kingswood Drive at all.
This confusion originated because people disagree on the meaning of terms used in the original 2006 discussions of Sanctuary Point Phase 2. Some residents believe the original agreement was to connect Sanctuary Rim Drive to Gleneagle Drive right away, providing a passage to Baptist Road that would not encourage more traffic along Kingswood Drive. Others state that the original agreement would have allowed for a connecting road to be built more slowly, as the surrounding properties have direct need of it, and that it would make sense for Kingswood Drive to be used in the meantime. The confusion surrounds the agreement to build a "completion," and whether this would mean a road from property line to property line or connecting to another road.
Gleneagle Drive currently extends up to Promontory Pointe but terminates at its northern boundary. North of Promontory Pointe is an undeveloped property called Home Place Ranch, the owners of which are currently being represented by Goodwin-Knight. As of this proposal, Classic Homes and Goodwin-Knight have an agreement to build the rest of the connecting road through Home Place Ranch to Gleneagle Drive whenever it is first needed. So, whichever development requires the road extension first, as the development of the properties proceed, will initiate this construction. Goodwin-Knight has provided a letter agreeing to build the connection if Home Place Ranch begins development first, or to grant an easement for the connection if Sanctuary Pointe is ready to continue development before Home Place Ranch begins.
Sanctuary Pointe’s compromise with the Town of Monument will allow for Internal Phases A and B to be built before the road connects to Gleneagle Drive, but that for phases C, D, E or F to be built Sanctuary Rim Drive must be connected to Gleneagle Drive. This agreement is intended to allow flexibility for who will build this connection, determined by need.
Andrea Barlow of NES Inc. represented Classic Homes in presenting this project, and photographs she showed from the current Sanctuary Pointe development highlighted some of the project’s goals. Streetlamps shaped like bells are intended to provide a unique feel, for example, and some trees have been preserved around the properties. She also noted how compromises have been made to alter the development plans in the past, including lessening Sanctuary Pointe’s density nearby Kingswood Drive. The traffic study conducted indicates that most vehicles will find it more convenient to travel out to Baptist Road along Sanctuary Rim Drive, keeping the increase in traffic during peak morning hours at around 20 more cars. A temporary emergency access at the north end of Kingswood Drive also exists in the plans, gated and intended specifically for fire department use.
Property owners from along Kingswood Drive came prepared to contest the use of Kingswood as an exit from Sanctuary Pointe. Community members including Jim Stewart, Dr. Mike Wermuth, Lindy Royer, and Craig Cain spoke at this meeting, and arguments were provided along with poster-board photographs of Kingswood Drive and a packet detailing residents’ concerns.
Those concerns included but were not limited to the belief that traffic will flow differently than detailed in the traffic study, because the Kingswood Road exit will be 1.4 miles away from Baptist Road instead of Sanctuary Rim’s 2.5 miles. It was also suggested that the terms defined at the 2006 meeting were not as vague as it is currently believed, and that the connector road should extend to Gleneagle Drive. Cain discussed the possibility that a Gleneagle connector would provide a safer exit in case of fire and compared it to a "bridge" to protect future Sanctuary Pointe residents. A case was made that a suggestion presented during 2006 discussions of this property should go into effect, recommending completion of the road before Sanctuary Pointe Phase 2 construction is commenced at all.
Classic Homes responded to this public hearing, with both Barlow and Doug Stimple—CEO of Classic Homes—speaking. Stimple discussed how Kingswood Drive will be fixed up in anticipation of increased traffic, and that Classic Homes would not have agreed to connect Sanctuary Rim Drive to Gleneagle Drive before building any Phase 2 houses for financial reasons. Money from selling the homes would go toward building this road. Classic Homes representatives believe that a lot of effort has gone into cooperating with the property’s neighbors, and that this method of development is well within the parameters detailed in town code.
First, Commissioner Daniel Ours motioned to recommend denial, stating that he believed it was clear in 2006 that a "connector" meant building the road to Gleneagle completely. This motion was not seconded, and therefore failed.
Next, Commissioner John Dick motioned to recommend approval of this preliminary/PD site plan. Commissioner Melanie Strop asked to amend the motion to require resurfacing Kingswood Drive, but Dick denied this request. She still seconded the motion, however.
In the end, the Sanctuary Pointe Phase 2 preliminary/PD site plan passed 3-2, with Commissioners Daniel Ours and David Gwisdalla voting against.
Items not on agenda
Gwisdalla noted that part of his hesitation to vote approval for this project stemmed from the ambiguous terms used at the 2006 meeting, and Planner Jennifer Jones assured him that terms are being more clearly defined during recent meetings.
Also, it was explained that all three of the matters at the January 2018 MPC meeting were approved by the Board of Trustees. This includes the Conexus Industrial Development zone change and preliminary PD site plan, the final plat for Eagleview Patio Homes, and the Monument Ridge sketch plan amendment.
Caption: Sanctuary Pointe vicinity map from the Monument Planning Commission packet for the Feb. 14 meeting. Courtesy Town of Monument.
There may or may not be a Planning Commission meeting in March, but if there is it will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
Our Community News asked each candidate for the April 3 Monument town election to answer two questions, using no more than 250 words. The questions were:
• What in your background would help you as a Town of Monument board member?
• What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the town, and what would you propose the Board of Trustees (BOT) should do to deal with them?
Two candidates for mayor, in alphabetical order:
Trustee Jeff Bornstein
I have been a resident in Monument for 16 years. My children were raised here. I have always fought for our community be it large development, a proposed methadone clinic, strict marijuana ordinance guidelines, the no sale of fireworks within town limits along with fair competitive wages for our Police Department. My focus has always been in the best interest of the community. I have never aligned myself with special interest groups or developers.
There are multiple issues plaguing our community at this immediate time. The two priorities I see requiring immediate attention are:
1) Depletion of our natural resource—water
The depletion of water is a fact. The BOT was told years ago by our water experts that the town potentially had a forecasted nine-year supply +/- of water based on current population. I would ask our board to investigate and implement an immediate solution for a "cost effective" emergency connect.
Overdevelopment in our community is now becoming an immediate crisis with upcoming proposed large housing developments, redundant service-related businesses, etc. In addition, there are even those within the community whom strongly believe in developing low-cost subsidized housing. The end results will dramatically impact home values, traffic, road wear along with public safety. I would ask for the BOT to impose a temporary building moratorium until there can be a 100 percent agreement by the citizens and the BOT on the absolute interpretation of the Comprehensive Plan and an implemented solution to our water crisis.
Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson
As the Mayor Pro-Tem of Monument, I have both experience and extensive knowledge of our community and the local government process. Professionally, I have spent the last nine years working in local government and have a great deal of insight into effective versus ineffective governing practices. I serve on the I-25 Gap Coalition and also served on the Baptist Road Rural Transit Authority. My work in the community provides me with an in-depth understanding of needs and the ability to communicate effectively with our community about those needs. I am also a Marine Corps veteran—I know how to work hard and get things done.
Two of the greatest issues facing the Town of Monument are the lack of communication between the board, the staff, and the community, and water. First, board members should be approachable by residents and town staff. We need more town halls where open discussion can take place to rebuild communication and trust. Water is understandably a concern, but it’s important to note that the Board of Trustees passed several measures at the end of 2017 that will increase our water capabilities and infrastructure. These measures will exceed the estimated future water needs of Monument residents, to include anticipated growth. The town currently employs multiple water engineers and contracts with water attorneys. We have brought in experts to guide us, and we are implementing a plan to safeguard our future. We need to continue with that plan and look to the facts to guide our decisions.
Five candidates for three open trustee positions, in alphabetical order:
My extensive real estate background in residential, commercial, investment and land these past 31 years gives me confidence that I can bring a credible voice to the Monument Board.
The two greatest issues facing the town:
• Lack of water resources with insufficient infrastructure to accommodate anticipated controlled growth
• The necessary safety and protection needed to preserve quality of life in our communities is insufficient
These issues can be addressed with proactive water resource acquisitions necessary to bring water to Monument. The need to begin that process is now. Acting aggressively to bring this fundamental necessity is no longer an issue to put off. My primary focus: help establish tangible, clean water resources.
The safety and security of our residents, visitors and business owners is high priority. We should be proud of the dedicated men and women of our town who work diligently daily to provide the highest level of service to our community.
Monument is recognized as one of the best places in the state to raise a family and as one of the safest towns in Colorado. Daily, our dedicated Law Enforcement, Fire Department and Public Works Department serve with vigilance and resolve to make Monument the best place to live for all of us.
The lack of unified support for these professionals must end. The value they bring into our town must be recognized and respected. The residents have demanded a more comprehensive protection than they are now receiving. Moving proactively to ensure that the residents have that protection is vital.
Trustee Kelly Elliott
As a CEO, I’ve spent my career helping companies be strategic and implement plans to reach their goals. I know that I can do the same for our community by listening to what residents have to say, working cooperatively with all of our town leaders, and utilizing field experts in areas of concern. I love the small-town feel of Monument—friendly neighbors, great local businesses. I want to make sure Monument stays the best small town in Colorado for all.
The two biggest issues facing our community are water and infrastructure needs. These are the core needs government is responsible for. At the end of last year, I and the rest of the Board of Trustees passed a water plan with measures that will allow us to meet and exceed the growing water needs of Monument. We need to continue to listen to the water engineers and experts the town employs, steadily implement the plan already in place, continue to seek out even more water solutions, and avoid knee-jerk reactions that are harmful to our town economy. Secondly, we need to make sure infrastructure, especially roads, are top priorities. It is our duty to spend tax dollars on those core functions of government first. Our government should be of the people, by the people, for the people; constituents have asked me to prioritize our infrastructure and water needs since being elected to the Board, and I will continue to push for those priorities in my second term. firstname.lastname@example.org.
My family and I have lived in Monument for 9 years. I love and want to preserve our wonderful small Colorado town feel, make government accountable to the people, and give our citizens a true voice on the town’s direction. I can’t think of a better way to give back to our community than to use my experience in management and member of three boards of directors to serve on the Board of Trustees.
1. Government for the people—Transparency and Community Involvement
• I want elected town leaders to be transparent and represent the interests of the people, not of themselves or special interests.
• I will push to ensure citizens are involved during decision-making processes on important decisions that affect them.
• I want no more predetermined decisions on such issues to be made by the Board prior to citizens being given adequate notice and opportunity to provide input.
• I will let the people know what’s going on with important issues as they’re happening via social media.
2. Responsible Growth
• Front Range population is quickly increasing and Monument is on the I-25 corridor, so growth is inevitable. We should go about it wisely and in accordance with the town’s Comprehensive Plan that reflects the community’s vision and values.
• I will push for no more commercial and residential building where water supply and infrastructure do not clearly support it.
• I want builders to pay their fair share for infrastructure and schools that result from increased population.
Trustee Shea Medlicott
(No response was received by the due date).
I have been a resident of Monument for more than 18 years. I have raised my family here in Monument, and have come to appreciate the small town feel that Monument has. In my work as a technical consultant in the IT industry for 30 years, I have become proficient as a communicator and problem solver which has allowed me to develop effective solutions to my customer’s needs.
The two greatest issues that face our town are water and responsible growth. During the summer of 2016 when we experienced a major water leak in the Jackson Creek area, we were faced with overnight outages. It was at that time that we saw how low our water reserves were. I was grateful to learn that Triview Metro has recently approved the purchase of additional water rights. Since Triview provides over half of our town’s water supply, it is my hope that Monument trustees and Triview can continue to have an effective relationship that will continue to grow our water supply.
During the last election, a ballot measure was passed to raise our taxes in order to fund necessary increases to the police, fire, and emergency service departments. Monument’s growth rate was unable to support these services without a tax increase. I would like to see Monument grow responsibly while still keeping our "small town" feel. We need to support the growth of Monument so that we can fund our infrastructure needs without having to raise property taxes on our citizens. www.stephensformonument.com.
By James Howald
The Palmer Lake Town Council met twice in February, on Feb. 8 and 22. The council worked on resolutions to make the town’s water supply more robust and elected to make the election scheduled for April 3 a mail-in ballot election. The second meeting ended with an executive session.
Two resolutions and one ordinance address water issues
On Feb. 8, the council passed Resolution 6 of 2018, which created the Palmer Lake Water Enterprise Fund as a separate entity in the town’s budget. Town Attorney Maureen Juran told the council that towns operating their own water systems, as Palmer Lake does, typically use enterprise funds for this purpose, and pointed out that the town would not be able to borrow money to fund a planned water tank unless this step was taken. She added that enterprise funds are exempt from some of the restrictions imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), in particular the requirement that borrowing be approved by the voters.
