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By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education discussed plans for an extended closure and approved the purchase of several new buses during its meeting on March 16. Because the schools were closed due to concerns about the coronavirus, the meeting was relatively brief.
Board Treasurer Ron Schwarz attended by phone.
In their individual comments, members of the board said that they appreciated the leadership of Superintendent K.C. Somers and acknowledged that the decision to close schools was a difficult one. It was noted that the present situation is unprecedented. The capability for online learning by students was praised.
Somers read a statement that the decision to close was difficult, and he was aware of the disruption it causes in households. He said that in developing the remote learning process, the staff was challenged to innovate.
Somers said he is exploring the possibility of providing Chromebooks and hotspots to students who do not have computers and internet access at home. District staff will be paid during the closure.
Somers said the administration will be constantly monitoring the situation and encouraged all to use this as an opportunity to model resilience and exercise compassion and patience. He expressed hope that this will slow the spread of the virus and thanked all for their support.
The board heard a first reading of a number of policies, some of which were recently altered in response to suggestions by the Colorado Department of Education. One such policy, regarding the administration of medication during school hours, prompted a question from board Secretary Tiffiney Upchurch, who was concerned that the definition, which includes over-the-counter, homeopathic and herbal materials, and nutritional supplements is unnecessarily broad. In all cases, medication may only be administered at school when it is not administered at home. The individual administering the medication must be trained by a registered nurse, and the medication must be in its original packaging. The packaging on prescription medication must include dosage and frequency of dosage information, and the student may only have one day’s dosage with them. The medications will be kept by the school. Upchurch suggested altering the wording to say simply prescription or over the counter rather than the further alternatives.
No action was taken on this first reading.
There was a brief discussion of policy IHCDA regarding concurrent enrollment allowing students in the middle and high schools to concurrently attend college-level classes for high school and college credit.
Students must apply for such classes 60 days ahead of time and must take a college entrance exam to demonstrate their qualifications.
Upchurch questioned the wording that guidance counselors have the final say on whether a student may take such a class. She asked whether a student would have the opportunity to challenge the decision to the principal or other individual.
Executive Director of Learning Services Lori Benton said there are strict guidelines for qualification for such classes, and sometimes parents are encouraging students to take too many of such classes in addition to their regular course load. It is in these cases that the counselor sometimes intervenes.
Director Chris Taylor asked whether students who took classes and earned college credit are recognized at graduation or any other way as athletes often are. He wishes the community to know of such achievements.
Benson responded that students who take advanced placement classes are also not recognized but that the district will consider doing so. Schools that are awarded prizes for academic achievement are recognized at board meetings, and scholarship winners are also recognized.
Planning related to extended closing
Somers said that the superintendents of all El Paso County districts have been in frequent contact. It is fortunate that all were to have spring break at the same time, offering the opportunity to add a week off to consider possibilities. (It has since been decided by the governor to limit all groups to 10 or fewer.)
Board Vice President Theresa Phillips asked Somers to explain the concept of distance learning during the closure.
Somers said that he is working with instructional coaches and others to create a continuity of learning for all ages. Resources at the elementary level include Reading Plus, which allows students to work at their own pace. Teachers can assign specific modules daily or offer weekly lesson plans. Grades will not be assigned during this period. Students needing special support pose a challenge. High school teachers will contact their students individually, he said.
Somers said he recognizes that some teachers have strategies to share. Principals were to meet virtually the day after the board meeting.
Upchurch asked whether there were plans regarding school plays or other long-term projects.
Somers responded that all is being put on hold. It might be possible to resume rehearsals when school reopens. The virus leaves the district completely without control of the timing of the rest of the academic year.
Upchurch asked how the board and parents could support Somers. He said he feels the support of the community and urges all to acknowledge that students are going through a rough situation. The district will strive to provide clarity through frequent communication. Please go to the district website, http://lewispalmer.org, for updates.
Taylor asked what provisions the district is making for nutrition during the closure.
Somers responded that the district was able to create 250 meals from supplies already in the district’s kitchen. The district donated all of its fresh produce and milk to Tri-Lakes Cares. Emails were sent to families who qualify for free/reduced price lunch, and the pick-up point is Tri-Lakes Cares. Sixty families had already contacted Tri-Lakes Cares. He also said that students under 18 may pick up meals from various locations in the county, detailed on the Meal Map on the website.
Board President Matthew Clawson said that everything the district is doing is to protect the students. He has read some recommendations that schools close for eight weeks.
Regarding testing, Somers said that all assessments are on hold and none has been sent to the district. Testing is not a focus at this time. The state is weighing the decision.
Taylor asked whether there would be medical screening of students and staff on their return.
Somers said that if staff or students exhibit symptoms, they will be sent home. If one individual exhibits symptoms, the school will close for 72 hours. If there are two individuals, the closure will be for 144 hours. If more, the closure will be for 14 days. El Paso County Public Health would notify the district of positive testing.
As part of the consent agenda, the board voted to purchase 10 new buses over the next five years. A large portion of the fleet is now over 20 years old, with the recommended useful life of a bus being 12-15 years. The bus fleet maintenance budget has been cut over the past several years as a cost-cutting measure. The cost of the 10 buses will be under $1.1 million.
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education usually meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Due to a scheduling conflict, the April meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 21. Check website.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors conducted its March 18 meeting via conference call. All directors were able to connect and participate. President Mark Melville established a roll call procedure for all votes taken during the meeting. District Manager Jim McGrady presented an opportunity to support the progress of the U.S. Air Force Academy Visitor Center construction. Staff provided project updates and reported on how operations were affected by the coronavirus or COVID-19.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within Monument that provides road, landscaping, and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
The March 18 board packet may be accessed via www.triviewmetro.com/boardDocuments.
Potential partnership with USAFA explained
McGrady announced that he had signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Participation Agreement which, upon all participants signing, initiates the feasibility and environmental impact study of building a 10-mile wastewater pipeline between Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) existing wastewater collection system called the J. D. Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility and the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. See www.ocn.me/v20n2.htm#dwsd for more information. This proposed pipeline, called the Northern Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI), would be a regional system and potentially serve Triview, Donala Water and Sanitation District, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD), Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District No.1.
McGrady confirmed that Triview water attorney Chris Cummins had reviewed the agreement and determined that changes from the first draft were not substantial.
The first phase of the NEPA process calls for a public scoping meeting to establish all environmental issues that will be studied. Pending postponement or cancellation due to COVID-19, the scoping session is tentatively scheduled for May 5 at Library 21c.
McGrady later reported on an opportunity to possibly expedite progress on the U.S. Air Force Academy Visitors Center (AFAVC). Engineers designing the wastewater pipeline for the AFAVC face tricky construction challenges and significant delays due to a wetland crossing, a protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, and other environmental issues. The idea was proposed to construct a wastewater line from the AFA to the Donala booster pump station just east of the I-25/Northgate Road interchange whereby wastewater from the AFAVC could then be pumped to and treated by the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF). Triview, Donala, and FLMD are partner-owners of the UMCRWWTF and Triview, McGrady estimated, uses about 50% of its apportioned treatment capacity at the facility.
This potential temporary measure would allow the AFAVC to use a portion of Triview’s excess wastewater treatment capacity and thus expedite availability of the academy’s hotel and other amenities. The arrangement, if agreed upon, is estimated to operate for about five years until the NMCI is functional and connected to the AFAVC.
