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By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
At two meetings in September, the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees continued to wrestle with issues—some related to each other—that they have struggled with, in some cases for years. Questions about how to manage the town’s water resources led the board to discuss a moratorium on new water taps. The related issues of how to regulate parking and when to open the trail to the town’s reservoirs also took up a substantial portion of both meetings. The board worked on a plan to replace the ramp to the building that used to serve as the town’s library and began planning for repairs needed to the historic Town Hall.
Four special event permits were addressed, and the board voted on an ordinance to put a fee in place for requests to vacate roads that were planned but never built by the town. The board heard a preliminary report on the 2019 audit and an update on the Living Word Church, which was recently donated to the town. Finally, the board awarded a certificate of appreciation to two residents who have volunteered frequently and signed a proclamation to clean up the town’s watershed.
Scarce water leads to moratorium on new water taps
At the Sept. 10 meeting, Interim Town Manager Bob Radosevich asked the board to approve an update to the town’s water study that would determine how many water taps are available. Radosevich also requested a temporary moratorium on new water taps and pointed out that taps are sometimes purchased as an investment.
Town Attorney Matthew Krob explained to the board that they could not put the moratorium in place at that meeting, but they could direct town staff to hold off on granting new taps and vote on a moratorium at the Sept. 24 meeting.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, the board returned to the issue of a temporary moratorium on taps. Mayor John Cressman said, "It’s all about putting on the brakes slowly," and Trustee Patricia Mettler pointed out that the town really did not know how many taps are available. Trustee Susan Miner drew the board’s attention to projects that have already begun and asked if exceptions could be made for work already under way. Cressman, Radosevich and Trustee Paul Banta all pointed out that a project can’t really get under way until a water tap has been purchased.
Resident Bill Fisher, an architect, told the board he has been working with a developer who has a project under way on Spring Street. Fisher said the developer was required to put in a new water main on Vale Street for his project, at a significant cost, and that one of the requests for a water tap had already been submitted to town staff. Cressman said that the taps Fisher mentioned could not be guaranteed at present and emphasized that the moratorium would be temporary. Fisher volunteered his services to help the board with maps and graphics to define the situation with water and taps.
Local builder Kurt Erhardt also shared how a previous sewer moratorium had complicated projects he was working on. Erhardt mentioned he was planning on applying for 13 water taps in the near future. (Details about the moratorium on sewer taps can be found here: www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#plsd).
Resident Reid Wiecks, a member of the Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), said he believed there were 35 sewer taps available.
Builder Richard Willan also relayed to the board the difficulty that the proposed moratorium would create for his business. Willan said his application for a tap had already been submitted. Banta said he was leaning toward letting Willan’s request be approved.
The board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 18-2020 to put in place a moratorium on new water taps until Jan. 31, 2021.
Ordinance governing parking updated
In May, the board put in place Ordinance No. 13-2020, which closed parking on all streets within the town to anyone except town residents. Since then, the board has struggled with issues created by that decision, such as the negative impact on restaurants who have customers who come from out of town.
The question of how to manage parking is related to the issue of whether or not the town should open the trail to the town’s reservoirs, because the number of visitors who come to the town to hike that trail has led to congested parking on streets near the trailhead and has also created safety concerns when parked cars prevent emergency vehicles from being able to pass.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, the board passed Emergency Ordinance No. 13-2020, which updates the regulation of parking on the town’s streets to address some of the concerns with the previous ordinance. The updated ordinance specifies:
• Only residents and essential service providers assisting residents may park on city streets.
• Customers of restaurants and businesses may park in designated parking areas that will have signs indicating they may be used by non-residents.
• Parking spaces adjacent to the tennis courts in Glen Park are for tennis court use only, and signs will specify that others will be ticketed or towed.
• The Glen Park parking lot is for Glen Park use only and signs will specify that others will be ticketed or towed.
• Trailhead parking will be allowed in designated spaces only, and those spaces will be designated by town staff.
• Anyone found in violation will pay a mandatory minimum fine of $100.
The board voted unanimously to approve the updated ordinance.
When to open reservoir trail stumps board
At previous meetings, the board decided to close the trail to the reservoirs until repairs were completed and until El Paso County lifts its Stage 2 fire ban. Mayor Cressman and several of the trustees have emphasized that a fire adjacent to the town’s water supply would be catastrophic. Many residents, on the other hand, have told the board they want the trail reopened, some pointing out that they moved to Palmer Lake specifically to have access to trails.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, Reid Wiecks argued to the board that opening the trail to local hikers would actually reduce the risk of fire, since there would be more people present to watch for illegal campfires and other inappropriate behavior.
Wiecks detailed for the board a plan he called Trail Watch, which aims to improve the fire safety of the lands adjacent to the reservoirs by opening the trail to experienced volunteer hikers, mountain bikers, and others who would be trained and would have numbers to call if they spotted any type of problem. Wiecks argued more volunteers on the trail would improve safety by increasing the numbers of hours that the trail is monitored.
The role of the volunteers would be to report problems, not to enforce laws and regulations, Wiecks emphasized.
Trustee Susan Miner raised the issue of the town’s liability if Wiecks’s proposal was put in place. Town Attorney Matthew Krob argued the town should reduce its liability by not officially endorsing the volunteers.
Town Fire Chief Christopher McCarthy came down on the side of keeping the trail closed, pointing out his concern was with the small percentage of people who would behave irresponsibly. McCarthy pointed out there is no defensible space between the reservoirs and the town, and no possibility of creating any.
The consensus of the board was to keep the trail closed while the Stage 2 fire ban is in place.
Work to improve library ramp underway.
In July, the Pikes Peak Library District closed the Palmer Lake library because the ramp did not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
At the Sept.10 meeting, Erhardt offered to demolish the existing ramp for $14,000, and estimated the work would take one week.
Radosevich told the board he had received one bid to demolish the ramp, remove the material and rebuild the ramp to ADA standards from a Colorado Springs company for $138,383. Krob said the town should reject the existing bid and then re-bid the job without the demolition work.
The board voted to accept Erhardt’s bid for demolition and to re-bid the rest of the project.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, Radosevich announced the ramp demolition was complete.
Historic Town Hall in need of repairs
At the Sept. 10 meeting, Radosevich told the board that the Town Hall needed structural repairs on the roof and north side of the building. A permanent fix was being designed, Radosevich said, and would be put out to bid. Radosevich said he was seeking a grant to help pay for the repairs.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, Radosevich said he had put out a bid for an emergency shoring up of the Town Hall, and bidding would close Oct. 5. Radosevich asked the board to authorize emergency work to save the roof in the event of snow. The board authorized Radosevich to act in case of an emergency.
Four special event permits granted
The board voted to approve the following special events:
• .5k Race fundraiser for Awake the Lake, scheduled for Oct. 4.
• Cross Country race for Lewis-Palmer High School, scheduled for Sep. 17-18.
• Cross Country race for Discovery Canyon Campus, scheduled for Sep. 21.
• Cross Country race for Palmer Ridge High School, scheduled for Sep. 25.
Ordinance establishing cost for right-of-way vacation approved
In several previous meetings, Trustee Banta had asked if it was possible for the town to charge market value for town land whose ownership is transferred to a person requesting vacation of a right of way. The town deals with several of these requests every year because many roads were included in the town plan but never built.
Attorney Krob researched this and found state law requires a flat fee for such land transfers.
Ordinance 14-2020 was approved, putting in place a $500 fee for each request for a right-of-way vacation to cover the cost of staff time.
Auditor gives town a clean bill of financial health
David Green, the town’s auditor, gave the board the preliminary results of his 2019 audit. Green said his final report would include an "unmodified opinion," which means the audit revealed no significant cause for concern.
Green mentioned not all timesheets and employee expense reimbursements were approved, and those approvals processes should be improved.
Living Word Church contract signed
Radosevich said the contract to donate the church to the town was signed on Sept. 23, and he requested a special meeting with the board to decide how to proceed with the church.
Radosevich said the church was soon to be connected to a new water main, which would allow troubleshooting of the plumbing, and said the boiler was not operational.
Certificate of appreciation goes to Ramshur family
At the Sept. 10 meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Mark Shuler gave John and Christie Ramshur a certificate of appreciation for their years of volunteer work benefitting the town.
Creek Week proclamation signed
Alli Schuch, Watershed Outreach coordinator, spoke to the board about the importance of watersheds. Town Clerk Dawn Collins read the proclamation, which specifies the week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 4 Creek Week and encourages town citizens to protect, restore and maintain the town’s waterways.
Kirk Noll of the Palmer Lake Parks Commission said volunteers would meet on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. in the parking lot across from the Tri-Lakes Art Center. Noll said details could be found on the town’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/places/Things-to-do-in-Palmer-Lake-Colorado/104139666288763
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold two meetings in October, on Oct. 8 and 22 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees approved a bond counsel to advise the town prior to bond sales that were discussed in several water project workshops. The Conexus development along Old Denver Road is moving forward, and a church was approved as the first developed portion of the parcel. The board held a broadband discussion in which they directed Town Manager Mike Foreman to stop all broadband work.
Water bond counsel approved
During an Aug. 24 water workshop, the board heard from Town Manager Mike Foreman and Public Works Director Tom Tharnish, who identified over $20 million in water projects that need to be completed. See https://ocn.me/v20n9.htm#mbot.
Town Attorney Andrew Richey explained the need for the bond by saying, "The Town of Monument is seeking to complete numerous water projects using 2A Water Fund proceeds. Because these projects will cost more money than the cash on hand in the 2A fund, revenue bond financing will be required. The retention of bond counsel is integral to issuance of revenue bonds."
The prioritized list of water projects:
1. New 2-million-gallon water storage tank and two miles of water pipeline, $5 million.
2. New Well 10 including pump, motor, and pipelines, $1.65 million.
3. Well 3 is 50 years old and needs emergency work to patch and repair, new drilling, $1.28 million.
4. Replace old tank once new tank is fully operational.
5. Return flow pipeline as part of the NMCI project with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), $2.8 million to $4.25 million.
6. New Well 11, $6.9 million to include associated new water treatment plant. $6.9 million.
7. Hughes well, given to the town, summer-only well, $100,000.
8. Alluvial wells and expansion of existing water treatment plant 4/5, $750,000.
9. Radium removal system design for Wells 3 and 9, $900,000.
10. Filter media replacements for water treatment plants 7 and 3/9, $155,000.
11. Booster station upgrade, especially if new water tank is installed to pump uphill, $800,000.
12. Routing relaying and distribution.
13. Valve and pipeline replacement for end of useful life, $600,000.
14. Lab/office expansion project at Wells 3 and 9, $350,000.
15. Meter upgrade project to cellular system, $200,000.
Nate Eckloff, managing director of Public Finance Investment Banking of Piper Sandler and Co., was recommended as bond counsel by Triview Metropolitan District Manager Jim McGrady. Foreman said the staff interviewed numerous candidates before selecting Eckloff.
The bonds will be Lease Purchase Certificates of Participation, which by law are subject to annual appropriations and are payable from any fund.
Bond counsel is paid an underwriting fee from the bond proceeds, which are expected to total about $22 million.
Land development approvals; possible relocation of Santa Fe trail
A request to rezone a portion of Conexus Phases 2 and 3 was heard. The 146-acre parcel sits between Old Denver Highway and I-25 and is owned by Phoenix Bell Associates.
The change from Regency Park Planned Industrial Development to Planned Development is required by the town. This development could include some light industrial, as well as commercial, civic, office, and residential uses. If any of the land becomes residential, it would be medium- to high-density with six to 20 dwelling units per acre. This could include as few as 280 or as many as 465 homes. This will provide varied home choices as required by Monument’s comprehensive plan.
The development will be served by three new access points off Old Denver Highway that cross the Santa Fe Trail. A total of six crossings were part of a memorandum of understanding between Phoenix Bell Associates LLP and El Paso County that was signed Jan. 14, 2008. Foreman asked, "Can you imagine having 13 crossings across this area?" He noted the town is working with the developers, and this property won’t be developed for two or three years. We have the time to work with the developers," and the rest of those partnering to relocate this portion.
Just the portion of the trail included in Conexus Phase 2 and 3 will be relocated. A separate owner of the property north of this parcel is not developing. To the south, Conexus Phase 1 and the Baptist Road Trailhead will remain as they are with no trail changes. A Great Outdoors Colorado grant request may come to the board in the future to pay a portion of this realignment.
Trustee Mitch LaKind asked if there would be a barrier between the trail and the highway for noise mitigation. Foreman said the realigned trail would be in the landscape right-of-way between the development and the highway.
This request was approved by the Monument Planning Commission during its Aug. 12 meeting. See https://ocn.me/v20n9.htm#mpc.
Segregated left and right turn lanes will be added to Old Denver Highway, which will eventually become a four-lane roadway. Resident Robert Wells suggested the entrance to the new development should come off of Baptist Road, eliminating the need for any access points over the Santa Fe Trail, but Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., representing the developer, said that wouldn’t work because of the protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat and the many drainage ways.
The motion passed 7-0.
Woodmen Valley Chapel-Monument campus approval
Woodmen Valley Chapel asked the board to approve a Monument campus in the Conexus Phase 2 and 3 development. The 5.45-acre parcel was rezoned to include churches in August 2018.
Traffic will enter the church area by going north on Old Denver Highway and turning east into the parking lot. When leaving the church, patrons will only be allowed to turn right or north onto Old Denver Highway. Ed Houle, project manager for the chapel, said it was to encourage patrons to go into downtown Monument after services.
The 29,000-square-foot church includes 642 assembly seats and 394 parking spaces. Between the two services on Sunday, as some are coming to the church while others are leaving will be a traffic issue. Church volunteers will assist with parking in the lot and paid officers will manage traffic along the roadway.
The request passed unanimously.
Trustee Laurie Clark proposed a broadband feasibility study for the town after the voters approved an exemption from the SB-152 bill. Clark said this makes way for the town to increase competition, provide basic broadband to all residents, improve telecommunications service, and possibly decrease cost of broadband service.
She stressed the need for a comprehensive vision to determine what role the town should have in broadband. "I am not in any way suggesting the town should compete with private industry," she clarified.
LaKind, who has previous experience in high speed wireless service deployment, said "I will never vote for a nickel to go toward this study or that the town becomes an ISP (Internet Service Provider)," and competes with private enterprise. Wilson agreed, saying the government should not be involved in free markets.
Background: High-speed broadband service is typically run over fixed fiber connections. When it is available in the U.S., fixed wireless access or 5G will use wireless connectivity at the final connection within a home or business, which will require close-in, line-of-sight transmitters set hundreds of feet apart over a street.
Clark said the 1,650 people who voted on this ballot question proves the residents want more choice. OCN believes she is referring to the vote count on the ballot question about broadband services. In April, the ballot question passed with 1,044 "yes" votes and 504 "no" votes.
LaKind said that when the question was asked of the voters about SB-152 to allow the town to remove itself from the overview of the bill, there was zero information provided to the public either on the town’s website or in the blue book. "I believe the majority of residents were not informed" of the result of their vote, he said. He suggested there are six national companies that either provide broadband today or will be doing so in the future.
Clark asked the board to approve $95,000 for a 2021 study.
Clark’s motion died on arrival when no trustee made a second motion to the request. Foreman was directed by the board to do no further work on broadband for the town.
Town code enforcement
Town Code Enforcement Officer Evan Cox gave the board an overview of his many assigned duties. With regard to enforcement, Cox said he attempts to educate violators first to gain voluntary compliance. Wilson noted that when the board approved the full-time position, they knew there would be 50% enforcement duties and the rest all duties as assigned.
Cox said that when Chief Sean Hemingway arrived his duties tripled, including COVID-19 related procurement and preparedness planning, scheduling training, acting as firearms instructor, and writing training bulletins.
He said Woodmoor residents call for town code enforcement, but because Woodmoor is not in the town proper, they should use the form at https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-violation-submission/.
Cox told the board he receives code violation notifications through word-of-mouth and sticky notes and could use a centralized software system to administer the town’s codes more efficiently.
The meeting adjourned 8:51 p.m.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held its regular board meeting on Sept. 10 in the gym at the East Campus. After a half-hour delay due to technical issues, the board conducted a hybrid meeting with some board members, administration, and a small audience in person, while other board members, presenters, and parents attended online via Zoom.
The board heard updates on the opening of school, distance learning challenges, and updates from the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).
School opening update
Elementary school Principal Charlie Richardson reported that, in his 15 years at the school, it has been the most hectic week and a half, but he commended the teachers and staff for hanging in there. He has been in numerous meetings on technology, teacher and staff interviews, and meetings related to security.