The resolution passed unanimously.
At the same meeting, the council passed Resolution 7 of 2018, which engaged Butler Snow LLP as bond counsel for a proposed loan to the town by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) to fund the construction of a second water tank. The proposed tank would hold 250,000 gallons of water, doubling the town’s potable water supply, and will provide redundancy in case the first tank needs to be taken offline for maintenance. Juran estimated that Butler Snow LLP would charge the town about $6,000 for their services.
At the Feb. 22 meeting, the council passed Ordinance 3 of 2018, which approved a loan for $1.1 million from CWRPDA and authorized the construction of the additional water tank. Juran said the interest rate on the loan would be 2 percent.
Council opts for mail-in ballots in April
On Feb. 22, the council also passed a resolution to conduct the town’s election on April 3 using mail-in ballots instead of a polling place. Voters will elect the town’s mayor and four council members in the election.
There will be a meet-and-greet event for candidates on March 17 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall at 10 a.m.
Executive session held to discuss potential lawsuit
The Feb. 22 meeting ended when the council went into executive session to hear advice from Juran concerning a potential lawsuit and departmental reorganization. Details were not provided in the public meeting.
The two meetings for March will be at 7 p.m. on March 8 and March 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 email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
A second D-38 public deliberation session on the topic of long-term facilities planning was held on Feb. 5. As was the case at the November session (see www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#d38-1106), this session was moderated by Carrie Bennett. More than 100 people attended, including members of the public, administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders in the district.
Each attendee was supplied with a placemat-size sheet of supportive material on the options to be discussed. These included the use of Grace Best Educational Facility (leave the facility as is or dispose of it through sale or lease) and managing student enrollment growth (build one integrated K-8 campus on the site of Bear Creek Elementary or build two new elementary schools, one on the west side of the highway).
The format of the discussion involved tables of 10 or so participants with one facilitator at each table who encouraged all to speak and to listen to others. After a period of time, the discussion was halted and participants were encouraged to write a comment on a card and vote their preference. The comments were later forwarded to the Board of Education for its consideration.
Architect Brian Risley of CRP Architects, which designed Bear Creek (then Creekside Middle School), Prairie Winds Elementary, and the middle school) said that Creekside was originally designed on its site because it was the area of growth in the district in 2002. The intention was to later build an elementary on the same site. The mechanical systems needed for an elementary are already in place in the basement of the current building.
Following discussion, Bennett enumerated some of the tensions in the decision, including planning for growth vs. reacting to it, flexibility of a K-8 campus, money spent now or later, and the difference between distance traveled to school and time spent on a bus.
The preference among attendees leaned toward building two elementary schools.
The discussion then turned to consideration of Grace Best. Risley said part of the building was constructed in 1957 and part in the late ‘80s. It was an elementary school until 2010 but cannot be easily returned to that use without work.
Following discussion, Bennett determined that the tensions were between needs of the many versus needs of the few (Home School Enrichment Academy, Transitions program on the site); spending money on Grace Best versus spending money on other schools with deferred maintenance issues; and current needs versus retaining the property for potential value later.
The vote among attendees leaned toward monetization of the property. Not all in attendance voted.
Special meeting of the Board of Education, Feb. 5
The board held a brief meeting following the deliberation to determine what actions they wished to take at the Feb. 15 regular board meeting.
Director Mark Pfoff praised the deliberation process, saying he wished it had been used when decisions about moving the sixth grade to elementary and closing one of the middle schools were made.
Superintendent Karen Brofft explained a timeline for use if the board wishes to place a bond on the November ballot to support the construction of one or more new schools. Action should begin in February.
Among the actions required would be to educate as many community members as possible to the proposed actions, to select an underwriter, to poll the public regarding their support, and to determine an amount of funding to request.
Brofft said that district staff members could do polling until the board passes a final resolution to seek a ballot measure.
Board Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch asked whether those who participated in the deliberation could be asked to participate. Brofft responded that would be possible only if they provided contact information.
Pfoff commented that a bond issue should be seen as a solution but said that he was unwilling to vote on specific sites for new schools at this time.
Board President Matthew Clawson agreed that a bond is the solution and that at least one more school is needed to deal with growth in the district.
Caption: Participants in the district deliberation vote their preferences. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Superintendent Karen Brofft, left, introduces facilitator Carrie Bennett. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on Feb. 8 to discuss the role of assessments in informing educators and switch to an electronic assessment refusal form. Board members Julie Galusky and Patrick Hall were absent.
Role of assessments
Principal Elizabeth Davis reported on meeting with the data assessment team to discuss how and why they assess kids. They discussed training teachers to use the data to inform instruction in the classroom. She noted that they talked about best practices around assessments, especially the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) that MA depends on heavily to inform what they do for interventions and gifted students. MA is gearing up for state assessments, end of year NWEA and DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) reading data for 1,000 students.
State assessments refusal policy goes electronic
Monument Academy Executive Director Don Griffin noted that state statute requires that MA have a policy for parents who want to opt out of assessments. MA has 400 parents who opt their kids out of state assessments, the highest in both number and percentage in El Paso County. The process had become a logistical nightmare due to the amount of paperwork. The company MA uses for athletic paperwork was able to adapt a module to electronically handle the assessment opt-out forms. Parents are able to set up an account and register one or more kids. The system can generate a roster so that MA can set up accommodations for kids who are not taking the test.
Griffin noted that the cost to adapt the module was minimal, and the system could reduce the opportunity for fraud. Board policy 1525 required a small change to eliminate acceptance of paper forms in favor of electronic requests. The board unanimously approved the change; the updated policy can be seen at http://bit.ly/ma-policy1525.
• Davis highlighted a new elementary technology teacher who helps each grade integrate technology into the core knowledge sequence from kindergarten through 5th grade.
• MA was selected to be spotlighted for National Choice Week and had an event with over 100 people in the multi-purpose room.
• Griffin noted that last year’s project to redo servers then required replacing phones and an upgrade to the wireless infrastructure. This led to a finding that the phone service and internet speeds were insufficient. MA was able to renegotiate with CenturyLink and contract with Peak Communications, saving about $17,000 per year.
• Griffin noted that as choice enrollment closes, MA asks families about their intent to return. For kindergarten through seventh grade, the retention rate is 99 percent, which he credited to the teachers. He noted that registrars are still doing tours even though there may be only one or two seats available in August.
• MA is working on finalizing a grant to place an automated external defibrillator in the lobby.
• The second annual Grandparents Day will be held on March 16.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 8 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances can be found at www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) discussed progress in long-term facilities planning, heard a report on the Sources of Strength program and learned of new legislative initiatives at its Feb. 13 meeting at Prairie Winds Elementary School.
DAAC Co-Chair Anne-Marie Hasstedt, a member of the Long Term Facilities Planning Committee (LTFP), reported on recent developments.
The committee presented facilities options to the Board of Education on Jan. 30 at a work session, and there was a second public deliberation event on Feb. 5 with a limited number of options to consider.
These options involve:
• Converting the present Bear Creek Elementary Campus into a K-8 campus, building an elementary school next to Bear Creek, converting Bear Creek back to a middle school and returning sixth-graders to middle school.
• Building an elementary school on the Bear Creek campus, converting Bear Creek back into a middle school (which it was, originally, as Creekside Middle School), and building an additional elementary school in the Forest Lakes area west of the highway.
The second option was preferred by most attendees after the deliberation.
Regarding the use of Grace Best Education Center, the options were:
• Leave the facility as is with the current uses.
• Sell or lease the property.
The second option was preferred after deliberations. (For further information on the LTFP, please see the Board of Education articles on page 1 and following this article.)
The results of the deliberation and the comments provided by those in attendance will be provided to the Board of Education at its Feb. 15 meeting.
Prairie Winds Principal Aileen Finnegan provided a campus introduction to the school, which opened in 2001. She explained the responsive classroom model that includes a daily morning meeting to keep students in touch with one another on a small group basis.
The school has received the John Irwin School of Excellence Award many times.
Finnegan also explained the STAR (strategies for teaching based on autism research) program through which, instead of going to outside therapists, students can receive needed services in the school. The school also serves those with a double diagnosis of autism and an additional disability and a new approach to trauma-informed instruction for those who have endured divorce, accidents, adoption, or other major life changes that can change the way the brain works in children. This program concentrates on making the children feel safe and wanted and then proceeds to re-introduce confidence and positive feelings.
The school has an award-winning chess club, and sixth-graders can choose between band and chess for one of their classes.
The school motto of Anywhere from Here emphasizes unlimited future possibilities for students.
Sources of Strength presentation
Lewis-Palmer High School Assistant Principal Bridget O’Connor gave a brief presentation and demonstration of the Sources of Strength program, which offers a new, positive approach to suicide prevention.
Rather than stressing risk factors and other negative approaches, the peer-based program emphasizes strengths and trains student leaders to identify the signs of isolation. Advisors train student leaders from various parts of the population so that all students are noticed. The student leaders use personal contact and social media to spread the word about the program, which identifies family support, school mentors and positive friends, spirituality and gratitude as support factors.
Some campaigns sponsored by the program are Getting the Word Out, What Helps Me, and the Thankfulness Challenge encouraging students to keep a journal as a daily positive factor in their lives.
State of Tri-Lakes report
Board of Education liaison Tiffiney Upchurch reported on the recent State of the Tri-Lakes Region meeting, which showed this area to be the fastest growing in the county, and said that such growth places pressure on the infrastructure, including water, schools, and roads. The number of housing permits granted in 2017 was 184 and shows no sign of slowing.
Some local initiatives include plans to attract people to downtown Monument, a grant application to build a splash park in Limbaugh Park, and the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks in Palmer Lake.
Some anticipated legislative initiatives include a limit to annual housing growth to 1 percent in several counties including El Paso, a variable income tax rate increase to benefit education, and a requirement for the state to provide and fully fund early-childhood, primary, and secondary education up to the age of 21 (the present constitutional requirement is that students between the ages of 6 and 21 be educated gratuitously).
Also during the meeting, Director of Professional Development Elizabeth Walhof reported on her department’s initiatives, and Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster reported on the Wellness Committee, which is mandated by federal law to teach health and promote healthy habits such as exercise and healthy snacks.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets six times a year on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. Locations vary. The next meeting will be on March 13 at Bear Creek Elementary School, 1330 Creekside Drive, Monument.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The focus of public comments, board comments, and the agenda at the Feb. 15 meeting was on continued discussion of long-term planning to accommodate growth in the district by potentially building one or two new elementary schools and repurposing Bear Creek as a middle school. (For background on this subject, please see the DAAC article, the Board of Education work session of Jan. 30 article, and the public deliberation article on pages 12 of this issue.)
Doug Abernethy of RTA, the consultant involved in the long-term facilities study, told the board that after lengthy research and debate, the option of building two new elementary schools was most appropriate, with Bear Creek Elementary repurposed as a middle school. He also said that deferred maintenance, safety and security and such programs as early childhood development and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) should also be provided for.
The board voted to approve the master plan provided by RTA. (To view the executive summary of the plan, please go to the http://lewispalmer.org website under Board of Education and meetings and view the agenda for the Feb. 15 meeting and supporting materials.)
Superintendent Karen Brofft said that the board must now look at next steps to cost out options and requests for proposals (RFPs) to set in motion the process of writing a ballot proposal for a bond.
Among these steps are:
• Prepare an RFP for an underwriter.
• Meet with bond counsel about polling and limitations.
• Develop a plan to manage growth.
• Develop communications tools to educate the public that growth is coming.
• Develop and deliver a poll and analyze the results.
Brofft said that there are three main options for the bond. The first is to ask for the cost of one school. The second is to ask for the cost of two schools, and the third is to build one school, wait a few years, and ask for another bond to build the second.
Director Mark Pfoff said that the debt service on Prairie Winds and Creekside will end in 2025, which would alleviate part of the tax burden on the community. He suggested that District 38 ask for a single bond but defer using the portion on a second school until a later date.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman said that it would be more efficient to build both at once.
Pfoff said that the tax cost per year for a $400,000 home would be about $250 for option 2.
Board Treasurer Chris Taylor said that the use of Grace Best and its potential use by Monument Academy (MA) is not being addressed.
Brofft said that MA is a separate issue and District 38 does not make decisions for them.
Wangeman said that the representatives for BEST grants would visit the district the following day and that MA representatives would walk through Grace Best at that time.
Pfoff said that he would prefer that MA come to the board if they are interested in the property.