McGrady expressed support for the idea as a means to stimulate regional development and for Triview to play a key role in assisting the AFAVC. Director Anthony Sexton expressed being "uneasy" with such an arrangement due to Triview’s potential need for additional wastewater treatment capacity resulting from the district’s projected growth and development over the next few years. McGrady responded that a maximum of 120,000 gallons per day is the AFAVC’s anticipated need, which leaves substantial capacity for Triview. He added that those same concerns would be addressed in the details of the agreement established among the respective entities. McGrady received board support in continuing the "excess capacity" discussion.
COVID-19 assurances detailed
Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton enumerated safety precautions practiced by water staff to keep the system and water supply coronavirus-free. He explained that the district’s water supply comes from wells in excess of 1,000 feet deep and delivered to treatment plants in underground pipelines and, therefore, not exposed to the airborne virus. Treatment operations are conducted exclusively indoors and treated water is contained in a protected environment. The chlorine disinfection phase of treatment inactivates the virus by halting its replication. When staff work inside the plant, they don Tyvek suits, rubber gloves, and respirators, and use sanitizers to wipe down work surfaces.
In addition to alternating staff, all Triview employees are not allowed to travel in the same truck in order to increase social distancing. Personnel must immediately self-quarantine upon the first signs of illness.
Sexton stated that he continues to develop contingency plans in the event any utility staff become sick and is considering working with neighboring districts and staffing agencies that employ licensed public water system operators. Except for chemical replenishment, the water plants can be operated remotely.
Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jay Bateman added that his crews wipe down surfaces regularly and maintain the 6-foot safe distance by not traveling together to work sites. Bateman also suggested that anyone using the district playground equipment should wipe down surfaces with various disinfecting wipes prior to allowing their children to use the equipment.
McGrady emphasized that, due to COVID-19, the program to replace current water meters with cellular meters had been placed on hold until September or possibly later. However, if any residents would like a new cellular meter installed so that they can monitor their water use in 15-minute increments, they should call the district office and request a new meter be installed in their home by district staff.
2020 road overlay project given a "green light"
McGrady announced that the district received summer road rehabilitation project bids from three construction companies: Martin Marietta, Kiewit, and Schmidt Construction. Martin Marietta submitted the lowest cost proposal at $886,147 and McGrady, after a thorough review of the proposal, recommended awarding the contract to them. Board directors unanimously authorized McGrady to award and sign the contract with Martin Marietta.
McGrady expressed a goal of getting an early start on the overlay project and completing it quickly to minimize inconvenience to district residents.
In another road-related discussion, Director James Barnhart requested an update on the Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP) widening project. The project encountered delays due to October 2019 snowstorms and continued winter weather, which pushed the project’s completion into spring 2020. Bateman affirmed that Kiewit expected to resume work about mid-April. McGrady reminded the board that median work needed to be completed as well as constructing and paving the turn lanes into Monument Marketplace. He added that six continuous days of 50-degree and rising temperatures were needed to ensure a quality asphalt mix for the final overlay.
Public works and utilities
• McGrady and Superintendent Sexton confirmed that drilling for the new Denver Basin wells—wells A-9 and D-9 in the Sanctuary Pointe area—would be completed within a few days of the board meeting. They reported that other wells had been cleaned and new pumps and/or motors installed in preparation for summer demand. McGrady anticipated that, with all units online and functioning well, Triview’s water system would be as strong as it’s ever been going into the 2020 summer season.
• The district restarted installation of a public works building for its JCP complex (on the east side of JCP and north of the JCP-Leather Chaps intersection). McGrady stated that the steel building had been ordered and plans had been submitted to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. He anticipated that construction would likely begin by June 1, the primary structure would be completed in 2020, and extraneous work, such as the parking lot, would be postponed to 2021. The facility, intended to support Public Works, Parks and Open Space staff and store equipment, has an estimated price of just less than $600,000.
• Parks and Open Space crews will be working alongside Landscape Endeavors in the coming weeks to install the new landscape elements of the JCP median. Drivers are encouraged to be extra vigilant while driving along the parkway.
At 6:27 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(b)(e) legal advice, negotiations.
The next Triview board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 15. Check the district’s event calendar at www.triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for meeting schedule updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in-person, via conference call, or online. 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 reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held a regular board meeting on March 12 to discuss pandemic plans and construction updates, approve teachers’ raises, and make plans for the upcoming board election. Board member Chris Dole was absent.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Christianna Herrera thanked the Information Technology (IT) committee and school administration for their help on the pandemic readiness and operation plan she was submitting to the board for its approval. The plan includes an eLearning option that she had already thought might be useful for snow days based on the current year.
She noted that Lewis-Palmer District 38 Superintendent Dr. K.C. Somers had contacted her about communications he had had with area superintendents and shared communication that went out just before the board meeting indicating the district would be closed for 14 days to include spring break, returning on March 30. (Note: Later communication extended the school closure until April 20 based on Gov. Polis’ executive order to stay at home.). The plan, if approved by the board, indicates that MA will cooperate with the district plan and that all communication will go out district-wide, including to MA and its staff.
Herrera said the district and MA will use the time off to do a deep cleaning of schools, facilities, and buses using industrial products. She noted that if the break extended beyond the initial two weeks, MA would implement its eLearning option and would continue to pay faculty and staff. The district would handle any required waivers of contact hours (educational hours teachers must spend with students) due to this extended time off.
Herrera noted the cooperation among districts across Colorado and said this has been very unifying. She said the extra week would allow everyone to be trained before rolling out eLearning, which can be used in the future for snow days as well. Herrera confirmed the curriculum is the same as what is already used. In a nutshell, the plan covers taking attendance, office hours for four hours a day via call, email, or Google Hangouts to ask questions on instruction and assignments. She noted that eLearning already happens in Colorado in Banning Lewis and D49.
The board discussed device and internet access and availability as well as screen time and control. The board unanimously approved the pandemic and eLearning plan.
More information from the district about the pandemic can be found at http://lewispalmer.org/coronavirus.
Board member Melanie Strop reported that contingency funds were good at around $200,000, but there is a hiccup on material for the new secondary school. The tariffs placed on China and the impact of the epidemic may cause material delay for flooring, finishes, and drywall. She noted that it is not easy to switch to other suppliers due to higher costs but said that project is on schedule for now.
Board President Mark McWilliams noted there might be several things adding to the delays, given the impact of the pandemic. He suggested asking Herrera and her teams to begin making plans in case the school is not done in time. He would like backup plans for where to house ninth-grade students and any additional students at lower grades.
Teachers’ raises and one-time payment
The board discussed a proposal to raise teachers’ pay by 3% and provide a one-time payment to all employees aside from the COO. The 3% is based on past years and the desire to stay ahead of the inflation rate of 1.8%. This amount fits into the current budget. McWilliams noted that MA hopes to have a mill levy override (MLO) in the fall election season; D38 board liaison Tiffiney Upchurch said the district is early in the process, but an MLO would include MA. McWilliams said MA wants to get behind the MLO and make sure it benefits all D38 and increases teachers’ salaries compared to the other districts in the state.
The one-time payment is new and reflects a desire to hand a blessing of $1,000 each to all employees. Board member Megghan St. Aubyn asked if this was tied to performance, and McWilliams replied that all employees performed this year and had to start the year without an executive director in place.
