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By Allison Robenstein
During its April 1 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) appointed a permanent town manager. The trustees also proclaimed Monument a Second Amendment sanctuary town and postponed a Goodwill merger request that seemed initially to be a name change but was questioned with regard to the associated $17 million 2014 bond.
Public works and police staff, and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District staff were recognized for their efforts during the March 13 blizzard.
Town manager becomes permanent
Mike Foreman was unanimously appointed as town manager after the board returned from executive session at the end of the meeting. He signed the contract with Mayor Don Wilson present on April 5. Foreman was originally brought on in September as an interim town manager after Town Manager Chris Lowe was fired last June. See www.ocn.me/v18n7.htm#mbot, www.ocn.me/v18n10.htm#mbot.
Board proclaims Monument "Second Amendment preservation town"
Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk asked the board to pass a proclamation preserving the Second Amendment in Monument. He told the board, "I am very, very concerned with what our state Legislature is doing to take away our citizens’ rights to bear arms …. We need to deal with the mental health crisis separately from guns."
Wilson confirmed the proclamation is an effort to support El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, who wants to fight the "red flag" bill in the courts if passed by the Legislature.
Background: Colorado state House Bill 19-1177, also known as the "red flag" bill, "allows a family or household member or a law enforcement officer to petition the court for a temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO) if they feel a person appears to be a risk to themselves or others by having a firearm in his custody or control. If the court issues an ERPO, the person would have to surrender all of his or her firearms and conceal carry permit for up to 364 days. Law enforcement would be called in to confiscate firearms if they are not surrendered voluntarily. See http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1177.
Shirk said if he receives an order to remove guns, he would need to call in a neighboring law enforcement’s tactical team because he doesn’t have the personnel to take this on. "If I truly know someone is mentally ill, of course I want their guns," Shirk said.
Several people spoke against the proclamation. Resident Micheale Duncan said the red flag bill has saved lives in 14 states, is a tool for law enforcement, and decisions are determined and re-evaluated by judges. Kent Jarnig, chairman of El Paso County Progressive Veterans, said the board should veto the proclamation because it isn’t best for the children of the community and that it would be better to take weapons away from those who can hurt others than to add armed guards to schools as Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has done recently.
Ann Howe spoke in favor of the proclamation, saying the Second Amendment reads "shall not be infringed" with regard to someone’s rights, and the bill does not provide people who are trained to evaluate mental illness to do the adjudication.
The trustees unanimously approved the resolution declaring Monument a "Second Amendment preservation town."
Engineering services resolution approved
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish asked the board to approve a resolution led by Triview Metropolitan District to perform a feasibility study to design a water "return flow" pipe through Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) water system. This would allow Triview, the Town of Monument water system west of I-25, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, and Donala Water and Sanitation District to access water they already have rights to use but previously had no physical way to bring it to the Tri-Lakes area.
Eventually, return flows being received will need to travel through a pipe north on a route yet to be determined. Tharnish said the first step in the return flows project is the feasibility study to be completed by JDS Hydro. "There are several elevation obstacles to be overcome." Costs for the study will be shared between the four entities, but won’t exceed $17,000 for any one of them. This resolution was unanimously approved and is a step toward increasing "renewable" water supply in the Tri-Lakes area.
Goodwill merger resolution postponed
The board heard a resolution authorizing the merger of Goodwill Industries of Denver with Discover Goodwill of Southern & Western Colorado. Town Attorney Joseph Rivera thought the merger meant a simple name change, but Heather Berens of Discover Goodwill said it was permission for a merger of Discover Goodwill with Goodwill Industries of Denver, keeping the name Discover Goodwill for the whole state.
Background: In 2014, the BOT approved a Series 2014 bond to Discover Goodwill of Southern & Western Colorado not to exceed $17 million to assist with financing the building on Jackson Creek Parkway. Under the state constitution, the Series 2014 bond can’t "constitute a debt or indebtedness" of the town.
The bond provided financing to build the Monument Goodwill location as well as several other Goodwill locations in Colorado. The bond also refinanced existing loans for several other stores throughout the state. At that time, Discover Goodwill told the 2014 board the decision was an emergency for the immediate preservation of the public health and safety, because "present and future uncertainties exist as to the tax-exempt market and the town’s ability to issue the Series 2014 bond on advantageous terms and there is an immediate need to secure funding for the project." See www.ocn.me/v14n2.htm#bot0106.
The current board was reluctant to make a decision without further review of the merger specifics, including the default terms and liability to the town, as Trustee Laurie Clark asked. Rivera had not reviewed the merger paperwork with regard to the existing bond and suggested a bond counsel review it. Trustee Jim Romanello was concerned the merger might be happening because Goodwill Industries of Denver is a "sinking ship." He wanted Goodwill to clarify the default terms of the bond. The decision was postponed to April 15. See related BOT article below.
Annual PPACG and Tri-Lakes Views presentations
Andrew Gunning, executive director of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), gave his annual "communities working together" presentation to the board. El Paso County Commissioners Stan VanderWerf of District 3 and Holly Williams of District 1 accompanied Gunning, although they didn’t speak.
PPACG works on projects involving transportation, the aging population, the environment, and land use near military bases. Gunning said they want to improve their relationship with Tri-Lakes Cares by adding Medicare managers. They are also working on the 2020 census committee.
Trustee Greg Coopman said he had worked with the PPACG Agency on Aging for a long time and is especially thankful for the resources in the Family Caregiver Support Center. Note: Caregivers can call 719-886-PLAN (7526) for access to many resources including a respite voucher assessment which could help family members get a break on caregiving.
Sky Hall, president of Tri-Lakes Views, updated the board on new art installations throughout downtown Monument. Eleven new sculptures are being unveiled this year. Bornstein questioned why there are no installations on the eastern side of Monument, but Hall said there needs to be more developer cooperation, noting they’ve been denied access to several pedestal placements in Monument Marketplace. Mayor Don Wilson suggested that art might also be placed in parks within Triview Metropolitan District.
Hall said Tri-Lakes Views welcomes donations for installing more engineered concrete art pedestals to anchor future art displays. For more information see http://trilakesviews.org.
Foreman reported the following:
• Public Works and the Police Department are working to fine tune a new emergency-operations manual after the bomb cyclone hit the town in March.
• Staff is working with an outside business to find cost and debt reduction solutions.
• Commander Steve Burk is retiring after 23 years with the Police Department. Sgt. Owens will be promoted to commander leaving a sergeant and possibly a corporal position open.
Caption: Mike Foreman became Monument’s permanent town manager on April 5 when he signed his contract with the town. He has been the interim manager for the town since September, but the board unanimously voted to offer him the permanent position after its April 1 meeting. Pictured from left are Mayor Don Wilson and Foreman. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso County Planning Commission recommended for approval a rezoning application and preliminary plan for the second phase of the Forest Lakes development in April. It also made recommendations relating to the Redtail Ranch development in Black Forest, a guest house special use application in the Overlook Estates neighborhood, and a lot in the Flying Horse North development.
Forest Lakes Phase II application recommended for approval
The Planning Commission heard the application for a rezoning of the PUD (planned unit development) at the Forest Lakes Phase II proposed development over two meetings after it lost its quorum at the April 2 meeting and had to continue the item to April 16. The request included approval of the PUD development plan as a preliminary plan. The development is located at the west end of Baptist Road and the second phase is at its western-most part.
At the beginning of the April 2 hearing, Commissioner Kevin Curry recused himself, saying, "I understand that Classic [Homes] has raised some concerns that I might be biased against them based on an anticipated objection to one of their unrelated future applications." Although confident he could consider the application objectively, his recusal followed discussions with the County Attorney’s Office.
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the Forest Lakes PUD and preliminary plan in February 2002. The 977-acre PUD plan included 467 dwelling units, a 10-acre school site, 450 acres of open space, and 32 acres of tracts for utilities, public facilities, and parkland. Development was expected in two phases and Phase I, which includes Filings 1 through 4 and totals 272 lots, is now about 80 percent complete. (See https://www.ocn.me/v2n6.htm#forestlakes)
The rezoning request is for 180 single-family homes within the second phase, which represents an increase of 46 dwelling units in this area over those in the 2002 approved PUD plan. Classic Homes, the developer, revised its plans for this application following feedback at neighborhood meetings and because of technical constraints on the previous proposals. Classic had initially proposed 231-lot then 199-lot configurations. The applicant also intends to separate the southern portion of the PUD plan to add a third phase that would include 61 lots.
At the April 2 hearing, Kari Parsons, project manager/planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said neighbors had expressed a range of concerns about the development, including the increase in density and associated impacts, traffic increase and noise, impact, water and wastewater sufficiency, wildfire danger, wildlife and environmental impacts, and the impact on Native American history.
Opponents of the revised development had to wait until the hearing resumed on April 16 to voice their concerns. Eight people spoke in opposition including Jeremy Mckay, of Environmental and Animal Defense, an attorney acting for those opposing the application. He was critical of the environmental assessments carried out by the applicant and of the applicant’s treatment of the community. Other speakers were unhappy with the increased number of lots and worried by the risk of wildfire. Adjacent neighbor Mark McMillen said "Fire danger is extreme in the area … clustering as many houses as we have at the west end really with one connection, one access/egress route risks lives … it’s a personal safety issue." He continued, "This new proposal unnecessarily adds dwelling units, reduces the emergency access and, therefore, the associated safety and it doesn’t provide an effective buffer to the National Forest." Neighbor Dan Irey said the plans were not compatible with the surrounding rural homes on five-acre lots. He said, "If there must be a development in this extraordinary area, please insist they build from the original 2002 plan of 131 lots."
No one other than the applicant spoke in favor.
The applicant’s representative, Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., had attempted to address concerns previously expressed by neighbors in her April 2 presentation to the commissioners and she did so again in her rebuttal. On April 2 she said, "The most significant comments we heard at each [neighborhood] meeting related to the increase in density from the original approval and lot size, transition, general impact on the environment with reference to habitat, wetlands, open space, increase in traffic, impact on water and risk of wild fire."
Barlow said the development had been pulled back from the northern and western boundaries of the property and a buffer at the southern boundary had been strengthened. The removal of a proposed road in the north had allowed larger lots in the area. She stressed that the current proposals provided 23 percent more open space than before. She said, "So while we have gained in the number of lots, our impact on the open space, the topography, the natural features of the site have actually quite significantly reduced."
Addressing density concerns, Barlow said, "This isn’t a high-density development. We’re at 0.63 dwelling units per acre. That’s pretty low." Regarding traffic, she said that at full build-out, including the school, the project would be at half the road capacity and that Classic Homes intended to install traffic calming measures.
Barlow acknowledged that the area is susceptible to wildfire but said that the evaluation report had made suggestions for landscaping and ignition-resistant building materials which would mitigate the risk. In response to concerns about Native American sites on the property, Barlow said they were unaware of any specific sites. Parsons stated that no sites were in the sourcebooks and therefore the county had not required a cultural assessment.
Dan Maynard of environmental consultants Core Consultants, spoke to environmental concerns and stressed that there would be no lots or grading in the protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat or wetlands area.
Barlow stated that, in making their decision, the commissioners had only to ensure that the application met the approval criteria. She said, "We believe it does. Your county staff has evaluated it and they believe it does."
Commissioner Sharon Friedman had asked at the April 2 meeting why there was a need for more lots. Barlow said there was market demand as the Forest Lakes development was very popular but that, in fact, the proposals now before the commission included 23 percent less developable space. When it came to the vote, Friedman said she was not convinced by the need for more lots and did not feel comfortable with the access.
Commissioner Jane Dillon said, "I think throughout parts of our county … we are allowing building that is putting people at danger. However, our current criteria, they have met that. It may be flawed, the criteria may be flawed, but that doesn’t mean I can vote against it when my job is to make sure the criteria are met."
The commissioners voted 5-2 to recommend the application for approval. Friedman and Commissioner Grace Blea-Nunez voted no. The application then went to the April 23 BOCC meeting, where it was unanimously approved. See more in related BOCC article on page 6.
Redtail Ranch development in Black Forest recommended for approval
At its April 2 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended for approval applications for a preliminary plan and final plat for the Redtail Ranch subdivision to create 12 single-family lots. The parcels, totaling 67.9 acres, are zoned RR-5 (rural residential) and are north of Shoup Road and west of Vollmer Road, within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
Access to the subdivision would be from Vollmer Road via the proposed Sanctuary Pine Drive extension which will align with Sanctuary Pine Drive on the east side of Vollmer Road. The west end of this would connect to a proposed extension of Ward Lane to provide secondary access.
The Planning Commission heard that the applicant had agreed to provide a public trail easement on the north side of the proposed Sanctuary Pine Drive and on the west side of Ward Lane and a trail connection from the western boundary through the development which extends to Vollmer Road. The Black Forest Trails Association (BFTA) has accepted responsibility for their maintenance.
Parsons told the commissioners that the county was aware of concerns raised about an existing stock pond on what would be lot 3 which the neighbor had wanted to see retained. Barlow, the applicant’s representative, explained that there are four ponds on the property and that the applicant intended to retain two as stormwater facilities and fill a third because it is where the road will go in. Regarding the lot 3 pond, she said the original plan showed it to be filled but, after discussions with the neighbor who wanted to see it stay because of associated wildlife uses, the plan had been to retain it.
However, the state water commissioner had raised concerns that there were not any water rights in place and had since made it clear that it could not stay because such a pond is only allowed in a ranch or other agricultural setting and is not acceptable in a residential setting. Barlow said, "We tried to accommodate the neighbor. We were told we couldn’t do it by the state water commissioner and that’s really the bottom line as far as we’re concerned. We have to fill it in."
Judy von Ahlefeldt, the neighbor in question, told the commissioners that she had no quarrel at all with the subdivision but had only very recently heard that the pond was to be filled in. She explained that a representative of the owner had been to her property the day before the hearing to try to come up with alternative ways forward but that there had not been time to discuss anything further.
Planning Commission Chair Jim Egbert suggested the commissioners could either take a vote or continue the item to allow time for the pond matter to be resolved. However, Lori Seago, senior assistant county attorney, advised that the pond discussions were a private matter between Ahlefeldt and the property owner and that there would be time between the Planning Commission hearing and the BOCC hearing for them to discuss it. Chris Collins, the applicant’s water rights attorney, said, "I believe the preferred solution would be to assist Judy in putting a pond on her property and we’ll continue to have those discussions between now … and our presentation to the Board of County Commissioners."
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend both applications for approval. Commissioner Sharon Friedman commended the applicant for sticking with the 5-acre lots and for their work with the BFTA.
The application was unanimously approved by the BOCC at its April 23 meeting without further discussion.
Petrick special use request for a guest house recommended for approval
Also at the April 2 meeting, the commissioners heard a request from Randall and Gwendena Petrick for approval of a special use for a guesthouse with special provisions for extended family housing. The property is slightly south of Pleier Drive and Silverton Road in the Overlook Estates neighborhood. The applicant is proposing to build a new 4,200-square-foot house as a main dwelling on the property and have the existing main house as a guesthouse in which Gwendena Petrick’s mother will live.