Taylor said that if MA comes to the board to use the property, it could help with capacity.
Brofft said the district needs to have the property appraised before any agreement could be proposed.
Pfoff said that MA hasn’t presented a plan to the board and the board should not wait while they consider it. Don’t appraise the property unless you know there is demand.
Board President Matthew Clawson commented that it is known that MA wants to build a high school and the district needs a middle school. He agreed with Pfoff that they need to make their desires known.
Taylor requested that the superintendent seek out an architectural firm for a design build bid proposal.
The board passed a resolution to extend the period of negotiations with MA to include March 15. The extension was required due to MA’s plan to add a high school.
The board heard a report on the Exceptional Student Services department. There are specialized staff in all schools, and some students also receive specialized services at outside locations. The district has received the highest rating for its programs.
Also mentioned was the new Aliorum De Award, which will recognize an individual who has touched the life of a student with a disability. Any employee, community member, or student is eligible to receive the award. Recipients and nominees will be honored along with the person who nominated them at a ceremony on April 24.
The board approved policy EGA regarding electronic signatures and records and continued discussion of policy GCBDA regarding meeting and conferring between the superintendent and groups and individuals within the district. The former policy required that the superintendent meet with groups who represented more than half of the employees.
Director Pfoff doesn’t like to single out the Lewis-Palmer Education Association as the sole representative for staff and felt that the policy should be reworded so that all could confer with the superintendent. He felt that the superintendent could make a regulation to that effect.
The board then discussed policies JCD and JKE regarding suspension and expulsion of students. Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster explained that if a student is alleged in juvenile or district court to have committed an offense that would constitute unlawful sexual behavior or a crime of violence, basic identification information and the details of the alleged act or offense are required to be provided to the school district. The superintendent will then determine whether the student should continue in the school or be suspended or expelled or wait until the conclusion of court proceedings. If the student is suspended or expelled, the district must provide the student with an appropriate alternate education.
This was the first reading of the policy and required no action.
Report on teacher salary study
Tom Patrick of Palmer Ridge High School and Amy Sienkowski of Lewis-Palmer Middle School presented the findings of the Teacher Salary Schedule Committee. The committee included representatives from each building and was charged with considering the future needs and sustainability of the salary schedule. They also examined other districts with an eye to the ability to recruit, retain, and reward excellent teachers.
Within the current step system, each step is equal to $1,241 regardless of seniority. There is a general perception that pay in the district is lower than in surrounding districts. The district’s reputation attracts employees as does its attractive location.
An additional objection is that employees, once they reach the top of their lane, receive no increase. Please see "boarddocs" (lewispalmer.org, board of education, meetings, boarddocs and meeting date) for the presentation.
Pfoff thanked the committee for its hard work but objected to the fact that there is no provision for pay for performance.
No action was required at this meeting. The salary schedule will be discussed at the March meeting.
Board members’ comments
All members of the board invited members of the public to call or email them at any time with their opinions and concerns. Contact information can be found on the district website. Pfoff said that he has posted details about his opinions on his Facebook page.
Taylor recognized Ted Bauman, Jeff Ferguson, and Mark Mascarelli for their foresight in building Creekside Middle School. He also said that perhaps the board should take more direct responsibility for policies rather than just following the suggestions of the Colorado Association for School Boards. He suggested that this discussion be placed on a future agenda.
Board Vice President Tiffiney Upchurch agreed that she would welcome any public contact and said she attended the recent State of the Region meeting, which dealt with growth concerns. She also said that this is Love Your Bus month and asked if the district is taking care of its bus drivers, who are the first and last district employees students see each day.
Clawson said he agreed that the board should take a bigger part in determining policy and encouraged people to call or email. He also said the district sends its thoughts and prayers to Florida, where the recent school shooting occurred.
Brofft said that the district needs to consider focusing on security. The entire staff has the safety of students in mind. She said that the legislation supported by superintendents statewide does not result in greater funding but addresses the use of funds that become available.
Demonstration of learning
Neva Nardone, Ashley Horak, and Sue Hilton of Lewis-Palmer Elementary School presented several of their fourth-graders who spoke as characters in Colorado history.
Chess team coach Steve Waldmann introduced some of the winners of the 12th annual chess tournament held Feb. 10.
Caption: A group of fourth-graders from Lewis-Palmer Elementary School posed as characters from Colorado history at the Board of Education meeting. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: The 12th Annual Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Chess Tournament was held at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School on Feb. 10. This year, there were a record 121 chess players and 43 trophy winners in the tournament, ranging from first grade through high school. For information, 488-9887 or email@example.com. Photo by Steve Waldmann.
The Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting is scheduled for March 15.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
The board met Feb. 8 to confirm details of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) election to be held on May 8 and to designate Lincoln Financial as administrator for the district’s retirement plan. The board also heard operational reports.
Election resolution approved; polling place selected
At the February meeting, district Attorney Erin Smith presented to the board the resolution governing the upcoming election. The resolution specifies that the polling place will be the Woodmoor Improvement Association Community Center, commonly known as "The Barn," from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on May 8. The Barn is at 1691 Woodmoor Drive in Monument.
The resolution also states that absentee ballots may be requested from the Designated Election Official, Wynter B. Wells, no later than the close of business on May 1. Wells can be contacted by phone at (303) 292 6400 or by email at Wwells@nortonsmithlaw.com. Her office is at 1331 17th St., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80202.
According to Smith, three seats on the district’s board are open.
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution as presented.
Lincoln Financial named plan administrator
District Manager Jessie Shaffer told the board that no administrator has been named to manage the district’s 457 B retirement plan, and asked that they appoint Lincoln Financial to play that role. Plan administrators review documents, research laws and rules, and ensure compliance, Shaffer said, adding that since Lincoln Financial manages the investments that underlie the retirement plan, it is well positioned to take on this role.
According to Shaffer, Lincoln Financial will not charge the district for its services as plan administrator.
The board voted unanimously to approve Lincoln Financial as plan administrator.
Operational Report highlights
• Shaffer told the board that bank erosion along Fountain Creek is threatening the district’s augmentation station and should be addressed. The district is working with a consultant to develop a strategy, he said.
• Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette told the board he is researching the district’s unaccounted water measurement. Gillette believes the system is "in good shape," but many of the meters are approaching their end-of-life date and may not be reporting accurately.
• The district is planning for a new well to be drilled in the Misty Acres development. The district is working through the bidding process with well drilling companies, Shaffer said, and will work to minimize the inconvenience to nearby homeowners.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 8 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Feb. 13, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) heard about the quality of its operation, results of a biennial state inspection, and more on stakeholder groups advocating on their behalf with regulators.
TLWWTF operates as a separate joint venture public utility and is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: WWSD board Director at Large Rich Strom, president; MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney, vice president; and PLSD board Director Pat Smith, treasurer/secretary. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
Facility manager’s report includes inspection results
Facility Manager Bill Burks presented the monthly Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) for December. The DMR is submitted to both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. This DMR’s sampling results were well within the required parameters of the facility’s effluent discharge permit as usual. He also said the facility’s annual metals scan results were "pretty consistent with last year’s, and all good."
Burks said that in both December and January, the influent flow was at 28 percent of its 4.2 million gallons per day (MGD) capacity as normal. He reported that the biological oxygen demand (BOD), or waste solids loading, was at 78 percent of the facility’s rated capacity of 5,600 pounds per day capacity for December, and back to normal at 60 percent of this rated solids treatment capacity for January.
Paul Hanson, senior field engineer with Division 2 of the Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) in Pueblo, performed the biennial WQCD inspection of the TLWWTF. Burks said Hanson told him that the calculation Burks has been using for the 30-day and seven-day BOD averages percentages of organic capacity was incorrect, but if Burks submitted the revised calculations by the end of February, dating from May 2015 to the present, it would only be considered a minor permit violation instead of a major one. Burks told the JUC he had already done the new calculations, and all the new numbers are very close to the old ones, sometimes higher and sometimes lower. He said the new formula would be more likely to point out a one-day spike in either flow or organic loading, which might have been smoothed out in a 30-day average.
Burks said Hanson explained that the facility’s permit states that if it exceeds 80 percent of organic capacity BOD for the one-month average, Burks is required to report it in a letter to WQCD. He was referring to the sampling numbers from October, which indicated a jump in BOD to 90.3 percent of TLWWTF’s rated BOD capacity. See www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#tlwtf, www.ocn.me/v18n1.htm#tlwtf.
The consensus of the JUC was that Burks should collect data from additional BOD samples during the month beyond the two that are required, in case there is an unusual BOD spike on the day of the sample, to show that kind of loading is a rare occurrence.
Note: The Colorado Water Quality Control Act requires that if a facility has more than three individual months in a row at 80 percent of either of these two rated capacities, it would be required to start engineering design for expansion construction to meet the higher influent waste solids treatment demand.
Burks said the facility passed this quarter’s Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) test without any problems.
Looking ahead to future regulations
TLWWTF has budgeted $19,804 in 2018 for its contribution to the Arkansas River/ Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE) budget to continue AF CURE’s stakeholder advocacy work for the facility. TLWWTF is one of AF CURE’s 11 members. AF CURE is a sub-group of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA).
Jim Kendrick, who is a vice-chair of AF CURE and MSD environmental compliance coordinator, was a co-founder of AF CURE in 2012. He said AF CURE, with the help of environmental engineers Brown & Caldwell, responds effectively at state stakeholder workgroup meetings. "It takes money to go out and collect samples to prove you are not contributing to the problems," he said. But the state continues to "play ‘Lucy and the football’ with new requirements and that’s why there is mission creep in AF CURE."
Burks and Kendrick described the new regulatory storm clouds on the horizon, and hearings coming this spring, that could affect TLWWTF. These could include:
• New statewide standards for chlorophyll ‘a’ will be finalized in 2022, although they might not allow for variations in geography, sandy vs. gravel stream bottoms, and cold-water vs. warm-water streams, which all affect algae growth, in addition to the variable non-point source nutrients from agriculture, commercial animal feeding operations, stormwater runoff, and permitted discharge facilities.
• Heat can be considered a pollutant, since the temperature of streams affects fish spawning. TLWWTF’s effluent actually cools the stream, but other facilities have less effluent detention time, which could warm the stream.
• Possible new rules relating to how close alluvial wells can be placed to water wells.
Kendrick described "moving target" issues discussed by stakeholders at the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council (WWUC), including:
• Legislative efforts to regulate waste generated by the oil and gas fracking industry that contains Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) threaten to spread and encompass municipal wastewater treatment facilities unless a robust stakeholder process is adopted to ensure attainable, affordable, and sustainable wastewater facility expansion requirements.
• WWUC’s members support doing two more years of Arkansas River Basin temperature studies, collecting data to prove that actual seasonal stream temperature graphs are sinusoidal, that will never comply with the current abruptly stair-stepped monthly temperature limits that regulators want to impose.
• Possible new state restrictions to minimize the effects of corrosion in water and wastewater pipes.
The JUC voted unanimously to contribute $1,000 toward the continuation of the WWUC temperature technical assessment committee study. They anticipate a similar contribution soon toward a study related to TENORM.
The meeting adjourned at 11:32 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
A full quorum of the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met Feb. 13. Civil Engineer John McGinn of JDS-Hydro Consultants Inc. updated the board regarding short- and long-term water and wastewater treatment projects, and Evan Miles of Conservative Waters LLC reported on his work with the Irrigation Central Control System.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within the 80132 ZIP code that provides services such as water/sewer/drainage, parks and recreation, open space, mosquito abatement, and street maintenance to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas (see http://www.ocn.me/metrodistricts.pdf for district boundaries). The Town of Monument, however, provides land use planning, police, and general governance for Triview property owners.
Board, district manager, and OCN chastised
The only person to speak during public comments, resident and former Director, Steve Remington, inquired if the board and Interim District Manager Jim McGrady intended to uphold their agreement to refrain from disparaging his wife, former District Manager Valerie Remington. Turning toward OCN reporter Jennifer Kaylor, he added that OCN had disparaged his wife by not getting the facts right.
Board President Reid Bolander thanked Remington for voicing his concerns and stated, "Just from the face value of what I’m hearing today, Steve, I agree with you. I don’t know, specifically, the details of the communication, (referring to an email Remington had sent McGrady in which Remington stated he had not received a response) but if that is going on, we need to put an end to it. I agree with you, 100 percent." Director James Otis asked to include the subject on the executive session agenda.
Due to lack of a specific question or issue, Kaylor did not respond.