McWilliams indicated that the board election process should start in April. Board member Susan Byrd said MA needs to vote in two new members in May, so she wants to get information out in April. She said the board should meet with candidates in mid-April and set up a community meeting toward the end of April so the vote could take place in May.
McWilliams said he wants to open it up early to solicit candidates and have them fill out a questionnaire. The position starts at the end of June and the new board members will be sworn in in the June/July timeframe. After a discussion on how elections were run in the past and efforts to improve the process, the board directed Byrd to use the two weeks off to see how other boards run elections.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• McWilliams reported that the School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC) met on Feb. 24 and did a mid-year survey analysis to present at the April board meeting and started its review of the school with respect to the family-school-community national standards. It will finalize that review, discuss the end of year survey, and review the Uniform Improvement Plan (UIP) at its next meetings. The UIP is due to the district in mid-April. McWilliams noted that dates of the next SAAC meetings, its reports, and the UIP deadline might change.
• The board unanimously approved the updated MA Uniform and Dress Code policy for 2020-21 after discussing layering, costumes, and novelty headbands. See http://bit.ly/ma-policies.
• The board unanimously approved giving hiring authority to the MA administration to begin staffing for 2020-21 for the new school and growing the current school. The plan includes support staff and assistant principals at each campus.
The next meeting was moved to Wednesday, May 6 due to conflicts. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in Lab 312 at 1150 Village Ridge Point. Given the current situation, those interested in attending the meeting are encouraged to check the website at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board for up-to-date information on the location and timing of the upcoming meetings.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Using more hand sanitizer, soap, and wipes is a natural outcome of our attempts to keep the coronavirus from spreading. Unfortunately, wipes that go down the toilet continue to pose huge problems and expense for the sanitation industry.
There are two wastewater treatment facilities in the Tri-Lakes region: The Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) and the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF). The UMCRWWTF provides wastewater services to commercial enterprises and residents in the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD), the Triview Metropolitan District, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. Businesses and residents within the Monument Sanitation District (MSD), the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, and the Palmer Lake Sanitation District receive wastewater treatment services from TLWWTF. Managers from these entities have named, at one time or another, "flushable" wipes as one of the biggest headaches they face.
Despite the "flushable" label, consumers should not trust that any wipes will degrade sufficiently to prevent entanglements in the wastewater treatment infrastructure. In the Sep. 7, 2019 OCN issue, MSD Manager Mike Wicklund explained that "flushable" wipes are a problem nationwide. Repairs to equipment can cost thousands of dollars, and the time and effort it takes to extricate jams is time taken away from essential duties. Despite claims of biodegradability, wipes do not break down in the same manner as toilet paper. Wipes snarl into long ropes that clog sewer pipes and machinery. See https://www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#msd.
DWSD General Manager and Administrator of the UMCRWWTF Kip Petersen confirmed in a Nov. 2, 2019 OCN article that so-called "flushable" wipes attach to impellers, blades, and other equipment resulting in clogs and subsequent equipment repairs that are costly and time-consuming. Petersen emphasized the dangers of dental floss and facial tissue as well. Despite its apparent innocence, dental floss will accumulate over time and grow into enormous clogs. Facial tissue is not designed to dismantle when wet or damp, thus making it a hazard to wastewater systems.
In moments of indiscretion, people have unwisely flushed damaging items such as newspapers, paper towels, and pages or chunks of department store catalogs. Again, these items are not designed to biodegrade sufficiently and will eventually create minor to major disasters in the wastewater system. When common sense reigns, only human waste and toilet paper get flushed.
The message rings clear. Whether you use wipes profusely to tame viruses and other organisms or occasionally when soap or sanitizer isn’t available, remember to dispose of used wipes properly. Put them in the garbage so they go straight to the landfill. Not only does proper disposable save your local sanitation district the hassle of remedying an unpleasant clog, but the lack of clog-related repairs keeps household and commercial wastewater service rates from climbing higher.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at jenniferkaylor@ocn.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on March 10 to discuss facility operations, including contingency plans for potential staff isolation at the facility during the contagious COVID-19 outbreak..
Burks introduced newly hired operator Doug Johnson to the JUC directors and district managers.
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: MSD board Chairman Ed DeLaney, JUC president; PLSD board member Reid Wiecks, JUC vice president; and WWSD board President Jim Taylor substituted for Lee Hanson, JUC secretary/treasurer. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
Operator isolation plans reviewed
There was a lengthy discussion about how to ensure that at least one operator would be available to run the facility throughout the novel coronavirus event. "We certainly want to keep our wastewater plant going," Wicklund said.
The JUC authorized Facility Manager Bill Burks to buy any sleeping equipment or other necessities and food required for an operator and his family to take up full-time residence at the facility to limit, if not eliminate, possible contact with anyone infected with the virus.
The JUC also authorized Burks to determine what new interim personnel policies may be needed right away for facility staff pay and benefits during the outbreak.
Burks said prophylactic germ protocols are already part of normal operating procedures at the facility, and employees, for example, are already in the habit of washing their hands frequently.
Discharge monitoring report
Burks outlined specifics on the continued smooth operation of the facility. He presented the discharge monitoring report (DMR) for January, and he said all sampling results were well within required Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) discharge permit limits for TLWWTF and other baseline sampling. This includes checking biological oxygen demand (BOD), pH, total suspended solids, total inorganic nitrogen, total phosphorus, total recoverable iron, dissolved iron, potentially dissolved zinc, potentially dissolved copper, nitrite, nitrate, and E. coli.
He said the facility is functioning at 29% of its permitted hydraulic capacity and at 60% of its organic capacity through the facility, consistent with recent trends.
Burks said that state-required chemical total phosphorus removal tertiary clarifier system continued to work well.
The board authorized Burks to buy and immediately make payments for already budgeted and appropriated total phosphorus treatment chemicals he needs in bulk quantities from now on at his own discretion, during and after the coronavirus event to better manage costs and simplify management of order and delivery lead times with the most economical ordering quantities. This includes aluminum sulphate, sodium hydroxide, and polymers.
The next meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. April 14 was suspended. Check with the facility to see if alternate meeting arrangements have been made. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave and are open to the public from all three owner-districts. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Heavy snowfall on March 19 caused the regular Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting to be postponed to March 26. The meeting was planned as a conference call due to coronavirus concerns, which also accommodated Gov. Polis’ March 25 Stay-at-Home order. All staff and directors connected via telephone and General Manager Kip Petersen requested roll call votes for all decisions made during the meeting.
COVID-19 precautions outlined
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through water or wastewater? Petersen provided information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stating, "coronaviruses are susceptible to the same disinfection conditions in community and healthcare settings as other viruses, so current disinfection conditions in wastewater treatment facilities are expected to be sufficient. This includes conditions for practices such as oxidation with hypochlorite (i.e., chlorine bleach) and peracetic acid, as well as inactivation using ultraviolet (UV) irradiation."
Petersen continued by stating that Donala treats its water supplies and wastewater discharges in a manner consistent with accepted disinfection procedures and is following recommendations of the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Petersen assured directors that schedule rotations, remote work, and ample office space for social distancing provided protection against COVID-19 infection among the staff. The meter upgrade program has been suspended to minimize contact between staff and the community. Donala is also a member of Colorado’s Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network that supports member districts with emergency supplies and staffing needs. Out of respect to the economic upheaval and in support of hand washing, Petersen implemented a late-fee waiver and shut-off suspension for the next three months.