Under the guesthouse regulations in the county’s Land Development Code, a guesthouse is an allowed use in the RR-5 (rural residential) zoning district provided it does not exceed 1,500 square feet. Len Kendall, Planner 1 with Planning and Community Development, told the hearing that the existing family home totals 1,648 square feet and therefore exceeds the size limitations. The applicant is therefore pursuing an administrative special use for approval of the larger size. Kendall said such a request would normally be dealt with through an administrative process, but a hearing was being held in this instance because neighbors had raised concerns.
Neighbors’ concerns were primarily that the property’s 873-square-foot basement, which they believed to be livable space, was not being included in the square footage calculation. Its inclusion would take the square footage total well beyond the 20 percent increase allowed for in the regulations. There was concern that approving such a large dwelling as a guesthouse would unintentionally set a precedent for two main single-family homes on one RR-5 (rural residential) lot, effectively bypassing the rezoning process. However, the code does state that a guesthouse is not a dwelling unit. Kendall told the commissioners that basements, even when finished, were not considered livable space if, as in this case, they were being used only for storage, laundry, and mechanical purposes. Also, the basement did not comply with current code requirements.
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval. It was scheduled to be heard at the BOCC on April 23 but did not appear on the agenda. Instead, on April 17, the application was placed on the Planning Commission’s agenda for May 7 as a request for approval of a much larger guest house of 2,682 square feet. Following this hearing, the application is expected to be heard at the BOCC on May 28.
Flying Horse North lot 35
At the April 16 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended for approval a request for a vacation and replat of lot 35 at the Flying Horse North Filing 1 into two residential lots. The property is located 1.5 miles west of Black Forest Road and south of Old Stagecoach Road and is included within the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
Nina Ruiz, project manager/planner II, Planning and Community Development, told the commissioners that the replat would not increase the total number of lots in the development because lot 35 had originally been two lots and had been combined at the final plat stage for a potential buyer. As the purchase had not gone through, the owner now wished to separate the lots back out again.
The application was scheduled to be heard at the BOCC meeting on May 14.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the rezoning and preliminary plan for the second phase of development at Forest Lakes in April. It also made decisions relating to developments in Black Forest.
Forest Lakes Phase II approved
Following a five-hour hearing at the April 23 BOCC meeting, during which numerous opponents voiced concerns, the revised plans for the second phase of development at Forest Lakes received unanimous approval. The application, which sought approval for a combined rezoning and preliminary plan request, will see 180 homes developed on the site, 47 more than under the original 2002 approval. The request also includes plans for a 260,000-gallon water tank, which is necessary to serve the development and will be in addition to the existing water supply facilities of the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. The owner of the property is FLRD, No. 2 LLC and the developer, which also has an interest in the ownership company, is Classic Homes.
The El Paso County Planning Commission (EPCPC) had recommended the application for approval 5-2 at its hearing earlier in the month (see EPCPC article on page 1 for further details and background information on the development).
Lori Seago, senior assistant county attorney, told the commissioners that to approve the application, they must find that it meets the criteria for a PUD and preliminary plan. Commissioner Mark Waller commented that the developer could build now with the previous approval and the opponents’ concerns about the mouse habitat, fire danger, and congestion would still be present. Responding, Kari Parsons, project manager/planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said, "You are correct. These issues were presented at the previous hearing when the board did find that the … PUD met the criteria and the applicant’s opposition are bringing these issues back up to the surface with this proposed amendment."
A finding for water sufficiency was deferred to the final plat stage of the development at the request of Cole Emmons, senior assistant county attorney. He explained, "There was a letter submitted by the town attorney for the Town of Monument raising concerns with regard to easements that the town asserts that it has over certain portions of water underneath the property, and I determined that that was going to take some additional work with Forest Lakes’ water attorney."
Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., on behalf of the applicant, told the hearing that the applicant had been through a very thorough process which included providing a range of expert reports required by the county. Although holding neighborhood meetings was not a requirement, the developer had held three and made changes in response to neighbors’ feedback that had resulted in the current proposal with fewer lots than they had proposed in 2018, and the development pulled back from the northern and western boundaries of the property. The access road would be widened with a median to provide two ways of access and exit in the case of fire and there would be a separate emergency access road. She stressed that the development would now impact less of the site, with a gain of 32 acres of additional space and a density for this phase only of 0.63 dwellings per acre. Barlow stated the proposal’s conformance with the approval criteria and said county staff agreed.
Ten people spoke in opposition—eight neighbors and two attorneys for the nonprofit Environmental and Animal Defense. Concerns focused on wildfire danger and environmental issues. Mark McMillen, an adjacent neighbor, stressed the extreme risk of fire in the area and argued that this risk needed to be better addressed. He said there was inadequate access and that the emergency access road was not effective as an emergency route because it was sited at the very west end, farthest from first responders, was only 12 feet wide, of gravel, and locked. Other neighbors spoke of their experience with wildfire.
Jeremy Mckay, a staff attorney with Environmental and Animal Defense, said "the applicants themselves have shown today … impacts to the critical habitats and endangered species related to this project that are not simply grading or building into the critical habitat. As we saw, they are requesting modifications related to stormwater runoff which we just heard has likely impacts relating to fertilizer, pesticides. It could also impact that environment by transferring non-native species into those areas. Basically, my point in this regard is that … many of these indirect impacts are not properly considered by the applicant, by U.S. Fish and Wildlife [Service] currently, and previously by the Planning Commission."
No one spoke in favor of the application.
Doug Stimple, on behalf of the applicant and as CEO of Classic Homes, described the development as one of medium residential density and said, "We’re developing roughly half the acreage of a 1,000-acre community and the rest is open space, trails, parks, etc. This is a responsible plan." He continued, "The suggestion has been made this [development] makes fire worse; that’s not true.…What’s the best way to treat fire? Remove fuel, provide fire hydrants, provide water pressure. We’re doing all of that.…We’re going to be the only neighborhood up there that complies with [the] ignition-resistant construction design manual."
Addressing access, Stimple stated that the development complies because the extra wide road with a divided median provides two points of access, not one, and in addition there is the emergency access road.
Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez voiced his concern about the modification being requested relating to stormwater drainage from the backyard of some lots to a creek. Gonzalez wanted assurances that such drainage would not leave the county vulnerable to a lawsuit. Elizabeth Nijkamp, engineering review manager, Department of Planning and Community Development, explained that a tract behind the lots, which would not be developed, would act as a buffer between the lots and the protected Preble’s jumping mouse habitat and creek. She reassured Gonzalez that this arrangement would protect both the county (from being sued) and the mouse habitat. Drainage arrangements are finalized at the final plat stage.
There was some confusion concerning an email that an adjacent neighbor had received just before the hearing from Chris Truty, fire chief of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The district had sent letters to the county stating it was satisfied with the plans, but to some the chief’s email seemed to suggest he would support a continuance. Commissioner Waller said that he did not believe the chief was in any way changing his mind. He said it read that if there were a continuance, the chief would be OK with that. Parsons confirmed with the fire department via text that it was happy with the development.
Commissioner Holly Williams moved to approve the application, telling the hearing that she had had some questions in her mind but that these had been satisfied by the testimony. The commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the application.
There is a third phase of 61 homes at Forest Lakes, but the owner has no current plans to develop this.
Approvals for three developments in Black ForestSettlers View
At the April 9 BOCC meeting, the commissioners approved a request by Gary and Brenda Brinkman for approval of a final plat for the Settlers View subdivision for the development of 14 single-family lots and a right-of-way. The 40.61-acre parcel is zoned RR-2.5 (residential rural) and is north of Hodgen Road, south of Silver Nell Drive, and east of the Walden development.
The El Paso County Planning Commission heard the application at its March 19 meeting and had recommended it for approval. At that meeting, the owners’ representative, Jerome Hannigan of Jerome Hannigan and Associates, told the commissioners that he was unhappy with the calculation of the sum to be placed in an escrow as the developer’s contribution toward the design and future paving of part of Steppler Road. The Planning Commission decided to vote on the item and have Hannigan and county engineers work to come to an agreement about the payment before the BOCC hearing.
At the same meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved applications by Savage Development Inc. for a preliminary plan and final plat for the 39.40-acre High Plains development zoned RR-5 (rural residential) to create seven single-family residential lots and a right-of-way. The property is a half mile west of Black Forest Road, on the north side of Hodgen Road.
The application was heard at the Planning Commission on March 19 when Commissioner Sharon Friedman raised questions about a deviation request to allow one of the lots direct access onto Hodgen Road, which is normally not allowed. Following an explanation from county staff and the property owner as to why the deviation was necessary, the Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend the applications for approval. Friedman voted no. (See https://www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#epcpc)
At its April 23 meeting, the BOCC approved applications for a preliminary plan and final plat for the Redtail Ranch subdivision to create 12 single-family lots. The parcels, totalling 67.9 acres, are zoned RR-5 (rural residential) and are located north of Shoup Road and west of Vollmer Road, within the boundaries of the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
The Planning Commission voted to recommend the applications for approval at its meeting on April 2. At the meeting, the commissioners heard concerns about a stock pond on the property which the applicant had intended to retain at the request of the adjacent neighbor but which the state water commissioner had said must be filled in. The applicant’s representative told the commissioners that the applicant planned to work with the neighbor to find a solution which would likely see them assist the neighbor in putting a pond on her land. (See EPCPC article on page 1)
Settlement agreement with the Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan
At their April 11 meeting, the commissioners a settlement agreement between the BOCC and the Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan. The BOCC had held an executive session on the matter at the end of its April 9 meeting to receive legal advice.
The settlement, which is confidential, relates to an appeal of the Retreat rezoning and a countersuit against the Friends’ officers, and resolves the entire lawsuit. The Retreat at TimberRidge is a proposed 212 single-family lots development near Poco and Vollmer Roads in Black Forest. A rezoning request for it was unanimously recommended for denial by the Planning Commission in March 2018 but then subsequently approved by the BOCC later that month, despite much opposition.
Tree thinning project at Black Forest Regional Park
At the April 23 BOCC meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a construction contract and purchase order to Front Range Arborists Inc. for the Black Forest Regional Park Restoration and Thinning project at a not-to-exceed cost of $281,100. The work is intended to help restore the park to pre-fire condition and mitigate for any future fire risk.
Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District ambulance permits
The BOCC approved issuing three ambulance permits for the Black Forest Fire and Rescue Protection District at its April 4 meeting. All three are effective May 1 for a one-year period. At its April 9 meeting, it approved issuing an ambulance service license to the district, which is also valid for a one-year period from May 1.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
El Paso County Planning and Community Services Executive Director Craig Dossey is encouraging residents throughout the county to take a survey online to help direct the new Master Plan by telling staff where they want their community to go in the future.
Residents can complete the survey by going online to http://www.elpasoco.com and clicking on the "Your El Paso Master Plan" graphic. This takes them to a website that contains both the survey and additional information about the plan, including a schedule of community meetings.
A Black Forest local area meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 13 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Black Forest Community Club, 12530 Black Forest Road. The Tri-Lakes meeting is the following day, Tuesday May 14, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, 166 Second St. These will provide an opportunity for discussion of both county-wide and local issues.
A community workshop also will be held on Monday, May 13 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Bear Creek Elementary School, 1330 Creekside Drive, Monument.
The Master Plan development process is expected to take about two years to complete, and the county promises dozens of opportunities for citizens to voice their views. The plan will have a broad focus and will address county land use, infrastructure, water capacity, transportation networks, government services, and other topics of importance to residents.
Caption: El Paso County’s new Master Plan logo.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
During its April 15 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved a merger for Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado. The board also appointed a municipal court prosecuting attorney, discussed traffic on Gleneagle Drive, and recognized Monument police officer Andrew Romano as the employee of the month. The board approved a new fire ban code and heard a presentation from the Pikes Peak Business and Education Alliance (PPBEA) program but took no action.
Goodwill merger approved
Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado asked the board to approve a merger with Goodwill Industries of Denver. The town is included in the merger decision because in 2014, it transferred its tax-exempt authority to the nonprofit to get a bond to build the Monument store. There is about $12.4 million left to pay on the bond, said Karla Grazier, CEO of Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado.
Background: The Series 2014 bond approved by the BOT in January 2014 was used to finance the Monument Goodwill store as well as several other Goodwill locations in Colorado. It also refinanced existing Discover Goodwill loans used throughout the state.
During the April 1 meeting, the board had asked for more information about the merger and the town’s financial liability before making a decision. See related Board of Trustees article on page 1.
Tonight, Heather Berens, Discover Goodwill director of finance and Grazier provided a more in-depth explanation of the merger. BBVA Compass Bank attorney Shawn Thompson shared the bank’s perspective. The spokespeople said the following:
• The bond does not "constitute a debt or indebtedness" for the town. Instead the lender BBVA Compass Bank bears all financial risk.
• Grazier said Monument was selected as the provider of tax-exempt status because it made the most sense when about $4 million was used to build the Monument store.
• Based on financial statements for both Discover Goodwill and Goodwill Industries showing combined assets of $92 million, the chance of default on the bond is low.
• The merger is expected to take place May 31.
The board approved the merger 6-1. Clark voted no with no reason given.
Interim treasurer on hold; another prosecuting attorney approved
Treasurer Pamela Smith was put on paid administrative leave at the March 4 meeting pending the outcome of an ongoing criminal investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the FBI and IRS. See https://ocn.me/v19n4.htm#mbot.
At the April 1 meeting, the BOT appointed Harry Whitenight interim town treasurer. According to Town Manager Mike Foreman, Whitenight came to work for one day but then resigned. Foreman asked that the board defer making another appointment until the HR Green company can find a qualified candidate.
After previously directing Rivera to cast a wider net that yielded only one other candidate, at the April 1 meeting the board agreed to bring in Carrie Penaloza as the town’s municipal prosecuting attorney. However, Town Attorney Joseph Rivera told the board Penaloza declined the position when told she had been appointed.
So, Rivera and Foreman asked the board to appoint the backup candidate, the Ausmus law firm, to provide three prosecuting attorneys who will alternate responsibilities for monthly municipal court. Whereas Penaloza had agreed to an hourly fee plus mileage, the Ausmus firm will charge a set fee of $600 per municipal court session.
Trustee Greg Coopman was concerned about appointing the firm without seeing the associated contract, so the board approved the request subject to contract negotiations.
Promontory Pointe traffic concerns
At its Jan. 7 meeting, the board heard comments about traffic issues from Promontory Point residents who were concerned that Sanctuary Pointe construction traffic would speed through their neighborhood along Gleneagle Drive. See https://www.ocn.me/v19n2.htm#mbot.
Construction in the new phase of Sanctuary Pointe has not yet started. Police Chief Jake Shirk cited a 2018 traffic study commissioned by Triview Metropolitan District and performed by HR Green that found only 0.3 percent of cars were speeding. Monument Corporal and Traffic Safety Officer Rob Stewart validated these findings but added, "I observed that many motorists traveling at or below the posted speed limit were unable to maintain their lane through the curves driving either into the center safety zone/turn lane or into the bike lane," and suggested speeds be decreased to 25 mph rather than the posted 30 mph.