Note: OCN’s role is to report "what was discussed and what was decided" at the public meetings of local governmental entities, so that readers can find out what they would have learned if they had attended those public meetings.
Remington also encouraged the board to establish a long-term financial plan to address future water and wastewater infrastructure, roads, and landscaping expenses. He voiced concern about the current spending plan for wells and wondered how future expenses would be met.
Arsenic and nutrients costs anticipated
McGinn led the discussion regarding the Upper Monument Creek Regional Waste Water Treatment Facility’s (UMCRWWTF) Water Quality Enhancement project that prepares the district for compliance with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) arsenic standards that are expected to be effective mid-2019. Currently, Triview removes arsenic at its several water treatment plants. The plan for CDPHE compliance is to begin removing arsenic at the UMCRWWTF, which simplifies the process of treating a filtrate via a small side-stream and ion exchange resin that is changed out occasionally. McGinn added that this plan alleviates hauling hazardous waste from the water treatment plants as well. For more information, see sub-headline "Wastewater treatment plant projections" at www.ocn.me/v17n10.htm#tvmd.
Three entities—Triview, Forest Lakes Metro District and Donala Water and Sanitation District—own the UMCRWWTF. The overall arsenic project is estimated to cost $2.2 million, with each district’s cost prorated according to its flow at the plant. McGinn estimated Triview’s proration to fall between 43 and 47 percent of the $2.2 million (roughly $946,000 to $1.03 million). The draft schedule estimated final engineering and design completion in 2018, and bids and project completion in 2019 with the pilot plant online around March 1, 2019. The pilot plant will make determinations and compare resins for removing arsenic from the filtrate flow. McGrady commented that Triview’s sewer impact fees and taps fees should cover its share of the arsenic upgrades.
McGinn addressed the long-term matters of additional nutrient standards for Total Inorganic Nitrogen (TIN) and Phosphorous which may change as early as 2022 or as late as 2027. UMCRWWTF can meet current standards, but anticipated changes in the nutrient standards will require construction and additional water quality treatment. The district must also plan for a hydraulic expansion in the next 10 years. McGinn emphasized the importance of dovetailing the water nutrient upgrades and hydraulic project to save significantly on the multi-million-dollar expense that the district expects to incur.
Western Interceptor plans assembled quickly
McGrady reviewed Triview’s role of project manager and funds administrator for the Western Interceptor—a water and sewer link for western and northern development in Triview— and informed the board that the participants have completed an agreement that will be discussed in greater detail in the executive session. McGinn explained that the protected Preble’s mouse habitat and flood plain complicated the wastewater treatment at the interceptor.
The engineering plan to date is to reroute pipe from Leather Chaps to the Western Interceptor. With minor adjustments at the Western Interceptor, this plan avoids significant upheaval for the West Jackson Creek Interceptor and businesses in the Jackson Creek Shopping Center, negates the need for a lift station, and ultimately reduces costs. One of the agreement participants, Home Place Ranch developer Classic Homes, verbally supported the idea of funding this plan quickly. McGrady provided a time sketch of requesting bids in April, providing notice of award in May, and beginning construction in June.
Landscaping assets and liabilities assessed
With the help of a landscape architect, Miles developed a master plan with varying zones (greener grasses that require more water, lighter grasses that require little water, prairie-like areas, etc.) to utilize available water and achieve the greatest watering efficiency. The irrigation system evaluation revealed minor repair needs as well as more significant "communication" flaws between clocks and taps that led to unintended system shut-offs. Most of the district’s irrigation system is essentially invisible, which slowed correction of the flaws. Miles deemed six of Triview’s concrete pads as reusable. As weather permits, additional concrete pads will be installed. An order of clocks and pedestals is also ready for installation when timing is appropriate. For background on the "smart" irrigation system, see www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#tvmd.
McGrady commented that a basic fertilization program, with sufficient irrigation, is needed to see what landscaping assets actually exist. In some areas, such as "pocket parks," he mentioned using the slit-seeding (inserting grass seed directly into the soil instead of a top-layer spray) technique for more probable success and which does not require park closure. Miles added that the district would benefit from using planters in certain areas to create visual interest and a natural transition from one zone to another.
Vice President Mark Melville suggested that the board revisit the long-term landscaping plan and possibly publish the district’s landscaping standards so that residents would be able to identify low- to no-water zones. Secretary/Treasurer Marco Fiorito encouraged the board to make a plan for getting community input regarding future landscape planning.
Agenda included general board discussion
Director James Otis inquired how to ensure that Sanctuary Pointe and other new developments install irrigation systems that are compatible with Central Control System. Fiorito emphasized that Triview needs to coordinate efforts with the Town of Monument—the governing body that approves developments—to create landscaping standards appropriate to a high prairie desert climate.
In response to a question from Melville regarding wells, McGinn reported on Triview’s alluvial exchange. Alluvial wells provide a renewable source of water that can be exchanged for non-renewable water. Triview possesses five decreed locations to develop alluvial wells. District Water Attorney Chris Cummins recently negotiated permission for crews to survey and stake the district’s the district’s well locations. Next steps involve obtaining bedrock profiles and determining water levels during a mouse dormancy season because some of the decreed locations fall within the Preble’s mouse habitat. McGinn emphasized the importance of alluvial wells in providing a consistent "base load" of renewable water and offsetting Triview’s reliance on non-renewable sources such as the Denver Basin aquifer.
McGrady added that the Integrated Water Resources Plan is vital in estimating growth and future water needs. He described the situation of bringing on a renewable water supply while also drilling Denver Basin wells as the "ultimate double-whammy" and acknowledged that there are many positives in moving forward with the alluvial wells.
Other discussion included snow plowing practices (better walkway coverage, preserving blacktop by leaving a thin snow layer, extra sand at intersections), fence replacement, and posting election candidate biographical information on the website and/or local newspapers. See Triview’s winter street standards at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/triviewmetro/district-policies, Winter Street Standards.pd
Board approved action items
The board authorized Cummins to file to change the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Company (FMIC) shares from irrigation uses to municipal and augmentation uses. This procedural change allows Triview to keep all of its shares available for leasing in 2018 and going forward.
McGrady reviewed bids received for the 2018 road rehabilitation project. The three bids included:
• All Purpose Paving bid over $3 million.
• Schmidt Construction Co. bid slightly over $1.2 million
• Avery bid $850,000
After discussing Triview’s established bid requirements, and receiving input from the Town of Monument Engineering Assistant Tom Martinez, the board authorized McGrady to contract with Schmidt Construction, the more responsive bidder.
Discussion of action item "Review and Consider Approval of an Agreement between the Triview Metropolitan District and the various project participants of the Western Interceptor Pipeline Project" was tabled for executive session.
Bolander and McGrady discussed internal procedure modifications that allow approval of less immediate invoice payments over $5,000 prior to the checks being cut. Disbursements over $5,000 included:
• Sandy Alexis, Repair and Maintenance Trailer, $5,000
• Independent Bank, Principal and Interest, $290,985
• Conservative Waters LLC, Landscape and Irrigation, $30,000
• Best Copy, Office Equipment and Supplies, $8,741
• Phil Long Ford, Two Vehicles, $39,991
• Trailers Plus of Colorado Springs, Enclosed Trailer, $7,147
• Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., Water Assessments, $42,500
• GroundFloor Media, Public Relations/Communications, $5,000
• Visual Environments Inc., Landscape Master Plan, $5,577
• Conservative Waters LLC, Landscape/Irrigation, $30,000
• Monson, Cummins and Shohet LLC, Legal Fees, $9,968
• Walker Schooler District Managers, Salaries/Benefits, $13,080
• Cardenas Concrete and Landscaping LLC, Park/Street Improvements, $21,484
2017 disbursements included:
• DRC Construction Services Inc., Video Collection System, $18,777
• Avery Asphalt Inc., Street Improvements, $299,578
Remington warned the Triview board that at a recent Promontory Pointe HOA meeting, a member of the Monument Board of Trustees who lives in Promontory Pointe insisted that Triview has "not spent one dollar" on road repairs in over three years in Triview, but this trustee would not listen to Remington’s attempt to correct this statement.
Operational reports and other updates provided
McGrady and Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton reported on recent accomplishments that included:
• Placement of concrete barriers next to the old Valero station to prevent camping.
• Contract with All Purpose Paving for on-call/short-order paving needs.
• Purchase of a turf-maintenance trailer for transporting equipment and an enclosed trailer for mobile emergency sewer-line and water-main-break response.
• Improvements in the security system.
• Well A8 back online with its newly installed telemetry cabinet.
• Receipt of a bid from Timberline for the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) contract.
• Analysis of Triview water and sewer rate and fee structure by Raftelis Financial Consultants is underway.
• Expectation of new and improved website functionality within one to two weeks (barring additional technical challenges).
Residents were encouraged to send their email addresses to Triview at email@example.com so that the district could send "meaningful content" to them more efficiently.
The public meeting adjourned at about 7:35 p.m. and the board entered an executive session for §24-6-402(4)(b)(e)(f) Legal Advice, Negotiations, Personnel. No additional decisions were announced following the executive session.
The next Triview Metro board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. March 13 at the Fairfield Inn, Mt. Herman Conference Room, 15275 Struthers Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868 or see www.colorado.gov/triviewmetro. Triview is also on Facebook.
Triview official posting locations are:
• El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office
• Park at intersection of Venison Creek and Kitchener Way
• Park on Gold Creek and Creekside Drive
• Mailboxes at Burke Hollow and Talus Road
• Park on Old Creek Drive and Toreva Drive
• Triview office: 16055 Old Forest Pt., Suite 300, Monument, CO 80132
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jim Kendrick
At the regular Feb. 15 district board meeting, General Manager Kip Petersen described the construction projects in the Donala Water and Sanitation District service area. Commercial construction is already underway between I-25 and the intersection of Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive. Donala will begin its replacement of portions of 50-year-old water main along Gleneagle Drive east of the shopping center near this intersection—a project that will last through the summer.
Construction is underway on the new four-story, 64-room My Place Hotel. A new Starbucks store is also under construction by this hotel. A 7-Eleven store also has been proposed for this commercial development. Construction of a new office building by Peoples National Bank on the north corner of the Struthers-Gleneagle intersection will also begin this year. Donala will provide water and wastewater service to all the commercial entities in these two commercial developments.
Donala’s replacement of its aging water main along the south end of Gleneagle Drive will begin in late spring at the end of the frost season. This construction will require lane shifting around the digging locations. Individual water service lines between these new sections of water main and Donala’s existing curb stops will have to be replaced as well, which will cause short customer water service interruptions. Donala will notify all property owners that will be affected by this project by individual letter and invite them to an open house for a construction briefing.
CSU rate increase announced
In his Manager’s Report, Petersen announced that Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) gave Donala notice that CSU would be increasing its rate 4.2 percent, effective Jan. 1, for treating Donala’s renewable Willow Creek Ranch surface water from Donala’s water right near Leadville. Petersen noted that he had budgeted up to a 5 percent CSU rate increase for 2018. CSU pipes the ranch water from storage in Pueblo Reservoir through its Southern Delivery System to a CSU surface water treatment plant. After treatment, CSU then pumps the treated Donala water to a CSU-Donala interconnect at Northgate Boulevard and Struthers Road for direct distribution to Donala’s customers.
Petersen then gave the board an update on the CSU Utility Policy Advisory Committee’s (UPAC) study of the benefits and detriments of CSU becoming a regional water and/or wastewater service provider. UPAC had also considered providing other utility services outside of the CSU service area but decided to consider only water and wastewater now. He said he had briefed UPAC in July 2017 on the successes and challenges of Donala receiving contracted out-of-district CSU water treatment services for its Willow Creek Ranch surface water right.
UPAC met on Feb. 7 to finalize the recommendations it plans for regional collaboration that it will present to the Colorado Springs City Council, which serves as the CSU board. The committee decided to recommend lowering the size of the out-of-district service fee multiplier from 1.5 to 1.2 and finalized the changes it will recommend regarding the city code, which currently prohibits direct CSU service to un-annexed areas outside the city limits. The committee’s next step is to present its recommendation to the Utility Board (City Council) on March 7 and March 27. Petersen will attend these March presentations on behalf of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and Donala.
Petersen added that he has been working with UPAC for 10 years to promote and create regional joint water solutions. Then he briefly reviewed the engineering studies Donala has conducted for potential regional water storage and delivery systems that could integrate existing Cherokee Metropolitan District pipelines. He said he would be meeting with Cherokee officials to work on water carriage agreements for other county water districts to use Cherokee’s pipelines, a significant first step toward real regional solutions.