Secondary school Principal Julie Seymour said the school held a freshman kickoff and middle school meet-and-greet event to tour the building and deploy iPads. They have been busy with moving in, ribbon cutting, and preparing classrooms collaboratively with teachers, families, and facilities staff. She attended meetings with families as well as leadership training.
Christianna Herrera, MA’s chief operating officer, noted that the first day of school Aug. 31 reminded everybody how much they missed the students and why they chose education as a profession. She said in-person learning was going spectacularly well, but online has been a rocky road.
Teacher representatives Cristin Patterson and Joy Maddox expressed that being back with the kids has been exhilarating and sweet. Patterson said that communication has been exactly what is needed. She noted that it is difficult to serve a lot of different needs at the same time. Maddox noted that there is good collaboration between teams.
Distance learning growing pains
Janyse Skalla, distance learning specialist, said there are 130 students doing at-home learning, either synchronously or asynchronously divided evenly between the elementary and secondary school. There are 30 students in 21 families who are at-home learners using MA curriculum and scope. She said teachers are going above and beyond.
Herrera noted that MA, like other schools nationwide, must use platforms that are approved for use with student data, which must be kept confidential. When those platforms have issues, MA can only enter a ticket and wait for it to be fixed or find a workaround that introduces complexity for teachers and, especially, elementary students.
Maddox collected feedback from 30 teachers and sent a document to the board but has more input coming in. She said that this is the lowest she has ever seen teacher morale. Teachers feel overwhelmed and frustrated. One source of frustration is having four learning platforms as well as having the job of teaching in-person students as well as online. It is a lot more complex and time consuming than it was billed, she said. Uploading videos is a particular source of frustration, even for those who are adept at technology. Teachers feel like they are trying to do two or three jobs and don’t have what they need to do it. She expressed hope that the school would listen to teachers’ voices and make changes to improve the situation.
Herrera and board members expressed sympathy and support. Board members reviewed when they voted for the four learning options (see https://www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#ma) and asked if that could be reconsidered. Herrera affirmed that she heard that the issue is the online piece but said that MA has to offer online. MA must honor that some families have to be at home. She said if there had been a COVID-19 case, as was reported incorrectly, they would have had to go online, noting that it is a safety issue and no one wants any child, family member or staff to get sick. She confirmed that MA has upgraded Zoom to make it easier to upload videos. MA hopes to order more iPads, but there are profound shortages, and delivery is delayed until at least December.
Board President Melanie Strop reiterated her confidence in the administration and encouraged teachers to keep lines of communication open.
Kim Stoltenberg, president of the MA West Campus PTO, said that the PTO had a booth at the new parent tour, provided teachers’ lunches on Aug. 26, and delivered checks to teachers and staff, including those involved in exceptional student services and the gifted and talented program. Edukit school supply packs arrived and were sorted and delivered. A new Gaga Ball pit was installed, funded by money from the King Soopers rewards program. The back-to-school Boohoo Breakfast was hosted at Limbach Park so that kindergarten parents could get together and meet each other. The PTO is working on getting rewards to kids who completed summer workbooks and were scheduled to discuss funding goals at their September meeting.
Tanja Curtis, president of the MA East Campus PTO, reported that the organizational structure and accounts were set up, spirit wear is available online, and the PTO attended the meet-and-greet days where they identified potential volunteers. The PTO is working on a tree dedication project, plaques for teachers, and a tile fundraiser to help buy equipment for the gym. They hope to host a teacher lunch each quarter and provide a $100 check next year.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Herrera noted that enrollment was lower than budgeted as students have withdrawn since the start of school. However, the per pupil revenue is higher than budgeted, which offsets that slightly. The net result is that MA is $36,000 short in the budget but is tracking the status and has identified places to cut if need be.
• Herrera said that MA was signing contracts for a shuttle bus when it found out that homeless people had broken into the bus and were sleeping in it. They had also removed some engine parts to the bus, which was a total loss and no longer available.
• Strop reported that the road from the new school west to Jane Lundeen Drive is now open, but that Pinehurst Circle would not be paved anytime soon due to moisture content.
• Board member Chris Dole reported that the School Advisory and Accountability Committee (SAAC) was starting up but was told that each campus requires its own SAAC and Curriculum committee. The board unanimously appointed Dole and Misty McCuen as board representatives to SAAC for the West and East campuses, respectively. It also appointed Strop and Susan Byrd as Curriculum committee members for the West and East campuses, respectively.
• The MA board unanimously approved updates to the Employee Handbook and to the Parent and Student Handbook.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Meetings are held in-person and via Zoom, which will be streamed to the MA YouTube channel. For more information on how to join the meeting in person or virtually or to submit a public comment, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board Education heard the Monument Academy Annual Report, an update on distance learning, and an update on implementation of the district’s Strategic Plan at its Sept. 21 meeting.
In his comments early in the meeting, Superintendent K.C. Somers said that the school district’s decision on returning to full-time in-person instruction remains tied to decisions by El Paso County Public Health. The state remains in a Safe at Home state where social distancing and the wearing of masks are required. There have been nine positive cases of the coronavirus in the district, including six staff and three students. Four classes have been quarantined. Bear Creek Elementary is the only location where more than one case has been reported.
Implementation of a hybrid schedule of part-time in-person instruction and part-time distance learning has enabled the district to maintain distancing requirements with smaller classes while maintaining regular contact between students and teachers. Anyone 10 years and older will be required to wear a mask.
Disadvantages of the new system are a perceived increase in homework, a feeling of social isolation, the necessity of staff juggling the needs of in-person and distance students, and the erosion of cohorts with participation in such extracurricular activities as sports.
The district continues to consider such questions as when it is safe enough to return full time and how to involve the community in the decision. In the next few weeks, a survey of students, staff, and parents will seek input on how the present system is working.
Monument Academy Annual Report
Chief Operating Officer Christianna Herrera moderated a presentation on the status of Monument Academy in keeping with a contractual requirement that the school report to its chartering body in such areas as academics, finance, operations, and governance.
The new east campus of the school at Highways 105 and 83 has been completed and may require some expenditure of reserves to complete such purchases as furniture. No capital projects are required at the original campus at this time.
Assessments are underway at the elementary level to fulfill the requirement of monitoring the academic progress of the students. School started on Aug. 31.
Grades 6 to 9 are at the new campus, but there was insufficient enrollment for a 10th-grade class.
Students attend class four days a week in person and one day a week online. Ten percent of students are online all of the time.
Board Vice President Theresa Phillips asked whether Monument Academy is continuing to develop a partnership with the YMCA as reporting previously. The answer was no.
Board President Chris Taylor asked whether the elementary school would now have room for additional students and still maintain required social distancing.
Herrera responded that an additional fifth-grade class was added this year and potentially there will be room for more next year. There is not currently a waiting list for admission.
Online programming update
Chief Academic Officer Lori Benton and Executive Director of Student Services Rick Frampton reported on the status of online learning in the new academic year.
The options for elementary students are part-time home school and part-time online, part-time in school and part-time online, or full-time online. Somers commented that the demand for full-time online learning was greater than anticipated.
The elementary program has been developed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students are connected to their home school via a weekly session with their grade level peers so that they continue to feel a part of the school. To additionally support social/emotional learning, students also meet regularly with a mentor online.
At the secondary level, the options are part- time homeschool and part- time online, part-time online and part-time in person, or full-time online.
The challenges are the need to reassign staffing, communication between staff and students, and the need for administrative support. Programs for access and email communication are required. At all levels, core subjects are available online except for technology.
Sixth-graders can choose two electives each trimester. Interventions and enrichment programs in math and reading are also available.
At the high school level, students attend class two days a week or full-time online. Core courses are taught by district teachers, and some electives, such as various Advanced Placement courses, are available through a third party.
At the middle school and high school levels, participation is monitored and students who do not participate are contacted privately. Online mentors are also provided.
At present, 322 elementary school students, 171 middle school students, and 373 high school students are participating online.
For further details, please see boarddocs on the website, www.lewispalmer.org, board of education, meeting agendas.
Strategic Plan update
In keeping with the board’s goal of aligning actions with the five-year Strategic Plan, Phillips and board Treasurer Ron Schwarz reported on implementation of the goal of providing a safe, healthy, and welcoming school environment.
In discussing the physical environment, Phillips and Schwarz conferred with Chief of Safety and Security Dennis Coates.
Projects recommended to add to physical safety include the installation of vestibules at all schools, improved public address systems, alarms on all outer doors, the use of film at doors to avoid glass breakage, and upgrade of cameras and radios. Needs vary by location.
Phillips and Schwarz said that in estimating the cost of such improvements, it must be remembered that the lifespan of some devices such as the cameras is limited and should be figured into future budgets.
In answer to a question, Coates said that most of these improvements could be achieved over one summer if the budget were approved.
Regarding comprehensive crisis planning to emergency preparedness, Phillips said that the district has proven this year that this can be done.
Regarding comprehensive health and wellness planning and supports, Phillips said that there should be various disciplinary choices and social and emotional content such as the empathy program previously used at the elementary level.
When asked whether these proposals would be made to the public, Phillips and Schwarz responded that they feel this is premature before other aspects of the Strategic Plan were examined.
Coates also commented that it would be inappropriate to call attention to vulnerabilities in physical locations.
Phillips said that she and board Secretary Tiffiney Upchurch could develop a presentation on community relationships for a future meeting.
The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education usually meets on the third Monday of each month at its Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Due to a school closure on Oct. 19, the October meeting will be on the 26th. Seating is limited. Those wishing to submit a public comment should contact email@example.com by noon of the day of the meeting.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
At the Sept. 21 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, the board approved the sale of debt in the form of lease agreements to finance water projects. The 2019 budget audit was reviewed. During a budget workshop before the regular meeting, Treasurer Rosa Ooms discussed the 2021 preliminary budget.
October was recognized as National Arts and Humanities Month. To find out more about events see https://artsoctober.com/events/.
Trustee Laurie Clark was noted absent.
Debt sales will occur before election
Town Attorney Andrew Richey asked the board to approve the sale of Certificates of Participation (COPs) to be paid back in the form of rentals to leased town property.
Richey said, "The COP financing operates through the interplay of several agreements; the first agreement is a lease of town property to a financial trustee in exchange for up to $22 million for water system improvements (site lease). The second agreement is a lease back to the town by the trustee of town property in exchange for annual rents of up to $1.5 million (lease agreement). The third document is an agreement of the trustee with investors who receive a portion of the rents from the trustee under the terms of their purchase of Certificates of Participation (indenture)."
The collateral for the agreement will be town property, including town hall, infrastructure, and improvements.
Richey said the property is being leased versus transferring the titles for a period of time, so the town will not lose title to those assets. The ordinance delegates to the town manager and town treasurer the authority to make determinations regarding the lease agreements and execute the sale of the certificates.
Mayor Don Wilson asked if certain property would be removed from the lease agreement as payments are made, but Richey said that part of the agreement has yet to be negotiated. Town Manager Mike Foreman noted the town intends to take advantage of the current low interest rates and make the sale as soon as possible.
There were no public comments.
The request was approved 6-0.
Audit of 2019 budget receives unmodified opinion
Ooms asked the board to allow Foreman to send the 2019 audit to the state as required by law. Jim Hinkle of Hinkle and Co. performed the town’s annual audit, saying the financial statements present fairly and gave the town an unmodified opinion. The process to audit includes identifying the segregation of duties and gaining an understanding of the town’s financial processes. Finkle and his audit team test control features and select samples of disbursements and payroll transactions to determine if general accounting principles are being followed. This results in finding any possible material weaknesses or significant deficiencies, but Finkle said there were none.
Ooms said the town had to make two minor journal entry adjustments that Hinkle clarified were reclassifications within the financial statements but did not affect the financial accounts.
Trustee Ron Stephens asked about this process, wondering whether the trustees were required by law to approve the audit prior to it being filed with the state. "In the past, when we voted on the audit, there was a lot of contention. Is the vote we took required?" Stephens noted that several years ago the audit was not approved by the trustees and almost caused a government shutdown. "It created quite a panic and concern with staff," he remembered.
Ooms said the board is required by law to receive and review the audit, but no approval is necessary.
The request passed with five voting for and one absent. Trustee Jim Romanello had to leave the meeting before the vote was taken.
2021 budget discussions
Before the board’s regular meeting, a budget workshop was held to discuss the 2021 budget process.
Ooms told the board that although there has been COVID-19 uncertainty with regard to revenues, there haven’t been drastic declines as expected. She noted the CARES Act money that the town received from El Paso County—a total of $500,000, half of which went to local businesses, has helped to supplement payroll and supplies. Ooms also said several employees were furloughed for 12 weeks over the summer and a hiring freeze had been implemented that also helped to reduce costs.
For the 2021 budget, Ooms and Foreman gave each department a target budget number based upon their 2020 budget minus 2%. From this baseline, the departments could create their list of needs but could also submit a supplemental budget request if their needs went over the baseline.
Ooms noted 2020 actual revenue has been 13% higher than forecast when the 2020 budget was created. Wilson and Stephens said the town should be conservative in their estimates of 2021 revenues and suggested using the 6% used last year. Stephens hoped the town could build up its reserves, asking Ooms how much they should have saved. Ooms said she would like to see 20% to 25% in reserves, a total of $1.4 million that would get the town through three months if necessary.
Foreman predicts that few new businesses will be coming into the town in the next year, but over the next two to three years, there could be many more with all the new commercial developments being approved.
Ooms said there will be an additional $10,000 annual request coming from the Police Department for insurance. Chief Sean Hemingway said SB-217 has put officers in a position of higher liability with the new bill, and they could be charged up to $25,000 civilly without the insurance.
The next budget workshop is scheduled for Oct. 5 at 5:30 pm and is open to the public, although no public comments will be permitted.
The meeting adjourned at 7:34 p.m.
Caption: During the regular Monument Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 21, resident Nancy Swearingen noted how well town gardener Cassie Olgren did this summer, saying she enjoyed looking at all the gardens throughout the town all summer long. "She deserves a pat on the back," said Swearingen, recalling there was no student help this summer due to the pandemic. Photo by Cassie Olgren.
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 Monday, Oct. 5 Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for 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 Kate Pangelinan
Two Monument Planning Commission (PC) meetings took place in September: the regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 9 and a special meeting on Sept. 23. Notably, the Sept. 9 meeting saw the swearing in of new PC Commissioner Cathy Green. Green took her oath of office shortly before the PC decided on a new chairman and vice chair, following former Chairman Melanie Strop’s move out of town limits. Two members of the PC were eligible to fill these positions: Daniel Ours and Chris Wilhelmi. Ours is now the commission’s chairman, with Wilhelmi serving as vice chair.
Further information about all projects the PC discussed can be found in the meeting packets located at http://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com. This site is also a good resource for accessing approved meeting minutes, as well as the agendas for upcoming meetings. This latest PC meeting, along with many older ones, can be found recorded on the Town of Monument’s YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA. Citizens may find it easier to search for "Town of Monument" or "Monument Planning Commission" in YouTube’s search bar.
Citizens can also get in touch with the Planning Department at 719-884-8019 or contact Town Manager Mike Foreman at 719-322-3043. Email addresses for specific individuals are available on the town website. Foreman expressed specific interest in addressing citizens’ questions and concerns during the Sept. 9 PC meeting, and resident involvement is welcomed at PC meetings during Public Comment periods.
Sept. 9 meeting
After the minutes from the Aug. 12 PC meeting were approved by the commission, Chairman Ours took a moment to "congratulate this board." He noted that there has been significant public interest in what’s going on with the Santa Fe Trail and that these minutes truly reflect the commission’s concern with that matter. He expressed both that the PC doesn’t have the power to prevent issues related to Santa Fe Trail but that it has shown determination to eliminate difficulties trail crossings may cause.
Co-Chair Chris Wilhelmi attended the Sept. 9 meeting alongside Ours and Commissioners Bill Lewis, Martin Trujillo, Steve King, and Sean White. Planning Director Larry Manning gave a presentation explaining the night’s agenda item.
J. Nelson annexation and zoning
Manning presented some facts about the J. Nelson annexation and zoning:
• This plot of land is located north of Second Street and west of Front Street. It is .071 acres and was obtained by a neighboring house’s owner through court order. It is a small piece of property, intended to be annexed so that it can become part of Monument. The house’s owner is interested in selling both the house—which is already within town limits—and this property together to a buyer for commercial use. Maps of the relevant area can be found in the PC packet or at Manning’s presentation on YouTube.