Shirk said Classic Homes’ construction vehicles traveling to and from Sanctuary Point are legally allowed to travel over Gleneagle Drive—"end of story." Classic, which is concerned about having all engaged tradespeople follow traffic laws, will remind vendors of the speed limit and has offered to assist with the purchase of a mobile speed trailer.
Fire burn bans now under county authority
Shirk told the board current Monument municipal code dictates the BOT must hold a public meeting and vote to impose or suspend a fire ban. This time-consuming process could delay the delivery of safety measures to the community, so Shirk asked the board to replace the existing fire ban code with the same El Paso County ordinance passed by the Board of County Commissioners that regulates open burning. When the county sheriff, who is the county’s fire warden, issues or rescinds a fire ban for the county, those specific restrictions would automatically take effect in Monument, too. Monument police would enforce the ban.
Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein was concerned about removing people’s rights if a ban were put into place. Bornstein asked if anyone could be fined for smoking a cigarette on their back porch during a stage 1 or 2 fire ban. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal and Administrative Battalion Chief Jamey Bumgarner said their bigger concern is someone throwing a lit cigarette out their car window during a ban. Shirk said his officers would be inclined to educate a first offender rather than writing them a ticket.
The ordinance passed unanimously.
Pikes Peak Business and Education Alliance presentation
Bob Gemignani, incoming PPBEA executive director, told the board the goal of the program is to transfer knowledge to the next generation of kids who will see significant job demands but are not learning the right skills in school. Fifteen local school districts including District 38 have signed on to partner with the alliance in an attempt to connect kids to jobs based on their interests before they enter college.
The town’s Community Development Department is working with PPBEA to provide an internship to students who want to build the right skills for the real expectations of employers offering the most in-demand jobs.
Forest Lakes Phase II town’s water rights
The board went into executive session at 8:26 p.m. to receive legal advice regarding litigation between the town and Forest Lakes. Forest Lakes Phase 2 planned unit development (PUD) is under review by the county Planning Commission and the BOCC. The town has subsurface water rights in Forest Lakes. This lawsuit came to the board’s attention at the Feb. 4 meeting when Rivera said he had to quickly object to the development moving forward until the reservation of water rights was accomplished. This is the third executive session the board has held on this topic. See related county Planning Commission and BOCC articles on pages 1 and 6. https://ocn.me/v19n3.htm#mbot0219.
Upon completion of the executive session, no votes were taken and the board adjourned.
Caption: Town Manager Mike Foreman (right) started an employee of the month program for the town. Police Chief Jake Shirk (center) presented police officer Andrew Romano (left) with the award after he was nominated for ensuring all officers are trained in standard field sobriety testing. Romano is the community resource officer who is responsible for business and neighborhood watch programs and the Citizens Police Academy underway through May 29. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 pm on the first and third Monday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for May 6. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the BOT 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.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
In April, the Palmer Lake Town Council met twice. The monthly council meeting was held on April 11, and on April 25 it held a work session.
On April 11, in its role as Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority, the council made a final decision on a request to transfer a liquor license to Greg Duncan, owner of Dex’s Depot. The resignation of council member Mitchell Davis was announced, and it was also noted that the meeting was the last to be attended by Town Manager Cathy Green-Sinnard. The council heard the results of a drainage study and a presentation on behalf of the Palmer Lake Historical Society on the topic of obtaining a historic building designation for Palmer Lake’s Town Hall.
Finally, at this meeting, the council took up a number of resolutions and ordinances, including a conditional use permit for RAD Extraction, a CBD extraction business that has been operating in the town for more than a year, and a resolution increasing water fees as suggested by the water rate consultant hired to review the town’s rates.
At the April 25 work session, the council granted special event permits for two races and heard presentations from David R. Frisch of GMS Consulting Engineers, from resident Judith Harrington and Michelle Connelly, a forester with the Coalition of the Upper South Platte (CUSP), and from Reid Wiecks on his efforts to organize a chipping day and to install playground equipment on behalf of the Parks Committee.
Council and administrative staff to change
Mayor John Cressman announced at the April 11 meeting that Davis had resigned from the council, citing health reasons. Cressman said the council would consider applications from residents who wish to take Davis’s seat. Applicants must have resided in Palmer Lake for a year to be eligible, and whoever is appointed would serve until the next general election, Cressman said.
Cressman also highlighted the fact that the April 11 meeting was Green-Sinnard’s last. Town Clerk Verla Bruner commended Green-Sinnard for her contributions to the town and presented her with an award.
Council finds no affordable solutions to drainage problems
At the April 25 work session, David R. Frisch, an engineer with GMS Consulting Engineers, gave the council the results of the drainage study he has been developing as part of the town’s response to a torrential rainstorm last year that flooded streets and homes and impacted the town’s sewer system.
Frisch told the council he had studied only a small portion of the town’s drainage basins, the portion that drains down High Street and then to the south. Frisch said he started with that drainage basin because town Road Supervisor Jason Dosch identified High Street as the location most frequently needing repairs after rain.
Frisch emphasized he had examined only one drainage basin and that the town would have to analyze all its drainages to completely understand the problem. He said a more complete study could cost the town $30,000, and he could not estimate the cost of implementing solutions based on the study.
Frisch suggested the town could use a water enterprise fund—essentially a tax on storm water, to fund improvements to drainage.
Council member Glant Havenar asked how the town’s residents could be expected to pay for issues that result primarily from growth of the community. Council members Gary Faust and Paul Banta both asked what would happen if the town took no action on drainage. Cressman pointed out the connection between drainage and the town’s overloaded sewer system, and said it was imperative not to soil Monument Creek, the ultimate destination of the town’s storm water run-off.
In the end, the council took no action on Frisch’s report.
Historic building designation requested for Town Hall
Jack Anthony, speaking on behalf of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, told the council about the society’s efforts to have the Town Hall designated as a historical building. Anthony said the History Colorado Center agreed the Town Hall should be considered for the designation due to its association with the town’s Yule Log tradition and as an example of the Craftsman style.
Anthony asked the council to help him with the paperwork required by the application.
CBD business granted conditional permit
At the April 11 meeting, the council considered Resolution No. 8 of 2019, a request to approve a conditional use permit for RAD Extraction to continue doing business at 860 Commercial Lane, which is currently zoned C-2 for light manufacturing use.
RAD Extraction bottles cannabidiol oil, commonly known as CBD, at the site. CBD is extracted from hemp plants and is believed by some to have medical or cosmetic value. CBD does not contain THC and therefore does not have the intoxicating properties of cannabis.
Greg Easton, the owner of the property, told the council that the bottling operation RAD Extraction performs in his building is a conditional use included in the building’s C-2 zoning. Easton told the board the business has been operating there for a year and a half, but without a business license. A business license has since been granted, he said. He told the council the business had made improvements to the building and wanted to stay.
Cressman pointed out that Easton was not requesting a change in zoning and that a conditional use permit allows the council to impose conditions on the business that must be met.
Resident Gary Atkins opposed granting the conditional permit, arguing that the definition of light manufacturing specifies "manufacturing or industrial processing ... considered quiet, clean, free of any objectionable element." Atkins said he believes the bottling operation does not meet those criteria because of the odors generated. He pointed out that there were two cannabis-related businesses near 860 Commercial Lane, and they also created objectionable odors. Atkins also complained about trucks using the back of the building for loading and unloading materials, and claimed that fencing for the building was on town property.
Resident Matt Stephen requested that the building owner improve the landscaping, install a privacy fence, make better use of the property’s loading zone, and improve communication between the business and its neighbors.
Clarence Bachmeier, the owner of RAD Extraction, told the council that his business employed 12 people and the bottling process was a "closed loop system." The business has installed charcoal filters to eliminate any odors, he said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the conditional use permit, imposing requirements to move existing fencing off town property, add a privacy fence to the back of the building, have the building inspected for fire safety, and use HVAC filtration to address odor.
Other resolutions address water rates, permits
The council voted unanimously to approve Resolution No. 4 of 2019, which increased water rates as suggested by Carl Brown, a consultant hired by the town to ensure water rates meet the cost of delivering the service. Details about the water rates can be found in at https://www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#pltc or on the town’s website ( https://www.townofpalmerlake.com/bc-bot/page/town-council-meeting-13).
Also approved by unanimous vote, Resolution No. 9 of 2019 gave applicant Mark Thompson a conditional use permit to operate a vehicle service business at Illumination Point.
Wildfire still an existential danger to the town
Harrington, who led the town’s efforts at wildfire mitigation over the last six years, spoke to the council at the April 25 work session and emphasized how much work still needs to be done to protect the town from wildfire.
Harrington introduced CUSP forester Connelly, who told the council that she considered it inevitable that wildfire would come to Palmer Lake. She said there was a good chance the town would not survive when it does. She emphasized that the flooding that would follow on the heels of wildfire would likely wipe out whatever remained of the town following a wildfire.
Connelly said the grant funding that residents have used to reduce the cost of fire mitigation on their property would run out at the end of May. Both Harrington and Connelly urged the council to find money in the town’s budget to continue mitigation efforts. Finding funds would help to ensure the town would be included in future CUSP mitigation efforts, they said. Harrington asked if the town could find $50,000 in its budget to continue with mitigation efforts.
Harrington also expressed frustration that the town does not have an ordinance that requires residents to mitigate their property.
Connelly highlighted the importance of fire mitigation along the routes residents would use to evacuate the town during a fire. Connelly said communication to residents was key and was likely to have a greater impact than mitigation requirement added to the town’s codes.
Interim Town Manager Valerie Remington said she would look at finding the requested funds.
Note: In our June issue, OCN plans to cover the May 8 Palmer Lake Sanitation District meeting where members are expected to discuss the results of a system-wide engineering study done by GMS Engineering on the sewer collection system. See www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#plsd.
Liquor license transferred to owner of Dex’s Depot
At the April 11 meeting, Greg Duncan, owner of Dex’s Depot, addressed the council concerning his request to have the liquor license belonging to the previous owner of the restaurant transferred to his business. Duncan stressed his commitment to Palmer Lake. Council members questioned Duncan about how he would handle issues that might arise through serving alcohol to his guests. Duncan reviewed his and his wife’s years of experience in the restaurant business, stressing his desire to keep Palmer Lake and its residents safe, and mentioning occasions when he has offered diners rides home.
When Cressman asked for public comments concerning the license transfer, there were none. Cressman noted that the state of Colorado had approved Duncan’s request after a strenuous investigation of Duncan’s background.
Banta recused himself from voting on the issue, citing his personal relationship with the Duncan family.
The council voted unanimously to approve the liquor license transfer.
Chipping days scheduled for May 10 and June 27
Following on Harrington and Connelly’s presentation on wildfire preparedness, Wiecks told the council chipping days would be held on May 10 and June 27. On May 10, residents can bring their slash to Glen Park along Lover’s Lane and have it chipped into mulch. A $5 or $10 donation to cover costs was suggested, Wiecks said. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department can help with hauling slash if residents call them at 719-419-8844, he added.
Wiecks pointed out that without funding from the town, future chipping days would not be possible.
Playground equipment requires professional installation
Wiecks also updated the council about an effort by the Parks Committee to upgrade the playground equipment in Glen Park. Equipment had been purchased for $15,000, Wiecks reported, but it requires professional installation, including the setting of structural supports into concrete bases. Wiecks asked the council to provide an additional $5,000 to complete the installation.
Banta suggested the effort receive $1,500 from the existing Parks budget and an additional $3,500 from funds raised by the Duncan family though their Lantern Festival. The council voted unanimously to give their consent to proceeding with the project.
FireWise Day May 25
A FireWise Day is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 25 at Palmer Lake in the Town Hall and the Fire Department building. The event will include speakers, resources, and vendors with important information about being prepared for wildfire. Those involved are the state Forest Service, Red Cross, Community Animal Response Team, Fire Department, and Community Wildfire Preparedness volunteers. Topics will include home risk reduction, evacuation readiness, and community wildfire planning efforts. It is hosted by the Fire Department.
The council is scheduled to hold two meetings in May, on May 9 and on May 23 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, with the second meeting organized as a working session. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board dissolved the merger committee and said talks with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) have stopped. They also talked about the possibility of the City of Colorado Springs annexing the isolated territory at the south end of the district so the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) could take over fire protection services for that small area. A newly hired firefighter was sworn in during the April 16 meeting, and the chiefs gave updates on recent blizzards.
TLMFPD merger discussions halted
DWFPD board Chairman William "Bo" McAllister told the board he met for two hours with TLMFPD President Jake Shirk, along with their chiefs and Wescott chiefs. Both groups decided to read a prepared statement at their meetings, which included the following:
• DWFPD and TLMFPD agree to suspend consolidation talks.
• After several meetings, it has been decided the benefits to consolidation are limited.
• The door has been left open for future discussions.
• Wescott’s merger committee has been disbanded.
Equal taxation/district consolidation discussion paused
Director Gary Rusnak has been asking for district consolidation to create equal taxation throughout Wescott for some time. Currently, the entire district, which includes a small island of land south of Old Ranch Road, has an overall mill levy of 7.00 mills. The vestigial territory is seven miles south of Station 1 and is now surrounded by the city of Colorado Springs, which has avoided annexing it as it has acquired land to the north. Wescott’s northern subdistrict, which includes Gleneagle and Pleasant View Estates, has an additional mill levy of 14.90 mills which northern sub-district voters approved in November 2017. See www.ocn.me/v17n12.htm#dwfpd, http://wescottfire.org/about-wescott-fire/.
During the March meeting, Rusnak presented some language toward an election initiative for district counsel Matt Court to review before the April meeting.
The topic was not included in the April agenda, however, so Rusnak asked the board to amend the agenda to add a discussion item for his ongoing consolidation suggestion. McAllister objected, telling Rusnak, "I took a poll and the board majority has no interest in this initiative." Rusnak said he doubted this constituted an official, public vote of the board, and defied the chairman saying he would still bring it up in new business.
Court again advised that the process would involve approval through the courts involving numerous statutory steps that will require more than just one ballot measure.
Treasurer Joyce Hartung said no one from the department ever goes down to that southern area. Director Larry Schwarz said since Wescott doesn’t respond there often due to an automatic aid agreement with the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) and because this area doesn’t receive the same services as the northern district, he suggested the chiefs ask CSFD if it would like to annex that area. Chief Vinny Burns said the small bit of land doesn’t include any retail and it would be costly for CSFD to make the necessary road and water infrastructure improvements. Rusnak was agreeable to the annexation suggestion, so the board directed Burns and Assistant Chief Scott Ridings to ask CSFD if they have any interest in annexing that southern area so that Wescott could exclude it.
Chiefs report on the blizzards
Riding’s run report included the following:
• March 2019 saw 99 calls for service, up from March 2018 by 26 calls. Ridings said this was probably due to the March 13 bomb cyclone.
• Personnel costs for the blizzard were $8,000. This cost could have been $13,000 if it weren’t for the volunteers working that day.
• Although the area lost power, the station’s generator helped IT facilities stay up, allowing them to know where every vehicle and firefighter was that day. "Flawless."
• The generator didn’t power everything that they expected it to, and he will research this.
• The district saved at least one life during the blizzard due to the good judgment calls of people on duty and the ability to use the Hummer, instead of the ambulance, to get him to the hospital.