Petersen gave a brief overview of three house bills: HB1199, HB1201, and HB 1215 under consideration by the state Legislature. Respectively, these bills would affect designated groundwater storage in existing county basins, loss of available oil and gas severance tax revenue for water project grants for the next several years, and safe disposal of water and wastewater plants currently contaminated with radium. For Donala specifically, the ability of the state’s only wastewater solids disposal contractor, Veris Environmental, to continue transporting waste products from the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) to the sole state landfill that can accept solid wastewater treatment facility wastes that have small amounts of radionuclide contamination could be exceeded under the proposed legislation.
Note: HB 1215, if passed as proposed, might also create troublesome restrictions for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility that also contracts with Veris Environmental for hauling sludge lagoon solids that contain small amounts of radium.
Petersen reported that Donala’s water plants are operating efficiently. Well-2A requires repairs that are currently estimated to cost about $90,000, with the repair work expected to begin at the end of March. An aeration blower motor failed at UMCRWWTF, a "normal wear and tear item" that was replaced with an on-hand spare motor. The failed motor may be able to be overhauled.
Under a service contract with Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD), on the west end of Baptist Road, Donala water staff members repaired a FLMD water leak on the morning of Jan. 25. The leak was caused by a 20-foot-long split in a water main that was installed directly on top of jagged bedrock instead of on top of an intervening cushioning layer of pea gravel bedding that is required nationally to protect water pipes during the inevitable repeated vibrations caused in these pipes by surges of water pressure. There is some chance that more of these catastrophic Forest Lakes leaks may occur if lack of a cushioning layer of pea gravel is widespread in Classic Home’s development.
The meeting adjourned at 3:11 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on March 15 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s full Board of Directors welcomed new firefighters, corrected a budgetary misstep by conducting a public hearing for residents to register questions and comments about the 2018 budget, ratified the 2018 budget, and passed a resolution calling for a district election at the board’s Feb. 20 meeting.
Attorneys Matt Court and Dino Ross attended.
Career firefighters received into Wescott family
Board Chair Greg Gent led two new firefighters, Stefanie Metcalf and Shawn Ballard, in reciting the firefighter oath. Metcalf and Ballard swore to "faithfully support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Colorado …" and … "faithfully perform the duties and activities of a career firefighter for the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District…."
Public hearing formalized
Wescott officially opened a public hearing to receive input about the 2018 budget. Court declared that notice of the date, time, and location of the current public hearing was published in a newspaper of general circulation in the district, the chief’s staff received email communications regarding ratification of the 2018 budget, and legal counsel did not receive any objections.
Chief Vinny Burns personally apologized and accepted full responsibility for the misstep of not making the budget publicly available and not publishing a notice of public hearing prior to the budget’s ratification in December 2017. He assured meeting attendees that the omission would not happen again. After making final budget criticisms during public comments at the end of the meeting, Rusnak and Feltz commended Burns for acting quickly to correct the procedural error on the 2018 budget but both insisted that the board was culpable, as well.
District resident Steve Simpson stated that he was unable to find the budget online. Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich directed him to follow http://wescottfire.org/board-of-directors-2/budget/# on the district’s website. Popovich also confirmed that Rusnak’s and Feltz’s emailed questions and comments would be part of the public record. She noted that they would be posted as part of the February minutes a day after being approved at the March 20 board meeting.
Board plied with questions; OCN deemed "dead wrong"
Gent acknowledged that the board had received copious questions and invited Gleneagle North Home Owners’ Association Treasurer and district resident Gary Rusnak to begin. Court advised that it was the board’s discretion whether to respond or simply note for the record that comments had been taken under consideration.
Rusnak revisited his argument that Wescott did not need to increase the northern sub-district’s mill levy to 14.9, citing savings that he roughly calculated made from the district’s posted 2018 budget. He estimated a carryover of $570,000 and a beginning reserve balance of $1.2 million for 2018, and referred to errors in expenses and the ending fund balance. Former Wescott Treasurer and resident Dennis Feltz targeted issues similar to Rusnak’s including the amount of money in reserve, the Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) benefit, and accident and disability insurance.
Feltz expressed frustration and confusion that the board would not be responding to his questions during the public hearing. He asked, "So, we submitted these questions for what reason then? I mean, if we’re not going to discuss them vocally, in transparency with the community? I followed the rules, I submitted questions to you; I figured you’d be open to answer some of the questions."
Ross, directing a response to the board, stated, "The public comment portion is to give the public the ability to provide comments to the board and it won’t require the board to engage in a question and answer session; whether the individual wants that or not, it’s not your requirement to do. You take the information, and you do with it what you deem appropriate."
District resident Steve Simpson inquired about the point of the public hearing if there was no interface. He asked, "Who does this board serve? May I ask that question?"
Director Harland Baker responded, "We serve the public, which is you guys, you and everybody else that’s not here. And so, I don’t think that we’re not going to discuss this, I just think we’re not going to discuss it … with him at the podium. I think as we go into this budget discussion before we ratify it, this will certainly come up."
Director Rachel Dunn and Baker acknowledged the validity of the questions. Baker recognized the potential for errors, discussed the importance of management of the budget, and expressed interest in evaluating the mill levy.
Simpson, although he did not formally submit questions, stated that he shared the same concerns that Rusnak and Feltz addressed. Baker remarked that this year has been exceptional. In past years, residents showed little to no interest in budget proceedings. He added that planning for the 2018 budget presented multiple challenges due to the number of unknown factors and speculated that the next few years would provide greater financial clarity and align the district’s short-, mid-, and long-term plans.
After the public hearing officially closed, Court stated that the board could now consider, and if appropriate, ratify the 2018 budget. Rusnak asked if the board would address any of the objections presented. Gent stated, "We are moving on to the next item." Simpson remarked that the citizens needed to vote for a board that would operate differently. District resident Lt. Bryan Ackerman stated that many people in the community support this board. Simpson repeated his concern that there was a lack of dialogue and voices were being shut down.
Gent asked, "Did you hear what was said in the last board before it was closed down?"
Simpson stated that he was attending Wescott’s meeting because of what he saw in the paper. Gent replied, "I read the paper, too, and that’s, that’s not what happened." Simpson replied, "OK, see that’s what we need to hear." Gent continued, "Because, the thing that was not brought up is what was said by somebody in the public that shut down the conversation…. It was not included in the report."
Assistant Chief Scott Ridings interjected that the 2018 budget process started with a first reading at about September 2017. Many of the questions posed during the public hearing were repeatedly asked and answered prior to the budget’s adoption in December 2017.
Simpson referenced the paper again. Gent responded that he would not comment on it because the paper was "dead wrong." Director Joyce Hartung also questioned the accuracy of the newspaper article.
Note: OCN stands by its report of Gent’s refusal to allow Lowes to speak. In the February article, OCN printed a transcription of its complete digital recording of what was said between Lowes and Gent at that Wescott board meeting.
Some questions answered, budget ratification finally achieved
Ross provided guidance and answered questions posed by the directors. He reminded the board that the budget is a projection, a best estimate, of what the district will do during the next year and that it can be changed. In response to a comment from Feltz, Gent recommended listing the $622,000 in the City of Colorado Springs’ final revenue payment as a separate line item. Ridings inquired about rules pertaining to budget amendments. Ross explained that changes that do not increase expenditures or appropriations do not require public hearing or statutory amendment, but recommended adopting the budget as adjusted.
Directors and staff responded to some of the more pressing questions posed. Gent tackled the issue of vacation time increasing by five times from the 2017 budget. He explained that the district never knows when a Wescott employee will find employment elsewhere. The 2018 budget figure attempts to plan for departing employees who cash out vacation time.
Gent and Ridings addressed the HRA benefit concerns. Gent explained that several years ago a decision was made to take a higher out-of-pocket maximum to save on monthly premiums versus having higher premiums with lower out-of-pocket maximums. Ridings added that the district is self-insuring the higher deductibles and, compared to neighboring fire districts, boasts the second lowest per-employee benefit cost.
Regarding the increased accident and disability insurance, Ridings explained that this benefit is a "big deal" for a district the size of Wescott. The pay gap between Wescott and surrounding fire districts is generally $10,000 or more, and the insurance provides a small incentive for firefighters to stay.
Dunn asked for clarification about the American Medical Response (AMR) contract. Burns responded that the soon-to-expire contract between Colorado Springs and AMR will likely affect Wescott, making it difficult to make budget predictions. Ridings confirmed that Wescott maintains open communication with AMR and continually seeks other options for maintaining emergency medical services.
After the board completed its discussion, the directors ratified the 2018 budget.
Administrative business and chiefs’ reports
Popovich announced the district’s bank balances that included:
• Peoples National Bank, $3,951
• Colorado Peak Fund, $495,450
• Wells Fargo Trust Fund, $869,993
• Total of all funds, $1.369 million.
Popovich attributed the lower balance due to the SDA payment for the year. The board accepted the financials and minutes as presented.
Burns’ announcements included:
• Three new recruits will begin the volunteer firefighter training process.
• Station 2 on Highway 83 is expected to be open full-time in March 2018.
• Wildfire outlook included above average fire potential for the southern plains February through early April and above average—looking more likely as well—in southern Colorado by May with the possibility of a persisting and intensifying drought pattern.
• The district is considering website updates to improve information management.
• The district plans to extend an invitation to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District for a "purely social gathering" and conversation starter.
Ridings’ report included:
• At Station 1, there were 50 service calls in January averaging just under a 6-minute response time in the Gleneagle area. Station 2 response times averaged just under the 12-minute mark, with one possible data entry error. He confirmed that response times have increased since 2016.
• January EMS calls totaled 24. In response to a question from resident Bill Lowes, Ridings confirmed that none of January’s service calls involved fire, and out-of-district EMS calls are not counted in the district’s statistics.
Additional business included:
• The board passed resolution 2018-003—A Resolution of the Board of Directors calling an election for the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.
• Baker proposed that the district use the $622,000 in Colorado Springs revenue to pay off the Station 2 loan. Popovich confirmed a payoff amount of $1.061 million.
• Burns proposed formation of a board-staff work group with a first meeting scheduled prior to the March board meeting. Once the date is determined, the meeting would be publicized.
The meeting adjourned at 8:16 p.m.
Caption: New career firefighters Stefanie Metcalf and Shawn Ballard are sworn in at the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s Feb. 20 board meeting. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
The next DWFPD Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 20, at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Please call (719) 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. Wescott is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
At the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) annual meeting Jan. 29, President Peter Bille chaired the meeting and provided a review of 2017, a discussion of goals for 2018, board candidate statements, and a Q&A session. Later that week, a short reorganization meeting was held to assign board roles.
Bille noted that WIA is responsible for covenant enforcement, architectural control and common area improvements, and maintenance but is not responsible for road clearing or repairing, which falls to El Paso County authorities.
In 2017, WIA worked with Eagle Scouts on a number of projects, finished the Toboggan Hill parking lot, and partnered with Lewis-Palmer D38 on a Safe Routes to School grant to construct a trail between Lewis-Palmer Elementary and Middle Schools and connecting to Palmer Ridge High School.
WIA remains committed to Firewise, hopes to develop more trails in common areas, and is looking into building a Woodmoor Public Safety station and doing minor remodeling of the administrative offices.
The board remains engaged with The Country Club at Woodmoor, which had a profitable year.
The project to digitize files continues and is about 60 percent complete.
The Good Neighbor award was given to Jennifer Cunningham, outgoing secretary and director of Community Outreach. Cunningham was recognized for organizing the installation of locking mailboxes, working on fire mitigation, and helping a neighbor impacted by a house fire.
Eric Gross was awarded the Vincent Elorie outstanding citizen award, named after a former member of the Woodmoor Police Department. Gross was the director of Forestry from 2012 to 2014 and provided free Firewise evaluations, pursued grant opportunities, organized chipping days, and educating hundreds of residents on mountain pine beetles, dwarf mistletoe, and slash piles.
Board election and reorganization
Vice President Brian Bush recapped election procedures and confirmed that a quorum had been achieved. He noted that proxies would have been used only if needed to reach a quorum and not to change election results. Four candidates were given three minutes each to speak about their background and interest in serving on the board. No nominations were submitted from the floor.