• The area is currently zoned Business Campus (BC), but the goal is to rezone it to Business (B).
• There is a 3.4-acre enclave bordering this property, currently existing separately from Monument. When Manning was asked how these 3.4 acres had remained an enclave, he explained that everything west of this enclave was annexed at a later date than the properties to the east. The town hopes to annex the rest of this enclave over time.
• The applicant is listed as the Town of Monument in the packet, and the property owner is Jacinda Nelson.
There were no public comments specifically pertaining to this proposal. In the end, it was approved unanimously.
Public comment for topics not on the agenda
• Resident Michael Weiner asked for clarification about how to find PC information online. Specifically, he was having a difficult time finding the minutes for the Aug. 12 meeting. PC minutes are usually posted in the separate "Minutes" folder once they have been approved by the PC at the following meeting. After they’ve been approved, they are accessible to read. This particular set of minutes, though, was also available as part of the Sept. 9 meeting packet.
• Weiner also expressed concern about potential changes to the Santa Fe Trail. He stated that as a frequent user of the trail, he doesn’t like the idea of the trail being moved closer to I-25. Mike Foreman responded, explaining that Monument is working with developers and El Paso County in regard to what will happen with the trail. It is the county’s responsibility to approve any kind of movement of the trail, Foreman stated. There will be several opportunities to express concerns to the county coming up. As of now, developers have been working with the town to design a possible route for the trail that would travel higher than I-25 and also serve as a landscaped area, screened from the highway by trees. At the moment, the trail winds past Old Denver Road, which is expected to become a four-lane divided road, in time, and therefore much busier. Monument is requesting that the county move the trail to the east of the coming development, but in the end, it will not be the town’s decision.
• Resident Dan Showalter said he was concerned about the rezoning that took place for Conexus Business Park Phases 2 and 3 at the Aug. 12 meeting. He said that only Commissioner King was representing the people of Monument during the discussions. Ours responded by stating that while he wasn’t present at the meeting, he knows each member of the PC works hard to represent the people of the community. That being said, landowners also have rights, and unless the town Planning Department presents a project with code violations, it’s not possible for the PC to refuse it.
A significant amount of discussion took place during this meeting. Here are summaries of some—but not all—conversations:
• King disagreed with one of Ours’s points, asserting that Conexus Business Park Phases 2 and 3 had a right to Industrial Zoning but that he doesn’t believe they were entitled to add commercial or high-density residential projects to the development. He also described the power the PC has to add conditions to their motions before voting, in order to help shape the future of projects. He does not believe the PC to be powerless in the face of proposals that don’t have obvious code violations. The possibility of adding a condition to the proposal next time and seeing if the motion is seconded was raised. Ours replied that he wasn’t meaning to say there is nothing the PC can do, merely to state that the PC is trying hard to serve the town, and there has to be a valid, code-backed reason for rejecting a proposal.
• The Planning Department was asked whether it would be possible to eliminate the Sketch Plan as a step altogether, allowing the PC to address more specific projects further along in the completion process. The idea is expected to be explored with consultants moving forward.
• The question was raised of how to communicate better with Monument residents. A huge discussion has been taking place on the website NextDoor regarding the potential changes to Santa Fe Trail, which is currently full of misinformation. The truth is, there are going to be public meetings with the county, and as of right now its position on the issue is not known. Citizens were advised to reach out to Tim Wolken, county director of Community Services. He is likely to be taking charge on this. According to http://communityservices.elpasoco.com/community-services-management-team/, Wolken can be reached at 719-520-7529, or by email at TimWolken@elpasoco.com.
• Planner Debbie Flynn stated that a Conexus sign with relevant information has been viewable on Old Denver Road for over a year already. Flynn also complimented Our Community News on reporting the meetings.
• Citizens are encouraged to research construction taking place in their communities, and to seek out the information Monument’s Planning Department has made available.
Sept. 23 meeting
Attending the Sept. 23 PC meeting were Chairman Daniel Ours and Co-Chair Chris Wilhelmi along with Commissioners Sean White, Steve King, and Martin Trujillo. It appeared that Alternate Commissioner Eric Light was online for the meeting, but he did not participate in the vote.
Falcon Commerce Center Phase 1 Preliminary PD Site Plan
Some facts about this project according to Planner Debbie Flynn’s presentation and discussion with the PC and a presentation from Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., here representing the developer:
• The property is south of Baptist Road, west of I-25 and north of the U.S. Air Force Academy. It is adjacent to Baptist Road and Woodcarver Road and comprises 32 acres out of the entire 214-acre Falcon Commerce Center project.
• Lots 1-6 are 12.31 acres, intended for commercial, office, and medical use. Lot 7 is 17 acres and will be used for warehouse distribution. There is already a letter of intent for Lot 7, so its future is understood, but Lots 1-6 could still shift, Barlow explained. It’s unlikely there will be more than six lots here, but if a buyer wanted to build something larger, there could be fewer lots in the end.
• While this development is entitled to three Santa Fe Trail crossings, it is only using one, along with an existing, little-used gravel road access to the wastewater plant. The one new crossing will be close to the Baptist Road roundabout, where the trail is already interrupted. There will be flashing lights and signs indicating pedestrian crossing, as well as streetlights on the public roads.
• There will be a 25-foot setback by Baptist Road, a 20-foot building setback adjacent to Santa Fe Trail, and a 20-foot setback on internal Collector Streets. A maximum building height of 100 feet is in place, which proved a point of contention among members of the PC, although they agreed the likelihood of something so tall being built is minimal.
• Part of the property in Phase 1 is designated as a Commercial Center (CC) in the town’s Comprehensive Plan and is expected to generate a high number of vehicle trips, along with serving as a transitional space between heavily traveled places and neighborhoods. The rest of the Phase 1 property is designated as Light Industrial. A map detailing the property is available in the meeting packet.
• Primary access to the property will be off Baptist Road via Terazzo Drive. There will be a secondary access through Woodcarver Road via Squadron Drive.
• By 2025, a traffic signal at Baptist Road/Terazzo Drive will be warranted.
• There will also be an extension of Terazzo Drive to Squadron Drive, as well as an extension of Squadron Drive to Woodcarver Road. Improvements will be made to Woodcarver Road in the process. The developer will pay for these improvements, though signalization will be a shared responsibility.
• The applicant is listed in the packet as NES Inc., and the property owner is Forest Lakes LLC.
A few highlights:
• A citizen showed the PC his parcel of land and explained the only access. He expressed concern that there don’t seem to be plans to bring this access out to meet the new road. Barlow stated that if there is an existing easement it will be honored, and if not, something will have to be worked out. The PC later included a condition with its vote that addressed his situation.
• A representative of Native Sun Construction explained that it owns Woodcarver Road and has been involved in discussions about the use of Woodcarver to connect to Squadron. Native Sun has proposed that this parcel be dedicated to the town of Monument, allowing this intersection to be constructed and serve as a public right-of-way. He wanted it to be known that Native Sun Construction is involved and cooperating with the project, expecting to come forth with an annexation proposal soon.
While members of the PC were interested in trying to prevent the 100-foot maximum building height on this property—conceivably limiting the height of buildings to three stories, which was deemed in keeping with the rest of the town—staff did not recommend this as legally viable. The current maximum building height is consistent with the Sketch Plan that was already approved. Flynn explained that all the PC members’ concerns will be included in memos sent to the Board of Trustees before it discusses this proposal.
King made a motion to approve the Preliminary PD Plan for recommendation with the following condition: that the property owned by another entity to the northwest that currently has access off of the proposed Squadron Road be allowed to maintain access to his property through an easement, to be decided by both property owners. In the end, the proposal was approved unanimously, although multiple PC members added comments along with their votes. King wanted it on record that "everyone here is concerned about building height." He hopes the Board of Trustees will look into that in regard to future parcels. Wilhelmi referenced King’s comment, and Ours added that the PC considers the 100-foot height allowance inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
It is not known whether there will be a PC meeting in October at this time, but if there is it will be on Oct. 14 and materials will be posted online a week beforehand.
Caption: Larry Manning (right), director of planning for the town, swore in Cathy Green (left) as the newest member of the Monument Planning Commission on Sept. 9. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
PC meetings will be held online over the next few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information: 719-884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on Sept. 9 to begin planning the 2021 budget and review facility operations. They also heard how this facility was used as inspiration for a similar one in Oregon.
TLWWTF is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: WWSD board Director Lee Hanson, JUC president; PLSD Chairman Mark Bruce filled in for PLSD board member Reid Wiecks, JUC vice president; and MSD Treasurer John Howe, JUC secretary/treasurer. The meeting was held at TLWWTF, with several in attendance there while others attended via Zoom.
TLWWTF is a model facility
At the Aug. 11 meeting, Burks shared about an engineering firm from Denver that represents a Native American tribe in Oregon. The engineers and tribe members came to TLWWTF for a tour, because they own a similar system, but theirs is not running well. The tribe wanted to scrap and replace it.
However, their engineer wanted to show them an example of how well this type of system can run, even when it’s 30 years old like TLWWTF. During their tour, Burks explained its benefits and described all the types of regular maintenance that are required to make it hum.
The plant uses aerobic and anaerobic bacteria digestion of wastes in large aeration basins to treat the sanitary sewer influent flows from the three owner wastewater special districts. The waste-activated sludge from the secondary treatment clarifiers is stored in the facility’s sludge lagoon for future agricultural land application as fertilizer. Burks told the JUC, "We have had pretty good success with what we do."
2021 budget draft presented
Facility Manager Bill Burks and the JUC discussed the first draft of the 2021 budget. Burks estimated that costs for repairs and maintenance will be lower than in 2020. Salaries will be lower due to the loss of two certified employees in 2020, but he hopes the two new employees will qualify for certified operator pay by 2022.
The JUC representatives will discuss this budget draft with their respective boards and bring questions and ideas to the October JUC meeting. The November meeting is when the 2021 budget should be approved.
MSD Interim District Manager Erin Krueger said the new Wagons West lift station was now completely online. PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt didn’t have anything to report to the JUC. WWSD District Manager Jessie Shaffer said, "everything is flowing downhill," which everyone agreed was good news in the wastewater business.
Burks reviewed the Discharge Monitoring Report for July for TLWWTF. As usual, all samples tested were well within prescribed limits.
He said that in July, the facility already met the phosphorus level it promised to reach by November. By meeting nutrient treatment limits lower than those in Colorado Regulation 85, facilities in the voluntary nutrient incentive program extend their existing Regulation 85 nutrient compliance schedules for up to 10 more years. They also delay imposition of much tighter separate Regulation 31.17 phosphorus or nitrogen restrictions from starting in 2022 for up to 10 years. See www.ocn.me/v18n1.htm#tlwtf.
Sampling of many kinds
Burks reported on the September meeting of Arkansas River/Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE). His comments included:
• Sampling frequencies for a variety of substances are part of the 2021 budget discussion.
• Continuous data collection is a way to document how facilities (point sources) do or don’t affect stream health.
• Non-point sources, such as wildlife near rivers and agricultural run-off, contribute pollution to the stream that the wastewater facilities cannot control.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is short of revenue and not able to do its own robust sampling. MSD’s Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick said the EPA did not impose any penalties on the state when it only performed one round of sampling, and then stopped, after the 2015 Gold King Mine toxic wastewater spill.
Kendrick said it’s vital to have historic data already collected and ready to share with the state quickly when they start making decisions about new regulations. He was concerned that the state might get rid of the stakeholders’ input process altogether if state budgets fail.
Kendrick said the August Wastewater Utility Council meeting included a long discussion about Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), man-made chemicals that don’t break down and can accumulate over time. The EPA would be using PFAS as a model for a new way of doing business, and pre-treatment was likely going to be part of the future. See www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 13 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public from all three owner-districts. For information on virtual meeting access, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
In September, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met at the Woodmoor Improvement Association Barn Community Center. JVA Engineering gave the board an update on the district’s capital improvement projects, and the board awarded a construction contract for one of those projects. A final decision was reached on a request to include property in the district’s service area, and District Manager Jessie Shaffer told the board that the district had received a COVID-19 Impact grant. Finally, the board heard operational reports.
Board receives updates on capital improvement projects
Richard Hood of JVA Engineering reported to the board on recent developments with two of the projects on which the district is working. Hood began with the Central Lake Pumping Station Project (CLPS), telling the board that JVA Engineering had developed an alternative plan that addressed some of the board’s concerns with the choices presented to date.
At the July board meeting, the board had elected to pursue the option of building a new pumping station at the foot of the dam and replacing the outlet pipe from the dam in such a way that the CLPS could deliver water to both the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP) and the South Water Treatment Plant (SWTP). That alternative required draining the lake, Hood said.
The new plan requires the construction of an earthen extension into the lake, on its southwest side, that would provide a location for a new building housing a wet well and a new pipeline. This alternative would save the district time and money on excavation, Hood told the board.
The new alternative would be similar operationally to the existing lake pump station, Hood said, making it an easier transition for the staff. It would also provide for drawing water from the lake at three different depths and would also be able to supply water to both the district’s water treatment plants.
The new alternative would require pumps to be in the well, complicating maintenance, according to Hood. The previous alternative would have had the pumps installed in a building and therefore more accessible for repairs but would have required the construction of a concrete tower in the lake, which added $900,000 to the cost of that alternative. The previous alternative would also have the lake offline while the new outlet pipe was constructed and the soil compacted around it, Hood said, making for a more challenging construction schedule.
Hood estimated the previous alternative would cost the district $5.4 million, and the new alternative would cost $4.2 million.
In response to a question form Board President Brian Bush, Hood said the contingency estimates for both alternatives were 20 percent.
The consensus of the board was that JVA Engineering should proceed with the new alternative.
Board awards construction contract for SWTP upgrades
Hood also addressed progress on the district’s project to upgrade the South Water Treatment Plant (SWTP). He reminded the board that they had awarded the design contract for this project to Stanek Constructors at the August meeting.
Stanek Constructors has given the district its Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the upgrades, Hood said. This maximum price is required by the Construction Management At Risk (CMAR) project management approach that WWSD is using on its capital improvement projects, and it limits the financial risk to the district.
Stanek Constructor’s GMP for the work is $508,305 plus a 15 percent contingency fee, Hood said, adding that the discussion to define the GMP led to cost reductions of about $25,000. The planned upgrades include replacing the onsite sodium hypochlorite generator, relining a storage tank, replacing ground water and surface water control valves, addressing issues with heating systems, and replacing electrical panels.
The board discussed starting with one contract with Stanek Constructors for the SWTP upgrades and adding additional projects to that contract as change orders.
The board voted unanimously to approve the construction contract for the SWTP upgrades to Stanek Constructors.
Final vote on Mills inclusion petition
At its previous meeting, the board voted to approve the request of Jon Mills to have his property included in the WWSD service area. The details of that discussion and vote are at https://www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#wwsd
At the September meeting, Shaffer brought up two additional issues relating to the inclusion request: First, although Mills gains the right to connect to the district’s infrastructure, there is no requirement in the standard inclusion agreement for him to do so, and so there is no guarantee the district will ever gain a paying customer, and, secondly, the inclusion agreement could be construed to give Mills a benefit that typical customers do not receive.
Shaffer argued for amending the inclusion agreement to include the following:
• In 20 years, Mills will be required to pay a tap fee and connect to the district’s infrastructure.
• If Mills’s joint use agreement with his mother to use the well on her property terminates or expires he will be required to connect.
• If Mills’s property is sold, the buyer must connect.
Board President Bush pointed out that the standard inclusion agreement includes the requirement that if the applicant’s well fails, they must connect to the district and may not drill a new well.
Mills had concerns with the requirement relating to selling the land in question, arguing that he has no intention to do so, but the requirement could be a hardship.
After the discussion, the board agreed to drop the stipulation that a connection be required in 20 years and voted unanimously to add the requirements that sale of the property to anyone outside Mills’s family, failure of the existing well, or cessation of the joint use agreement for the existing well would trigger the requirement to connect to the district’s infrastructure and become a paying customer.
COVID-19 Impact grant provides funds to district
Shaffer told the board that the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) had approved a grant for $23,887, which will be used to defray the costs of implementing a four-day work week, which was implemented to reduce the district’s exposure to COVID-19. He told the board they would need to vote to accept the money.
The board voted unanimously to accept the funds.
Highlights of operational reports
• Shaffer announced that Ron LaFontaine was joining WWSD as Operations Superintendent.