• Two more lives were saved in the district since the last meeting, both cardiac issues, but both will walk out of the hospital.
Burns reported that during the April 17 "dud" blizzard, the district followed the weather warnings and was fully staffed and ready. And using 2019 approved budget money, Burns purchased a new $49,710 chief’s vehicle that will be in service in four to six weeks.
Safety Fair coming May 11
Wescott will hold its annual Safety Fair May 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with Antelope Trails Elementary School. The day will include helicopters, fire trucks, and a smoke simulator truck, and firefighters will be available to answer questions and give tours of the station.
The board went into executive session at 8:48 p.m. to receive legal advice regarding the volunteer firefighter pension act. According to Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich, the board adjourned after the executive session with no votes taken.
Caption: After volunteering with Donald Wescott for over a year, Justin Myers was sworn in as the newest paid firefighter. Myers’ wife pinned on his new badge. The department has a total of 20 volunteers. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
The next Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 21 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board (TLMFPD) April 24 meeting, the quorum of board members congratulated recipients of the Meritorious Service Medal and discussed the findings of the Emergency Services Consultants International (ESCI) Master Plan. TLMFPD and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District have agreed to suspend merger/consolidation talks for the immediate future.
President Jake Shirk, Treasurer John Hildebrandt, and Director Jason Buckingham were absent.
Also, Directors Buckingham, Terri Hayes, and Secretary Mike Smaldino were absent in March when the Master Plan recommendations were presented.
Commendations for service during major blizzard
Chief Chris Truty stated, "We accept a certain amount of risk as firefighters but, on March 13, staff members went above and beyond the call of duty, showing support and care for the community and each other, and the perpetuity, for how long you did it, was vastly stunning," he said. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#tlmfpd.
Truty awarded the Meritorious Service Medal to the staff listed below for their dedication to duty during the bomb-cyclone blizzard:
Master Plan recommendations discussed
Truty asked the board members for their thoughts on six points related to the number and location of fire stations the district will need to meet defined "standards of coverage" and response times set by the district with community input and buy-in.
Background: In March, Dan Qualman, senior consultant for ESCI, presented a focused fire station location Master Plan with recommendations for TLMFPD. ESCI looked at 1,700 potential sites for optimal stations, taking into account that roads are likely to change. The Master Plan document is now available for viewing or download at http://tlmfire.org/news.
Decisions made by previous fire district leadership created a 30- to 40-percent overlap between the current locations of stations one and three. Due to accelerated growth in the area, a strategic plan for the district will necessitate changes to meet growing demands, said Truty at the April meeting.
Vice President Roger Lance responded, stating that the current stations are inadequate to meet standard response times in all areas and that an independent analysis would be beneficial. A fourth fire "campus" including a fire station, district administrative building, and a training facility would be best for the district and the community, he said.
Director Terri Hayes agreed with Lance about the range of response times in different parts of the district, including concerns about the new developments. She voiced her concern over persuading the public to embrace an expansion of facilities and staff: "It is like buying a horse, you then have to feed it," said Hayes. Director Mike Smaldino added, "It might just be a pipe dream, but if we could convince a developer to donate some land, it would ease the financial burden." Director Tom Tharnish asked about the amount of acreage that would be needed for a fourth station and Truty responded that 2.5 to 5 acres would be ideal.
Developers are not required to pay impact fees to fire districts in unincorporated El Paso County, even though resources are being stretched to the limits with each new development in TLMFPD’s area of responsibility, said Smaldino. See www.ocn.me/v17n7.htm#epcbocc.
The directors agreed that a fourth station would be the ideal solution within the next 5-10 years, but all avenues of exploration are open to discussion. Current budgeted station remodeling and upgrades at all three stations will continue as planned and discussed in March. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#tlmfpd.
Board members agreed to discuss the development of a strategic plan for all TLMFPD station locations using the recommendations of the ESCI Master Plan and possibly further independent analysis for a "station location study" over the next several months with additional work sessions. The development of a strategic plan will involve engaging the community and the process is expected to take 3-5 years.
Truty brought the board up to speed with the following topics:
• Gallagher amendment—The state Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has set the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) at 7.15 percent and is now awaiting legislative approval. The drop from the current RAR of 7.2 percent will likely generate a $20,000 loss for TLMFPD. The loss will likely be absorbed in the future as RAR Property Taxes could increase by as much as 15 percent due to a projected rise in property values, potentially generating a gain of over $750,000 in revenue for TLMFPD.
• Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) resolution—An executive session is scheduled for the May board meeting to discuss negotiations with the TLMFPD attorney.
• Donald Wescott Fire Protection District merger—At the April 4 meeting of the chiefs from both districts and the merger committee, it was agreed that discussions should be suspended on the consolidation for the immediate future. See related Wescott article on page 14.
• Station 1 remodeling—Current setbacks do not allow for the planned expansion without obtaining a variance from the El Paso County Planning Department. This will result in a delayed project start date.
• Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department—ESCI is in the last 90 days of finalizing the Master Plan, and news is expected in June.
Truty presented an update to the board on the current financial position as of March 31, which is 25 percent through the year:
• Property taxes received were $3,165, which is 39.88 percent of the expected revenue.
• Specific Ownership Taxes received were $234,160 (31.22 percent).
• Impact fees received were $22,302 (14.87 percent). They are expected to increase with the development of Willow Springs/Monument Creek Ranch, but only if it is annexed into the town of Monument, which has approved fire districts collecting impact fees.
• Ambulance revenues were $188,468 (13.98 percent)
• Administration expenses are high with one-time yearly costs; it is anticipated they will normalize as the year progresses.
• Specialty Vehicle Expense is 78.22 percent of the budget due to damage incurred during the blizzard.
• Overall, yearly expenses were 21.87 percent under budget for March and 2.14 percent under budget for the year.
The TLMFPD board meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on May 22 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Office Administrator/HR Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011. For upcoming agendas, see http://tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) held a special meeting April 5, after which this message was posted on the district website:
"Fire Chief Bryan Jack announces his retirement. Tonight, with mixed emotions, the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board of Directors has the honor of announcing the retirement of Chief Bryan Jack on May 1, 2019. After 25 years serving our region in the fire service, we wish Chief Jack and his family the best of luck in his new endeavors in the private sector. Please join us in congratulating the Jack Family and wishing them well."
Chief Jack to leave, interim fire chief search begins
At its regular meeting on April 24, the board held three executive sessions. After the first one, they unanimously accepted the results and recommendations of the IT audit. The second session was held to discuss a personnel issue having to do with Assistant Chief Jim Rebitski, and no announcement or vote was made after the public meeting resumed.
Board President PJ Langmaid said Jack would not be presenting his chief’s report since Jack had already emailed it to the board, but he asked him to say a few words on his retirement. Jack said it had been a great four years with the district and urged the staff to cherish what it was like to work in a small, rural fire district. Jack served as a battalion chief and interim chief for Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District before coming to BFFRPD, and he said "overnight this district could become like our neighbor Tri-Lakes" with 55 paid staff and a highly urbanized community. But meanwhile, he applauded BFFRPD for, "being debt free, just purchasing a new engine for cash, and having such good facilities and community…. You guys are set up for success," he said.
After the third executive session for contract negotiations, the board voted 4-0-1 "to authorize the board president to select and hire an interim fire chief, without further board authorization, who would serve for no more than three months." Langmaid recused himself from that vote "due to conflict of interest."
The meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
Vacancy on board of directors announced after the meeting
OCN learned that BFFRPD Secretary Donna Arkowski posted this public notice on April 26, two days after the regular meeting, and it was also posted on the district website:
"PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given that the Board of Directors of the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, of the County of El Paso, State of Colorado, has a vacancy on its five-member board. Any eligible elector of the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District who is interested in appointment to the board to fill this vacancy may submit an application for consideration by sending an email with a short biography to Richard McMorran, Vice-Chair of the Board, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for receipt of an application is 5:00 p.m. on May 10, 2019. In witness whereof, this notice is given and duly posted this 26th day of April, 2019. Posted in the office of the County Clerk and Recorder of El Paso County, CO and in at least three public places within the limits of the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District. Removal date: May 11, 2019."
It is not clear from this posting which board member stepped down.
Caption: Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District Fire Chief Bryan Jack announced he will retire on May 1 after serving the district for four years. On April 26, the board authorized board President PJ Langmaid to select an interim fire chief "without further board authorization." Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at BFFRPD Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 15. See www.bffire.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education met on April 1 and 8 to hear a presentation on growth in the district and to select a new superintendent.
Growth projections examined, April 1
The board heard a presentation April 1 from Metrostudy regarding projected growth in the district over the next several years.
Bob Templeton, vice president, school district segment, narrated the presentation. Among the subjects covered were the strength of the local economy, local job growth, the fact that the Denver region is expanding south, enrollment growth, and the rate of building in the area.
Bear Creek Elementary and Prairie Winds Elementary saw the most growth in enrollment in 2016-18, but the Kilmer Elementary area has the most lots available for development.
Templeton listed the various subdivisions and timelines for their completion. Among these are three in the Woodmoor area.
Board Treasurer Chris Taylor asked that the slide in the presentation include information about Monument Academy in its present location and its planned location on Highway 83.
Superintendent Karen Brofft requested that the slides be capable of updating in the case of the opening of a new elementary school in 2021 and the conversion of Bear Creek back into a middle school.
Taylor expressed concern that, with growth in the east side of the district, more students from out of district on that side would want to "choice in."
Director Theresa Phillips asked to include the Flying Horse North subdivision in the statistics.
Brofft said enrollment would remain closed even if the new elementary were built.
Board Secretary Mark Pfoff agreed that the new elementary and conversion of Bear Creek would serve the current population, not projected enrollment.
The board briefly discussed a change in its email address so that individuals could address the board as a whole, while each member would maintain an individual address.
The board discussed how to inform the public on its efforts to address the overcrowding in the middle school. Board members determined several issues they wished to address:
• The fact that using modular classrooms is a temporary Band-Aid for addressing growth.
• A history of the district and its growth.
• Financing a bond.
• Underfunding by the state.
• Staff morale.
Phillips said that many members of the staff have said that they wish to be involved in educating the public and need to know how.
Board selects new superintendent, April 8
The board announced the selection of a new superintendent at its regular meeting on April 8.
Dr. Kenneth Christopher (K.C.) Somers was selected as D-38’s new superintendent. He brings 19 years of experience in education having served as a high school principal, elementary school principal, high school assistant principal, family advocate, youth counselor, and coach. Most recently he has served as P-20 Learning Community director in Aurora Public Schools, which serves 8,000 students.
Several board members commented on the smoothness and professionalism of the selection process and thanked all who participated.
The board scheduled a meeting to negotiate a contract with Somers so that he may begin July 1. Superintendent Karen Brofft is retiring.
In her superintendent comments, Brofft expressed concern about the cost of renting the new modular classrooms. The purchase of three new buses has been put on hold to cover the cost.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman announced that the district has still not hired a new chief financial officer and that she and a business manager are assembling a manual to explain the position. An attempt is being made to do a lot of end-of-year reports as early as possible.
Wangeman also announced that part of the air conditioning system at Prairie Winds Elementary was out of order and that $18,000 in parts will be required. The building’s windows don’t open.
The board approved a contract with the YMCA to provide before and after school care for district students. This care will be provided without charge to district employees. The Y has also said it wants to increase inclusion of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) in its programming.
The board announced the selection of Crystal Rasmussen as the new director of Student Services.
On April 8, the board discussed the budget process and priorities, with Secretary Mark Pfoff suggesting that the $18,000 cost of repairing the Prairie Winds air conditioning be taken from reserves. Wangeman said she planned to delay plumbing work at other locations to cover the cost.
Brofft stressed that it is wise to be aware of how reserves are spent as the district must meet the new minimum wage and is hoping to increase compensation across the board. Insurance premiums and the cost of PERA (Public Employees Retirement Administration) continue to increase. She commented that the increasing enrollment offers a buffer.
Wangeman said that an increase in the transportation fee is being considered as a way to increase funding. There is a shortage of bus drivers, and a way is being sought to reduce the number of routes.
Taylor proposed moving $585,000 from the general fund to building reserves to cover the cost of converting Bear Creek Elementary into a middle school.
Board President Matthew Clawson said that he would prefer to postpone the transfer until the board could consult a rating agent.
Solutions to overcrowding
On April 8, the board discussed talking points listed at the April 1 meeting.
Pfoff said that, although final wording of a bond measure would not be confirmed until August, he would like to find a way to seek the community’s feedback ahead of time in an effort to show transparency.
Brofft said that she would need to consult attorneys on the advisability of such an action.
Pfoff commented that, because wording was an issue in last year’s election, he wants to ensure that this is a bond that everyone can support.
Appointment of secretary
Pfoff announced his resignation as board secretary while remaining a member of the board. Director Theresa Phillips was confirmed as the new secretary.
The board passed a consent agenda.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting is on May 20.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met briefly on April 12 to discuss and approve the 2019-20 budget. The meeting had been postponed due to a snow day.
Revenue estimates come from the 2018-19 funded pupil count of 904.98 times a tentative per pupil revenue of $8,034, according to the Colorado Department of Education website. Additional anticipated revenue per pupil will come from the Charter School Capital Construction Fund (http://bit.ly/cc-capconstr). Total general fund revenue from all sources has increased 3.48 percent from the 2018-19 budget. The total estimated revenue is $7,921,780.
Overall expenses have also increased by 3.48 percent and include a 3 percent salary increase for all MA employees, the Public Employees Retirement Association, and Medicare costs at a rate of 21.85 percent of salaries, and an anticipated 3 percent increase each for health, property, and other insurance as well as a 2 percent increase for utilities. Total expenses are estimated at $7,921,780, for a balanced budget.
The motion to approve the budget for 2019-20 was approved unanimously by the board. The budget summary is posted on the MA website at http://bit.ly/ma-budget.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 9 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 except for July and December. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committees, and finances can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) heard several end-of-school-year updates on district departments.
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton reported that technology is now part of learning services.
Benton reported that curriculum is replaced in a cycle of five to six years, but the cycle was largely suspended during the recession. The district is now trying to compensate for the lost years and to comply with changing state standards. This year’s curriculum updates involve math for grades K to 5, high school chemistry, earth science, science for grades 5 to 8 and the use of science kits for grades K to 3.
The district is also trying to offer more digital access for students and parents.
Benton said the department is using creative problem-solving to overcome funding restraints by reworking the Lewis-Palmer High School and Lewis-Palmer Elementary School libraries for increased use as computer labs and employing older technology for one purpose while purchasing new.
Public Information Officer Julie Stephen reported on her department’s relationships with local organizations and media and on updating the website. Stephen emphasized that the district is disseminating information through many sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, radio and television, print news, and the website. She said the website always contains the most up-to-date information on closures and delays.
Stephen said it is critical that parents keep their contact information up to date.
She also said that the use of Thoughtexchange as a feedback mechanism has proved very successful. In Thoughtexchange, the district can ask the community for feedback on a single issue. In its first use, patrons were asked why they thought the two financial issues on last year’s ballot failed.