Ballots were received by mail and at the meeting by League of Women Voters representatives who counted and provided totals to the board on the day after the annual meeting. On Jan. 31, the board held a short meeting to certify the election results and elect officers and designate board directors as follows:
• Brian Bush, President
• Peter Bille, Vice-president
• Kayla Dixon, Secretary and Director of Community Outreach
• Lee Hanson, Treasurer
• Robert Benjamin, Director of Architectural Control
• Rich Wretschko, Director of Common Areas
• Per Suhr, Director of Covenant Control
• Ed Miller, Director of Forestry
• Brad Gleason, Director of Public Safety
Caption: The Woodmoor Improvement Association’s annual meeting filled the Lewis-Palmer Middle School auditorium with residents, candidates, board members, and staff. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Caption: From left are board members Rich Wretschko, Robert Benjamin, Ed Miller, Kayla Dixon, Lee Hanson, Brian Bush, Peter Bille, Per Suhr, and Brad Gleason, followed by Homeowners Association staff Denise Cagliaro and Amy Mast. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
The WIA Annual Meeting is held each year in January at the Lewis-Palmer Middle School. The WIA calendar can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
February was slightly cooler than normal and again drier than normal. The drier than normal conditions have now plagued the region since early fall, with every month receiving below-average precipitation. Let’s hope the unsettled, cooler conditions we saw during the second half of February are a sign that the rest of the spring season will be wet and cool.
The first day of February was right at average, but warmer weather quickly moved in, with temperatures ranging between 5 to 20 degrees above normal from the 2nd through the 9th. Highs reached the low 50s on the 2nd and 3rd and the 7th and 8th, with 40s in between. No precipitation fell during this period, except for the 5th and 6th when some light freezing drizzle and flurries occurred as a layer of low clouds blanketed the area.
A significant pattern change finally occurred starting with a strong frontal passage in the late afternoon on the 9th. Temperatures fell quickly and stayed cold the next day. Highs on the 10th only reached the mid-teens with light snow. Most areas received 2-4 inches of new snow by that evening. Clear skies and fresh snow allowed temperatures to cool well below zero by the morning of the 11th. But plenty of sunshine the next few days allowed temperatures to warm back to the 30s each afternoon.
The cool air mass was quickly ushered out on the 13th as winds from the west/southwest brought warmer and dry air into the region. Temperatures responded quickly, rising into the 50s from the 13th through the 15th. This was ahead of the next system that pushed a cold front through around 5 p.m. on the 15th. Temperatures cooled quickly with light snow again falling that evening into early the next morning. This system only produced 1-2 inches for most of us. Temperatures were in the 30s on the 16th then low 40s on the 17th. Stronger west/southwest winds kicked in the day and temperatures warmed to their highest levels of the month, reaching the mid- and upper 50s.
Again, this was ahead of the next cold front. A strong frontal passage occurred around 10:30 p.m. that evening, dropping temperatures by about 30 degrees in an hour. This air mass and the weather pattern associated with it stuck around for the rest of the month, with several impulses of energy moving through and producing snowfall. Around 3-6 inches of snow accumulated from the 19th-20th, then snow showers put down just enough to make roads slippery on the 22nd and 23rd.
Another unusual aspect with this air mass was that temperatures were held below freezing from just after the frontal passage on the 18th through the early afternoon on the 23rd. That’s a pretty long stretch of cold air for late February on the Palmer Divide.
A look ahead
March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30-50 inches of snowfall that shut down the region. However, snow that does fall begins to melt quickly this time of the year, providing beneficial moisture for our plants and limited inconvenience for us.
February 2018 Weather Statistics
Average High 38.7° (-1.3°)
100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 13.3° (+0.3°)
100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 57° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature -5° on the 21st
Monthly Precipitation 0.46" (-0.48" 50% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 2.10" min 0.02"
Monthly Snowfall 8.6" (-9.1", 55% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 31.1" (-49.8", 54% below normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 2.10" (-2.98", 59% below normal)
(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1066 (-30)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
Thanks to OCN volunteers
I’d like to express my gratitude to the dedicated community volunteers who have been producing Our Community News for so many years. The OCN has consistently supplied us with balanced information on the functioning of our community at all levels, with added features and activity listings that benefit us all.
Thanks to all of you for the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty work of counting, delivering, copy-editing etc., as well as the more "glamorous" job of reporting on long governmental/utility/school board etc. meetings! Information helps us participate in the workings of our community and connects us. In addition, as someone who has had a small business in the Monument area for many years, I appreciate the OCN as an opportunity for reasonably-priced advertising.
I’d like to especially mention the well-written and researched monthly columns by Elizabeth Hacker (birds) and Janet Sellers (art and gardening). They have both worked for many years to enhance our understanding and enjoyment of the unique and beautiful Palmer Divide.
Cut spending if you lower taxes
The Laffer Curve first came to life when economist Arthur Laffer was discussing his theory of supply-side economics in 1974. Laffer was later President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board and his theory has become important to many conservatives.
The theory is pretty simple. Think of a curve where on the left you have zero taxes (meaning there are no police or fire departments, roads, bridges, military—or we’re back to the stone age, which most people would have some issue with) and at the other end is 100 percent tax (meaning that there would be no incentive to work or produce anything), which would also destroy civilization as we know it.
The theory suggests that governments should find the sweet spot, where the most amount of revenue will be generated with a particular tax rate. Those that currently believe in the Laffer Curve have, more or less, skipped past looking for the "sweet spot" and just focused on the premise that if you lower taxes, the economy will grow so fast that you will always get more revenue. This has been tried five times before, with zero success so far.
In other words, history has shown that if you lower taxes, you always end up with less revenue. Which is probably why when all U.S. economists were asked in 2012 if they believe in the Laffer Theory, 96 percent said no.
I would like to suggest a more pragmatic idea. If you lower taxes, cut spending by an equal amount. If the Laffer Theory actually works, then feel free to increase spending to match the increased revenue. Cutting taxes and hoping for an increase in revenue simply hasn’t worked out in the past, and increasing our debt is not something I’m in favor of.
Student denied chance to show solidarity
This morning at 10 my child tried to walk out of Palmer Ridge High School for 17 minutes to show solidarity and respect for the 17 lives lost in Parkland, Fla., one week ago. However, he was informed that he could not leave his classroom as the teacher thought he was "trying to ditch." His father and I are Air Force veterans. We each left our children for six months at a time to protect their Right to Bear Arms and, far more important, Freedom of Speech. I cannot imagine how PRHS, a bastion of excellent education and progressive thought and encourager of outstanding citizenship, would actively try to prevent students from rallying to support the MSD HS students whose friends and teachers were slaughtered last week.
Our family is not interested in taking away anyone’s Second Amendment rights. We are interested in ensuring our children feel safe at school every day. We teach our children to stand up for what they believe in, and accept the consequences (even the negative ones) that those actions may lead to. In the future, should either of my children choose to walk out of school in support of a cause they believe can save lives, I have asked them to give me a head’s up so I can ensure I email the Attendance Secretary ahead of time that they have an "appointment’’ and are not detained at the whim of a suspicious teacher. And then I will proudly encourage them to use these life-changing experiences to understand the importance of advocating for others who do not have the courage or freedom to do so themselves.
Parent of two PRHS students
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Books are a uniquely portable magic."—Stephen King
Discover creative ways to help children and teens break away from their screens, whether you are traveling somewhere for spring break or enjoying your time at home.
The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums
By Trenton Lee Stewart (Little Brown Books for Young Readers) $9.99
This exclusive companion book to the bestselling Mysterious Benedict Society series is a mind-bending collection that will put you to the test. Featuring full-color artwork throughout, this companion features ingenious new puzzles, riddles, and brainteasers compiled by Mr. Benedict himself, with the help of Reynie, Kate, Sticky, Constance, and other Society associates. Discover if you have what it takes to join the Mysterious Benedict Society.
100 Screen Free Ways to Beat Boredom!
By Kris Hirschmann (Barron’s Educational Series) $8.99
This book will help free you and your kids from the tyranny of the screen with 100 ways to beat the "I’m bored" monster. Learn how to have an indoor picnic, start an herb garden, go on a car scavenger hunt, build an obstacle course, make an artful sandwich, and much more. Includes step-by-step instructions as well as a list of materials you’ll need to get kids off the couch and thoroughly engaged.
The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists
By Sean Connolly (Workman Publishing) $12.95
What could be more fun for kids than to have the kind of rip-roaring good time that harkens back to pre-video game, pre-computer days? Experiments include matchbox microphones, marshmallows on steroids, homemade lightning, encasing your little brother in a giant soap bubble, launching a rocket made from a film canister, and more. This book awakens curiosity while demonstrating scientific principles like osmosis, air pressure, and Newton’s Third Law of Motion. All experiments use common household ingredients and equipment. Entries are categorized into seven chapters according to scientific themes, with easy-to-follow instructions.
By Jesse Crock (Colorado Mountain Club Press) $14.95
Jesse Crock is an outdoor enthusiast and elementary art teacher. His coloring book features 34 iconic scenes from around the state highlighting 15 outdoor adventures, including mountain biking through aspen, fly fishing, and backpacking.
Rubik’s Puzzles: 101 Puzzles to Test Your Brain Power
By Tim Dedopulos (Barron’s Educational Series) $12.99
From the makers of Rubik’s Cube comes a book to sharpen your brain power. Discover 101 original, colorful puzzles in varying difficulty levels that test logic, strengthen memory, and sharpen mental prowess.
By Alejandro Algarra and Gustavo Mazali (Barron’s Educational Series) $9.99
In this book, you can discover the answers to questions like: What is thunder? How do plants eat? What’s a fossil? How do crickets chirp? Why do some animals sleep all winter? You will find an abundance of fascinating information along with many full-color illustrations on the climate, the Earth, the sea, plants, and animals. Get ready to discover Nature’s Wonders!
By Simon Ward (Barron’s Educational Series) $7.99
Discover mazes to explore, hidden characters to find, and all sorts of things to color. It features a full cast of characters that offer directions to guide you through a Magic Grotto, Jungle Run, Dragon’s Lair, and more on your amazing adventure. You will encounter dragons, dinosaurs, wizards, werewolves, and more.
Tell Me How?
By Isabelle Fougere (Barron’s Educational Series) $14.99
This fun-filled Q&A book is just one in a series of Tell Me? books. Each book contains more than 200 answers to questions about history, nature, the human body, animals, and more. The book is organized according to different topics and tabbed for easy reference. The last tab includes fun stickers. In Tell Me How?, children can discover the answers to questions like: How do we taste food? Why does tickling make us laugh? How is butter made? How does a submarine go under water? How did knights dress? How is an anthill organized? And many more. A hidden spiral binding makes it easy to flip back and forth, while entertaining illustrations and activities make learning fun. Parents may find the answers as interesting as their kids do.
Enjoy some family time exploring new things, and, until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Palmer Divide Quiltmakers will hang their works in the library during March for National Quilting Month. Plan to drop by and enjoy the show! There will also be a display of books on the subject for those wanting to try their hand at quilting.
For the younger set, there will be special programming during spring break.
Come to the library from 4 to 5:30 on the first Friday of each month for Coloring for Everyone. There is a new theme each month (Luck O’ the Irish for March), and there are coloring sheets for all skill levels and various coloring tools including pencils and markers. Drop in and stay as long as you like!
The Fun for the Family program on March 10 from 2:30 to 4 is Balloon Science. Balloons are fun, but they’re also great for learning scientific principles. Come play with balloons in the name of science!
The Lego Build Club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, March 17. Build with Legos to your heart’s content with other enthusiasts.
During spring break, come to the library for the Science and Circus Arts Show on Monday, March 25 from 1:30 to 2:30. Movement artist Peter Davison presents juggling, unicycling, balancing acrobatics, and more while teaching the science behind the artistry.
On Tuesday, March 27 from 10:30 to 11:30, be entertained by Mark the Amazing Ventriloquist as he narrates Jack and the Beanstalk with the help of a full stage marionette puppet production. Kids will participate in the story, meet Pansy, a lovable baby chimpanzee, and see a drawing that comes to life and talks.
Teen and tween programs
Come to the library during Teen Tech Week and try your hand at designing your own video game on Friday, March 9 from 4 to 5:15. Join us to learn how to use Bioxels to design your own simple 13-bit pixel game. Space is limited, so please register at 488-2370. Open to ages 9 to18.
Are you interested in getting volunteer hours? Do you like to be able to set your own schedule and come up with your own plans? Come to a meeting of the Teen Advisory Board to learn more about ways to make the Teen Zone better, contribute ideas for displays or events, decorate the area, and other topics. There will meetings from 2 to 3 on March 3 and April 7 in the study room.
The Monument Teen Creative Writing Group will meet from 6 to 7:30 in the study room on Tuesday, March 6. This writing group for ages 12 to 18 will help you to meet fellow writers, do writing exercises, share ideas, and enjoy tasty snacks.