• WWSD has hired a contractor to help with backlot sewer cleaning, which maintains sewer lines between residences and the district’s sewer infrastructure, and sometimes can’t be performed with the equipment the district owns.
• There is more foot traffic and dog walking on paths around the Lake Woodmoor, neither of which is permitted since the lake is not to be used for recreational purposes.
• Design work is under way by Lewis-Palmer School District 38 on a set of paths, called Safe Routes to Schools, which students will use to walk to school.
The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. Meetings are currently held at the Woodmoor Barn Community Center rather than the district office; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
On Sept. 14, the Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1 (PPMD 1) board met in a special meeting via teleconference to finalize the details for the refunding of the General Obligation Bond. PPMD 1 is one of three taxation/financing districts within Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD).
Refunding of the General Obligation Bond
PPMD 1 and FLMD Manager Ann Nichols introduced attorney Tiffany Lu Leichman of Sherman & Howard LLC to the PPMD 1 board directors before the final determination and authorization discussion regarding loan documents for the PPMD 1-2020 refunding of the 2016 General Obligation Bond.
Leichman said the following:
• The loan will be taxable at an interest rate of 3.26% for the first year and the remainder of the loan at a tax-exempt fixed interest rate of 2.58%.
• The principal would be for a maximum of $8 million and is expected to be less.
District Counsel Russell A. Dykstra of Spencer Fane LLP confirmed that the mill levy for the General Obligation Bond would be 34 mills for 2021 for PPMD 1 property owners.
The board approved the refunding decision as presented, 5-0.
August financial review
Nichols said the pledged revenues of $24,039 in August that would usually be transferred to the bank could not be transferred due to the refunding of the 2016 bond. That sum will be owed to the Debt Service Fund and taken into account during the refunding transaction.
Investment banker Kyle Thomas of D.A. Davidson & Co. asked Nichols if the $24,039 could be used as a source of proceeds for the refunding or if it could go toward the interest payment of $50,000 due in December on the current loan. Nichols said it would be preferable to leave it in the checking account and use it in December to pay the interest on the Debt Service Loan, since typically the district does not wire funds and a check would need to be written.
The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
PPMD 1 meetings are typically scheduled once a quarter at 4 p.m. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at (719) 327-5810 or at email@example.com.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan District (PPMD’s) 2 and 3 joint board meetings held on Sept. 15, the board approved two temporary license agreements, discussed future water restrictions due to the low water level in the reservoir, and approved the issue of two bonds.
Trail system will expand?
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, who represents the developer, Forest Lakes LLC, explained that after hearing pleas from residents to open more of the planned trails, a decision was made to open more of the trail system to PPMD 1 (and future PPMD 2) residents around mid-October when the construction crews will have moved from Filing 5.
The south trail will now connect to the north trail along the south side of Bristlecone Lake and will incorporate a pedestrian bridge (with railings) south of Filing 5 and connect to Forest Lakes Drive, making a complete loop possible.
Blunk also said the following:
• Two license agreements between all parties are required to avoid liability issues.
• FLMD would assume all liability and maintenance for the trail.
• Trail access is for pedestrians and bicycles only.
• A large part of the west valley will be donated to FLMD in 2021.
Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Douglas Stimple, chief executive officer of Classic Homes, said that at some point the trail could close should the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Environmental Protection Agency deem it necessary, and a revocation of the trail use by those agencies should be stipulated in both license agreements.
The board agreed that before finalization, attorney Russell Dykstra should make the provision to both temporary license agreements.
The board approved the license agreements between all parties, with the reservation of termination rights, 5-0.
FLMD water restrictions
PPMD 1 and FLMD Manager Ann Nichols said that the water level of Bristlecone Lake had fallen to 34.9 feet on Sept. 13 and recommended the following solutions:
• District residents would adopt Stage 2 Level B water restrictions on Sept. 16 until the lake level increases. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#flmd.
• Stage 1 water restrictions will be implemented from Memorial Day through Labor Day annually.
Note: FLMD water restrictions are:
• Stage 1 water restrictions—a voluntary three-day watering schedule.
• Stage 2 Level A water restrictions—mandatory three-day watering schedule.
• Stage 2 Level B water restrictions—mandatory two-day watering schedule.
For further details visit www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com.
Stimple said that although it makes sense, he does not love the fact that the restrictions are in place just as PPMD 2 is about to open, but it is the right thing to do and hopefully next year with two wells on line to draw water from the aquifer, the situation will be better.
Blunk said the Arapahoe well will be inspected and pumped out, and the expectation is to use the water to blend with the lake water.
Nichols said new water tests will take about two to three months, and then pumping will take several days before a decision can be made to equip the well. If all goes to plan, the well could be working in time for next summer, but unless we get snow this winter the level of the lake will be at 34 feet or lower.
Note: The lake level varies and at capacity its deepest area (alongside the dam on the east end of the lake) could be about 58 feet deep.
Stimple said consideration should be given to install artificial turf in the park area over the winter, and after two years the district could see a cost savings.
Blunk said the artificial grass option could take care of the cost of cleaning up after the Canadian geese, and a more natural native grass in the surrounding landscape could be watered for two years and then the irrigation could be shut off until needed.
The board agreed to explore the cost of making the potential changes over the winter.
Hopefully, we will not be in this position this time next year, said Stimple. We are in "Mother Nature’s" hands, said Blunk. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#flmd.
PPMD 2 bonds issued
The board heard the final details regarding the bond resolution for the related documents for the PPMD 2 General Obligation Bond. See www.ocn.me/v20n3.htm#flmd.
Lawyer Tiffany Lu Leichman of Sherman & Howard LLC said the following:
• There are two term bonds, one for 20 years and a second for 30 years.
• The PPMD 2 bonds will have a 5% coupon with a somewhat lower yield than the PPMD 1 bond.
• A minimum of 34.797 mills will be enforced until the Surplus Fund is full.
Dykstra said the bond interest rates will be identical to the new PPMD 1 General Obligation Bond, with both districts’ mill levies matching in 2021. Both districts also have an additional mill levy, currently set at 11.1 % for the operation and management of the district. See related PPMD 1 article on page 16.
The board unanimously approved the authorization of the re-funding of the PPMD 2 Series 2020 Bonds.
The meeting adjourned at 10:54 a.m.
The joint meetings of FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3 are typically scheduled once a quarter at 10 a.m. Official meeting notices are posted on the district website at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at (719) 327-5810 or at email@example.com.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors reviewed its operations at its Sept. 15 meeting. Absent of action items, the meeting was brief.
All board directors and most of the staff attended remotely. District counsel Gary Shupp and water attorney Chris Cummins attended the meeting in person.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, landscaping, and parks and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. See https://triviewmetro.com/districtMap for a map of district boundaries.
The Sept. 15 agenda and board packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_RegularMeeting_2020-09-15.pdf.
Jackson Creek Parkway: a state winner
District Manager Jim McGrady announced that Triview had been deemed the Transportation Project Winner of the Year by the American Public Works Association’s (APWA) Colorado Chapter for the construction of Jackson Creek Parkway. Recognized under the APWA’s transportation category for small communities, the award commended Triview’s "creativity, ingenuity, and efficiency in the delivery of the public works project that had a profound impact on the community," according to GroundFloor Media in Denver.
Director Anthony Sexton congratulated McGrady, stating, "… that was a lot of hard … nonstop work on your part, so thank you very much."
Triview awarded the construction contract to Kiewit in June 2019 and construction was completed earlier this summer.
Ballot initiative submitted
McGrady announced that the Nov. 3 general election would officially include the district’s ballot initiative. Voters will decide if the district may repurpose up to 7 mills of its tax revenue for road, park, and open space operations. Currently, Triview may collect up to 35 mills, all of which must pay for debt service. The board agreed to pursue the measure at the August meeting where McGrady emphasized that the change would not add to the number of mills collected but simply redirect up to 7 mills in revenue to support operations. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#tvmd.
Water storage steps move forward
In his operations update, McGrady confirmed that the kick-off meeting with LRE Water for Triview’s pursuit of an if-and-when water storage account at the Pueblo Reservoir was scheduled for Sept. 22. Last month, directors authorized McGrady to engage the services of LRE Water for environmental permitting and technical support in navigating the National Environmental Policy Act’s required environmental assessment. This step determines whether the district’s potential storage at the Pueblo Reservoir would create environmental impacts.
Triview realized progress on another water storage resource—the south reservoir of the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex; see https://www.ocn.me/v20n6.htm#tvmd for more information. Completion of topographical work advanced the process to the design phase, said McGrady. The goal is to have the inlet complete by mid-March 2021. He estimated that the district could potentially store 750 to 800 acre-feet at the location.
At 6:03 p.m., the board moved to executive session §24-6-402(4)(a), (b) and (e) legal advice, negotiations regarding general topics: settlement discussions in pending FMIC Change Case No. 16CW3010; water delivery infrastructure; wastewater infrastructure; water storage on the Arkansas River and its tributaries; negotiations with potential contractors and miners concerning the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex; and acquisition of renewable water resources. McGrady confirmed later that directors did not move to vote or take actions following the executive session.
The board needed to adjust its meetings for the remainder of 2020. The next meetings are scheduled as a regular meeting Oct. 22, a public hearing for the 2021 budget Nov. 19, and a regular meeting Dec. 10. As of 2021, meetings will be held on the third Thursday of the month. All meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. Check the district’s event calendar at https://triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for meeting schedule updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in-person or conference call. In-person board meetings are held at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board met twice in September, once at a special meeting to terminate its new interim district manager and then for its regular meeting to keep MSD operating with contracted leadership. Upcoming tasks include beginning 2021 budget planning, ramping up construction in the Willow Springs development, winding down MSD’s contribution to Wagons West, and planning around the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project.
The board members present for both on Sept. 12 and on Sept. 16 in person in the MSD conference room were President Dan Hamilton, Treasurer John Howe, Secretary Marylee Reisig, and Directors Laura Kronick and Katie Sauceda.
MSD Special District Attorney Joan Fritsche of Fritsche Law attended via Zoom on Sept. 12 and in person on Sept. 16. Jim Kendrick, MSD’s Environmental/Regulatory Compliance advisor, attended via Zoom on Sept. 16.
Interim manager terminated
Background: Minutes from the regular July 15 meeting show District Manager Mike Wicklund and the board conducting regular business. They also stated that the new assistant district manager position had been posted, and Accounts Administrator Erin Krueger had applied for it.
According to minutes from the July 22 emergency board meeting, Wicklund, MSD’s manager for 26 years, was "let go" as of July 20. On July 22, the board appointed Krueger to a six-month term as MSD’s interim district manager.
The board’s plan as of July 22 was that in mid-November, an advertisement for the district manager would be posted for one month, and the board would hire a permanent manager to start on Feb. 1, 2021.
At the regular Aug. 19 meeting, Krueger and the board conducted business as usual, noting Wicklund’s departure. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#msd.
Minutes for the Sept. 12 special meeting were included in the board packet for Sept. 16, so OCN can include this information.
On Sept. 12, the one-hour special meeting included an executive session to receive legal advice and discuss personnel matters concerning the employment of Krueger. When the board returned to open session, it unanimously approved Hamilton’s motion to approve and ratify the "termination" of Krueger.
The board directed Fritsche to contact consulting engineer Dave Frisch of GMS Inc. asking him to "cover district utility ‘locate’ requests, regional sanitation meetings, and operations meetings with developers and other entities at least on a temporary basis."
They directed Fritsche to ask Frisch for recommendations for sanitation operators with the requisite certifications to comply with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) requirements for an Operator in Responsible Charge (ORC).
The board appointed Howe and Reisig to ask MSD Accounts Administrator Cheran Allsup for contacts related to district business.
The board discussed updating district banking and financial accounts, business accounts and credit card authorizations to ensure at least two board members have access to and are authorized signers on all district financial accounts.
Temporary leadership in planning phase
On Sept. 16, in the legal report, Fritsche said that in September she had focused on district management and operation since Wicklund’s departure.
Hamilton said MSD had not made any specific decisions yet on changing the timeline for posting and hiring a district manager. "We are looking at what our options are now."
Hamilton said GMS has the capability to fill in on operations and management tasks, and they are already familiar with MSD’s system. The board directed Fritsche to add GMS to MSD’s insurance.
Hamilton said he, Kronick, attorney Fritsche, and engineer Frisch were going to interview a licensed operator candidate as the possible temporary ORC for MSD immediately after the Sept. 16 meeting. Note: As of Sept. 18, Fritsche told OCN that the board had nothing further to report after Wednesday’s meeting.
Other actions taken by the board on Sept. 16 included:
• Approval of the minutes from the Sept. 12 special meeting.
• Termination vote for Krueger was approved and ratified a second time.
• Discussion and approval of the treasurer’s report.
• Scheduling a public workshop on the 2021 budget for 8 a.m. on Oct. 21 before the regular board meeting. Haynie & Co., MSD’s CPA, will attend via Zoom.
Hamilton summarized the September engineering report provided to the MSD Board by Frisch of GMS. Points included:
• The Wagons West development is substantially complete, accepted, and under warranty.
• The Willow Springs development collection system construction drawings have been accepted.
• Frisch and Hamilton attended a preconstruction conference with the Willow Springs developer on Sept. 15 that went well.
• GIS mapping of the district has been completed by GMS for both MSD and GMS staff to use in providing utility "locate" services to developers.
NMCI project discussions are primarily focusing on return of surface water flows which significantly impact the northern water purveyor participants in these NMCI negotiations. These complications do not directly affect MSD because it does not own any water rights.
Background: In November 2018, MSD was the first of six potential boards in northwestern El Paso County to vote to pursue the NMCI project. If NMCI is built, it has the potential of saving money for customers by connecting smaller wastewater districts with Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) wastewater treatment system. See www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#msd.
Fritsche said she would follow up with CSU on NMCI contract negotiations. Design services contract comments were due last week, and there is a new red-line draft version of this contract, she said.
The board voted unanimously to go into executive session under CRS 24-6-402(b), conference with an attorney for the district to receive legal advice on specific legal questions. Fritsche told OCN that no action or discussion happened after executive session.
Monument Sanitation District meetings are normally held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Oct. 21 at 9 a.m., preceded by a public budget workshop at 8 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 481-4886.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Donala Water and Sanitation Board of Directors’ Sept. 17 meeting included a public hearing regarding a water and wastewater services petition for a potential commercial/retail parcel. General Manager Jeff Hodge proposed a 10-year capital projects plan and discussed the advantages of engaging general legal counsel to support the district’s forward movement.
The board was fully represented, with one director participating online.
District considers inclusion petition
Owners of a 6.57-acre tract of land situated on the southeast corner of Struthers Road and Spanish Bit Drive formally petitioned Donala to include their parcel in the district’s jurisdictional boundaries to receive water and wastewater services. The property was outside the boundaries but capable of being served by Donala’s water and wastewater system. Hodge opened the hearing and confirmed that, because the owners anticipated the district’s need to define its boundaries in the 1041 permit application with Pueblo County (see https://www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#dwsd), the property had been included in Donala’s service area boundary.
Acknowledging the limitations of the parcel as private property, part-owner Doug Barber attended the hearing and expressed appreciation for Donala’s consideration of the petition.
The property’s potential buyer, Marvin Boyd, also attended the hearing and explained that he had engaged in preliminary conversations with El Paso County about developing the land for retail/commercial use. Boyd did not disclose any other details. Hodge later confirmed that Boyd’s commercial plan also fit the service area specifics of Donala’s Pueblo County 1041 permit.
The board unanimously approved the petition.
Additional actions deliberated
Anticipating the district’s evolving legal needs for the future, Hodge proposed that Donala engage the firm Collins, Cockrel, and Cole (CC&C) on a fee-for-service basis for general counsel legal services. Attorney Linda Glesne and paralegal Peggy Rupp—who are experienced in small- to large-scale water and wastewater agencies as well as special districts—would be Donala’s primary general counsel representatives. Hodge enumerated his many positive engagements with CC&C in his various capacities working in Colorado in the past. He added that Glesne is well versed in water rights litigation should Donala’s current water counsel request the support.
One director acknowledged the need for general counsel because of Donala’s special district status, but voiced uncertainty about involving CC&C with water rights issues. Hodge confirmed that the district’s counsel for water-related activities was strong and well established and Donala would not be likely to engage the CC&C’s services often.