The hoarding of toilet paper also elicited speculation that people might substitute wipes and flush them down the toilet. He emphasized that wipes should never be flushed because they do not break down like paper products and can lead to jammed pumps and "fat burgs." See related article "Save the pipes, don’t flush wipes" on page 6.
Creative solution considered
Petersen presented a concept that Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is considering as a means to provide the U.S. Air Force Academy’s (new) Visitor Center (AFAVC) with wastewater treatment service. Engineers proposed building a pipeline from the AFAVC to Donala’s Northgate lift station where Donala’s conveyance system would transport the wastewater to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF). The treatment facility is one-third partner-owned by Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. Petersen explained that Triview has excess wastewater treatment capacity and is agreeable to offering the excess to the AFAVC temporarily. See related Triview article on page 1.
Emphasizing that he was seeking input on whether to continue the conversation with CSU and the other entities, Petersen confirmed that costs had yet to be estimated and legal steps had not been mapped. He agreed preliminarily that separate agreements would be necessary—one to cover the conveyance of the AFAVC’s wastewater via Donala’s lift station and interceptor and a second to cover the treatment at the UMCRWWTF. Petersen confirmed that the estimated daily flow of 120,000 gallons would not place undue stress on Donala’s infrastructure nor would it increase arsenic discharge from the wastewater treatment facility.
The directors unanimously agreed to support continued exploration of this solution contingent upon the development of two separate agreements.
NEPA Participation Agreement reauthorized
Petersen requested that the board revisit an amended National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Participation Agreement that it had conditionally approved on Jan. 16. This agreement establishes expectations for participating wastewater districts in CSU’s NEPA process to determine the environmental impacts of the proposed Northern Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI). See related Triview article on page 1.
The amended agreement incorporated the participants’ requested changes and Petersen confirmed that district water attorney Rick Fendel expressed no objections to the board reauthorizing the agreement. Director Wayne Vanderschuere emphasized the goal to bring wastewater return flows into the NMCI conversation. Petersen acknowledged Vanderschuere’s perspective and committed to keeping the topic alive. Donala’s directors unanimously voted to authorize the amended NEPA Participation Agreement.
New GM and other staff transitions
Petersen reported that Jeff Hodge accepted the position as Donala’s new general manager. Hodge’s transition from California to Colorado is underway, and his official start date is April 15.
An unexpected announcement was added to the staff transition update. Petersen informed the board of newly appointed Chief Waste Plant Operator Aaron Tolman’s resignation, effective March 27, for which Tolman cited personal reasons. Tolman had been promoted to fill former Chief Waste Plant Operator Terri Ladouceur’s departure, which became official on Feb. 28. Superintendent Robert Hull committed to fill the Chief Waste Plant Operator role as an interim for the foreseeable future and other staff members have been shifted to compensate for the lost support.
Legislative bills postponed or amended
At the Feb. 20 Donala board meeting, Petersen reviewed proposed state legislation expected to be presented at the March 4 Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority meeting. Senate Bill SB20-153 and HB20-1233 have since been postponed indefinitely, Peterson reported.
A second House bill, HB20-1119, targeted the regulation of firefighting foam as a possible source of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which accumulate in the human body and may cause adverse effects. The original bill raised drinking water sampling and wastewater data collection concerns. The amended bill addressed and appears to have satisfied the previously expressed concerns, Petersen said. See https://ocn.me/v20n3.htm#dwsd for more information. Due to the coronavirus, the April 1 legislative session was cancelled and may reconvene in late April.
The meeting adjourned at 2:25 p.m.
Board meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., April 16. The meeting will likely be held as a conference call or online video meeting; call (719)488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. When the directors meet in person, meetings are held in the district office conference room. See https://www.donalawater.org/images/docs/PUBLIC_NOTICE 2020.pdf for the meeting schedule.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
Representatives of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were present at the March 2 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees to answer questions about radium in the town’s drinking water. They said this was a chronic, long-term problem, not a sudden emergency. During the meeting, the trustees voted down two requests for water system improvements, both of which were approved in the 2020 budget, mostly it seems because the trustees wanted to see a finalized solution from Public Works to send to CDPHE for approval before money was spent.
The BOT did approve a water system infrastructure request.
Trustee Jim Romanello was noted absent.
Question-and-answer session regarding radium in water
CDPHE and EPA employees answered questions from the public and the board regarding a radium increase in the water from Well 9.
Background: During the Feb. 18 board meeting, Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein began a discussion on the increasing levels of radium in Well 9. He and other trustees suggested the town was not in compliance with CDPHE requirements regarding radium.
Public Works Tom Tharnish disagreed, saying the Monument Water Department, which provides water to the town west of the interstate, has consistently tracked radium levels being discharged out of Water Treatment Plant (WTP) 3/9 for the last two years as part of CDPHE compliance quarterly sampling plan. Although the radium level has been rising slowly, on average the town is currently in compliance. See www.ocn.me/v20n3.htm#mbot.
CDPHE Compliance Specialist Haley Orahood said her role is to ensure the town’s drinking water meets the required standards. Also in attendance were Tom Simmons, CDPHE health assessor; Tyson Ingels, CDPHE lead drinking water engineer; and Dr. Bob Benson, EPA toxicologist Denver office.
The expert group explained it’s not uncommon to have radium in water because the element is found all along the Front Range, similar to the occurrence of radon. Orahood said, "We do have a number of water systems in El Paso County that I personally do compliance for, probably about the range that Monument has," that have had to be treated for radium.
Benson said he reviewed Monument’s data from the last four quarters and said the "combined risk of drinking this water in a lifetime is five in 100,000, meaning it is possible that five people in 100,000 could get cancer from drinking the water for their lifetime." He added that the normal risk of developing cancer over a lifetime living in the U.S. is 1 in 3 or 1 in 4.
Benson was asked if he would drink the water in Monument, and he replied, "If I lived in this community, I would drink the water. If it had a bad flavor though, I wouldn’t drink it."
EPA requirements regarding radium in water
Orahood said radium levels in well water cannot exceed 5 pico curies per liter (pc/L). In 2006 Monument’s water did exceed this limit briefly and the town temporarily shut down the well as a temporary fix. See www.ocn.me/v17n6.htm#mbot under the section "Contract awarded for Well 9 treatment modifications."
Currently, they are meeting state Health Department standards though trending upward, as are many water systems that rely on water from aquifers, due to the underlying geology. Because the town is currently in compliance, the state cannot require it to explore options to reduce the element at this time. However, she was encouraged that Tharnish was being proactive in trying to reduce radium in the water before the system goes out of compliance by bringing the two water resolutions to the board tonight.
The EPA set federal standards for the maximum contaminant level (MCL) over 5 pc/L in 2001 through an elaborate process that included a review of health information and assembly and evaluation of test results. Benson explained there is a public comments period that includes stakeholder input. Bornstein was concerned that the process 19 years ago might have been too general to be safe.
But Simmons said with regard to radium testing the evaluation was done directly, testing all ages of people to determine the effects of the element. "In this case, because of the interaction with the cell itself, [the level] is thought to be protective of children and fetuses," referencing the 5 pc/L recommendation by the EPA. Based on the Safe Drinking Water Act, if water is under the maximum level, it is safe to drink.