Join us for an intergenerational knitting group from 3 to 4:30 on Wednesday, March 7 and 14. Practice materials are provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own materials and projects. Some instruction is provided for those new to the craft.
Are you challenged by math? Come to the library Mondays from 3:30 to 7 for our free tutoring program, AfterMath. All ages and skill levels are invited to consult with our experienced adult tutors. No appointment is necessary. AfterMath follows the D-38 schedule and will not be held during spring break.
Interested in origami? Connie Stanton will be returning on March 15 from 3 to 4 to teach a new origami class with three unique designs: a folded box, a bookmark, and a miniature origami envelope. All skill levels are welcome.
The Teen Arts and Crafts Studio project for March is Chainmail Jewelry. On Wednesday, March 28 from 4 to 5:30, teens are invited to learn how to make simple chainmail bracelets, rings, necklaces, belts, and more out of jump-rings. We have a new craft or art project the last Wednesday of every month. Registration is required at 488-2370.
The Monument Library Anime Club will meet from 5 to 6:30 on Thursday, March 29. Share anime with other people who love it, help shape the club for future meetings, and enjoy unusual snacks. This program is recommended for ages 13 and up.
Please see above for descriptions of Coloring for Everyone and Intergenerational Knitting.
On Thursday, March 15 from 11:30 to 1:30, members of the Palmer Lake Art Group will teach beginning and intermediate drawing classes. Some supplies will be provided, but bring paper, pencils, and erasers. Open to ages 18 and up. Space is limited, so please register online or at 488-2370. Additional sessions will be in April and May.
The Monumental Bookworms will meet on Tuesday, March 13 from 7 to 8:30. This evening book club is sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library. All are welcome. We will be discussing Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas.
On Wednesday, March 14 from 6 to 7 and March 28 from 6:30 to 7:30 there will be a senior Medicare seminar to help you have peace of mind about healthcare. Taught by Alice Mosher, licensed health agent. No registration necessary.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, March 16 to discuss A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. All are welcome to attend and no registration is necessary.
A spinning group will meet from 1:30 to 3:45 on Thursday, March 22. Come to explore the craft of hand spinning.
Nutritional Health Coach Ginnie Stowe will offer a program on Where to Start to Love Your Heart on Saturday, March 24 from 10:30 to 11:30. Learn about common heart care myths and begin your journey toward heart health with three simple dietary strategies and three supplements that will pump up your heart health.
The Palmer Divide Quiltmakers will display their works on the walls and in the display case during March.
Palmer Lake Library Events
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. All patrons are welcome to attend. Local author Diane Sawatzki will meet with the group on April 6 as they discuss her new book, Manyhorses Traveling. All are welcome to attend and no registration is required.
The spring break program at Palmer Lake is a Mining Lab provided by the Molly Brown Museum on Wednesday, March 28 at 10:30. This hands-on program will allow children to learn about different types of mining and what life was like in a mining camp. Come and touch a real miner’s helmet and gold!
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Sunday, April 1 in observance of Easter.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On Feb. 15, the Palmer Lake Historical Society was pleased to host John Engs of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. Despite snowy weather, the 75 attendees learned about the tourist railroad, its "Friends" organization, and the restoration of a 129-year-old Pullman tourist sleeper 470, a narrow-gauge car. Interestingly, while standard-gauge cars were built in Illinois, narrow-gauge cars were built at Pullman’s Detroit facility.
Engs began the program by showing the railroad’s promotional film. It highlights the beautiful scenery through which the train travels between Chama, N.M., and Antonito. A "living museum," the vintage coaches are pulled by 1925’s Denver and Rio Grande Western’s Baldwin-built steam engines. The railroad has been designated a National Historic Landmark and was voted USA Today Readers’ Choice No. 1 Scenic Ride.
The purpose of the Friends is to restore and maintain all the railroad’s historic assets except locomotives and track operations. They accomplish this with the help of more than 500 volunteers who participate in seven week-long sessions each year. Engs showed a short film highlighting these activities.
A slide presentation followed a history of Car 470. In 1953, the car body, with the underside removed, was sold to an individual in the San Luis Valley. The Friends acquired the car in 1994 and in 2009 began the painstaking task to restore the car to original-built condition. Its all-wood construction required the addition of steel to provide a "rigid box" with "X" bracing at the ends to meet the demands of current day rail service. Because of water damage, which caused the wood to rot, a wooden sill had to be chiseled to shape before putting it in place.
For those interested in seeing the restoration first-hand, John extended an invitation for all to visit the restoration site adjacent to the former Rock Island Roundhouse, now the Pikes Peak Trolley Museum, 2333 Steel Drive, on Feb. 17. The tours enabled all to appreciate the significant progress that has been made to date. John hopes to have the car operational on the Cumbres & Toltec by the end of 2020.
Caption: Visitors enjoy a tour of the interior of 129-year old Pullman tourist sleeper car 470. Photo by Mike Walker.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, March 15, when Eric Swab will tell the story of an iconic part of Manitou Springs history: History of the Mt. Manitou & Incline Railway. It begins with a cable car operation built to install a pipeline from the top of Mt. Manitou to a hydro-electric plant at the base of the mountain. Learn how it was transformed into a famous 84-year-long tourist attraction. This program is free and open to all. Thursday’s venue is the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7. Light refreshments are served after the presentation.
By Janet Sellers
We are fortunate to live here in local forests among the old growth, fire-resistant ponderosa! We live here because we love being in our forests. Suzanne Sinnard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in Vancouver, knows the value of our forests to us and the planet, and she’s particularly interested in the forest below the surface, specifically the fungal networks. She lectures widely on the topic to help us understand the tremendous impact on our lives of the forests we can see, and the forest we don’t see underground. Locally, we can develop wisdom for our local lands and forests and their needs, with care and learning.
Sinnard cites evidence that humans can be wiser about maintaining mother trees who pass on wisdom from one tree generation to the next for a more sustainable environment as well as for the commercial wood industry. In a forest, a mother tree is connected to hundreds of other trees, sending excess carbon through delicate networks to seeds below ground, ensuring much greater seedling survival rates. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2016 report on world forests, "The contributions of forests to the well-being of humankind are extraordinarily vast and far-reaching."
American biologist George David Haskell, in his 2017 book The Songs of Trees, calls trees "biology’s philosophers," offering us wisdom through the ages. Haskell writes that we should listen because they know what they’re talking about, "... because they are not mobile, to thrive they must know their particular locus on the Earth far better than any wandering animal."
Our First Nations people have blessed our lives with ancient wisdom for local forest foods we can find and eat, especially in early spring, such as flowers, mushrooms, and greens. Some mushrooms are poisonous, so I have listed below safe, locally found plants that are beautiful, some are native, all grow well here, and all are tasty and nutritious!
Dandelion—Eat leaves raw, lightly cooked, or dried. Fresh flowers are mildly sweet, very tasty in salads, sprinkled over various dishes, or made into a tea. All parts of the plant are edible and nutritious.
Plantain—Eat leaves raw or steamed for a spinach substitute in salads or blended into green smoothies.
Purslane—Moist, crunchy, lemony leaves with a peppery finish are great raw, in salads, or steamed.
Water lily—Leaves gathered anytime during the growing season make good greens: Boil chopped noodle-like leaf strips in one change of water, add bacon (pork, turkey, even the eggplant versions).
Wild rose petals—Use in salads, desserts, beverages; make jelly, jam or eat candied. I love rose petal gelato, (there is even a rose vodka) and the candied petals are nice decorations for cakes and cupcakes.
Lavender—Used sweet in desserts, jams and candied, or like rosemary for meats. Pests detest it: repels deer, rabbits, mice, ticks, and other pests from your home and garden.
Cattails—The lower parts of the leaves can be used in a salad, young stems eaten raw or boiled as "cattail on the cob."
The moist days of March are a perfect time to gather food from the forest as well as to put out some nutrients for your garden soil and emerging plants from seed or perennials. I put out Epsom salts on the soil near plants, and that will go into the soil for use by the plants gradually. A sprinkling of Epsom salts: supports improved seed germination and nutrient absorption, counters transplant shock, greens up leaves, deters pests, and boosts chlorophyll, powering plants for sweeter fruit.
Remember, too, that a flower patch in the garden not only helps pollinators but also supports food plants. Native flowering plants optimally support the local ecosystem, attracting helpful bugs and birds to our gardens, and for years I have planted tall sunflowers (organic raw seeds from the bulk food packs) as a hedge against possible pollutants from the neighborhood.
Janet Sellers is an avid lazy gardener (aka leave it beautifully natural) and active ethnoecologist promoting the dynamic relationships between people, biota, and environments from the cultures of the past and immediate present. She can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
Peter Ziek and wife Barbara have been devoted alpaca professionals for decades. They started out with a few of the animals, and some 20 years later have a herd of over 100 at Wild Hair Alpacas in Black Forest. Barbara is a devoted fiber artist and had quite a number of lovely items of wearable art and objet d’art for sale in local Gallery 132, where she cheerfully explained the arts’ stages from animal to shearing to washing, coloring, and felting the items into the finished piece. While most of the items at this show were wearable, felted alpaca fleece can be made into wall hangings and other works of art.
The Zieks are enthusiastic about their alpaca life, relishing all aspects of care, herding, feeding, and breeding programs and just plain enjoying the various personalities and antics of the herd. The Zieks begin socializing their alpacas with humans as early as possible and often have meet- and-greet events planned for this. Peter shared his love of the alpacas and many stories about their uniqueness outside the shop where their alpacas were on view.
Alpacas have a social life complete with best friends in social groups. Daily, one alpaca female mom from the herd will volunteer to babysit the crias (babies) so the mothers have some time off to eat. The crias play and run, dash off to nurse from their mothers, and return to the babysitter all day long. There is a social order, and the mothers instill strict social manners in the crias. The herd at Wild Hair Alpacas even have their own police squad of young, strong, watchful males that stay alert for dangers such as predators. Ziek said they have never had a problem with predators, and he has seen coyotes walk on by the pasture after the cop squad investigates the intruders. Jokingly, Ziek said it’s because the close walking alpaca cop squad appears to the predator as an enormous animal with five heads and 20 legs.
Art events for March
Southwinds Fine Art Gallery—2018 Celebration Art Second Weekends Champagne Tour March 9, 4-9 p.m. guest artist show with talks at 7 p.m. by artists Sue Johnson and Lorrie Beck; March 10, costumed figure drawing 10-noon; tea with featured member artist T. McKinsey Morgan 1-4 p.m. 16575 Rollercoaster Rd.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts—Visions of Light photography juried show by Tom Heywood, Feb. 28-March 23, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.
Gallery 132, an artist cooperative, will host violinist Michelle Edwards March 17 for toe-tapping Irish tunes. 251 Front St., Ste. 8.
Janet Sellers is an artist and writer. She exhibits her paintings and public art sculptures in Colorado galleries and museums, and teaches art and movie classes locally. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Elizabeth Hacker
March is a cold, wet, and windy month. It’s the time of year when birds appreciate a little extra food and water, and many people enjoy providing them. I often wonder who gets more enjoyment and benefit from this activity, our little feathered friends or we humans.
This year marks the centennial of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the "Year of the Bird" and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years. It’s a good time to consider why birds matter.
In the past, I have written about how herons, a non-game shore bird, were hunted to near extinction for sport and the fashion industry. It took 19 years to bring a bill before Congress and another two years for Congress to ratify it. Conservation was not a popular concept then, and it still isn’t today. If not for those who stood up for what they believe, herons, now common at the edge of most lakes, rivers, and wetlands, may have been but another extinction statistic.
It has never been easy to advocate for the environment, but in the years since MBTA there have been a few strong voices that have made a difference. One that has captured my attention lately is Marjory Stoneman Douglas, "April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998, Marjory was an American journalist, author, women’s suffrage advocate, and conservationist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. Moving to Miami as a young woman to work for the Miami Herald, she became a freelance writer, producing over a hundred short stories that were published in popular magazines. Her most influential work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), which redefined the popular conception of the Everglades as a treasured river instead of a worthless swamp" (Wikipedia).
Does her name ring a bell? It was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where the latest school shooting took place. I have to believe her spirit lives on in the brave students who are standing up to the gun-rights establishment. While gun rights and environmental issues are not the same, standing up for what you believe in and butting up against the establishment take tremendous courage but can make a difference.