Addressing another action item, Hodge presented an updated 10-year capital improvements plan for the board’s review. Continuation of the water main replacement enterprise was estimated to involve almost 27,000 linear feet of pipe and cost about $11.5 million. Water rights purchases and upgrades to or abandonment of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility were earmarked at $5 million each, while water storage received an estimated $2.5 million. The plan also included items such as hydrant and valve replacements, water tank and well repairs, and water system technology upgrades.
Directors voted unanimously to approve the two proposals.
Bond reissuance moves forward
At the district’s August board meeting, directors approved a resolution to refinance Donala’s outstanding debt obligations at lower interest rates, see https://www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#dwsd. Nate Eckloff of underwriter Piper Sandler and Co. appeared to briefly report on the bond reissuance process and Piper Sandler’s interactions with rating agencies and bond insurers. Eckloff expressed optimism that the district was in a good financial position and would register a minimum of an A, or possibly an AA, rating. All proceedings will likely close by mid-November.
At 2:36 p.m., directors moved into executive session §24-6-402(4)(a), C.R.S.—potential water right purchase(s) and interim wastewater conveyance and treatment agreement. Hodge confirmed later that directors did not move to vote or take actions following the executive session.
The next board meeting may be held in person or as an online video meeting depending on the status of coronavirus restrictions; call (719)488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. In-person meetings are held in the district office conference room on the third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 15. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. See https://www.donalawater.org to access prior meeting minutes and the 2020 meeting calendar.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) Board of Trustees for the volunteer firefighters pension board met with the district’s attorneys in executive session on Sept. 3 to discuss a disability claim for volunteer firefighter Tad McClurg; and at the regular meeting on Sept. 9, the board heard the treasurer’s concerns regarding future revenue.
Pension board result
The board met in executive session to receive advice and discuss and review the records presented by the district’s legal team, Linda Glesne and Ayshan Ibraim of Collins, Cockrel and Cole Law Firm, Denver. It was about an occupational claim for a long-term disability pension claim. See www.ocn.me/v20n3.htm#bffire.
When the board moved to an open public session, McClurg elected the board continue in open session for the remainder of the discussion. He gave additional information, all counter to the report presented by the district’s counsel, and said, "the (medical) information provided by the district’s legal team was inaccurate and a typical lawyer report."
McClurg said that his research indicated the following:
• The fire-retardant chemicals used in the 10-year-old bunker gear issued to him in 2013 at the beginning of his firefighter training were a direct link to his diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
• A study that began in the 1970s and ended in 1999 for firefighter thyroid cancer was inconclusive and began when fire-retardant chemicals were not used in bunker gear.
• In his previous seven-year employment as a nuclear propulsion electrician from 1987-1994, thyroid tumors were not evident, even after a lifetime working in the field, according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study.
• Other states are now recognizing fire retardant chemicals as a thyroid cancer link, and throughout the firefighting population there is an increase of thyroid cancers.
After hearing the additional information from McClurg, Vice Chairman Nate Dowden said that although everyone on the board is empathetic to McClurg’s suffering, the challenge is establishing direct causation to the cancer and the board has a fiduciary responsibility to make a decision based on the information provided.
Director Jim Abendschan, a 31-year veteran firefighter, said he spent 22 years on the Hazmat Team and it is becoming clear that chemicals are causing cancers among firefighters, but it is unfortunate that the studies have not confirmed a thyroid cancer link yet.
Note: The University of Arizona is currently studying the effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoro octane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in firefighting foam and gear on firefighter health.
Treasurer Jack Hinton made a motion to deny McClurg’s claim, and the trustees of the BFFFRPD volunteer pension board voted 6-0-1 in the decision. McClurg was excused from voting as an existing pension board director, and he promptly offered his resignation as pension board director at the end of the meeting. The board accepted his resignation.
The board members and the legal team all said that the decision had been the most difficult to make for everyone involved.
Hinton said the following:
• If Amendment B on the upcoming November ballot passes, then the Gallagher Amendment will go away.
• State Legislature economists have predicted that the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) could drop further to 5.8% if the ballot measure does not pass, resulting in a 19% drop in revenue, which will hurt the district.
• The district has very little commercial property, and a drop in the RAR could result in a loss of $508,000 in revenue for BFFRPD.
• If it does pass, the current assessment rates will be frozen at the current rate of 7.15% for the RAR and at 29% for the Commercial Assessment Rate.
Hinton said that in the event of a rate drop, the board would need to utilize the full 14.5 mill levy, providing proof to the residents that the increase was needed. The current district mill levy is set at 12.5 mills, but the district needs to plan now for a potential drop that would affect the 2022 budget, so we are not blindsided in the future, he said.
If Colorado Springs annexes Flying Horse North and Sterling Ranch, and the state keeps dropping the RAR, we may end up shutting the district doors due to lack of funding, he said. For a short informational video explaining the Vote 2020—Gallagher Amendment, visit www.bffire.org.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid gave the following updates:
• District Financial Director Frances Esty has resigned to pursue more real estate appraisals.
• The 2021 Budget book was available for staff to view and provide comments and recommendations.
• The Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program (AFG) for the radio upgrade is unlikely to be received. The reason for the continued denial of federal grants is unclear, and the rationale will be investigated. The grant denial does not affect the purchase of the Mobile Data Communication (MDC’s). The district is currently using 15-year-old radios.
• The Colorado Springs Fire Department and the Security Fire Department are not collecting Impact Fees. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#bffire.
Wildland and urban deployments
Langmaid said two personnel had deployed to the Grizzly Creek Fire to relieve the first two who had earned some well-deserved rest and recuperation, and all personnel had since returned.
The state requested urgent assistance from all fire departments within the state for the Cameron Peak Fire on Labor Day. The district sent two captains and one firefighter and a Type 3 Engine as part of the El Paso County strike team to the Fort Collins area to assist. However, the team returned on Sept. 9 due to an early snowfall that temporarily quelled conditions, he said.
Capt. Chris Piepenburg, the district training officer, had deployed to Louisiana to assist in rescue efforts during Hurricane Laura with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Colorado Task Force (CO-TF1)—Urban Search and Rescue.
Note: West Metro Fire Rescue of Lakewood is the sponsoring agency for CO-TF1—Urban Search and Rescue and consists of 200 highly trained members including firefighters, paramedics, physicians, structural engineers, hazardous materials technicians, heavy rigging specialists and canine handlers. The task force responds throughout the U.S. and responded to the collapse of the World Trade Center during 9/11, and to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.
Overtime and staffing
Langmaid explained the reason for the recent increase in overtime was due to COVID-19, deployments to wildland fires within the state, and a shortage of three personnel until recently. Four openings have now been filled, and three personnel have started and the fourth will join the department in October.
Ambulance and vehicle disposal
Langmaid said now that the two new ambulances are in service and the district has a ready reserve ambulance, the sale and donation of the three old ambulances and a command vehicle can proceed. The 2010 ambulance and the Ford Expedition command vehicle are to be purchased by Tri-County (East) Hannover Fire District for a combined total of $30,000. The 2007 ambulance will be donated to the Palmer Lake Fire Department, and the 2005 ambulance will be donated to Emergency Incident Support. "We are able to pay it forward and help three organizations in need of the apparatus," he said.
The board unanimously approved the sale and the donations of the excess fleet apparatus, 5-0.
Langmaid asked the board to approve moving forward with the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to solicit accurate cost projections for fire apparatus as discussed at the August board meeting. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#bffire.
Dowden said that due to the extensive volume of the 10 RFP’s, the board would need more time to review the requests before they could be posted on the district website, and he recommended postponing approval until the October board meeting.
Shield616, in conjunction with KOAA, is fundraising for the BFFRPD. The goal is to raise $48,500 to provide each staff member with a $2,200 Full Armor Package, which includes a protective vest. Donations to SHIELD616 can be made by visiting www.koaa.com.
The meeting adjourned at 8:13 p.m.
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 board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. For updates and minutes, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) held a regular meeting on Sept. 15 and a brief, special meeting Sept. 22. The board reviewed possible tax revenue losses if the de-Gallagherization ballot question fails, going so far as to approve a resolution of advocacy for the initiative. Chief Vinny Burns gave a brief report on the 2021 budget and discussed wildland fire deployments.
De-Gallagherization financial modeling
Town attorney Michelle Ferguson gave the board an overview of the proper engagement as a board and a district with regard to the de-Gallagherization ballot question they will ask all residents to answer. As individuals, board members may express their opinions.
The board passed a Resolution of Advocacy in favor of the ballot question. The formal statement explains the way property taxes are assessed, and the impact of a reduced revenue stream will have on the department. This includes:
• Residential property owners in Colorado do not pay property taxes on 100% of their home’s value. Instead, residential property owners pay property taxes on only a percentage of their home’s property value, called the "residential assessment rate," or RAR. The Gallagher Amendment requires the percentage of property taxes paid by residential property owners in the state to be 45% of the total taxes paid. Due to the steady increase in residential property values across the state, the RAR has been reduced from 21% in 1982 to 7.15% in 2019. Preliminary projections indicate the Colorado Legislature will further reduce the RAR to 5.1% in 2021.
• The decrease in RAR would have a devasting impact on the fire district’s tax revenue because 79% of revenue comes from residential property.
• The double impact of upward spiraling costs and service demands will make it difficult for the district to keep up with increased population, emergency call volume and may adversely affect future staffing, stations and equipment.
Lt. Roger Lance is running the Colorado State Firefighters Association campaign for approval of the ballot question. He is going door-to-door informing residents of the initiative.
Resident Steve Simpson said he is concerned about the timeline to get de-Gallagherization information to the public so they can make informed decisions on the ballot initiative.
Burns told the board the following:
• The 2021 budget would be very similar to this year’s budget with no major requests. Based upon the Gallagher issue, there may be deep cuts to employees and stations if both the district’s de-Gallagherization and the state’s ballot initiative both fail. There has been discussion that the residential assessment rate may fall as low as 5.1%, leaving a $635,000 loss in revenues to the district. Burns said the district couldn’t sustain the same operations as now.
• Secretary Larry Schwarz asked if there has been any COVID–19 fatigue from employees. Burns said that early on, the district put standard operating procedures in place for the use of personal protective equipment and other precautions. Battalion Chief Sean Pearson said most have adjusted to the new processes. Battalion chiefs go on all calls to make sure everyone is wearing PPE properly and disposing of it after the call.
Wildland fire deployments
Burns told the board many Wescott firefighters have been deployed to fires in Colorado over the summer. Crews work two-week shifts with a mandatory two days off before being able to deploy again. Deployments are purely voluntary.
Deployments are not just for putting out fires. Districts are required to keep detailed notes regarding the financial impact of the fires.
Rachael Dunn is experienced in logistics and worked to set up camps and facilitate meals and supplies for 600 people. She has been deployed a total of 60 days this summer.
Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich was deployed, keeping track of costs in a task book that would be used by the incident commander to record all the costs associated with fighting fires.
Burns said the federal government compensates the wildland crews as well as the backfill folks who take their places at the stations while deployed.
The meeting adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. If the meeting is held in person it will be at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For a virtual meeting, the phone number is 669-900-9128, and the meeting code is 980 378 2073. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board met via Zoom and in person on Sept. 23 to discuss the preliminary results of the Fire Chief Search Committee, and the board heard about a projected funding loss and the first presentation of the 2021 budget.
Secretary Mike Smaldino and Director Terri Hayes were excused.
Fire chief search
Board President John Hildebrandt said Prothman consultant Mark Risen had met with the Fire Chief Search Committee in open public session on Sept. 15, and Risen gathered all the information he needed to conduct the search during his visit Sept. 15-16. Committee members are John Hildebrandt, board president; Mike Smaldino, board secretary and Colorado Springs Fire Department public information officer; Jonathan Bradley, battalion chief of training; Franz Hankins, Local 4319 Union president; and Christian Schmidt, union board director.
Fire Chief Chris Truty said that on Sept. 16, Risen had also met with eight lieutenants from TLMFPD and Fire Chief David Girardin of the Security Fire District, Monument Police Chief Sean Hemingway, and El Paso County Deputy Fire Warden James Schanel to gather further information about the area and the district in the nationwide search for a replacement fire chief. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#tlmfpd.
Hildebrandt said the following:
• On Sep. 23, Prothman posted the fire chief opening for TLMFPD on its website and on several other firefighter industry notice boards, and it will remain open to applicants until Oct. 25. See www.tlmfire.org/Empl-Hiring.
• Risen expects to receive at least 30 applications before he begins narrowing the field, and the names will be kept confidential until the final candidates are selected.
• A Fire Chief Search Committee work session to select candidates for interview with Risen is scheduled for Nov.16-20.
Truty said state law mandates that the Fire Chief Search Committee meetings will be held in public session, and details will be posted on the district website in advance of the meetings. The public will be given 14 days to investigate the final candidates before the selection process can continue, and after the announcement the committee can no longer enter into executive session. Final interviews are expected to take place the first week in December.
Job description change
Hildebrandt said the Fire Chief Search Committee made a change to the fire chief’s job description, which had required a Forest Service "Red Card" S130/190 certification requirement. That has been replaced with the credential of "Must hold and maintain a credential or equivalent experience to perform command or support functions in All-Hazards or Wildfire incidents."
Bradley said the "Red Card" certification is a national certification that also requires an arduous pack test consisting of walking 3 miles in 45 minutes or less, carrying a 45 pound pack.
Requiring a commander support function certification instead allows for a broader selection of candidates and would be in line with the local job requirement, said Bradley. The TLMFPD board agreed the "Red Card" requirement would likely significantly narrow the candidate field during the search.
Truty said he has the final approval for changing job descriptions, but it would be wise to update the qualification requirement.
The board unanimously approved the modification to the fire chief’s job description.
Truty thanked the community once again for passing the 2019 de-Gallagherization ballot initiative for TLMFPD, but should Amendment B on the upcoming Nov. 3 ballot not pass, funding will be significantly affected from 2021 onward for small fire protection districts.
Truty said the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment—Amendment B—is intended to freeze the current Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) at 7.15% and then require voter approval should any adjustment be needed in the future. If Amendment B does not pass, the RAR is expected to drop to 5.8% in 2021, creating almost a 20% drop in funding for Special District Associations (SDA’s).
Background: The Gallagher Amendment dictates that Colorado’s total property tax revenue must maintain a 45% residential and 55% commercial balance. Because the commercial assessment rate is fixed at 29% the RAR is lowered to maintain the 45/55 balance as property values increase.
Hildebrandt said, "If Amendment B is defeated, the district is going to have to ask for an increase in the mill levy, and the districts that rely almost solely on residential taxes will have it worse; this will be devastating for SDA’s."
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said, "The Gallagher question is very confusing for the average person." See Gallagher Amendment & FPD Video The Gallagher Amendment 2.0: A Closer Look at www.cofirechiefs.org.
First look at the proposed 2021 budget
Truty presented the board with the first draft of the 2021 budget and said the following:
• About 98% of the district’s revenue comes from property taxes, EMS billing, and the Specific Ownership Tax.
• The projected total revenue for the 2021 budget is $11.41 million, and anticipated expenses will be $425,000 higher than the expected revenue. The additional funding will be drawn from reserves.
• The mill levy is recommended to remain at 18.4 mills for 2021.
• A 2% wage increase is proposed.
Truty also proposed a new Reserve-Deployment Fund to deposit reimbursements generated from wildland fire deployments after expenses and wages have been deposited into the General Fund. The residual funding would be used to purchase a brush truck in about five years, and less funding would be required in the Fleet Replacement Fund.
The district also has six funds—each with a separate bank account and some with specific restrictions and dedicated for specific uses. Truty created those categories in 2014. See www.ocn.me/v14n9.htm#tlmfpd-0827.
Amended 2020 budget
Truty said he is requesting a few unforeseen amendments to the 2020 budget as follows:
• The purchase of 15 acres of land adjacent to Station 1 for a total of $390,000.
• A down payment of $250,000 for the office suites 102/104.
• The fire chief search for $35,000.
Only significant changes require a line adjustment to the 2020 budget. In October, the district will hold the public hearing of the amended 2020 budget and a second review of the proposed 2021 budget, said Truty.
Truty said the following:
• EMS/Paramedic Stephanie Soll is the new EMS assistant coordinator.
• Hildebrandt signed the Station 1 annexation into the Town of Monument on Sept. 23.
• The Station 1 remodel has stalled due to the cost estimate being almost double the budgeted amount. Division Chief of Logistics Dean Wahl has been meeting with the architects and the contractor to reduce the costs.
• The district administrative offices moved from Suite 103 to Suites 102/104 at 16055 Old Forest Point, Monument on Sept. 14.