Trustee Ron Stephens asked if bottled water could have radium in it, to which Benson said if the bottler was using well or ground water, there is a good chance there is some level of radium dissolved in it.
Acute versus chronic health effects
Trustee Greg Coopman asked if there is a certain value of radium that constitutes an emergency response. Benson said because this is a chronic contaminant that will affect people over a lifetime, there would only be the requirement to make sure the radium in the water was not over the limit. Benson added that for those acute chemicals that can affect people immediately, such as bacteria, there are emergency values used to stem an outbreak to reduce symptoms quickly.
Ingels explained the following:
• Acute or short-term health effects are caused by components in water that can make you sick immediately or within a day. For example, if someone ingests giardia parasites by drinking creek water, symptoms of the intestinal infection will be quick to develop and must be treated as soon as possible. Renewable water or surface water typically contains these types of substances. These water sources are not usually susceptible to radium.
• Chronic or long-term effects come from elements that if drunk over a lifetime, roughly defined as 70 years, could cause disease. Well water, or deep ground water, is not susceptible to giardia parasites, but does contain other chemicals dissolved in it because of the interaction with the rocks underground. Radium, uranium, gold, and other components in the rocks leach into the water over time. Monument uses all wells and no surface water.
The EPA regulates 96 compounds in drinking water, including radium.
Well water versus surface water
Ingels reminded the audience we’re a mining state, saying there are radium veins, uranium veins, and gold veins in rocks. When people put down wells, there’s a chance there could be any of these elements that leach into the water. There isn’t a special meter that tells you where to sink the well—"You get what you get," he said.
Mayor Don Wilson reminded the board there is only one well with radium exceedance issues, and Public Works has found the current dilution plan is not working.
Trustee Laurie Clark asked about the pros and cons of renewable water. She highlighted renewable water as having less chance of radium in surface water, asking, "What is the cleanest, purest water to provide to our citizens?"
Note: The town currently does not have any sources of renewable water, but the subject has been discussed at length by the BOT many times in the last several years. See www.ocn.me/v17n3.htm#mbot0206, www.ocn.me/v17n10.htm#mbot0918, www.ocn.me/v18n1.htm#mbot1204, for examples, or search www.ocn.me for keywords.
Ingels explained again how surface water has other contaminants that must be removed before it is considered drinkable. Clark said she would like to pursue surface water options, but Wilson said he wasn’t interested. The town has well water now, and she asked if they should evaluate renewable water options because they wouldn’t have the issue with radium. Benson said, "You’re trading one risk for another."
Tharnish told the board there is money in the 2A Water Acquisition, Storage and Delivery (ASD) fund to pursue renewable water options, but the only option now is the Northern Monument Creek Interceptor Project that will include transporting wastewater to Colorado Springs Utilities for cleaning. The project is only in the discussion phase, and it must be determined how pipes would be installed and how the project would be financed. The other side of this, a method for returning the clean drinking water back to the respective municipalities, has not yet been determined.
Tharnish said it might be five years before anything is installed.
Radium removal procedures
If Monument’s radium levels are exceeded, Orahood said, the town would be required to hire a third-party engineer who would analyze its system and explore viable options for reduction of the radium. These would be submitted to CDPHE as formal options, which it would review.
Orahood told the audience "We don’t recommend [solutions] but allow the water department to have an engineer to do a full analysis and look at all viable options."
At this meeting, Public Works Director Tom Tharnish was introducing a resolution for a third-party engineering firm to create a technical memorandum before the radium levels are over the limit.
Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein asked Benson, "If we’re looking at a solution, we can actually before we approve a solution and spend dollars, we can give it to you to look at, you can say you may want to look at a or b," to which Benson agreed saying "that would be CDPHE’s role."
Design and engineering services to reduce and/or remove discharge of well 3/9
Tharnish brought a resolution to the board to approve engineering services from Forsgren Associates Inc. to perform an extensive study of the rising levels of radium at a cost of $81,360. Orahood and the other experts commended the town for taking a proactive approach rather than waiting until the well is out of compliance. Tharnish said if this resolution passed tonight, this is the first step of design.
Twelve firms applied to the initial request for quotes, and these were whittled down to five firms that then replied to the request for proposal (RFP).
Bornstein said, "I’m [in] full support, I’m there," noting this isn’t a dollar issue. "My priority is to get it fixed for the residents," he said asking, "Do you know what system you want?" Tharnish said the engineering firm would give them the system options once their analysis is complete. "They let us know the best available [solution], knowing what those systems are and consulting with engineers, and evaluating water, will give us our options," Tharnish said.
Again, Bornstein said, "You’ve got my support 300%" but asked if there is already a solution ready, perhaps misinterpreting Benson’s claim that the town could propose a solution to the CDPHE without the analysis first.
Bornstein seemed to not be hearing Tharnish as he asked, "Is it a fair assumption that whatever you decide, you will not be going to the people you brought in tonight?"
After voting against the resolution, Bornstein said, "I’m trying my best, I wanted to pass this tonight. I’m not giving a … damned blank check for $700,000; I thought there would have been a system in place rather than the research."
Coopman said he heard the experts saying the town doesn’t have to do anything different than what it’s already doing, because it’s in compliance. He had several reasons for ultimately voting against the request, including:
• He said he was concerned about the RFP and bid processes followed by Public Works, one created by the board in 2017. When Coopman suggested reviewing the processes, Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott said, "I don’t agree to going through RFP process and micromanaging Public Works and getting into analysis paralysis when the board had approved the process before."
• He said he was disturbed that Forsgren Associates had not created a system for radium removal and that it was this firm that designed the town’s water master plan.
The request failed with Coopman, Bornstein, and Clark voting against. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017 for a BOT discussion with Forsgren and Associates from 2016 about options for dealing with the levels of radium in Well 9.
Resolution for Well 7 engineering and design modifications
Next, Tharnish asked for $42,250 to create a new backwash system and to replace valves on the almost 30-year-old Well 7, saying it is becoming increasingly difficult to find parts. Forsgren was the only company to bid on the project.
Bornstein abstained from the vote with no reason given. Clark voted no and Coopman also voted against, identifying the following concerns:
• He referenced the RFP and bid processes again and the number of companies that were asked to bid, many of which do not have experience in radium removal. "I’m tired of wasting money, especially to the water system. "It’s foolish to do it in this cookie cutter way," he said.
• Coopman cited the lack of communication with the board about water projects as another reason to vote against this request. "I want dialogue, I want to learn, I want to verify, I want to be educated by outside individuals about the totality of what we’re working on here." Tharnish said, "I believe I have communicated to you I don’t know how many times, every project has been presented to you, in 12 years, what I’m hearing from one trustee in particular, you tell me that we don’t communicate the needs of this community, either you’re not hearing or don’t want to."
• Coopman also cited the lack of prioritization of water projects by Tharnish as a reason to not make a decision on this request. "This is the first time this has been presented to me. We are being forced to make decisions with big dollars," but Mayor Don Wilson corrected him, saying this radium project money was approved in the budget. Tharnish argued, "So what you’re saying is we need to go out of compliance in order to motivate you to make a decision."
Ultimately, the request failed.
Resident Maggie Williamson told Tharnish he and his team are doing a fantastic job but chided the board that its comments about radium are scaring the town residents. "You guys are pathetic," she said and walked out.