Chief of Safety and Security Dennis Coates reported on accomplishments and goals for his department. He said cameras have been installed in Lewis-Palmer Middle School and Bear Creek Elementary School. The Bear Creek cameras were funded by a grant.
Cameras will be installed in the remainder of the elementary schools in June.
Alarms have been placed on doors and additional security personnel have been hired, increasing the security presence in elementary schools.
Coates said that grants are available through Safeschools and the Department of Homeland Security, among other sources. He hopes to fund security vestibules at Prairie Winds Elementary and Bear Creek Elementary with grants from Homeland Security.
Coates also hopes to receive a grant to fund student ID cards, which will be scanned whenever a student enters a building. In this way, a student who has been suspended and other unauthorized individuals cannot gain access.
He reported that the stress on security is supported by the increased use of Safe2Tell, a program that allows students and others to report suspicious activity anonymously. There were 275 reports this school year.
In the future, Coates hopes to have more mental health resources. By hiring individuals with years of law enforcement experience, he is putting people in place who have dealt with others’ mental health issues.
Changing traffic patterns around schools due to residential development are a concern, especially near Lewis-Palmer Elementary. School resource officers are allowed to work only in schools and on school property, whereas the traffic problems are off school property. He hopes that the Sheriff’s Office will help with this issue.
Board liaison Tiffiney Upchurch reported on legislative activity, including expansion of BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grants to include technology and new construction, progress of the free full-day kindergarten initiative on its way to the state Senate, and the authority to spend excess tax dollars rather than refund them.
Upchurch then introduced K.C. Somers, the district’s new superintendent. Somers thanked the interview teams and the board for their confidence in him. He said he supports and is committed to public schools and that his management style revolves around relationships.
Somers said that he hopes to get to know the community before he takes office on July 1. He will attend various meetings of district committees and community organizations.
Representatives of each school reported on their school’s achievements and original activities over the past year.
Nanette Walker-Smith was elected to be co-chair of the committee for the next two years following the retirement of Deb Goth. The committee acknowledged Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman for her contributions over the years and Dara Simington for communicating with committee members and preparing agendas and minutes of meetings.
This was the final DAAC meeting of the 2018-19 school year. Meetings will resume in the fall.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By James Howald
At its April meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board voted on a resolution to study the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project. The board also heard operational reports from staff.
New strategy to reduce costs, facilitate reuse
District Manager Jessie Shaffer presented Resolution No. 19-04 to the board. The resolution authorizes the district to investigate the benefits of participating in the NMCI.
Shaffer said he expected this project to reduce the cost of processing the district’s wastewater.
Currently, the district’s wastewater is processed at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWTF) at 16510 Mitchell Ave. in Monument. This facility treats wastewater from Monument and Palmer Lake.
The NMCI would allow the district to bypass the TLWTF, instead sending its wastewater to the JD Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility (JDPWRRF) at 4205 Mark Dabling Blvd. in Colorado Springs. The JDPWRRF can process 20 million gallons of wastewater daily, but currently handles about 12 million, giving it 8 million in unused capacity. The facility is run by Colorado Springs Utilities.
The JDPWRRF can already meet higher standards that are expected in the future, and serves 500,000 customers, so the cost of any future upgrades would be spread over a large customer base.
Coinciding with the NMCI project, potable water would be returned to WWSD and other water districts via a pipeline to be built along Highway 83, Hodgen Road, and Baptist Road.
Shaffer said the Air Force Academy’s new Visitor Center would likely participate in the project.
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution to allow the district to participate in studying the project.
Highlights of operational reports
• The district has hired two full-time employees to work on ditch maintenance at the Chilcott Ranch.
• Irrigation at the Chilcott Ranch is underway to assist with the district’s revegetation commitments.
• Two of the district’s wells—well 18 and well 9r—are currently offline due to equipment failure
• Well 9r, which produced 200 gallons per minute in 2004, is currently producing only 100 gallons per minute from the Denver aquifer.
• Construction of the pipeline to deliver water from well 21, the district’s newest well, to the district’s processing facility is underway.
• The Monument Hill Road Sewer and Water Line Replacement project is substantially complete, with only punch list items remaining.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 10 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Monday 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 Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met April 16 to plan for a potential work session with the Town of Monument and discuss progress on the study for a drinking water pipeline. A district resident appealed to the board for reimbursement of sidewalk replacement expenses.
Secretary/Treasurer James Barnhart was excused.
The April 16 board meeting packet is available online at https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2019/BoardPacket_2019-04-16.pdf.
Triview and town to consider coordination, cooperation
Vice President Marco Fiorito said the Town of Monument expressed enthusiasm for Triview’s invitation to meet for a work session. After discussing potential May dates, the board developed a preliminary agenda. The North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) and western interceptor projects; Higby Road and the Jackson Creek Parkway widening project; and commercial development in the Tri-Lakes area comprised initial thoughts. A mutual tour of facilities was also proposed.
Continued brainstorming led to ideas for collaboration or cooperation regarding a long-term view for attracting commercial development and creating a master plan for roads and residential development. Several directors commented on the district’s challenge of having the responsibility for maintaining roads but having no authority in deciding where and how they are constructed. President Mark Melville suggested that the district should be more involved in the planning process to ensure that future roads are built in a manner that is convenient and good for Triview residents.
Potential for drinking water transport springs forward
In February 2019, four water providers in northern El Paso County—Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD), Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, and Triview—agreed to jointly fund a study to explore routing options for a potential regional drinking water pipeline project. This pipeline would transport currently inaccessible drinking water from renewable southern resources, as opposed to local nonrenewable aquifers, to the four water suppliers. See related Monument Board of Trustees April 1 article on page 1. JDS-Hydro, the contractor conducting the study, may be prepared to recommend routing options in early May.
District Manager Jim McGrady maintained that the engineers must consider copious elements in determining route recommendations. One route that holds promise may cut through a portion of El Paso County-owned Fox Run Park and, thus, potentially entangle the district in legal complications depending on the county’s perspective. An additional hurdle is the onset of specific road paving projects that could squeeze the pipe installation into a very tight time frame as well as earlier-than-expected expense. Engineers also anticipate installing 24-inch pipe along specific sections; as the diameter of the pipe increases maneuverability decreases. Other factors include coordination with developers and avoidance of installing the pipeline in proximity to other utilities.
Resident requests reimbursement
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Triview resident Don Smith presented his argument for reimbursement of sidewalk replacement expenses. He stated he had been informed in February 2018 by the district that Triview would repair or replace a sidewalk only as part of a curb and gutter upgrade in preparation for street repair. Describing his sidewalk as sinking, cracking, and a potential safety hazard, Smith contracted to have the sidewalk replaced at his expense in April 2018. Smith recounted that other sidewalks in his neighborhood were replaced during summer 2018 and later learned that his neighbors did not incur any personal expense.
Smith reflected that he received misinformation from the district but was willing to accept reimbursement according to what the district would pay for a similar repair. Since Triview’s projects are usually quite large, economy of scale—the bigger the job, the lower the cost per unit—would likely reduce the per-square-foot reimbursement to Smith and not fully repay his sidewalk invoice.
Director Anthony Sexton inquired if Smith’s curb and gutter were damaged, and Smith confirmed that they were not. Director James Otis requested that Smith provide a copy of his sidewalk replacement invoice. Smith thanked the board for its consideration. President Mark Melville thanked Smith for his patience. The directors did not resolve the issue at this meeting.
Projects and finances reviewed
McGrady and support staff provided progress reports regarding current Triview projects and associated financial transactions that included:
• McGrady reported that Andale Construction estimated a construction time frame between June 1 and Aug. 31 for applying the HA-5 asphalt coating to select streets in the Promontory Pointe and Remington Hills subdivisions. Andale aims to capitalize on warmer night-time temperatures to quickly dry the life-extending coating on current pavement. Using expanded, high resolution maps, the district will also work with Martin Marietta to identify and fill cracks in the two subdivisions before the HA-5 is applied.
• Kiewit and Martin Marietta submitted statements of qualifications for the initial bidding phase to lead the Jackson Creek Parkway widening project as construction manager/general contractor, or CMGC. See page 16 of the board packet for the project’s anticipated progress schedule and parameters of the selection process.
• Plans to participate in the NMCI continued to develop. McGrady reported that a 4,000-foot, 21-inch diameter section of current wastewater infrastructure that Triview and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) jointly own may assimilate well with the projected route of the NMCI. Triview and FLMD may seek financial credit from Colorado Springs Utilities, the leader of the project, if the section of pipe is used.
• In response to Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jay Bateman’s update on landscaping plans, the directors expressed a desire to limit formal turf—which is more maintenance-heavy, more costly, and consumes more water—to intersections and to cultivate natural turf for landscaping between intersections. Sexton recommended a natural turf seed called Nature’s Prairie.
• McGrady confirmed that that plans to erect a small building at the district’s A-yard continue to progress. This location is being developed for storage of traction control materials and some equipment.
• Checks over $5,000 and financial statements were approved unanimously. See pp. 29-93 of the board packet.
The meeting ended at 7:21 p.m., after which directors entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) Legal Advice, Negotiations.
McGrady confirmed later that the board made no additional decisions or votes following the executive session.
The next Triview board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 21. Board meetings are generally scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. Information: 488-6868 or visit www.triviewmetro.com. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook, or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Academy Water and Sanitation District (AWSD) board meeting April 17, Jenny Bishop, senior project engineer, Water Resources, and Earl Wilkinson, Water Services officer of Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), presented the proposed North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project, and the board heard about the emergency repairs needed for the deep well from the Operations Manager Anthony Pastorello.
North Monument Creek Interceptor project
Bishop gave an overview of the proposed NMCI project, facilitated by CSU and the U.S. Air Force Academy, encouraging small wastewater districts to come together and use one state-of-the-art wastewater facility and fewer costly lift stations. It is still early and no contracts have been signed, although it is hoped that Donala Water and Sanitation District, Triview Metropolitan District, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Woodmoor Water Sanitation District, Monument Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District will join the NMCI project and cost-sharing.
AWSD currently receives wastewater services from Donala via the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) and that contract would continue if the NMCI project goes through. The project would not be on line until January 2021. See www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#msd, www.ocn.me/v19n1.htm#flmd, www.ocn.me/v19n2.htm#tvmd.
Future Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulations would require very expensive infrastructure upgrades for the UMCRWWTF due to the strict requirements of Nutrient Management Control, Water Quality Control Commission Regulation 85. However, CSU’s J.D. Phillips Water Resource Reclamation Facility is already built to handle the constraints of Regulation 85, and under Section 208 of the Clean Water Act small wastewater treatment facilities are encouraged to come together and have just one outfall of clean effluent and fewer plants. Building the NMCI, potentially removing the need for two wastewater facilities, would fit well with the goals of Section 208. See www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhe/nmcwqcc/reg85.
Even if the City for Champions U.S. Air Force Academy Visitor’s Center Complex does not happen, the NMCI project would still be a good idea and the AFA easements would be invaluable, said Bishop.
Emergency deep well repairs
Pastorello notified the board of the recent findings of the Denver-Dawson deep well camera exploration carried out due to a 50 percent drop in pumping rate this winter. He recommended replacing the Well 2 pump, cleaning the well casing, and upgrading the pipes. "We need the deep well before summertime."
The board unanimously approved the Well 2 pump replacement and refurbishment project for $46,070, pending an immediate review by GMS Consulting Engineers.
Because of the unbudgeted expense for repairing the deep well, the consensus was that the purchase of a used generator must be delayed, but Pastorello will pursue getting electrical work done on the pump connections so that they could work with a rented generator to keep the lift stations and water pumps working during future outages.
MVEA outage update
Treasurer Walter Reiss thanked Mark Morton of GMS Consulting Engineers for following up with Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) in regard to its lack of response during the bomb cyclone, which left AWSD without power for 2½ days, shutting off the lift stations that should have been taking wastewater to Donala. See www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#awsd.
Reiss said, "MVEA’s delay in returning power to the district brought to light incompetency." He said MVEA had no kind of emergency procedure and prioritized solely on the number of phone calls received, and his greatest concern was to hear that residents had complained to MVEA about work crew noise, so MVEA stopped work, delaying the return to power to AWSD. "It is no way to run a railroad, let alone an electric company," said Reiss. Morton said there was nothing they could do to get on a priority list.
Note: After the meeting, OCN reporter and managing editor Lisa Hatfield helped the AWSD board get in contact with the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management to facilitate communication with MVEA.
Board President Steve Callicott introduced Joan Fritsche of Shearer & Fritsche PC. Fritsche has 20 years of experience representing public and private entities in Colorado with a strong focus on local government and land use law. The board unanimously approved the engagement terms for contracting with Fritsche as the district’s attorney.
The meeting adjourned at 7:46 p.m.
The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday each month at the Donald Wescott Fire Station, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Contact Operations Manager Anthony Pastorello at 481-0711 or see the district website www.colorado.gov/pacific/awsd.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Donala Water and Sanitation District board met on April 18. Directors discussed recent planning challenges encountered with the potential regional wastewater and water pipelines and received updates on a variety of projects.
Exchange decrees pose potential snag
For the past several months, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has been working with six wastewater districts in northern El Paso County to explore the possibility of regional pipeline that will deliver the northern entities’ wastewater to CSU’s J.D. Phillips Water Reclamation Facility. The potential participants in this North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) are Donala, Triview Metropolitan District, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Forest Lakes Metro District.
District Manager Kip Petersen expanded on information that CSU provided at recent meetings. The wastewater NMCI participants will likely need to file court action to change the locations of their respective "permitted" discharge points. Petersen noted that this information was "not overwhelming, but it can be a time issue." CSU estimated Donala’s share of the NMCI cost as $2 million to $2.4 million and a one-time wastewater system use fee of $65,114. Donala’s current outside-city treatment rate would decrease. Instead of being charged 1.5 times the current inside-city rate, Donala, as well as the other northern districts, would be charged 1.1 times the inside-city rate. Petersen confirmed that many hurdles must be overcome and, ultimately, the participating entities, including CSU, recognize that the project may develop best if approached from a collaborative partnership instead of a provider perspective.
In addition to the wastewater pipeline, four northern water districts or entities—Donala, Triview, Woodmoor, and the Town of Monument—have indicated interest in coordinating return flows infrastructure for potable, or drinking, water with CSU as well.
The districts that are seeking return flows, on the other hand, recently received surprising news from CSU, Petersen reported. He said during low-flow seasons of the Arkansas River, typically March and September, the northern water districts may not be able to access their respective return flows due to the complex legal ramifications of exchanging water types from other districts through CSU’s system. With respect to possible low-flow seasons, however, Director Wayne Vanderschuere expressed little concern and cited the infrequency of flow interruptions in drought years and the potential to manage those seasons with various options.
Petersen emphasized that the other three water districts have welcomed Donala’s input regarding return flows, but Donala is not currently committed to fund a second point of return flow delivery in addition to its current arrangement with CSU. If a cost/benefit analysis supports Donala’s participation in the return flows infrastructure, Donala may be able to "cascade" water downward instead of having to "boost" it, if Triview, Woodmoor, and Monument construct the new water line to connect with the Northgate facility. The cost savings would contribute significantly to the district’s share of the NMCI pipeline.