Truty said TLMFPD will not accept controlled drugs for disposal even though a recently passed state law states residents can deposit controlled drugs at their local fire departments. The Drug Enforcement Administration states the recently passed law is a violation of federal law.
Monument Police Department has a secure green drop-off box that can be used by residents who want to safely dispose of prescription or over-the-counter medications. For information, visit www.Takemedsback.org and visit www.townofmonument.org/policedepartment.
District office purchase
The board met in regular session via Zoom with district attorney Maureen Juran of Widner Juran LLP on Sept. 3 to approve the closing documents related to the purchase of Suite 102/104, 16055 Old Forest Point, Monument, and to authorize the district to enter into a lease purchase transaction with NBH Bank as lessor and the district as lessee.
The board authorized the district to enter into a lease purchase agreement with NBH Bank for the acquisition of office space for use by the district, 6-0. See www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#tlmfpd.
Vice President Roger Lance was absent at the Sept. 3 meeting.
The regular meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information on upcoming agendas, the Fire Chief Search Committee meetings, and Zoom meeting participation instructions, contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011 or visit www.tlmfire.org/board.
In the September issue of OCN, the TLMFPD article should have read that Battalion Chief Mike Keough deployed to the Williams Fort Fire for two weeks as a division supervisor trainee. OCN regrets the error.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
In September, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) authorized pre-development site grading at Rollin Ridge Estates subdivision and approved two partial bond releases relating to the Flying Horse North development.
Rollin Ridge pre-site grading approved
At its Sept. 22 meeting, the BOCC unanimously approved a request by TC&C LLC to authorize pre-development site grading at the 57-acre Rollin Ridge Filing No.1 final plat in advance of the final plat approval. The property is located at the southwest corner of the Highway 83 and Hodgen Road intersection.
Normally, such grading approval is requested at the same time as preliminary plan approval, but this was not the case in this instance. The BOCC approved the preliminary plan for the development in June 2019. See https://www.ocn.me/v19n8.htm#epbocc
Flying Horse North subdivision improvements
At its Sept. 8 meeting, the BOCC approved the partial release of bond funds relating to improvements at the Flying Horse North Filing 1 subdivision following the completion and satisfactory inspection of 70% of the required works. The approval released $3.15 million of the total $4.49 million bond amount. The commissioners also approved the partial release of bond funds totalling $404,122 following the completion and satisfactory inspection of 70% of the required improvements at the development’s golf course. The total bond amount relating to improvements at the golf course is $608,093.
Black Forest Brewing Company license modified
The commissioners approved the temporary modification of the outdoor area covered by the Black Forest Brewing Company’s brew pub license at their Sept. 15 meeting. The modification allows the Black Forest Road business to provide additional outdoor seating in line with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s recommendation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sept. 8, the commissioners approved an ambulance permit for the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District. The one-year permit runs until Aug. 31, 2021.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
At its Sept. 17 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission heard a special use request for a detached accessory living quarters at a 29-acre Black Forest property on the west side of Herring Road, a quarter of a mile north of Shoup Road.
The request, by property owner Craig McDermott, was for a 1,773-square-foot accessory living space where 1,500 square feet is the maximum size allowed without approval from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). Nina Ruiz, planning manager, Planning and Community Development, explained that, before 2019 revisions to the land development code, such a request would have been subject to administrative approval. However, the changes to the code now meant that these applications had to go through the public hearing process. She told the commissioners that neighboring property owners had been notified and, as no opposition to the application had been raised, she suggested that an abbreviated hearing be held.
The accessory living quarters will be part of a proposed 4,983-square-foot building. On lots of 2.5 acres or more, an accessory structure can be up to twice the size of the main building. The main house in this case is 2,077 square feet, which would allow for an accessory structure of up to 4,154 square feet. However, in June 2020 the applicant received administrative relief approval for the building to exceed this size. The living quarters part of the building will be occupied by immediate family members on a permanent basis; the rest of the building will be used as a garage and storage space.
After a brief staff presentation, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the request for approval. The application is now scheduled to be heard at the Oct. 13 BOCC meeting.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) conducted a Telephone Town Hall Sept. 17 to discuss progress on the I-25 South Gap construction project that will bring improvements to the 18-mile stretch of highway between Monument and Castle Rock. Colorado State Patrol (CSP) Capt. Larry Oleski reminded motorists of safe driving practices that are critical if everyone is to reach his or her destination safely and on time. A panel of CDOT and Kraemer North America representatives provided updates and overviews of their respective areas of expertise. The interactive town hall granted callers the opportunity to ask questions of the representatives.
CSP needs your help
Although 27 Castle Rock CSP troopers are dedicated to keeping the I-25 corridor safe, they must also cover other needs in Arapahoe and Douglas counties. "We need your help, plain and simple" stated Oleski. Rapidly changing traffic conditions and narrower lanes and shoulders amplify the dangers along the corridor.
Oleski emphasized the need for drivers to heed all warning and speed limit signs and to remain vigilant. Allowing plenty of space between your vehicle and the one ahead is crucial to avoiding accidents as well as a four-point, nearly $200 fine. "Troopers will write tickets to drivers who follow too closely," he stated. At 60 miles per hour, cars move 90 feet per second. An average reaction time of 1 1/2 seconds calculates to only 135 feet before a driver can steer away or brake to prevent a collision.
Each minute that a lane is blocked due to a stalled or crashed vehicle equals four minutes of delay, therefore it’s critical for drivers not to stop along the corridor, Oleski asserted. If your car can be moved, exit the highway using the nearest off ramp. If not, a courtesy patrol canvasses the corridor daily and is specifically dedicated to towing disabled vehicles.
The area’s September snowfall serves as a reminder to use wisdom when traveling in the winter. Adequately clean your car of snow to ensure good visibility, check the condition of your tires, and slow down.
CDOT Project Director Paul Neiman added that the project is paying for additional enforcement on state Highway 83.
September marked the second anniversary of the project, reported CDOT’s I-25 South Gap Project Director Paul Neiman. Much work remains, and CDOT maintains an expected completion date of 2022. The project’s overall goal is to increase safety by transforming the Gap with wider shoulders, an express toll lane for each direction, wildlife crossings, reconstruction of bridges, and a climbing lane for trucks cresting Monument Hill. The CDOT and Kraemer project team meet on alternate weeks with first responders and agency representatives from Douglas County, Arapahoe County, and the Tri-Lakes area to share safety information.
When asked why the project deconstructed the full 18 miles instead of working in stages, Neiman explained that, except for the Gap’s northernmost 6-mile tip which was almost complete, the remaining work was being addressed as one phase to save time and money. Contractors need to do more than one thing at a time such as using materials from one area to fill in earthwork and dirt in another area. The goal is to use the most efficient and cost-effective process and, "Really, the quickest way to deliver the least amount of impacts is just to get in there and get it done," said Neiman.
Kraemer Project Manager Mike Blasi reported on the progress of various aspects of the project. Of the five bridges slated for reconstruction, the Spruce Mountain Road bridge was nearly complete, the Upper Lake Gulch Road bridge was 25% complete, and the bridges at the Plum Creek Parkway and Greenland Road interchanges were about halfway done. The design for the County Line Road bridge was nearly complete, and construction was expected to begin in early spring 2021. Blasi anticipated that during County Line’s reconstruction, the road would remain open, but ramp closures should be expected. Other metrics included completion of 40% of the paving, installation of almost 9,600 linear feet of new fiber-optic cable to support modernized technology and seven miles of new drainage pipe, and initiation of the four wildlife crossings plus more than half of the 27 miles of deer fencing.
Addressing a question about the wildlife crossings, Blasi described them as passing under the highway and "in the 100-foot range." The four locations are Monument Hill’s mile post 162, just north of County Line Road, just north of Greenland Road, and at the old rest areas. The section of I-25 that passes over Plum Creek serves as an unofficial crossing.
As winter weather approaches, the crews will continue to work on the wildlife crossings as well as bridges and median walls. Motorists should continue to expect overnight lane closures, some intermittent closures of I-25, and various ramp closures.
Express lanes and information access
Several questions focused on the express toll lanes, which CDOT’s Denver Metro Region Communications Manager Tamara Rollison addressed along with her overview of keeping in touch with the project. CDOT considered more than 100 configurations for improving the Gap corridor, one of which was the addition of an express toll lane for each direction. Note: OCN covered the Feb 8, 2018 CDOT listening session that included the express toll lane as an option (see www.ocn.me/v18n3.htm#cdot).
Rollison explained that studies and experience have proven express toll lanes to provide a level of travel reliability that additional general-purpose lanes do not. Express lanes not only reduce travel time for those using them, they reduce travel time for those in the general-purpose lanes. She confirmed that the express lanes would be free to vehicles with three or more occupants but the 2018 estimate of $2.25 per trip—a price that would be reviewed before the project’s completion—was the lowest in Colorado. The toll revenues would be used to pay for operations and maintenance of the express lanes and for tolling equipment and installation. Rollison maintained that the toll lanes would exist for the foreseeable future.
For motorists wishing to be informed about the latest developments, Rollison provided several ways to stay in touch:
• Sign up for text alerts by texting I25GAP to 21000. Generally, CDOT will send a text alert for major impacts along I-25 and when a crash closes both lanes of a direction on I-25.
• Sign-up for email updates at email@example.com. Weekly e-blasts are sent on Fridays for a look ahead at the next week.
• Check the website at i25gap.codot.gov for project background, photos, and the list of planned construction impacts.
• Follow the project on Facebook at I25SouthGapProject. This is the best place to receive impact information and it is updated daily along with the website.
• If you have a question, you can call the hotline at 720-745-5434.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sharon Williams
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) met virtually by Zoom tele-conferencing on Sept. 12. Having to cancel the March and May meetings due to COVID-19 concerns and not being able to meet at the Monument Town Hall, which has been closed to public meetings and gatherings, the board of NEPCO has successfully turned to Zoom meetings.
NEPCO represents over 45 homeowners associations, including 9,000 homes in the local area. Areas include Tri-Lakes, Gleneagle, and Black Forest. Its purpose is to encourage planned development and a free exchange of ideas in a public platform, protect the property rights of its members while working with a wide range of area government branches, and act as a point of contact regarding land use matters that impact the quality of life in Northern El Paso County.
Board members give reports
Greg Lynd, president of NEPCO, opened the meeting by introducing the other board members, who in turn gave their reports. Honorary Associate members include: District 20 State Rep. Terri Carver, Our Community News, and local fire protection districts. The board recommended that El Paso County commissioners’ positions be nominated as Honorary Associate members. They would include Holly Williams, District 1, and Stan VanderWerf, District 3. There were not enough members present for a quorum, so they will have a formal vote by email to the membership.
Transportation and Land Use Committee
There have been over 32 land use reviews so far in 2020. A recent project that has been approved by the county Planning Commission is the Santa Fe Park rezone of 64 acres at northeast corner of Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway. NEPCO’s concerns include traffic, dark sky compliant lighting (meant to minimize glare) and crossing safety for the highly used Santa Fe Trail. There will be at least six vehicle crossings of the Santa Fe Trail among several of the new projects approved between Baptist Road and State Highway 105.
Other projects that have been reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission with NEPCO’s remarks taken into consideration are Redline Pipeline Office/Warehouse in the Wolf Business Park Filing 2 and Freedom Car Wash near Walmart. NEPCO recommendations are regarding lighting and traffic.
Lynd introduced Scot Cuthbertson, executive director of the county Public Works Department. Cuthbertson gave a PowerPoint presentation through Zoom that gave an overview of the expansive responsibilities and assets that Public Works takes care of. Some of the duties include: highway and street maintenance, asphalt repairs and gravel grading, drainage, signage, signals, striping, mowing, sweeping and snow removal. The county has over 2,200 miles of paved roads and 2,000 miles of gravel road. To request pothole repairs on streets or mowing in ditches and side roads, go online to Citizens Connect El Paso County (citizenconnect.elpasoco.com/#/homepage) and submit a service request. Be sure to include an email address and contact information in the request and they will send an email when the job is done.
Call for new board members
NEPCO will hold elections in November. Three board positions are expiring and a member-at-large position is available. The Transportation and Land Use Committee chairman position will be open.
To join NEPCO as a homeowners association, apply at nepco.org/JoinNEPCO/Membership-Application.
The next meeting will be conducted virtually via Zoom at 10 a.m. Nov. 14.
Sharon Williams can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Sept. 23 to announce the start of a five-year plan for trails and open space improvement, discuss a grant received to create a defensible corridor on Woodmoor Drive, and provide updates on the Safe Routes to School project.
Trails and open space improvement
Bert Jean, director of Common Areas, announced that the board, along with Common Areas administrator Bob Pearsall, are embarking on a five-year trails and open space improvement plan. They will be building out trails in open spaces that currently do not have them and adding amenities such as benches and pet stations. WIA will start by improving the current social trail in The Marsh.
Jean requested a budget augmentation of $8,500 to install pet waste stations and contract to have the waste removed and bags replaced on a weekly basis for one year. President Brian Bush explained that this augmentation did not change the overall budget and that the money will come from other line-item savings. The board unanimously approved the request.
Grant for Woodmoor Drive defensible corridor
Director Tom Smith announced that the WIA has received a $245,000 grant to do mitigation on Woodmoor Drive. The grant was written with the Colorado State Forestry Service (CSFS), which will help to execute the grant. The goal is to create a fuel break by mitigating lots along the east-west portion of Woodmoor Drive. WIA has started training on how to do lot evaluations for this grant. The lot owner would pay up front for the mitigation and receive up to 50% payment in return upon completion of the process.
WIA will be reaching out to eligible lot owners after CSFS has completed the administrative planning phase. Contact Matthew Nelson, covenants and forestry administrator, at 488-2694 ext. 4 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Safe Routes to School trail underway
Woodmoor Public Safety chief Kevin Nielsen reported that work has begun on the Safe Routes to School trail for which Lewis-Palmer D38 and WIA were previously awarded a grant. See more information at https://www.ocn.me/v18n5.htm#wia.
The JR Engineering firm has begun the design work and is staking out the location of the trail, with surveying work starting shortly. The design is expected to be completed this fall, after which actual construction will begin as soon as possible, depending on the winter weather.
• The Barn will be unavailable from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6 because it will be used as a Voter Service and Polling Center for the general election. In-person voting will be available on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Monday, Nov. 2 and Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ballots may also be dropped off at the drop box in the Park and Ride lot on Woodmoor Drive and Highway 105 or at the drop box at Monument Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road.
• Director Peter Bille reported that he is working in consultation with staff on updating the website and will be looking at bids for a new system in the spring.
• Nominations for WIA Board of Directors are due by Nov. 16. There are three open positions for the election, which takes place in January at the annual meeting. Each director serves a three-year term. More information along with the nomination form can be found at https://www.woodmoor.org/board-of-directors/.
• The project to replace the flat roof connecting the Barn to the administrative offices is in the engineering and permitting phase. Materials are expected to arrive by early October.
Above: These drawings show the current roof on the Barn (top) and the new roofline after the project to replace the flat portion is completed. This project is expected to address leaking issues as well as provide architectural consistency. Drawings courtesy of the Woodmoor Improvement Association.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on Oct. 28.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
September was month of extremes. The month was a testament to the incredible variety and swings we often see as we transition between seasons. This, of course, is a function of our location in the center of the continent, away from large bodies of water which moderate the climate, and high elevation. Extreme changes in temperature are not unheard of for us, but the weather pattern during the first two weeks of the month set some all-time records.
Some of the more interesting records included 10-15 inches of snow in the San Luis Valley from Alamosa westward to Monte Vista and Del Norte. Not only were the snowfall totals extreme (among the top 10 all-time for any snowstorm there) but they were also the earliest recorded measurable snowfall by nine days!
There were many other amazing records set from the wild swing from all-time highs to record cold and snow. The most intriguing was a record for the entire U.S. just to our east at the COOP station in northwestern Kansas. At that location, they were 100F on the 6th, then recorded 0.3 inches of snow on the 9th, then hit 100F again on the 25th and 26th. As far as anyone could tell (from the NWS office in Goodland, Kan.), this is the only known time that temperatures reached 100F after the first measurable snow of the season in the U.S.
Closer to home, this included monthly record highs for many locations along the Front Range, including the latest record 100F temperature in Denver and an extremely rare 90F for us on top of the Palmer Divide on the 6th. In fact, high temperatures from the 1st through the 7th were 80F or above on five days. We were dry the entire period as well.