Similarly, Monument Park Foreman James Schubauer said, "I just want to say, I appreciate all you guys’ service, making these big decisions. I live on this side, I drink this water, I know many people who asked me to come here tonight to represent them, I can’t help but feel we now have the opportunity to do something about the water and you guys dropped the ball." He also walked out.
After both had left the room and during board comments, Bornstein noted being on the board is a difficult volunteer position, saying, "The same residents come and throw rocks, but you don’t see those people volunteering."
Kenneth Kimple discussed construction traffic through Promontory Pointe, noting there are nine bus stops on Gleneagle. Blind spots on the road’s curves should necessitate the creation of an emergency action plan that could include three-point roundabouts, lateral shifts, or chicanes (or horizontal deflection) to reduce speeding.
The meeting adjourned at 9:34 p.m.
Above: At the Monument Board of Trustees meeting March 2, Commander Jonathon Hudson, Sgt. Ryan Koski, and Officer Bradley Kunkle took their oaths of office for the Monument Police Department. Chief Sean Hemingway administered the oaths. From right are Town Manager Mike Foreman, Hemingway, and Hudson and his extended family. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
Five candidates vying for three seats on the Monument Board of Trustees appeared at the Candidate Forum on March 10. They are Jim Romanello, Jamy Unruh, Ann Howe, Allison Thompson, and Mitch LaKind. The election will be held April 7 for the Town of Monument residents.
The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, with KOAA News Broadcaster Andy Koen moderating.
Current Trustees Ron Stephens and Jeffrey Bornstein were in attendance, as was Mayor Don Wilson.
Questions were provided by Koen and the public, and included many issues affecting the town such as water, growth and development, and leadership.
It was noted during the meeting that all the candidates live on the east side of Monument and receive their water from either Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District or Triview Metropolitan District.
Unruh said she attended the Monument Water Department’s drinking water workshop on Feb. 28 and indicated the most important project to her is reducing radium in the water from Well 9.
Howe suggested the Northern Monument Creek Interceptor will be the solution to the water problems.
Note: The Northern Monument Creek Interceptor is a potential regional wastewater pipeline that may allow northern entities, including Monument Water, to send wastewater flows to the J. D. Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility run by Colorado Springs Utilities. Return flows of drinking water have been discussed, but plans for either seem to be five years out at least.
Both Howe and Thompson said wells are not the best permanent water solution for providing drinking water. "What concerns me more is we need to invest in a reliable infrastructure with an emergency plan, because right now we don’t have one. So, if the water goes bad, it’s gone," said Thompson.
LaKind said, "I am not an expert in water," noting he began researching and talking with Public Works Director Tom Tharnish when he decided to run for the seat. We need to take the advice of the staff saying they have a plan for the water issues currently plaguing the town. He said one of the roles of being a trustee is to take the expert’s information and use that to make decisions not just with regard to water, but also to balance growth.
Growth and development
Romanello, a current trustee, said land use issues brought him to the board when he was the president of the Village Center Homeowners Association. He said because a previous board changed the zoning within the Village Center development without reviewing the service plan, they couldn’t even make a bond payment, pay for water, or receive snow removal services. Romanello said he would review development requests in a "right and smart and financially sound" manner.
Thompson said, "I would want to see growth here," suggesting there is a way to balance growth while still maintaining the small-town feel. She has heard from others that Monument doesn’t have "a good place to grab a bite to eat," when folks drive home from work for the day, and would like to help solve that problem.
Unruh said she is pro-growth with the assumption the infrastructure improvements can be included in the budget. Her decision-making process with regard to land development is to collaborate with the board.
Howe said she hopes the town can still maintain the quality of service but has seen funding revenue lacking, particularly with regard to the Police Department. "We have two special taxing districts, Village Center and Triview; part of the burden is on them. They don’t contribute to the police force as it is, but that might be something we could negotiate."
Commercial versus residential
Commercial zoning ensures the town receives sales tax revenues, but in recent years, many of the development requests have been to rezone business areas to residential. Bornstein asked the candidates their ideas to increase revenues needed to run the town as commercial property is decreased.
LaKind said if there are enough residential rooftops, the commercial will come, so he intends to work with the town’s economic development committee and the Chamber to attract businesses. LaKind, a current planning commissioner, said, "I am not going to get in the way of private landowners and what they want to do with their land. If they want to sell their land to put [in] residential houses," I will approve that.
Thompson said, "At this point, like I said, I would have to research that and learn about that, I don’t know everything. I need to find a solid answer."
Unruh said, "I would definitely want to work with the town staff and seek expertise; it’s very important to not give out your commercial lots to residential developers."
With regard to the suggestion the town needs more affordable housing, Thompson said she likes the increases in the availability of apartments to drive competitive pricing.
LaKind said private landowners should not be told by the board how to develop their property, or determine the cost of rent, noting, "It’s not our role as trustees to tell a free market what it should be."
Romanello was one of the trustees who voted for the new apartments near Fairfield. See www.ocn.me/v19n8.htm#mbot.
Howe and Unruh both said if there were good jobs available within the town to Monument residents, they could afford housing here.
Leadership particularly in times of crisis, such as the current pandemic
The candidates were asked how they would handle the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Howe said because the town doesn’t have a Department of Health, we would rely on the county for answers. She noted the mayor could be called upon to impose quarantines or call for virtual meetings. In fact, the board did declare a local emergency. See the BOT special meeting article on page 13.
LaKind said his leadership is collaborative to include town staff. "I’m here to support them," he said. During a crisis, he will request guidance from experts including elected officials, the Colorado Department of Health, and doctors. LaKind suggested there should be an announcement to prevent hoarding at local businesses.
Romanello said when he became a trustee, there was no town manager and no town attorney, and the treasurer was on the way out. He said the excellent staff will guide him on his decision-making as a board member. His intent is to bring a spirit of unity and reach across the aisle to his fellow trustees to show the staff we’ve got your back. Romanello said as a member of the board, he and the others passed a resolution to align the town with the county with regard to emergency procedures. He would take direction from Chief of Police Sean Hemingway.
As a college sports team captain, Unruh said she learned it’s important to show and teach while being collaborative. In this case, she suggested everyone should be following best practices but noted there isn’t a lot as a town we can do. Unruh said she has strong convictions that she will follow but will listen to the citizens.
Thompson said during a crisis like this, "Wash your hands, that’s all we can do at this point until we hear from experts" such as doctors, but she isn’t going to panic. Her decision-making process will include "residents first, trustees second, town staff, sorry. I want to work with everybody but that’s just the pecking order I’m seeing here."
To see candidate’s statements to the OCN, go to https://ocn.me/v20n3.htm#candidates.
Above: On March 10, candidates for the three seats available on the Monument Board of Trustees answer questions in front of a dozen residents. From left are Mitch LaKind, Allison Thompson, Ann Howe, Jamy Unruh, and Jim Romanello. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
New Planning Commissioners Bill Lewis and Sean White took their oaths of office at the March 11 Monument Planning Commission meeting, closely followed by Chad Blome, who has joined the Board of Adjustments. Lewis will serve as a regular member of the commission, and White has signed on as an alternate.
Mike Foreman, Monument town manager, introduced himself to the commission, stating his appreciation for their work and offering to answer any questions.
A recording of the March 11 meeting can be found on YouTube on the Town of Monument’s official channel. Documents pertaining to the meeting can be found on the town’s website at www.townofmonument.org/263/Planning-Commission-Board-of-Adjustment.