District seeks neighbors’ input
Design on the facility for groundwater contamination, mitigation, and removal continues, stated Petersen. This facility was referred to as a dewatering station in previous articles. Donala was successful in obtaining an exemption from the El Paso County 1041 permit, a success for which Petersen credited Commissioner Holly Williams’ influence. A May 16 groundbreaking is anticipated.
On April 16, Donala staff conducted an informational meeting with the district’s neighbors and explained why the facility is necessary, and how, when, and where it will be erected. Questions raised pertained to how the facility will affect the view and whether it would create a health issue. Petersen assured the neighbor closest to the facility that it would be located as far to the southeast as possible, confirmed that the facility would not pose any health concerns, and committed to sound-proofing the compressor room as much as possible. The one-hour meeting was well received, said Petersen. He noted that the neighborhood meeting was not a legal obligation but was completely voluntary and reflects the district’s high communication standards.
Petersen’s additional comments included:
• Waste Plant Operator Aaron Tolman earned his wastewater B certification.
• Superintendent Robert Hull and Tolman also manned the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) overnight during the mid-April storm that was expected to be similar to the March bomb cyclone.
• In response to a denied exemption in a 1041 permit application submitted to Pueblo County in 2018, Donala recently submitted a new 1041 application. The new application ensured that additional information would be recognized and considered, whereas applying for reconsideration would not. Petersen confirmed that the application had been received by the county.
• The Colorado General Assembly Joint Budget Committee reduced the State Water Plan Implementation funds from $30 million to $10 million. This translates to fewer water project grants being available through the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
• The 2020 Residential Assessment Rate, in response to the Gallagher Amendment, will drop from 7.2 percent to 7.15 percent. See a more detailed explanation in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District article on page 14.
• Staff members were scheduled to work at Willow Creek Ranch to clear ice and expedite thawing around flumes, and the snowpack was above average.
• Beers Construction was expected to begin phase two of the Gleneagle water main replacement project soon after the board meeting. Beers anticipated a completion date of July 15, pending weather delays.
• Donala resident Phil Book asked about restoration of landscaping in the district. Petersen confirmed that it is ongoing and will be completed by Pate Construction Co. Inc.
The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held May 16, 1:30 p.m. at the district office at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. The directors meet in the district office conference room. Board meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. More information is available by calling (719)488-3603 or accessing www.donalawater.org.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on April 24 to discuss the process for handling owners with unpaid dues and hear about a possible grant from the Forestry director. President Brian Bush thanked board members for filling in while he was out. Board members Tom Smith and Lee Hanson were absent.
Homeowners Association administrator Denise Cagliaro reported for Lee Hanson that there are still 209 homeowners with outstanding annual dues. Reminder letters will be sent. If the dues are not paid, the next step the board may take is to place a lien on the property, which will be removed upon payment at a total cost of $300 for the lien processing. The board noted that that amount exceeds the annual dues cost.
Forestry Director Ed Miller reported that WIA was contacted by the Forestry Service to participate in a grant request that could yield $250,000 over three years. It would be a matching grant that could be used for a fuel break and other work in the common areas as well as matching grants for residents to do fire mitigation. The grant request is currently in process.
WIA is working with Lewis-Palmer School District 38 on setting up chipping days at the middle school and at Lewis-Palmer High School. There will be a FireWise day on June 5 at The Barn. A number of trees were blown down during the recent blizzard, and there has been a high call volume of people seeking permission to remove them. (See https://www.woodmoor.org/forestry-firewise/) New fire danger signs have been ordered and will be placed around the community to alert residents to fire danger levels.
• Bush asked about the uncategorized expenses in financial statements; Cagliaro replied that they were all related to the new ADA-compliant bathroom.
• WIA worked with its IT provider to correct an error in billing that includes sales taxes on services which are not taxable.
• Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) officers will attend their bi-annual CPR and first aid training as well as quarterly firearms training.
• The WPS office addition plans have been approved by the architect and engineers and will be reviewed by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department before construction begins.
• WPS did an annual survey of roads during the week of April 29, reporting any issues to the El Paso County Department of Public Works.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next regular meeting will be on May 22.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
After a winter of snow and cold, April turned out to be a relatively quiet month with below average precipitation and above average temperatures. This was a little surprising given that April is usually one of our snowiest months of the year.
The first week of the month saw temperatures hover right around average, with highs ranging from the low 50s to the low 60s. Warmer conditions moved in from the 7th through the 9th, with highs topping out in at 70 F on the 9th. This was the first time we hit the 70-degree mark since Oct. 29 and definitely gave a feel of spring to the region.
Just as unusual as the mild weather was the fact that no measurable precipitation fell during the first week of the month, with only a few sprinkles occurring during the afternoons of the 3rd and the 5th. However, this mild and dry period was quickly interrupted by unsettled conditions over the next few days.
The first signs of the change were felt during the early morning of the 10th as a strong cold front moved through around 7a.m. Similar to the storm that blasted the region a month ago, a strong area of low pressure developed over the eastern plains of Colorado as the day progressed. This pulled in moisture that combined with the cold air to produce snowfall. As the area of low pressure deepened, the pressure gradient between the center of the low and an area of high pressure to the north increased. This resulted in strong winds developing across the region. As the day progressed, snow intensified and when combined with the strong winds once again produced blizzard conditions. However, unlike the March blizzard, this one moved out quickly, with blizzard conditions only lasting for a few hours that evening.
Unfortunately, the threat of extreme weather conditions was enough to cause cancellations in the region and at DIA. The snow and wind combined to produce significant drifting of snow that made travel difficult that evening and again the next morning. Most of us accumulated 3-6 inches of wind-blown snow. Temperatures remained below normal as well, with highs only reaching the low to mid-30s on the 11th.
After this storm departed, we only had a short window of respite as another round of snow and cold was heading our way. This began to affect the area during the morning as upslope conditions and cold air allowed fog, low cloud, and freezing drizzle to form. Then deeper moisture moved in that afternoon, with a period of heavy snow occurring from 2-4 p.m. Three to five inches of snow quickly accumulated with this round of snow, causing some slippery driving conditions.
The weather pattern was very quiet through most of the remainder of the month. Temperatures were generally at or slightly warmer than normal from the 14th through the 28th, with the warmest temperatures being recorded on the 20th as low 70s were common throughout the area. Several afternoons showed the more summer-like pattern of afternoon cumulus clouds building over the mountains and moving over the area during the midafternoon. A few of these were strong enough to produce brief rain showers and even a few claps of thunder. This period of quiet weather saw a few brief intrusions of colder air, with the coldest day occurring on the 22nd. This was accompanied by low clouds, fog, and areas of drizzle as temperatures stayed in a very tight range between the mid-30s and low 40s.
The month ended with unsettled conditions and areas of rain and snow showers. These were heaviest during the afternoon and overnight hours from the 29th to the morning of the 30th, when 1-3 inches of wet snow accumulated. Windy conditions cause some blowing snow and icy conditions as well, especially during the early morning of the 30th. All the moisture in the air and the shallow cold air also led to dense fog in the region on the 30th, making for hazardous driving conditions at times as well. During this period, temperatures were well below normal, with low in the 20’s and highs in the 40’s each day.
A look ahead
May often brings a wide variety of weather conditions in the region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms and hail, and even some snowfall. May 2007 was snowy, with over 20 inches accumulating for the month, while other times very little snow falls during the month. In general, we can usually expect warmer conditions to finally settle in, with temperatures reaching above 80 F likely to occur on several afternoons.
April 2019 Weather Statistics
Average High 57.2° (+0.7°)
Average Low 29.7° (+2.3°)
Highest Temperature 73° on the 22nd
Lowest Temperature 10° on the 11th
Monthly Precipitation 1.06" (-1.90", 67% below normal)
Monthly Snowfall 12.8" (-14.1", 54% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 136.9" (+19.3", 14% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 5.96" (-0.38", 5% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 647 (-45)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
D38: What is the truth?
I have continued to attend D-38 and Monument Academy School Board meetings. I also recently attended a meeting regarding growth in Monument. The data presented was from both the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO’s Land Use Committee has been doing in-depth reviews of county planning proposals such as rezoning or new development plans since its formation in 2000), and Neustar, which is basically a business that processes data to make it meaningful to their clients. Having been through the growth in Castle Rock over the past 20 years, I am not surprised by the information.
Approximately 40 developments have already been approved by the Town of Monument. Many of the developments include apartments and townhouses. North of the YMCA, for example, is a development for 150 homes, 170 townhomes, and 300 multifamily units. Three developments west of I-25 include 961 homes, 54 duplexes, and 77 townhomes. The estimates are that the Town of Monument will gain nearly 5,000 homes and 15,000 new residents in the next five to eight years. The estimates for D38 are that the number of students will double in the next five to eight years from 6,000 to 12,000. Unfortunately, those citizens who are screaming the loudest that D38 does not need more schools were not at the meeting. Apparently, they aren’t interested in factual information. I am. I saw the growth in Castle Rock. It can, and will, happen here.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."—Marcus Tullius Cicero
"Gardens are a form of autobiography."—Sydney Eddison
For Mother’s Day, give Mom books exploring Colorado’s beautiful wildflowers and all the information needed to grow vegetables and flowers in Colorado.
The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature
By Tammi Hartung (Storey Publishing), $16.95
This is a guide to creating harmony between the vegetable garden and the wildlife that consider it part of their habitat. It explains how to start with a healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through thoughtful planting, attract beneficial insects, pollinators, and butterflies, and to purposefully create habitats for wildlife with strategies to help garden and wildlife peacefully coexist, including blocking access to unwelcome guests. The Hartungs own Desert Canyon Farm in Colorado, which has been certified organic since 1996.
The Colorado Gardener’s Companion
By Jodi Torpey (Globe Pequot), $16.95
This easy-to-understand guide will help you cultivate bountiful vegetables, abundant flowers, and lush lawns in Colorado. You will learn: what’s in your Colorado soil and how to improve it; how to take advantage of the state’s semiarid climate; techniques to maximize the short growing season; the best high-performance plant varieties for your climate; how to landscape to conserve water; ways to deal with the challenges of Colorado’s wild weather; and local sources of hands-on assistance with gardening questions. Torpey is a Colorado native and award-winning master gardener.
Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Mountain States
By Mary Ann Newcomer (Timber Press), $19.95
Growing vegetables requires regionally specific information regarding what to plant, when to plant it, and when to harvest by climate, weather, and first frost. Monthly planting guides show exactly what you can do in the garden from January through December. The skill sets go beyond the basics with tutorials on seed saving, worm bins, and more.
Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older (Revised)
By Sydney Eddison (Timber Press), $14.95
Spend your time in the garden as the joyful activity it was meant to be. National Garden Club’s Award of Excellence winner Sydney Eddison draws on her own 40 years of gardening to provide a practical and encouraging roadmap for scaling back while keeping up with the gardening activities that each gardener loves most.
Meet the Natives: A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs (Revised and Updated)
By M. Walter Pesman and Dan Johnson (Bower House), $26
This must-have for hikers and nature lovers has been revised and updated. This edition features full color photography, contains information on over 400 plants, and is organized by color for easy identification.
Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountain Region
By Denver Botanical Gardens (Timber Press), $27.95
Featuring more than 1,245 stunning color photographs, this comprehensive field guide is the must-have portable reference for the wildflowers of the Rocky Mountain region. It covers the entire Rocky Mountain range from Canada south to New Mexico, separated into Northern Rockies, Middle Rockies, and Southern Rockies. Organized by flower color and petal count, it includes perennials, annuals, biennials, vines, shrubs, and subshrubs, both native and non-native.
Vital Tonics & Soothing Teas: Traditional and Modern Remedies
By Rachel de Thample (Kyle Books), $16.95
Tonics and teas have long been hailed as remedies for all manner of ailments and illnesses, and for their amazing health benefits. This book brings together more than 40 recipes for such drinks created with the aid of a nutritional therapist, and using easily available, natural ingredients. These are apple-a-day nonalcoholic drinks that generations have been relying upon to give the body a healthy boost.
The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion: The Ultimate Guide to Growing, Preserving, and Using Herbs
By Amy K. Fewell (Lyons Press), $24.95
Featuring an array of beautiful photos, recipes, and easy to read terminology, this book takes readers through the basics of herbalism, including the different types of herbs and their uses. It also breaks down how herbs are used in tinctures, salves, essential oils, and infused oils. You’ll learn how to efficiently incorporate herbs into your lifestyle, creating your own herbal remedy cabinet.
"Wildflowers are the stuff of my heart."—Lady Bird Johnson
Until next month, happy reading.
The Covered Treasures staff can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Monument and Palmer Lake Libraries will offer a variety of programs including a Tea for All Ages in Palmer Lake and a program by the Kusogea Nobi Drum Ensemble during May. As the school year ends, there will also be several programs for teens.
Regularly occurring children’s programs include Story Time at 10:30 and 11:15 each Tuesday for children 3 and up, Toddler Time for 1- and 2-year-olds each Thursday at 9:30 and 10:30, Book Break (a short read-aloud session for preschoolers ) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 to 11, and Paws to Read (children reading to dogs) on Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 5.
The Kusogea Nobi Drum Ensemble will present a program from 2:30 to 3:30 on Saturday, May 11. The ensemble, in its 26th year, will present a journey of drums, song, and movement from Africa to the Americas and back to Africa. Bob Hall and Chelle Gifford provide an interactive experience for all ages.
Join us as we color themed coloring sheets at a variety of skill levels during Coloring for Everyone on Friday, May 10 from 4 to 5:30. Coloring tools are provided.
All Ages Knitting meets in the study room each Wednesday from 3 to 5. Practice materials are provided or bring your own project.
Join the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library at the Palmer Lake Town Hall for a Tea for all Ages. Everyone from age 5 to 99 is invited to attend this tea. Please wear your Sunday best (hats optional) and bring your own unique tea cup. There will be treats and activities for all ages. Registration is required at the Monument or Palmer Lake Library.
Lego Build will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, May 18. Take advantage of our large Lego collection and build to your heart’s content.
Teen and Tween programs
See above for descriptions of Coloring for Everyone, All Ages Knitting, and Lego Build.
Members of the Palmer Lake Art Group will offer free beginning/intermediate drawing classes on Thursday, May 2 and 16. Bring your own paper, but pencils and erasers will be provided. These classes are for ages 16 and up. Registration required.
The Teen Creative Writing Group will meet in the study room from 6 to 7:30 on Tuesday, May 7. This group for those 12 to 18 meets to share ideas, do writing exercises, and enjoy snacks. No registration required.
Is math a challenge for you? Each Monday from 3:30 to 7 during the school year, the library offers free math tutoring by experienced adult tutors. No appointment is necessary and help is available for all levels of math. AfterMath is on the D-38 calendar and will not meet when schools are closed. The last session of the year will be May 20.
Join us on Tuesday, May 14 from 4 to 5:30 for a Teen Arts and Crafts program on Button Art. All supplies will be provided, and the program is recommended for ages 9 to 15. No registration required.
The Paper Tiger Origami Club, open to teens and adults of all skill levels, will meet on Friday, May 17 from 4:15 to 5:45. Two new designs will be featured each month. All materials are provided and registration is preferred but not required.