However, Mother Nature had a big surprise in store for us. Just to keep us humble and remind us that summer wasn’t going to last forever. Right on the heels of the record warmth on the 6th and 7th, a powerful storm system was dropping through the northern Rockies. Associated with this storm was a record cold air mass. The first signs of change pushed through just after 9 p.m. on the 7th with the initial frontal passage. Low clouds and drizzle quickly filled in behind this front as the winds turned from the north to northeast. This produced upslope conditions for us and helped enhance the clouds and precipitation formation. At the same time the storm and cold air aloft was moving over the Colorado/Utah border, setting the stage for more cold air and moisture to be drawn into the Front Range.
Temperatures continued to tumble through the evening and into the next morning, reaching below freezing around 4 a.m. This changed the drizzle to snow and turned us from record heat to record cold in a matter of 12 hours. Light snow to snow along with gusty winds continued off and on through the day. The continued slow movement of the storm to our west allowed cold air to continue to rush into the region. This combined with the clouds kept temperatures at or below freezing the entire day on the 9th. This set a record for the lowest high temperature so early in the season and allowed snow to accumulate, especially on grasses and elevated surfaces, to several inches. Fortunately, all the record heat the previous days meant the roads were able to retain a significant amount of heat so that snow never was able to accumulate. Snow showers and cold temperatures lingered through the 10th before the storm finally moved out of the region and allowed more normal conditions to return.
The remainder of the month was generally dry and quiet, with temperatures returning to well above normal levels from the 14th through the 26th. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to enjoy this "Indian Summer" weather to its fullest because of all the smoke in the air. Unlike the smoky conditions in August, which were caused by forest fires in Colorado, the majority of the smoke in September was the result of the fires along the West Coast.
We did get one final reminder that winter isn’t too far away at the end of the month, with a quick-moving cold front during the mid-morning hours of the 27th. Low clouds filled in quickly behind the front with drizzle off and on by late afternoon and evening. A few snowflakes mixed in as well that evening. Then as skies cleared that night, temperatures fell to the upper 20s. The next day had a strong feel of fall, with clear skies and chilly temperatures. Quiet and mild conditions rounded out the last two days of the month, leaving us to wonder what "fun" weather is headed our way for October.
A look ahead
October can be an active weather month for the region with our first snowy conditions often experienced during the month. Most years, we seem to get a good snowfall around Halloween, and after a warm and dry September, we could use a wet and cold storm this year. Snow can be heavy at times during any part of October as when over 20 inches of snow fell from October 9-10th in 2005, and 2006 saw over 24 inches of snow fall in less than 24 hours on October 26th. Of course, the big storm some of us remember occurred during October 1997, when nearly 4 feet of snow and blizzard conditions shut everything down for several days. But we are just as likely to get mild and sunny conditions, so enjoy those sunny days when you can.
September 2020 Weather Statistics
Average High 72.5° (+1.6)
100-year return frequency value max 77.5° min 63.5°
Average Low 41.9° (+0.7)
100-year return frequency value max 46.7° min 36.1°
Monthly Precipitation 0.78" (-1.02")
100-year return frequency value max 4.34" min 0.40"
Monthly Snowfall 5.2" (+4.7")
Highest Temperature 90° on the 6th
Lowest Temperature 24° on the 9th
Season to Date Snow 5.2" (+4.7", 90% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 3.86" (-4.21", 48% below normal) (the precip season is from October 1 to September 30)
Heating Degree Days 248 (+11)
Cooling Degree Days 14 (+7)
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.
The choices we face
In all aspects of our lives, we continually face choices. Some are easy—what to eat, wear, read, and watch. Some choices are hard to make and have an even greater impact than we would have imagined. Examples include the effort we put into our education, what skills we purposely develop, and where in the country we call home. In no other time in my memory have the choices Americans will face this November presented such a dark difference in what type of culture we will soon have and what values we will leave to the next generation.
Our societal norms have largely been obliterated by the events of the past several months. What used to be considered "wrong" is now called "just" by some, and the order we used to enjoy is now called complacency. Our laissez faire economy is now deemed unfair to some members, and the orderly process of political choice is being replaced by a "get out of my way" approach to decision making. I’m worried—not for myself but for my kids—and for yours.
What can we do to return our country to the stability we have counted on for the past 240 years? First, we all need to openly and thankfully support the organizations and people who bring our country the structure we depend on when we need it—police, fire medical and military personnel come to mind. Secondly, we need to stop and think about the society we really want and not fall into current trend traps. Finally, we need to vote our deepest informed values—not our political parties.
There are good and bad actors on both sides. So, let’s choose carefully who we really want making the decision which will affect our lives. It matters.
Palmer Lake trustee endorsements
There are six candidates running for four trustee positions. The town has faced many issues—the lake, reservoir trails, roads, water, town personnel, saving our fire department, all of which are of great importance to its citizens.
Several candidates have regularly attended council meetings and have been deeply involved with town issues and are actively pursuing solutions for them. The three candidates who I think would be great Palmer Lake Town Council trustees are Karen Stuth, Shana Ball, and Kit Bromfield. I do not discount the other three candidates; I just do not know them as well.
Karen’s involvement includes a master plan, citizens’ group, parks, public safety committee, development of our town website and valuable input to save our fire department. She is an excellent research consultant and a licensed attorney. She would provide much-needed insights into our codes and ordinances. I have every reason to believe Karen would be an asset to our Town Council.
Shana is a previous Town Council member, a prior PL fire chief, and the head of our public safety committee (previously known as the fire committee). Over the last year and a half, Shana has been instrumental in efforts to save our Fire Department. She works tirelessly to search out and apply for grants and programs to improve our Fire and Police Departments.
Kit has offered extensive research on several topics (personnel, Fire Department) over the years as she has attended town meetings regularly since 2013. She has served as secretary of the fire and public safety committees. She currently is working on exploring options for the newly acquired former living word property.
These three individuals, with their combined strengths, insights, and abilities, would unite our town and work to solve the concerns of its residents.
Why did the Dems lose the non-college educated white male vote?
I watched CNN’s Chris Cuomo show the evening of Sept. 9. One segment had Tom Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and a weekly columnist for The New York Times. The question was: "Why do white, non-college-educated men vote for Trump, even though they don’t like him personally?" I have been scratching my head about this for four years. Blue-collar workers are traditionally Democratic. How did Dems lose this key demographic? Are Republicans effectively broadening their political tent?
The answer from Tom was something I had never thought of. For decades, K-12 educators have told their students that they had to go to college. The students then went home and told their dads that they were going to college. They didn’t want to be like their loser dads. In other words, the dads were humiliated. The fact that these dads often made two or three times more money than the teachers as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and machinists wasn’t relevant.
Of course, I know that educators are now suggesting that high schools and community colleges offer apprentice programs. Most people are aware of the shortages for these high-paying jobs. Most people are also aware that for many years our economy hasn’t been able to absorb all the college-educated people that our universities have been putting out.
Trump wasn’t elected because he is a racist or because he would stop immigration. He was elected because a large segment of our voters had been humiliated. If you are humiliated, nothing else matters. If you are humiliated, anyone that listens to you has your vote.
Backing Kit Bromfield
On Nov. 3, the citizens of Palmer Lake will be choosing new trustees for the Town of Palmer Lake. As growth is exploding here in the Tri-Lakes area, Palmer Lake remains an oasis of relative peace and tranquility—a priority for all of us who live here.
Therefore, I am recommending Kit Bromfield for trustee.
Kit has been very active as a committee member in finding answers for our volunteer Fire Department and has also been faithful to attend our regular Board of Trustees meetings for many years. Her faithful attendance and involvement in our town activities are evidence of her care and concern for our town.
Please join me in voting for Kit Bromfield on Nov. 3.
Kit Bromfield endorsement
I am endorsing Kit Bromfield for Palmer Lake Trustee in the November 2020 election.
I have known Kit for many years and have worked closely with her on several committees and volunteer groups. I think she will make an excellent trustee. While we don’t always agree on issues, Kit has a reputation for doing extensive facts-based research before making important decisions. I have relied on her body of research to help me make decisions for several town issues. In addition, she is one of only a handful of Palmer Lake citizens who routinely attends our town hall meetings and has been doing so for several years.
She is also one of the very few who regularly comes to the podium, not just to express her concerns but to suggest solutions to the problems she addresses. She called every town in Colorado that was similar in size to Palmer Lake when she was doing research on town administrator salaries. Then she volunteered for the hiring committee that interviewed and chose our current town administrator/clerk.
She serves as secretary and a founding member of the Public Safety Committee. She personally spent well over 100 hours working to save our fire department.
Kit has demonstrated a strong desire to stay informed and to volunteer her time in many different areas to help make Palmer Lake a great place to live.
These are exactly the traits we need in our next Board of Trustees.
The importance of your vote for county commissioner
Presidential election years garner major national attention, while the election of local government officials is often overlooked. However, the most direct impact on your day-to-day life is determined by your elected county commissioners (CCs). CCs are responsible for the County Master Plan, which details the goals and strategies for the long term, immediate priorities, services, public infrastructure, planning and investing to meet future needs, and is available online at www.bocc.elpasoco.com.
El Paso County (EPC) is governed by five commissioners who are responsible for how local tax dollars are spent. They oversee public works, community services, human services, public health, and public safety (coroner, district attorney, sheriff). The majority of the budget is for public safety, while public health is 1% and the allocation for maintaining county roads only covers 2% of the roads. While there is 0.7% for parks and trails, zero dollars fund open space. NEPCO’s meetings cover many of the strategic plan areas and always include updates on land use/developments. We strive to engage local citizens to be active participants in our democracy.
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) represents many folks who live in northern unincorporated EPC, therefore the commissioners in District 1 and 3 are our first line of government officials. District 3’s candidates for county commissioner are: Timothy Campbell (L), Ken Schauer (D) and Stan VanderWerf (R). District 1 commissioners are elected in 2022. Your county commissioner vote is a vote for our quality of life, property values, health, and well-being.
This month we encourage you to research the ballot issues, learn about the candidates and consider the importance of your local government officials. It’s up to you to participate, engage and vote to ensure our community grows responsibly.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
We are living in historic times, and this is a great time to look back at history and learn from it. Here are some compelling, well-researched nonfiction and historical fiction books to start.
Without Warning: The Saga of Gettysburg
By Terry C. Pierce (Heart Ally Books) $29.95
Written by local resident Terry Pierce, Without Warning is the gripping saga of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union patriots who fought it, and the man who led them. It scrutinizes the role character plays in leadership and the challenge of the unexpected. This historical novel brings to vivid life seven unforgettable days in the lives and trials of Gen. George Meade and his men as they brave the winds of war to save the United States of America.
Reich Child: A Lebensborn Life
By David Bugno (Entrust Source Publishers) $17.99
This memoir by David Bugno, a Lebensborn child, tells the fascinating and eye-opening story of a woman and her son trapped in Hitler’s monstrous ambitions. Lebensborn babies were slated to become leading citizens of the Third Reich. David’s mother’s heroic efforts saved them, and they immigrated to America. He did not discover the truth until late adulthood. David shares his journey from disorienting confusion to understanding, from crushing pain to hope. Not much has been written about this, and readers will gain insight into the lesser-known inner workings of Hitler’s regime.
Something Worth Doing
By Jane Kirkpatrick (Revell) $15.99
In 1853, Abigail Scott was a schoolteacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more. When Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family, what she sees as a working woman appalls her and prompts her to devote her life to fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote. This is based on a true story.
Bad Old Days of Colorado: Untold Stories of the Wild West
By Randi Samuelson-Brown (Two Dot Books) $19.95
Many people born and bred here relish just how "bad" things used to be: the terrain, the inhabitants … the quality of whiskey. It almost goes without saying that Colorado had all the characteristic Wild West elements in abundance. It is no secret that Colorado was settled by the adventurous willing to brave harsh conditions and to prevail. Whether on the right or the wrong side of the law, all settlers and pioneers made unique contributions to the state’s complex culture.
Stagecoach Women: Brave and Daring Women of the West
By Cheryl Mullenbach (Two Dot Books) $18.95
Prepare for the surprising stories about women and stagecoaches that jolt away preconceived notions and are filled with twists and turns. Though women’s contributions to stagecoach history were often overlooked, women were shrewd owners, plucky drivers, and even ruthless robbers, all in addition to fulfilling their traditional roles as housekeepers, cooks, laundresses, and mothers to multiple children. This book offers an expansive overview of stagecoach history enriched by the personal stories of women who contributed to the evolution and success of a captivating facet of American history.
The Order of the Day
By Eric Vuillard (Other Press) $14.99
Feb. 20, 1933: A meeting of 24 German captains of industry and senior Nazi officials is being held in secret. They are there to extract funds for the accession to power of the National Socialist Party and its chancellor. This opening scene sets a tone of consent that will lead to the worst possible repercussions. Named a "Best Book of the Year" by NPR, Boston Globe, and Literary Hub, and winner of the Prix Goncourt, this behind-the-scenes account tells of the manipulation, hubris, and greed that together led to Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria.
My Dear Hamilton
By Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (William Morrow & Company) $16.99
In this edge-of-your-seat immersion into historical events, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources. They tell Eliza Hamilton’s story as it’s never been told before, not just as the wronged wife at the center of America’s first political sex scandal but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Monument Library continues to welcome our patrons to take advantage of public computers and printing and copying services. Also, feel free to browse the collection and check out movies or the latest in book titles.
Our hours are 9 to 7 on Monday through Thursday and 10 to 5 on Friday and Saturday.
All programs, including literacy and math tutoring, are suspended for the remainder of the calendar year. This is due to unavailability of meeting rooms and the requirement of social distancing in the library.
A few tables and chairs have been reintroduced in the public area for those who wish to enjoy a newspaper or complete a task on a laptop. We do, however, request that your stay be relatively brief. All tables and chairs are sanitized after use, as well as computers and other devices.
Curbside service remains available to pick up your items on hold. Please call 488-2370 ahead of time so that your items will be ready for you. Or, simply drop by and ring the doorbell on the table outside and we will come to you.
Please see our website (www.ppld.org) for a wide variety of virtual programs including yoga, story times, and book groups. There is a new story time and a new toddler time each week. Earlier sessions are also available for viewing.
Returned materials continue to be quarantined for four days before being processed. Please place any returns in the outdoor book drop on the north side of the building before entering.
In keeping with state and county Health Department mandates, all patrons over the age of 2 are required to wear masks in the library.
During the month of October, Maker Spaces at the East, Sand Creek, and Library 21c locations will reopen to public use. Please see our website for details.
The Palmer Lake Library remains closed at this time.
The entrance ramp has been demolished until it can be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district Bookmobile visits the site on Mondays from 9 to 11 and Wednesdays from 2:15 to 4. The book drop remains available.
We hope to see you soon at the library.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Snow? No! There are ways to extend our growing season in our area. I interviewed one of our local farmers to find out what he does to get multi-season growth.
OneLuv Organics uses a system of steel tubes for hoops and a very specific frost cloth. The frost cloth goes over the hoops and extends out from the last hoop on each side with a very specific pattern. Adding frost cloth on the ground over the seedlings keeps ground temperatures at least five degrees higher than the air temperature—even in sub-freezing weather—letting in a high degree of sunshine yet keeping out hail, snow, wind, and other environmental factors that could harm the plants.
I got some of their hoops and frost cloth for my garden. I didn’t have time to get the hoop system up at my house before we had snow in early September. But at Monument Community Garden I just threw the frost cloth over my 30 tomato plants and put trash bags over the kale and nasturtiums and a bucket over a small zucchini plant to see if it would help ride out the storm. A few days later, I went to check on my survival experiment and everything that was covered survived with limited damage—the tomatoes looked as if nothing had happened at all! All the other plants, which I was leaving to ripen, were frost burned from the snow, so I’ve been harvesting the seeds.
Plants usually will survive a mild snow and even frost because the snow acts like a blanket. The problem arises if we have rain or sleet first, freezing the water on them. Curiously, prudent watering (but not overwatering) of plants early in the day at 40 degrees or so, can protect them. Water in the plant cells insulates and protects from damage; watering nearby soil helps retain the sun’s heat, because humid air retains heat better than dry air.