Today there is a big pushback against environmental protections and regulations. In addition to sensitive habitat lost to development, there is an attitude that it’s acceptable to trash the environment. There are so many plastic bags waving in the wind that I wonder if they’ve replaced our stars and stripes and if I need to stand up and salute.
While the MBTA addresses the hunting of non-game birds, it does not specifically address habitat loss, which today is the No. 1 reason for the decline in bird populations around the globe. At one time in the not too distant past, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted to protect sensitive habitats, but today this agency has been marginalized. In an effort to cut government spending, reduce cost, and expedite completion time for development projects, regulations and project review are now being left to the discretion of the developer.
Many people move to northern El Paso County because of the abundance of wildlife found here. Over the last 30 years there has been tremendous change. Ask yourself when you last saw a burrowing owl, a prairie dog, or a pronghorn antelope? Many people, most with a vested interest, fought listing the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a threatened species. They paid their own "scientist" to discredit the agency’s environmental scientists. It is easy to dismiss a mouse. After all, who can’t relate to exterminating them in their homes? But this mouse is different. It has a very specific habitat and is a major food source for owls, the prairie falcon, and other raptors. If it disappears, there will be consequences.
The United States is not alone in its disregard for protecting sensitive environments and threatened species. Papua New Guinea (PNG), about the size of California, is an extremely poor tropical country that is home to over 700 species of birds, 11 of which are birds of paradise. Today, 100 percent of the bottom land along its rivers and wetlands have been converted to palm tree plantations for production of palm oil.
Palm oil, as you may know, is an ingredient found in most processed foods and known to contribute to heart disease. When foreign investors cleared the bottom lands, the forest-dwelling native peoples of PNG were displaced. Few natives were hired to work in the palm oil industry, and the commodity and investment were shipped out of country. The plantations have created a monoculture in one of the most habitat rich and environmentally sensitive countries on the planet. PNG is on the other side of the globe, so why should we care if one or more species of bird of paradise becomes extinct?
In his National Geographic essay titled "Why Birds Matter," Jonathan Franzen writes that what birds do for us is to indicate the health of our ethical values. He writes that one reason wild birds matter, or ought to matter, is that they are our last and best connection to the natural world that is otherwise receding due to human self-serving interests.
What would it be like to wake up and not hear a bird chirping, if there were no ducks on our lakes or no hawk soaring overhead, or worse, what if birds stopped flocking to our feeders? Birds are a gauge on the health of our planet and they really do matter!
Elizabeth Hacker can be reached at email@example.com.
Gardening class, Jan. 30
Caption: Town of Monument Gardener Cassie Olgren presented the second of her series regarding high-altitude planting in the Tri-Lakes area on Jan. 30. She spoke to a full house at the Chamber of Commerce community room. Many folks in the area are new residents or newer gardeners who desire expert advice to prepare for the late spring planting. Olgren said she already has a waiting list of 55 even after she completes the series. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by John Howe.
PLAG at TLCA, Feb. 2
Caption: The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) member show reception at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) was held on Feb. 2. The center was filled with art lovers for the annual winter show, sales of which benefit local high school students. The show ended Feb. 23. Photo by Janet Sellers.
CERT Training, Jan. 31-Feb. 3
Caption: Disasters happen. Will you be able to help your friends or coworkers when emergency responders are overloaded and cannot get to you right away? CERT, or Community Emergency Response Teams, are regular people who train ahead of time "just in case" for wildfire, tornado, earthquake, blizzard, or human-caused disasters. You can learn basic first aid, general preparedness, terrorism awareness, fire safety tips, search and rescue, psychological first aid, and more. Participants shown here at the Jan. 31 - Feb. 3 class hosted by Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group practiced using leverage to extricate "Teddy," who was trapped under a heavy object. To attend a free 20-hour CERT class series, to host a class in your neighborhood, or to become a volunteer instructor, contact Robin Adair, Community Emergency Preparedness and CERT program coordinator at email@example.com or (719) 575-8858. See www.epccert.org for information. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Fireworks Fundraiser, Feb. 3
Caption: The Chautauqua Mountain Band plays Feb. 3 at the fundraiser Blues and Brews for the Palmer Lake annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration. The event showcased several bands and included beer tastings, samples from restaurants around the area, and other convivial pursuits. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Marketing class, Feb. 6
Caption: Amanda Blough, presenter at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce for the monthly education series on Feb. 6, explains to the group of interested entrepreneurs and local business people the history of developments in social media, advertising online, and maintaining an online presence as well as ways to access and make use of these tools to benefit their businesses. The event was sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Ent Business Banking, and the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center. Photos by Janet Sellers.
Alpacas in Monument, Feb. 10
Caption: Peter Ziek of Wild Hair Alpacas alpaca farm in Black Forest shares his wisdom and anecdotes about alpacas with guests at the Feb. 10 alpaca event at Gallery 132 in Historic Monument. He brought a mother alpaca and her cria (baby) as well as an adolescent alpaca to meet and greet the public. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Forest Lakes meeting, Feb. 22
Caption: At least 60 residents attended a neighborhood meeting Feb. 22 to discuss a proposed residential development at the western end of Forest Lakes, bordered by the national forest, Pine Hills to the north, and Green Mountain Ranch Estates along Hay Creek to the south. People voiced their opinions about many issues, including the incompatibility of this type of development with the established rural communities immediately next door full of elk and other wildlife. The existing planned unit development site plan approved in 2002 by El Paso County identified 131 lots for Phase 2, and the 2018 proposal, which will be considered by the county Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners, proposes 231 single-family lots on 287 acres, including 230 acres of open space and a density of 0.8 units per acre. From left are NES Principal Andrea Barlow, Classic Homes CEO Doug Stimple, and Vice President Jim Boulton. County Development Services Department Project Manager Ramiere Fitzpatrick, who also attended the meeting, can be reached at 719-520-6302. See http://adm.elpasoco.com/Development%20Services/Pages/PlanningCommission2017.aspx for upcoming agendas of the Planning Commission. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
CPR class, Feb. 10
Caption: About a dozen people participated in the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver class Feb. 10, hosted by Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. The class included cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) instruction on infants, children, and adults; conscious choking response; and first aid. The full-day course provided multiple scenarios for participants to practice chest compressions and breathing, trauma response, and environmental and medical emergency response. Heartsaver classes are generally scheduled once per quarter, follow an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. timeframe, and are listed on the church website at tlumc.org. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing due to the practice scenarios. Pictured are Irina Foster, foreground, and Alan Afuang who demonstrated to the instructor that they were using the proper breathing technique to help an infant or youth. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
Gold mining exhibit at WMMI
Caption: The Western Mining Museum opened a special exhibit titled "Gold Mining in Colorado" on Feb. 15. A lecture by local author and current Colorado Mining Association President Stan Dempsey Jr. accompanied the opening. The display takes the visitor through the story of gold mining in Colorado, from the origins of gold to the story of contemporary gold mining. Visitors will also learn how prospectors were able to stake their claims. Pictured above an undated image showing 29 men who worked in Winfield S. Stratton’s famous Independence Mine in Cripple Creek. Another lecture associated with the exhibit is scheduled for April 12, topic and speaker to be announced. The exhibit runs through June 9. For more information, please go to www.wmmi.org or call the museum at 719-488-0880. Photograph by Allison Robenstein
Winterfest, Feb. 24
Caption: Visitors warm up at a bonfire as they watch the skaters in the distance test the ice and skate on the prepared ice rink in the frigid evening air Feb. 24. Palmer Lake revived Winterfest as a fundraiser for launching the summer 2018 floating dock for the lake. The Palmer Lake Parks Committee and the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department held the bonfire event complete with s’mores, hot chocolate, hot dogs, games, and music. Photo by Janet Sellers.
By Judy Barnes, Events Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the information number for that event.
Tri-Lakes Meals on Wheels needs drivers
Meals on Wheels in the Tri-Lakes area needs regular and substitute drivers to deliver meals Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. Volunteers will have to complete an application with Silver Key and then undergo a background check. For more information, phone Sue Cliatt, 481-3175.
Meals on Wheels by Silver Key
If you’re a homebound senior age 60 or older, you might qualify to receive meals delivered to your home through Silver Key. To register or volunteer, call 884-2370. See ad on page 5.
Volunteers needed for Board of Adjustment, apply by March 9
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Board of Adjustment. Applications are due by March 9. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club announces 2018 grant process, ends March 15
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s (TLWC) grant application for 2018 is available online through March 15 on the TLWC website, www.tlwc.net. Eligible organizations include nonprofit and public service organizations and public schools that serve the Tri-Lakes area. Special program and project requests are welcomed. The application package includes the instructions as well as other important qualifying information. For more information, contact Barbara Betzler, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 Trees for Conservation seedling tree program, order by April 4
The Colorado State Forest Service Nursery provides landowners with low-cost container and bare root seedlings to help achieve conservation goals. Order online until April 4 at https://csfs.colostate.edu/buying-seedling-trees.
Make sure your voter registration is up to date at www.govotecolorado.com.
Free income tax help
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Pikes Peak United Way, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of $54,000 a year or less. To find out if you qualify or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; or visit www.ppunitedway.org/vitaeitc.html.
Tri-Lakes Y Youth Spring Sports, register now
Practices begin April 2 for outdoor soccer, volleyball, and flag football; April 14 for indoor soccer. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument.
Lewis-Palmer School District Hall of Fame, nominations accepted through April 27
The community is invited to nominate a person who has made significant, ongoing contributions to the excellence of D-38 schools. More information and nomination forms are posted at www.lewispalmer.org under the Community tab. See ad on page 9.
Lillian’s Second Annual Cinderella Fairy Godmother Project, donate by April 30
Lillian’s of Monument will accept donations of gently-used, ready-to-wear prom dresses, shoes, and accessories (no more than 5 years old) to give to teen girls for prom. You may drop off your donations through April 30 at 251 Front St. Suite 4, Monument. For more information, phone 488-3550. See ad on page 32.
Yoga classes at Woodmoor Barn
Raleigh Dove is now teaching three weekly yoga classes at the Woodmoor Barn. Classes are open to everyone, and each class is a different level. For more information, visit www.yogapathwaysstudio.com. See ad on page 4.
Monument Hill Kiwanis grants, apply by May 15
The Monument Hill Foundation, the charitable arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, has an annual granting program. Grants are awarded to charities as defined by the IRS, to various qualifying youth activities and to schools for various educational activities and scholarships. Applications will be accepted until May 15. The grant application is available at www.monumenthillkiwanis.org/forms/mhf_grants. See ad on page 11.
Art gallery show entries due by May 31
Palmer Lake Art Group is seeking new submissions for its upcoming Color Splash gallery show at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. All artwork must be produced by exhibiting artists and not have been previously showcased. The group will accept entries through May 31. For more information, email email@example.com. Find details on how to enter your artwork at www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.
Mountain View Electric Association board nominations now open
The board election will take place during the annual meeting June 7. If you are interested in being a candidate, find application details at www.mvea.coop. For more information, phone 719-494-2528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 14.
Host families needed
Become a host family for only one month this summer! Host a student from Europe in June/July. Family will receive a stipend to support activities. For more information, phone 481-4412 or visit www.xploreUSA.org. See ad on page 4.
Monument Academy now enrolling
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
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org. See ad on page 2.
Air Force Academy construction project at South Gate Bridge, through June 2019
The New Santa Fe Regional Trail will remain open through the construction site; all trail users must use the metal connex box tunnel. All bicycle and horseback riders must dismount before entering the tunnel. Periodic trail closures at the South Gate Bridge will be scheduled and posted in advance. When a scheduled trail closure is in place, the trail will be blocked and closed only at the South Gate Bridge. Trail users are encouraged to check the Northgate Trailhead and Ice Lake Trailhead for information regarding construction and closure information and updates. For questions regarding the project and trail closures, contact Construction Superintendent Fred Langan, 719-213-1332 or Fred.langan@Tepa.com; or El Paso County Project Manager Jason Meyer, 520-6985 or email@example.com.
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 weather observers needed
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network is seeking volunteer weather observers in this area. The nationwide network is made up of volunteers who help measure and record precipitation in their areas. Learn more and sign up on the network’s web page at www.cocorahs.org.
Monthly arts and crafts group forming
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center is looking for anyone interested in various types of arts and crafts such as needlework, knitting, beading, coloring, or quilting. If you’re interested in any of these activities or have a suggestion of your own, contact Sue, 464-6873.
Monument text alerts
Text "Monument" to 41411 to receive updates and news of meetings, weather alerts, openings and closings, as well as other important town information to your phone or personal mobile device.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
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