Join us from 4 to 5:30 on Wednesday, May 29 to make Star Wars-themed Hoth Snowglobes. All supplies will be provided and registration is required.
Regularly occurring adult programs include Senior Chats on Wednesdays from 10 to noon and Yoga on Thursdays from noon to 1.
See above for descriptions of Coloring for Everyone, All Ages Knitting, Paper Tiger Origami Club, and Palmer Lake Art Group Drawing Classes.
The Life Circles writing group meets from 9:30 to 11:30 on the first and third Monday of each month (May 6 and 20) to write about memories of life experiences. No registration required.
The Monumental Bookworms will meet from 7 to 8:30 on Tuesday, May 14 to discuss Educated by Tara Westover. No registration is required for this monthly club sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, May 17 to discuss The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. All are welcome and no registration is required.
Come to the library from 1 to 2:30 on Friday, May 17 to hear a program on Transformational Aging presented by Kent Mathews from the Family Caregiver Support Center of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments’ Agency on Aging. This class will set the foundational basics for understanding and learning how to live fully as you age.
The History Buffs will meet from 1:30 to 3:30 on Wednesday, May 22. This year’s discussion topic is the Age of Exploration. No registration required.
The Monument Library Spinning Group will meet from 1:30 to 3:45 on Thursday, May 23.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Join the Pikes Peak Library District as we host the Golden Lotus Foundation for an afternoon of haiku and painting on Saturday, May 25 from 2 to 3:30. In this class learn how to write a haiku and then watch your creation come to life on canvas. Registration required.
Palmer Lake Library Events
See above for the description of A Tea for All Ages.
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection.
Family Story Time is at 10:30 on Wednesdays, and Toddler Time is on Fridays at 10:30.
Lego Build at the Palmer Lake Library will be from 4 to 5 on Thursday, May 16.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library facilities will be closed on Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
At the April 18 monthly program of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, attendees were rewarded with a many-faceted presentation on the life and times of Emma Langdon, a noted woman advocate of miners’ rights around the turn of the 20th century. Presenter Katherine Scott Sturdevant highlighted Langdon’s personal life as well as her professional accomplishments.
Langdon was in Cripple Creek when gold miners went on strike in 1904, and the Victor Daily Record, a pro-union newspaper of which her husband was co-publisher, supported the miners. The National Guard rounded up the newspaper’s male staff and imprisoned them in a bullpen. But Emma Langdon, an apprentice linotype operator, was able to publish the paper and distribute it, much to the consternation of the authorities.
She left Cripple Creek not long after the strike and moved to Denver, where she remained for the rest of her life. Langdon had been secretary of the Victor Women’s Auxiliary, vice president of the Victor Trades Assembly, a member of the Typographical Union in Victor and later of TU Local No. 49 in Denver. She became chair of the Typographical Union executive board and was honored by the organization.
She first published The Cripple Creek Strike: A History of Industrial Wars in Colorado (1903-1904, 1905). Her 1908 book, Labors’ Greatest Conflicts, tells the story of her printing the morning edition and foiling the National Guard’s efforts to suppress the paper. For her part, Langdon was presented with an engraved gold medal at the Western Federation of Miners convention in 1904, made an honorary member of the union, and was its publicist for a time.
Langdon was a friend of the famous Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, the fearless fighter for workers’ rights and the "grandmother of all agitators." Langdon remained committed to the cause of workers’ rights. She attended the 1905 founding convention of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, headed by socialist Eugene Debs), becoming its assistant secretary.
She had a daughter, who followed in her activist footsteps. They lived together in Denver until Emma’s passing.
Caption: From left are PLHS President Michele Lawrie-Munro, presenter Katherine Scott Sturdevant, and PLHS Vice President Su Ketchmark. Photo by Peter Blaney.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 16, when the Historical Society Monthly History Series will host Donna Guthrie, noted Colorado Springs author, presenting Troubadours on Horseback: The History of the Singing Cowboy. Through music, slides and movie clips, Guthrie tells the story of the creation of the singing cowboy and the simple melodies, harmonies, and instrumentation of cowboy songs. The venue is the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. Palmer Lake Historical Society events and programs are free and open to all.
By Elizabeth Hacker
Each spring I look forward to observing the male American goldfinch morph from its dull brown winter plumage into a spectacular yellow and black burst of color. All year, both American and lesser goldfinches flock to my finch feeders filled with niger thistle seed. May is the month they molt their winter feathers and the transformation begins.
The American goldfinch is a small bird about 5 inches in length, with an 8-inch wingspan, and weighs about 0.5 ounces.
The male finch is known for the bright yellow feathers on its breast, neck, and back with contrasting black feathers on its head and wings. In comparison, the female is much duller, but her feathers will have a pale yellow tinge. In winter both the male and female look much like any other little brown bird, except for the distinctive white wing bars on their greater and medium covert feathers.
Habitat, range, and migration
The American goldfinch can be found across much of North America and southern Canada. It favors bushy, overgrown grassy areas interspersed with tall trees like cottonwoods.
During non-breeding season, goldfinches form large flocks. Where there are well-stocked feeders, small families may remain near them all winter. Depending on the availability of food, some finches can survive by moving within a region, while others must migrate to warmer climates where food is more abundant. Often in the fall I see large flocks of migrating goldfinches high overhead and I can recognize the species by their distinctive uniform undulating flight pattern that resembles a wave.
The goldfinch is the ultimate vegetarian. It prefers plants with seeds, flowers, and small fruits, with fibrous stalks such as thistle, sunflowers, and milkweed. Its beak is designed to extract and crack seeds that make up the bulk of its diet. It also can be seen eating catkins from aspen and cottonwood trees. Nesting, chicks need protein for rapid growth, so the parents must feed their chick insects, and they may consume a few themselves to keep up with the rigorous demands of raising a family. The goldfinch’s brightly colored plumage is derived from pigments found in newly sprouted spring plants, flowers, and seeds.
Breeding and nesting
Because their diet is derived from plants that are not available until late spring, goldfinches nest later than many other songbirds. Pairs form in the spring and are monogamous for at least one season. Several males vie for the attention of a female by singing and showing off their brilliant plumage. The female observes her suitors while being busy building in a tree. Her criteria are anyone’s guess, but after she makes her selection and the nest is complete, the courtship begins and she will start laying one egg a day. Nests range from three to seven light blue eggs. The female will brood the eggs for two weeks while her mate brings her food. Two weeks later, the chicks hatch. They are totally dependent on their parents for food, warmth, and protection for another two weeks, at which time the chicks will have grown to the size of an adult, have flight feathers, and within a few days will learn to fly and leave the nest. The entire nesting process generally takes five to six weeks.
Weather permitting, the pair may raise a second brood. Male goldfinches have been observed feeding juveniles from the first nest while females begin building the second nest. Birds face many obstacles while nesting, and the chick’s survival rate is about 10 percent.
Once the chicks fledge, they will stay near the nest for several weeks but are completely independent. As fall approaches, large flocks form and feed on high energy fruits to build up fat in preparation for seasonal changes and migration.
A goldfinch’s average lifespan is three to four years, but in captivity they have been known to live for 10 years. It isn’t a threatened species but its numbers have declined, thought in part due to habitat loss and roaming house and feral cats.
Water and food attract birds. I have two types of finch feeders that I fill with niger thistle, but they will eat any seed. I plant zinnias and sunflowers because I enjoy watching them dangle from branches and use their feet to dislodge seeds. It’s important to keep feeders clean and use seed that isn’t moldy to protect birds from diseases. Water is as important as food, and in winter I use a heater in my birdbath so they have a year-round source.
The goldfinch is the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington. Colorado’s state bird is the lark bunting, which is a black and white bird and, according to The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, it summers in Colorado. However, I’ve never seen it here, only once observed it in eastern Colorado, but commonly find it in southern New Mexico. Rumor has it that it was selected because it was black and white and easily copied on the state’s stationery. It would seem, with the advent of color copiers, Colorado could rethink its choice and might choose a more colorful native bird like the lesser goldfinch. It may be a little smaller than the American goldfinch, but I think it’s even more beautiful.
Elizabeth Hacker can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
"When I was a boy we used to eat ponderosa pine for pleasure ... called it "slivers." In the spring, the bark is really gorged with starches and sugars and tastes quite sweet. It’s also high in vitamins."—Euell Gibbons
In Tri-Lakes, we all moved here to live in the ponderosa forest, and we benefit in myriad ways. While gardening here years ago was a conundrum for me at best, I am now seeing the wisdom of the ponderosa and the Indigenous/Indian science wisdom for itself—and our good health.
Ponderosa secrets: pollen is good for guys, anti-aging, more
Ponderosa’s yellow dusting powder gets all over everything outside in May. Annoying? Maybe not if you know that pine pollen boosts testosterone and the hormone DHEA and helps balance hormones. Pine pollen is one of the few plants that naturally contains human bio-available testosterone essentially right out of the flower.
People may think of allergies first, but pine pollen has medicinal value. Used in Indigenous and Chinese medicines for restoring vigor, energy, and function, especially in males as they age, pine pollen is easily absorbed and used by the body. Other benefits include stimulating the immune system, boosting brain health, promoting weight loss, reducing inflammation, promoting muscle mass, and more. It’s like an ideal human species dream potion tree.
Pine pollen under the tongue keeps the digestive system from destroying it. Studies showed its main active ingredient is androstenedione, an adrenal hormone produced in humans just one molecule shy of testosterone, which both healthy men and women have in balance. Those that consumed the pollen showed effects lasted about a day. Native Americans used it for extra energy when needed. I guess you could say it is the original grab and go energy fix. Pine pollen also has been found to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
I won’t tell you to lick the hood of your car, but you can collect the pollen by putting a bag over the pine flower (microsporangiate strobili or pollen cones) and shake it, similarly to collecting the high protein, nutrition-filled cattail catkin pollen that I wrote about a while back. If I told you where the word "pine" comes from, you might never look at a pine tree or its flower the same again (and I am much too modest to explain it here) but accessing the valuable healing power pines offer is grounded in age-old Indian/Indigenous science. We live in the middle of pine forests and can collect it here for free, and as its popularity grows for muscle building and more, people can buy it at health food stores.
May garden tips
Wait until Mother’s Day, pine-straw blanket your seeds, and you’ll still get greens and flowers for June. My sunny windowsills, laden with seedling planters, await Monument Community Garden beds. We’ve a bed for Tri-Lakes Cares and my demonstration raised bed garden, but there are still a few spots left if you’d like to share growing space for some garden chores and watering duty. First come, first dibs. As usual, we’ll surround the garden with beautiful, protective sunflowers.
Caption: The ponderosa pine catkin, or male flower, is the part of the tree system that releases the yellow pollen to the female cone which later creates the pine seeds. The yellow powder is a powerful food supplement that people, especially knowledgeable Native Americans, have consumed for health benefits since ancient times, and is currently widely used and sold worldwide to benefit age-related issues. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an avid lazy gardening (nature focused), ethnoecologist in the ponderosa forested Tri Lakes area. Contact her at JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
"A picture is a poem without words"—Horace
Perhaps we could say with Horace also that viewing nature’s beauty is a poem without words but with great feeling. I am continually amazed at the variety of creative things to see in our area. My recent visit to La Foret in the Black Forest area inspired me to make more paintings of forests and trees, and of course, delight in being near the Native American history within many of the culturally modified trees we are so fortunate to have near us locally. I wonder if the culturally modified trees make the area special, or if the area is special and these amazing trees are the visual poems telling us about the place. Either way, amid the forest, it’s a grand delight to all the senses.
Our forest flowers are just starting to bloom, and we found our first pasque flowers peeking out between snowy days and sunny days. They look like fuzzy purple tulips, and this year I’ll do some paintings of them, forest in view. May is a weather gamble for us plein air outdoor painters, but my classes will be going out into Fox Run Park this month to paint watercolors and oils as well. By the time we lug out all our gear, we stay put in one spot to paint, all the while drinking in the sights, smells, sounds. I like to think all that sensuousness goes right into our paintings!
Art Hop starts May 16
Our annual Art Hop starts up again from 5 to 8 p.m. May 16 in the town center of Historic Monument. It’s an early evening of artists and their art, musicians and their music, and it seems every venue has convivial pursuits to share. We can stroll the town and see art in the galleries, and art and artists will be there for the day at some places, so you can enjoy the walk all over town meeting new artists and new friends.
Southwinds Fine Art Gallery celebrates moms with flowers
Free. Bring Mom to Southwinds Fine Art Gallery, enjoy art filled with flowers! A free mother’s corsage Friday, May 10 from 4 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, May 11 from11 a.m. to 4 p.m., enjoy the tea party downstairs and upstairs browse for art and gifts amid the paintings, wearable art, and sculptures of resident and guest artists. You can also learn about the amazing history of nearby Fox Run Park and the new Friends of Fox Run Park helper group, currently headquartered at the gallery at 16575 Rollercoaster Rd.
Above; Local artists Margarete Seagraves, left, and Anita Seagraves show off their art in flowers. They will be two of the guest artists at the May Flowers art show at Southwinds Fine Art Gallery the second weekend of May. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and teacher, offering local art and photo classes and Bucket List world travels. 2019: Bordeaux and the earliest art in the world, the caves near the village of Montignac in Southwestern France. Contact her at JanetSellers@ocn.me.
Rescuing our forests and us from the worst of litterbugs
Caption: At the Santa Fe trailhead at Third Street in Monument, after registering for the Great American Cleanup and getting their bags, gloves, and vests, everyone went out into the neighboring areas to pick up trash and clean up the area. People of all ages volunteered, left, while the Focus on the Forest Tri-Lakes volunteers, right, cheered them on, all the while sharing about the year-round volunteer work they do, especially on Mt. Herman Rd./Front Range. They are "dedicated to cleaning up our national forests" from trash dumping, vandalism, and gunfire dangers. Our local neighborhoods as well as our forests and mountains are cared for by these volunteers. They volunteer year-round, and Focus on the Forest has two special cleanup periods, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, as they’ve found that people tend to keep up and pick up after themselves if they come to a clean place, but where there is trash, it begets more trash. Last year, the volunteers of Focus on the Forest took out over 250,000 pounds of trash, including papers, bottles, dumped appliances, toilets, and more. Volunteers are welcome to join these groups. For details, visit www.focusontheforest.org. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Nature Center Planned, April 4
Caption: From left, Jason Meyer, El Paso County parks project manager, Nathan Robinson, El Paso County parks North supervisor, and Teresa Odello, Recreation coordinator, answer questions from the community at a public get together held on April 4 at the Pikes Peak Brewery in Monument. People talked about El Paso County Park Nature Centers and a new North County Nature Center in the works. Photo by Janet Sellers.