The Village: Rezoning and PD Sketch Plan
The most involved portion of this meeting concerned public hearings and recommendations to discuss a proposed rezoning and Planned Development (PD) Sketch Plan for The Village. The development is split into two parcels on either side of Jackson Creek Parkway, south of Highway 105. About 44 acres of this land are to the west, and 40 are to the east. The property is currently zoned for Planned Commercial Development (PCD), but the owner wants to rezone it to Planned Development (PD). This would allow for specifically tailored development. The land has been undeveloped for 40 years, and the applicant believes it will be more marketable to developers with the new zoning.
The Village was represented at this meeting by Andrea Barlow of NES Inc., who expressed the applicant’s stance that more residents to support and work for Monument’s businesses would benefit the town, as opposed to saving this area exclusively for commercial development. While a previous request to rezone this land was denied because more commercial development was considered desirable, it is the applicant’s understanding that this particular area is not ideal for commercial development due to its placement, visibility from the highway, and other factors. See www.ocn.me/v15n12.htm#mbot-1102.
In response to a question from Commissioner Mitchell LaKind, Barlow explained that there are developers interested in purchasing some of this land to use for residential purposes, but no interest currently from commercial developers. This Sketch Plan for The Village includes three housing options in differing price brackets: multi-family, single-family attached, and single-family detached. This would allow for more affordable housing in Monument, helping to bring people into the community. Commissioner Joshua Thomas said there is a need for diverse housing options in Monument, stating that it is often more difficult to find hourly workers for his organization’s businesses in the town.
The proposed development would consist of 4.7 acres set aside for commercial development, 12.7 acres for multi-family uses, 15 acres for single-family detached homes, and 31.6 acres for single-family attached houses or townhomes. A total of 5.5 acres would be categorized as mixed use, and 14 acres would be designated for parks and trails. The applicant wants to have parks throughout this development be linked by trails, so that people can walk between them. A 50-foot buffer would be provided around the boundary near I-25 to serve as a barrier between residents using this space and the highway. Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has requested money instead of land when building permits are secured for this development, and no problems are expected on that front.
This current Sketch Plan is a broad and conceptual understanding of the development, indicating the proposed use for the space and allowable density. Many finer details of the project will be considered later, including the need for an eventual roundabout or set of lights around this stretch of Jackson Creek Parkway, which will be reassessed with the Final PD Site Plan. The applicant is expected to have an exact number of residential units prepared by that time. Barlow said the town is working to secure 80% of the funding to widen Jackson Creek Parkway, but that the remaining 20% is expected to come from other sources. The Village development would contribute to this funding, in a way that is proportional to the project’s effect on traffic.
Other statements and questions from the Planning Commission include Co-Chairman Daniel Ours’s perspective that building residential developments in this area would be preferable for current residents, as compared to a business moving in nearby someone that they might not want as a neighbor, as well as inquiries about the timeline of this development, a request to know whether there would be sound walls between residents and the highway, and concerns about the proposed density of the development. Establishing a concrete timeline is difficult at this time, Barlow said, because what might take five to six years in a thriving market could take between 10 and 12 if the market crashes, or depending on which developers buy the land. No decisions have been made about a sound wall.
There were several public comments discussing this proposal, including but not limited to a citizen wanting it on the record that she is opposed to so many more homes being built in Monument, as she hopes to preserve the community’s "small town" feel, and that she is concerned about the town’s future with water. She and another citizen both agreed that the estimated number of new District 38 students that would come along with this development seems like a miscalculation, and that there would likely be more school-age children involved considering the proposed density. Another resident registered her approval of the project, noting that she has difficulty visualizing commercial development in the area. It was suggested that a main walking trail be moved closer to the center of the property to avoid potentially dangerous activity.
Another resident stated that Monument, "like most of America," needs to provide more affordable housing for potential citizens. He described how his children have moved away from the town but that people in their position would be more likely to live in Monument if provided with more variety in housing choices. He also explained his desire for a trailhead in this development and noted a desire for accessible public transportation. Barlow also answered a citizen’s question about drainage for the project, describing a plan for detention ponds. See www.ocn.me/v20n3.htm#photos about a Feb. 18 community meeting that NES hosted recently about the current proposal.
In the end, a motion to approve this proposal passed 4-3, with Chairman Melanie Strop as well as Commissioners Chris Wilhelmi and Steve King voting against. King prefaced his vote with a comment that he supports the idea of mixed-use development but is opposed to the proposed density of this project. Ours, as well as Lewis, LaKind, and Joshua Thomas, voted to approve recommendation of this proposal, with Thomas noting that he was voting favorably "in the interest of mixed-income housing." The proposal has now moved on to be considered by the Board of Trustees.
Above: Rendered sketch PD plan for The Village as presented in the Monument Planning Commission packet at www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com.
MPC meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Information: 884-8017 or www.townofmonument.org/meetings/. The Wed., April 8 meeting wil reportedly be Live-streamed at http://bit.ly/2uZxjfa.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
On March 23, the Monument Board of Trustees held a special meeting to approve a resolution declaring a local disaster emergency related to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The board was also asked to review a virtual meeting policy.
Trustees Laurie Clark and Greg Coopman were noted absent.
Resolution to declare local disaster emergency
Town Manager Mike Foreman asked the board to review the local disaster emergency declaration based on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ declaration of a statewide state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and El Paso County’s statement of local disaster emergency.
Mayor Don Wilson noted the declaration is mainly intended to allow the town to request reimbursement from the state should it spend excessive money on the crisis.
The declaration follows directives from the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (PPROEM) and the governor’s office. Foreman said he and staff have been working closely with these governmental agencies and have been on conference calls with Sen. Cory Gardner.
The declaration delegates the following authority to Foreman:
• Establish regulations and curfews.
• Compel evacuations if an area of the town is stricken or threatened in order to preserve life, property, or other public health mitigations,
• Close businesses deemed nonessential by PPROEM.
• Utilize all available town resources to respond to this public health emergency.
Foreman may appropriate and expend funds, execute contracts, authorize the acquisition of property, equipment, services, supplies, and materials without strict compliance with the town’s procurement regulations or procedures, not to exceed $25,000.
The declaration also halts all Planning Commission meetings unless they are approved to be held virtually.
Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein said, "We’re empowering the town manager, but I would hope if there is a decision outside of the governor’s [directives], before you implement it you would reach out to the board … before you do anything relative to the town … if you would commit to that, it would" make everyone feel better. Foreman confirmed he would confer with the board but would not request a vote since that would mean holding an additional public meeting.
Trustee Ron Stephens was concerned that in the midst of a crisis, decisions get made quickly, but the process of thinking things out all the way could be absent. "I strongly encourage you to take the time and don’t give in to the pressure to do that," he said.
Note: Should Foreman become ill during this emergency, Public Works Director Tom Tharnish would take over as acting town manager, followed by Town Clerk Laura Hogan. Police Chief Sean Hemingway is third in the succession.
Stephens said he is concerned evacuations might cause the disease to spread outside a contained area if people are required to move out of their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. Foreman said his staff works together to make critical decisions.
The declaration will stay in place until the board votes to cancel it.
The resolution was unanimously approved.
Remote meeting approval
During this pandemic, the board agreed to hold virtual meetings to the extent necessary.
Trustee Jim Romanello said because the board has such sweeping authority, "if this Legislature is cut off and we can’t meet, that’s a problem."