Left: At OneLuv Organics, owner Dean Bortell shows how they use steel hoops and attach the frost cloth. Plastic and aluminum hoops could collapse, but steel hoops have the sturdiness the farm needs for protection against most wind and snow loads. Note that the metal stake on the left and the tied-down frost cloth create the end slopes on the tunnels, with a center paracord on long tunnels clipped to the cloth. Wind and snow flow past these shapes instead of piling on top and collapsing the unit. With the steel hoops, gardeners can just push it into the soil; the minimum distance between this size of hoop should be 4 feet. Photo by Janet SellersMilo Scott shows a preview of his woodturning bowls Photos by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an ethnoecologist and avid lazy gardener letting Mother Nature do most of the work. Contact Janet at email@example.com
By Janet Sellers
Artists use materials from the low tech of pencil and paper to the high tech of electronic devices that add visual, sound, and interactive motion to their art. Augmented reality (AR) art is redefining our cultural experiences. As AR apps become more available, we will use them for more purposes, likely increasing dynamic sharing for education, presentations, and design.
We need our real world, and we need art as cultural heritage adding balance to our lives. In this pandemic year, art venues have lost tourism support and more. Undaunted, museums are bringing that to us via the cloud. Artists are using this era to make group and community sharing in heartwarming and fulfilling ways.
Conference call life for many is the norm, so art venues are availing AR beyond mere audio tours. Artists, museums, and galleries are bringing art back into our lives on platforms that are easy to use for all tech levels, and as simple as ordering the devices to do our bidding just by saying," Okay, Google!"
Foundation skills, innovation, and originality are essential components to art and imagination. With augmented reality, (unlike virtual reality which requires a viewer with special equipment to a complete immersion of that experience) the user experiences original art and augmentation side by side with added technology—usually electronics—to experience the art with superimposed images, music or fonts and texts to alter the aesthetic experience, usually on a handy device like a cell phone. Artists add digitized visuals, movement, and sound to their art via electronic platforms (TV, computers, smartphones), for the augmented part of the experience.
A century ago, Picasso upended his art world and the contemporary art of his time, reflecting a cultural freedom expressing basic humanity as opposed to the contrived "surface perfect" art that had dominated Western aesthetic thinking for hundreds of years. He brought back more primitive forms of art that contain and reveal fundamental shapes with visceral impact versus surface appearance, thus investigating and exposing human cultural foundations instead of covering them up in response to his rapidly changing modern world.
That feat was as close to our current AR as one could be in his day. We are using but not being used by our own newest platforms, reaching out to each other with what we have. We’ll be back to reality soon, and in the meantime, let’s enjoy our platforms and share how much art matters.
Left: Viewers can enjoy art as is or access the cloud for an augmented reality experience that includes movement, sound, and transforming imagery using apps such as Reblink, Artvive, and more. Photo from www.ClipArtKey.com. Artwork by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and speaker on the topics of art and creativity, making and sharing art on many creative platforms. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a Kid Mountain Biking
Above: On a warm and sunny Sept. 19, local kids and parents enjoyed the Fox Run Park Take a Kid Mountain Biking day to learn how to plan ahead, learn riding skills for safety, where bikes are allowed, care and safety of the trail, bikes, and oneself, and the "move over" etiquette rules for being friendly and polite, especially since bicycle riders must move over for hikers and horseback riders. After learning the rules of the trail on the grassy playground areas, the kids went on a forest trail ride through Fox Run Park with a leader in age specific groups. After everyone got back from their ride there was a festive giveaway of swag and door prizes. Photo by Janet Sellers
Art weekends in local scenic spots
Left: Art students Emily, left, and Ella enjoy the shade of giant sunflowers as they paint and sketch in the Monument Community Garden for the annual Labor Day weekend "Paint Out," an annual—and national—outdoor painting celebration, often a competition among professionals with an art sale following the day. Emily and Ella attended the weekend Artful Outdoors community event, offered as a technique demonstration with a class each week. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Monu-Palooza, Sept. 6
Above: The fourth annual Monu-Palooza music festival was held on its traditional Labor Day Eve occasion (Sept. 6) at Limbach Park in Monument. The all-day festival featured entertainment from five local bands (Ashtōnz, Eighty3, the J. Miller Band, Skin & Bones and WireWood Station) and included food trucks, snack vendors, and perfect Colorado weather. "It was a great day, which the Town of Monument staff, our sponsors, and the participating bands made possible," said event organizer Charlie Searle. "An 11th-hour increase in legal park capacity from 175 to 250 was huge too ... almost like old times!" Photos by Merrilee Ellis.
Boy Scouts learn about space
Above: Boy Scout Troop 17, which meets at St. Peter Catholic Church in Monument, spent Sept. 12 learning about space, seeing space videos, and participating in space activities. The "space day" was a part of the requirements for the Scouts to earn the Space Exploration merit badge. Ron Sega, Ph.D., was the guest speaker. Dr. Sega is a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of two space missions, logging over 420 hours in space. He presented an interactive lecture about his space missions, the experiments he conducted and the technical aspects of space travel. The Scouts got to ask Sega questions and received an autographed photo collage of Sega to commemorate the occasion. Thomas Silva, a Troop 17 parent, had the Scouts participate in several hands-on activities that focused on space exploration. The daylong affair ended with the Scouts launching their homemade water bottle rockets. Photo provided by Tom Smith.
Run4Hope 5K for Schools, Sept. 19
Above: Everyone was a winner at the RUN4HOPE 5K for Schools held Sept. 19 at The Ascent Church. Participants ran in the Fourth Annual Color Fun Run, Competitive Run, and Virtual Run. And they were off … in a staggered social-distancing start. Timing chips started their time when they crossed the starting line, which just happened to be the finish line when they circled back. Runners were able to participate virtually and upload their times during the week. RUN4HOPE is a fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds are for local schools for Sources of Strength, a suicide prevention program. School programs at D-38 and D-20 high schools include Lewis-Palmer, Palmer Ridge, Discovery Canyon, and The Classical Academy. You can still donate at the RUN4HOPE website run4hope5kforschools.com. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Snowstorm, Sept. 9
Left: This little guy was very surprised and missed the last flight out before the snowstorm on Sept 9. Local residents were surprised by one of the earliest snowstorms on record to come through the area. Hummingbirds are remarkably resistant to sub-freezing temperatures and can survive the temperature changes in the Rocky Mountains. While the Rufous hummingbirds normally winter in Mexico, many make it to Costa Rica. Hopefully we can all fly south for the winter soon. Photo by Marlene Brown.
BSNF coal train, Sept. 19
Above: On Sept. 19, a southbound BNSF coal train approaches the new pedestrian bridge in Palmer Lake. The bridge allows pedestrians to safely cross the tracks from the lake to the town. Photo by Steve Pate.
Fine Art & Crafts Market, Sept. 26
Above: On Sept. 26, the 24th annual Fine Art & Crafts Market was held at Lewis-Palmer High School. This year’s event was outdoors in the north parking lot at the high school. Sixty-five vendors participated this year, about half the numbers of vendors who participate when the event is held indoors, according to Stephanie Barker, who organized and ran the event. Social distancing and masks were required along with one-way traffic flow for attendees. Photo by Steve Pate.
Above: I am a virus survivor who escaped the Washington, D.C., area where there were more motor vehicles than animals and am now residing in Colorado Springs. Today my daily chore is deer watching in my new home in the suburban Gleneagle community. In this photo taken Sept. 1, mother deer shows her fawn how to steal the bird food in the backyard. Photo by John E. De Freitas.
Photo Contest Winners continue on page 28.
Above: Still waters at Monument Rock, Pike National Forest Monument Preserve, Monument. Taken Aug. 1 on a walk near my home. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Left: Despite snow and freezing temperatures, the hummingbirds kept coming to my feeders near Baptist Road. They were all puffed out to keep warm on Sept. 9. Photo by Lynne Becker.
Above: The two fawns appear to be perfect statues in this photo taken Sept. 7 in Gleneagle. The mom is in the background. All three deer swing by the yard almost daily. We love seeing them! Photo by Maria Gomez.
Above: Tom Westrope takes his Saint Bernard, Hudson, on his daily walk in Fox Run Regional Park on Aug. 3. Best peaceful place to walk your dog! Photo by Laurie Westrope.
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.
Online voter services available
Check that your voter record is up to date now; ballots will be mailed starting Oct. 9. The deadline to register to vote or update your registration and still receive a ballot in the mail is Oct. 26. For more information, phone 719-575-VOTE (8683) or visit www.govotecolorado.gov. See ad on page 2.
Ham Radio help sessions
WØTLM Amateur Radio Club is offering a free series of online help sessions to get aspiring radio operators of all ages through the material. Session 1 is Oct. 24, 9 a.m. Session 2 will be Oct. 29, 7 p.m. Session 3 is Nov. 5, 7 p.m., and Session 4 will be Nov. 14, 9 a.m. The in-person exam session in Monument will be Nov. 21, 10 a.m. Info: http://w0tlm.com, click on license classes; Bob@KONR.com.
Election judges needed
The El Paso County Elections Department has many short-term election judge temporary jobs available to assist in the November general election. This is an exceptional opportunity to be involved in this historic presidential election. To learn more, visit www.govotecolorado.gov or contact Angie Leath, director of Elections, email@example.com or 719-575-8683.
WMMI volunteers needed
Volunteers age 18 and over are needed for the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Patch. The Harvest Festival is Oct. 3, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Oct. 4, noon-4 p.m. The pumpkin patch is Oct. 10, 17, and 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Volunteers are needed for the pumpkin patch, parking, and more. If interested, contact 719-488-0880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
YMCA’s Virtual Turkey Trot 5K
Run your own Turkey Trot 5k wherever and whenever you want and sleep in on Thanksgiving! Register by Oct. 25 for a discounted fee. All participants receive a T-shirt, and dogs ($5) get a bandana and treat. Register online at www.ppymca.org/turkeytrot2020. See ad on page 6.
Pale Ale with a purpose
Pikes Peak Brewing Co. is offering Local 5 Pale Ale for a limited time in its tasting rooms at 1756 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Proceeds will benefit the local Fire Fighters Union, Local 5. See ad on page 18.
LEAP—Help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1-April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
Sisters’ Thrift & Boutique open
The Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery have a shop full of gently used treasures, including clothing and accessories, household items, and small furniture at 8674 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs. Store hours are Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The phone number is 719-282-0316. The shop welcomes donations and volunteers. For a $5 off coupon, see ad on page 11.
Small-business grants available
The Energize Colorado Gap Fund will provide more than $25 million in small-business loans and grants to boost small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Sole proprietors, businesses, and nonprofits with less than 25 full-time employees can apply for up to a $15,000 grant and a $20,000 loan for a possible combined total of $35,000 in financial assistance. For more information, visit https://energizecolorado.com.
Taste of Palmer Lake
This year your ticket will get you free food or beverage offerings from all of our Palmer Lake restaurants. Purchase your ticket and receive a punch card for a one-time use for your free item anytime through Feb. 28, 2021. This is a limited time offer. Tickets are $25, available at all Palmer Lake restaurants, and all the money goes to this year’s downtown Christmas decorations. Help light up Palmer Lake. For details, visit www.awakepalmerlake.org.
Tri-Lakes Y fall youth basketball starts in October, register now
Registration is now open for youth basketball, which will start in October. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org/basketball or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument.
Stage II fire restrictions
Stage II fire restrictions are now in effect for all the unincorporated areas of El Paso County. The following activities are prohibited during Stage II fire restrictions: (1) Open burning defined as campfires and warming fires, charcoal grills and outdoor wood burning stoves, the use of explosives, outdoor welding or use of acetylene or other torch with open flames other than in an area cleared of all flammable materials. Fires contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves are permitted. (2) The use or sale of fireworks of all kinds. (3) Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle. Violations of Stage II fire restrictions in unincorporated El Paso County may result in a fine of up to $1,000. Please report any suspected violations of the order by phoning 719-390-5555. For more information, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com.
VFW scholarship competitions
VFW’s Voice of Democracy Scholarship competition gives local high school students a chance to compete for thousands of dollars in scholarships and a trip to Washington, D.C. Students must write and record a three-to-five-minute essay on the selected theme using an audio CD or flash drive and present their recording, typed essay, and completed entry form to their local VFW Post by Oct. 31. The 2020-21 theme is "Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?" Middle school students also have a scholarship competition, Patriot’s Pen. This year’s theme is "What Is Patriotism to Me?" For more information about both contests, visit www.vfw.org/VOD.
Each year, MVEA awards $1,000 scholarships to 14 graduating high school seniors. Applications are due by Jan. 18, 2021. Apply online at www.mvea.coop/scholarships. For more information contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, email@example.com. See ad on page 10.
National Night Out, Oct. 6
National Night Out, a national community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships, has traditionally been scheduled for the first Tuesday in August. This year it is delayed until Oct. 6 due to COVID-19. Turn on your porch light and go outside to join your neighbors to make a show of solidarity and strength. Plan a block party, barbecue, neighborhood walk, or other activity. Register for free and receive information and suggestions at www.natw.org.
MVEA youth leadership trip
High school sophomores and juniors can win a summer trip. Apply at www.mvea.coop/essay-contest. Leadership trip availability may change due to COVID-19. For more information, contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 10.
Mountain View Electric Association will reward you to switch to LED bulbs and from gas to electric powered outdoor equipment. Visit www.mvea.coop/rebates to learn more.
Monument Hill Frontage Road
Crews have closed a portion of the Monument Hill Frontage Road, east of mainline I-25, for about seven months. The 1,100-foot closure is required as crews construct a wildlife underpass, replace drainage pipes, complete roadway construction, and install a sound wall between northbound I-25 and the frontage road. The closure will be located between the Colorado Heights Campground access points. Access to and from the campground will not be disrupted.
Wildlife underpasses will help reduce animal-vehicle collisions along the I-25 South Gap corridor, and the improved drainage will prevent flooding and soil erosion in this area. The sound wall will extend from Misty Acres Boulevard, just north of Palmer Ridge High School, to the Telios Law building on Monument Hill Frontage Road. For more information on this closure, visit www.codot.gov/projects/i25-south-gap/monument-hill-frontage-road-closure.
Free transportation and handyman services
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. Private transportation to medical appointments or a grocery store is now provided by Envida, 719-633-4677. 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.
Tri-Lakes Cares is there for you
Do you need help as a result of COVID-19? Connect with Tri-Lakes Cares for assistance with groceries, rent or mortgage, utilities, car repair, and medical assistance at www.tri-lakescares.org/coronavirus. For more information, call 719-481-4864.
Tri-Lakes Cares online auction
Due to COVID-19, there will be no Empty Bowls dinner this year. Monument Hill Kiwanis distributed pre-paid bowls in a drive-through Oct. 3, but this fundraising effort won’t match the funds normally raised by the usual Empty Bowls event. So, Tri-Lakes Cares will hold an online auction Oct. 3-10. Register and view auction items on the website, www.tri-lakescares.org,
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us
Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization located in and serving northern El Paso County through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. The community-based, volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. The best way to help support Tri-Lakes Cares is to make a financial donation. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Brendan Rhoades, TLC’s Community Engagement Manager: 719-481-4864, ext. 111; email@example.com; or visit www.tri-lakescares.org.
Volunteer for Tri-Lakes Cares
There are many areas within Tri-Lakes Cares that you can help serve. Volunteers interact with clients, stock the food pantry, distribute grocery orders, process donations, pack Snack Packs for local youth, and contribute in many other ways to the success of Tri-Lakes Cares. Becoming a volunteer is easy and fun. For details, contact Volunteer Coordinator Nichole Pettigrew, 719-481-4864 x113, VolunteerCoordinator@Tri-LakesCares.org; or visit https://tri-lakescares.org/volunteer/.
COVID-19 pandemic resources
The county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0, has lists to help with basic needs, behavioral health resources, businesses, childcare resources for children and teens, health and wellness resources, and volunteer opportunities (local and immediate needs).
Can you volunteer today?
Links to local organizations with an immediate need for volunteers are listed on the county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0, for groups like Care and Share, Crossfire Ministries, Citizen’s Project (email firstname.lastname@example.org for virtual opportunities to help with Census 2020), blood donations, Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity), foster an animal, Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, Salvation Army, Silver Key, and United Way (ongoing opportunities).
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.
Virtual Fill the Boot Campaign
Local firefighters won’t be able to conduct their campaign in person this year, but you can still support their fundraising efforts. Visit https://filltheboot.donordrive.com/participant/Tri-Lakes-Monument-Fire.
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.
The unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation presents scheduling challenges to area governance entities and other organizations. Because OCN is a monthly publication, readers should assume that information published in this issue is subject to change and event information should be confirmed a day or two before the event by calling the information number or checking the organization’s website.
Many entries show dates even though the event has been canceled or suspended. The date indicates when the event was planned to be held or when it would normally have been held.
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 email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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