National Poetry Month, April 13
Caption: Monument poetry enthusiasts gathered at the Covered Treasures Bookstore April 13 to pay tribute to recently deceased poets Mary Oliver and W.S. Merwin. L to R: Local poets James Scott Smith, Nancy Jurka, and Loring Wirbel shared selections that were memorable and meaningful to them. Not only did they share their poetry and the works of the deceased, but they offered their knowledge of writing their best poetry and how they got to be great at their art. At this annual gathering to celebrate National Poetry Month, the poems given as tribute were truly inspirational and gave attendees an unforgettable poetry event. Caption by Ella Wertz, photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
Fun and games at the senior center
Caption: On April 18, seniors enthusiastically played a variety of dice games with prizes for the winners at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center’s monthly game day. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Acoustic Eidolon at TLCA, April 12
Caption: Though Acoustic Eidolon was making its 11th appearance at the Tri Lakes Arts Center (TLCA) on April 12, many in the packed crowd were fans seeing them for the first time. Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire performed mostly original tunes, with a couple of covers thrown in, such as Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Scott mostly played his guitar and ukulele made from the same wood as Alkire’s cello, but on two songs, he did break out his famous custom-made double-necked "guitjo," which allows him to play both chords and melody at the same time. Alkire urged the audience to buy tickets to see them perform this June in a sea cave on one of the Faroe Islands, a group of volcanic formations between Norway and Iceland. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Bearbotics team headed to Houston
Caption: The Bearbotics team had a banner year, winning the Colorado Regionals and placing second in the Nationals. Their performance at the Nationals earned them a place in the World competition in Houston, competing with over 500 teams. At the World competition, the robot built by the Bearbotics students will be challenged to perform complex tasks related to this year’s space theme. The Kiwanis Club contribution completed a campaign to raise the $20,000 required for the students, coaches, and support to make the trip to Houston. The men and women of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club congratulate the Bearbotics team for their outstanding performance. Pictured, Monument Hill Kiwanis President Larry Young presents a check for $3,000 to Bearbotics CEO Angela Grayson. Caption and photo by RF Smith.
Preparing for Monument’s 140th
Caption: Reporters continue to collect stories about old Monument in preparation for the town’s 140th birthday this June. The stories will be on display at a booth in Limbach Park where a celebration is planned for June 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festivities will include a band, activities for the kids, a food truck, and historic walking tours of the town. Volunteers and sponsors are needed. If interested contact Madeline VanDenHoek at 719-884-8013. Pictured from left are Linda Case, John Howe, Madeline VanDenHoek, and Michael Weinfeld. Photo by Jodi Battle.
Full Moon Hike, April 19
Caption: On the evening of April 19, Mary Jo Lewis, Bear Creek Nature Center supervisor, with the assistance of Melanie Bernal and Lynn Wilson of El Paso County Parks and Recreation, brought stories to life with the participation of local children at Fox Run Regional Park. The Full Moon Hike and storytelling event was well-attended on a mild evening. Hikers young and old gathered under a starlit canopy of ponderosa pine to listen to ancient stories—far older than the trees. Everyone enjoyed the variable terrain hike to Timber Ridge, the highest point of the park, where a full pink moon was viewed, steadily rising above the trees. Along the hike, participants were treated to re-enactments of native stories drawn from the oral tradition of indigenous groups in North America and Canada. For upcoming events, visit www.elpasoco.com/parks. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Slash/Mulch kickoff, April 20
Caption: From left, Tina Travis, Judy von Ahlefeldt, and Dave Root demonstrate noxious weed root growth to a crowd of 75 at the Black Forest Community Hall for the Black Forest Slash/Mulch annual community kickoff April 20. On a warm, sunny spring morning, attendees received expert advice on the control of noxious weeds from Travis, El Paso County environmental technician; how to handle the Ips beetle problem from von Ahlefeldt, Forest restoration consulting; the Trees 4 Tomorrow program from Jennifer Cowan of Black Forest Together; how to transplant a tree from Root, Colorado State Forest Service; and chain saw safety from Doug Higgins, owner of Northwoods Equipment/sawyer. Information on all topics and contact details can be found at Black Forest Slash Mulch - SAMCOM and www.csfs.colostate.edu. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Caption: The Alzheimer’s Association gave a presentation to a packed house April 20 at the Jackson Creek Senior Center intended to help people to understand the impacts and causes of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, all of which cause brain functions to slow as plaques develop and lead to less electricity being generated in the neurons of the brain. This progressive disease is not the same as typical aging but causes changes that interfere with someone’s ability to function in daily life. By 2050, 14 million Americans will have dementia. The number of unpaid caregivers who help families deal with the disease also numbers in the millions. The Alzheimer’s Association has a toll-free number available 24 hours a day for those seeking answers. Call 800-272-3900 for information and a free consultation. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Beautiful day at Palmer Lake
Caption: Good Friday, April 19, was an ideal day to spend time at the lake in Palmer Lake. Fishermen were seen casting their lines at various locations as kayakers and paddle boarders prepared to enjoy the warm, sunny day out on the lake. The adjacent playground was also full of activity while others walked their dogs or took an easy stroll on the path around the lake. Photo by David Futey.
BFFRPD hosts Easter Egg Hunt
Caption: On the warm, sunny morning of April 20, egg hunters gathered under the tall pines at La Foret Conference and Retreat Center for the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt. After the horn sounded, children dashed into the forest to collect an abundance of hand-dyed, brightly colored eggs. The participants enjoyed treats and refreshments during the prize-giving ceremony held in the historic Ponderosa Lodge log cabin. Photo by Julie Rebitski.
Coolest Dog contest donation
Caption: Larry Young, president of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, presents a check for $5,500 to Cheryl Wangeman, assistant superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38, for youth suicide prevention. The funds will be used to help the district provide the Sources of Strength program for students in D38 schools. The program provides training and support for peer leaders and parents to help combat youth suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse. The Kiwanis raised the funds by holding an online contest to determine the Coolest St. Patty’s Day Dog. Sponsors O’Malley’s Pub, Phil Long Lincoln, Integrity Bank & Trust, and Wag N’ Wash provided major support to the contest. Photo by RF Smith.
SEW Coalition, April 22
Caption: In recent years, area school districts have suffered the loss of several students who took their own lives. Sheli Gray, mother of a current Palmer Ridge High School senior, sought to support teens and embarked on a quest for information about suicide prevention. Supported by youth-connected staff at her church—Director of Youth Ministry and Communications Sam Hastings and Education Director Nancy Fritzsche—Gray gradually built a foundation of information that she could use personally and share with her congregation at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. The team’s influence spread more broadly as it developed a network of professionals who work with teens and/or social and emotional wellness issues and culminated in the emergence of the Social Emotional Wellness Coalition of the Tri-Lakes Area, or SEW. About 35 representatives from organizations such as Tri-Lakes YMCA, Lewis-Palmer School District, Monument Hill Kiwanis, Sources of Strength, Value Up, Real Alternatives to Drugs and Drinking, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Second Wind Fund, and parents and students, attended the flagship meeting April 22. Seeking to build connections so that individuals in crisis will be seen and heard, SEW acknowledges the good work already in place and seeks to support and synergize rather than compete. Hastings offered parting remarks after the first meeting of SEW. The next SEW meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 13, 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School Distance Learning Lab. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
Spring into Vintage, April 27
Caption: Wendy Bradley shares her knowledge of her wildcrafted "goods from the woods," including dandelion and other historical recipes of wildflower jellies and vinegars. Dandelions, a common meadow herb, were one of the popular foods of the early 1800s by homesteaders searching for local ingredients with which to prepare foods. Bradley shared the history of wildcrafted foods of the Wild West at the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s Spring into Vintage event held at Lewis-Palmer High School April 27 and 28. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Tree planting demo, April 26
Caption: Landscape Supervisor Cassie Olgren welcomed a small crowd to the Town of Monument’s combined Arbor Day celebration and tree planting demonstration April 26. Monument reached its 25th year as a Tree City USA community, and the Arbor Day celebration fulfills one of the core standards of maintaining its Tree City USA status. The tree planting and demonstration kicked off the town’s implementation of a water-wise demonstration garden. Olgren explained that "water wise" is the preferred terminology since "xeriscape" tended to cause confusion. The nascent garden will showcase rock features as well as water-sipping trees and native plants to encourage residents and commercial entities to use similar landscaping and thus reduce water consumption. Park Foreman James Schubauer taught the crowd to dig a hole at least twice the diameter of the tree’s root ball, to remove of as much of the wrappings, burlap, wires, and twine from the root ball as possible, and assess the straightness of the tree from several perspectives before backfilling the hole with original soil. Newly planted water-wise trees require extra water during their first year. Pictured from left, Town of Monument Streets and Parks Techs Kellyn Bryan and Robert Grimaldo and Water Tech Dave Robinson work to remove the wire cage, twine, and burlap that surrounded the tree’s root ball. Photo by Jennifer Kaylor.
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.
Slash-Mulch season begins May 4
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) May 4-Sept. 15. Mulch will be available May 19-Sept. 21 or until mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone the County Environmental Division, 520-7878; Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024.
County seeks citizen input: Master Plan Survey now online
El Paso County has launched an online survey to gather residents’ views as it creates the new county master plan. To complete the survey, go online to www.elpasoco.com and click on the "Your El Paso Master Plan" graphic. See article on page 8.
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 through May 15. The grant application is available at www.monumenthillkiwanis.org/forms/mhf_grants. See ad on page 11.
Volunteers Needed for County Juvenile Community Review Board, apply by May 17
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Juvenile Community Review Board. Applications are due by May 17. 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.
Art gallery show seeks entries, due by May 24
Palmer Lake Art Group seeks new submissions for its upcoming Color Splash show at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. All artwork must be produced by exhibiting artists and not have been showcased at this gallery in the last two years. Entries must be submitted by May 24 for the show that runs Jun. 4-28 at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. For more information, visit the website, www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.
Tri-Lakes Y Summer Sports Camps
For children ages 3 and up, weekly camps for various sports June 10-Aug. 2. Financial assistance is available. For more information, call 481-8728 or stop by the YMCA, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument. See ad on page 6.
Black Forest Together Offers 2019 Season Services
Black Forest Together provides the following fire recovery/mitigation services to the Black Forest community summer through fall, weather permitting.
• Volunteer Projects: Post-fire recovery includes hauling slash to the slash/mulch site, building erosion control barriers, planting seedlings to reforest the burn scar. Nominal fees may apply to cover equipment expenses.
• Trees 4 Tomorrow: Transplanting of larger local ponderosa pine trees to expedite reforestation of the burn scar. Discount for fire survivors.
• Green Forest Mitigation: Utilizes local tree contractors to mitigate properties to Colorado State Forest Service standards to reduce the risk of another forest fire.
• Community Outreach and Education: Promotion of healthy-forest education and best practices to residents, schools, and organizations to create a fire-adapted, resilient community.
• Phoenix Program Consulting: Consultation and assistance to other fire-impacted communities, providing community leaders the tools to minimize the time needed to implement sustainable recovery operations.
For more information, contact Black Forest Together, 495-2445, or firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 11.
Kindermusik classes coming to Monument
Kindermusik uses the power and joy of music-making to help children up to 4 years old learn and grow during those years most critical to brain development. Movement and music classes for ages up to 4 take place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings at the Northland Community Church, 245 2nd St., Monument. For more information, contact Carla Maddox: 302-5021, www.TheMusicAdvantage.com. See ad on page 4.
July 4th Parade
Registrations are now open if you want to be in the Independence Day parade. Register online at www.MHKiwanis.org. See ad on page 11.
County seeks nominations for Veteran of the Year, nominations due June 30
El Paso County is currently seeking nominations for the third annual Veteran of the Year. Nominees should have demonstrated exemplary military service, community service, and support for veterans in the community. Nomination forms can be found at https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/veterans-services/veteran-of-the-year/.
Volunteers needed for new nature trail
Black Forest’s award-winning School in the Woods began work on an extensive nature trail system that will educate students and the community about the plants and animals found in Colorado’s higher-altitude life zones. One of the trails will be handicap-accessible and include signs with Braille symbols. School in the Woods needs to obtain, plant, label, and care for plants throughout the trail system. Volunteers are needed to support the project through public relations, fundraising, donations, assisting on planting and maintenance days, and other resources. To get involved, contact Jon Wuerth, school coordinator, at email@example.com or 719-234-4330.
Get help if your vehicle is stuck in town or in the mountains
4x4orce is an emergency notification network of 4-by-4 enthusiasts/good Samaritans ready and willing to respond when, where, and how they can. Sending a message to the Facebook 4X4orce Community Rescue & Recovery page is the best way currently to get assistance. However, you can also phone 719-286-9323. If Facebook is not working, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monument Academy now enrolling for 2019-20 school year
Monument Academy is a free public school of choice and features academic excellence, award-winning programs, and more. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 481-1950 or visit www.monumentacademy.net.
St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling for the 2019-20 school year
The school offers full- and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org. See ad on page 3.
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.
Home-delivered meals 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.
Volunteer in 2019: 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.
Volunteer drivers needed for seniors’ transportation service
Mountain Community Senior Services is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 and older. The program needs volunteer drivers. For more information, visit the website, http://coloradoseniorhelp.com, email email@example.com, or call the hotline, 488-0076.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Thrift Store needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed for various tasks. The store is located at 755 Highway 105, Suite N, in the West End Center and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
I-25 MyWay commuting options website
Visit www.i25myway.org and enter starting and ending ZIP codes for personalized I-25 commuting solutions and savings estimates. The website will help you arrange the details and free test commutes, including carpools, van pools, and the Bustang South Line. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022.
Free grief group forming
The Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Road, Monument, is forming a group for people who have struggled with grief for six months or more. This group will meet for six weeks with a trained leader who will provide a safe place to process the grief resulting from the loss of a loved one, or grief due to a change in health or finances. Participation is limited to 10 individuals on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact Rick Jackson, 488-3200, Rjackson.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a CASA volunteer
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) offers a volunteer opportunity like no other. As appointed representatives of the court, CASA volunteers are empowered to make a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. To learn more, contact Uriko Stout, 447-9898 ext. 1060, email@example.com; or visit www.casappr.org.
County launches Citizen Connect
Citizen Connect is a new tool that allows citizens to report problems and put in service requests with the click of a mouse or touch of a button. Citizens can download this app, EPC Citizen Connect, for iPhone or Android phone. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com/county-launches-citizen-connect.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1" emergency notifications to your cell phones
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
County assessor launches enhanced website
The newly redesigned site with the Property Record Card and Citizen Comper (value comparisons) makes parcel and property searches more informative, easier to use, and accessible on mobile devices as well as desktops. Find the enhanced website at https://property.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
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.
Residence vacation check
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will conduct vacation checks of homes of county residents who are on vacation. This is a great way to add security to your home when you’re away for multiple days. Either a deputy or trained volunteer will visit your home while you’re away and check it periodically. To add your home to their schedule, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com. Info: 520-7151.
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.
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
El Paso County expands services to veterans
Three county agencies providing services to veterans now have satellite offices at the Mount Carmel Center of Excellence, 530 Communications Circle, Colorado Springs. The Veterans Service office at Mount Carmel is open Monday through, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and closes noon-1 p.m. for lunch. Call 667-3816 for an appointment. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center Mount Carmel office is open Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed for lunch noon-1 p.m.) and is staffed with two Workforce Center employees who help veterans with their employment needs. Call 667-3729 for an appointment. The county Department of Human Services also has a Mount Carmel office open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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 Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on December 04, 2019. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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