The wording in the resolution reads: "To the extent possible, the meeting audio and video will be available so that all actions being taken can be heard, and where appropriate, commented upon by the public."
The town will be using the Cisco Webex Meeting application. For installation directions, go to the board packet for this meeting at https://tinyurl.com/rwf4gp7.
This request also passed 5-0.
Checks over $5,000
The following checks were approved on consent:
• Plan Tools, land development code updates, $7,997
• Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance, sponsorship, $12,000
• Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, quarterly sponsorship, $12,500
• D2C Architects, Public Works facility, $35,677
• Dell Marketing L.P., IT supplies, $5,365
• Murray, Dahl, Beery and Renaud, 2019 legal services, $21,440
• Lexipol LLC, law enforcement policy manual update, $5,472
• TPX Communications, managed services, $10,697
• Triview Metropolitan District, taxes, $149,887
• Trax Construction, concrete repairs, $24,357
• Automated Ballot Concepts, election services, $6,225
The meeting adjourned at 6:30 pm
The Monument Board of Trustees normaly meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Thepublic can watch the Mon., April 6 meeting via You Tube Channel https://bit.ly/2N3a3Cw. Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Town Council met three times in March: Its monthly meeting was held on March 12, a special meeting was held on March 25 to pass a resolution allowing the council to meet online using Zoom to accommodate the corona virus pandemic, and the final meeting was held on March 26.
At the March 12 meeting, Shana Ball gave the council an update on progress made by the Fire Safety Committee, of which she is a member, in planning improvements to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD). The council also passed a resolution defining who needs to be consulted when a business applies for a liquor license.
At the March 26 meeting, the council voted to hire Matthew Krob, the town’s interim attorney, as permanent town attorney.
Architects for Fire and Police building chosen
At the March 12 meeting, Ball told the council that the Fire Safety Committee had selected John Cameron and Bill Fisher to design the proposed headquarters that will house both the Fire and Police Departments. Cameron and Fisher have experience with the bond issues required by such projects, Ball said. She asked the council to approve $5,000 so Cameron and Fisher can begin work.
Council member Mark Schuler made a motion to authorize Town Administrator Bob Radosevich to sign a contract with Cameron and Fisher.
At the same meeting, Ball asked the council to approve $20,000 for her purchase of upgraded radios for PLVFD. A grant proposal for funds from FEMA to purchase radios was not successful, Ball said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the funds for the radios.
Council selects new town attorney
At the online meeting held on March 26, the council decided to hire Matthew Z. Krob, of Krob Law Office LLC, to serve as the town attorney. Krob had been serving as the town’s temporary attorney before the decision was made. Council members Paul Banta, Patricia Mettler, Bob Mutu, Susan Miner, and Glant Havenar all spoke favorably about their experience with Krob over the past several weeks.
The vote to hire Krob as the town attorney was unanimous.
Liquor license process updated
At the March 12 meeting, the council voted unanimously to define who needs to be asked for input when a business applies for a new liquor license. Everyone within a 1,000 foot radius will be asked their opinion under the ordinance.
The council is tentatively scheduled to hold two meetings in April, on April 9 and 23, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, with the second meeting organized as a working session. Information: 481-2953. Please check the town website at www.townofpalmerlake.com for information on whether and how the meetings will be conducted.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) held a special meeting March 17 to approve an emergency declaration. The board also approved virtual public meetings as an alternative to face-to-face meetings.
Assistant Battalion Chief Scott Ridings was excused.
Virtual public meetings
Chairman Mark Gunderman suggested the board approve the option to hold regular meetings online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Board Attorney Michelle Ferguson said as long as the district can post notices consistently to let the public know of meeting options, this is a viable solution.
The board unanimously approved the request.
Local Emergency Disaster Declaration
Chief Vinny Burns asked the board to approve a Local Emergency Disaster Declaration, which will allow the department to request federal and state funding for unexpected expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including overtime or supplies.
Burns said, "Given the disaster emergency, the request doesn’t mean we are currently in a disaster, but what it does for us as a district, puts us in line" for funds, though he stressed there is no guarantee they will receive the funding.
This declaration was also unanimously approved.
The meeting adjourned at 4:12 pm.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for April 21. During the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings will be either at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meetings or virtual meetings. They are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has made changes to its meeting rules to allow it to proceed if in-person meetings are not possible during the COVID-19 outbreak. During March, the county also provided an update on the roundabout construction at the Struthers Road/Gleneagle Drive intersection. At regular meetings in March, the commissioners approved a minor subdivision request for a property in Black Forest, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the 2020 Black Forest slash and mulch program, and the transfer of developers’ fees to school districts.
Meeting rules changed amid COVID-19 outbreak
At its March 19 meeting, following discussion at its March 17 meeting, the BOCC adopted temporary meeting rules to allow all or some commissioners to attend meetings remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Commissioner Cami Bremer attended the following March 24 meeting from home via Skype. She and Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, along with many senior county staff, also remotely attended the March 26 emergency COVID-19 BOCC meeting, which discussed the statewide stay-at-home order.
Due to potential restrictions related to the COVID-19 response, anyone wanting to participate in a BOCC meeting is asked to contact Kristy Smart, clerk to the board, at KristySmart@elpasoco.com in advance. At this time the county is also streaming BOCC meetings on Facebook Live through its "El Paso County, Colorado" page. Members of the public can type a question in the comment field and a member of the staff in the auditorium will then ask the question on their behalf.
The El Paso County Planning Commission (EPCPC) postponed its March 17 meeting and initially stated that meetings would be postponed indefinitely. It now will hold its April 7 meeting in the BOCC hearing room at 200 S. Cascade Ave. at 1 p.m., and the agenda includes the items postponed from March 17.
Struthers Road/ Gleneagle Drive roundabout construction
In a March 25 press release, the county advised that construction work at the Struthers Road/Gleneagle Drive intersection is nearing completion and thanked the residents and businesses in that area for their patience and understanding.
The statement continues, "The El Paso County Department of Public Works’ goal was to improve the corridor for the traveling public by constructing a roundabout and associated approaches, as well as an underground drainage system and pedestrian improvements at the intersection and along the northeast side of Struthers Road. Due to unforeseen issues we encountered and unpredictable weather, the project has had a few setbacks, however we are now on the last leg of the project with the light at the end of the tunnel fast approaching. We still expect to have the majority of the project wrapped up in the next couple of weeks, with only minor landscaping left to do."
Work to replace the four-way stop at the intersection began in late June 2019 and funding was provided by county.
Poenitsch minor subdivision request
At their meeting on March 10, the commissioners unanimously approved a request for a minor subdivision by Tom Poenitsch and Christy Mullings to create three single-family lots on an 18.86-acre parcel of land zoned RR-5 (residential rural). The property is at the northwest corner of the Herring Road and Shoup Road intersection. The EPCPC unanimously recommended the application for approval at its Feb. 18 meeting. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n3.htm?zoom_highlight=poenitsch.
Discussion at the hearing centered on access to the proposed subdivision, which the county has granted via Herring Road. Dale Gardner, the adjacent neighbour north of the property, spoke in opposition to the application, saying, "I don’t understand why Planning is insisting the 70-year access from Shoup is no longer acceptable when there are presently 28 property access drives in that short one-mile distance [from Black Forest Road and Herring Road]." Gardner said he believed the application was in violation of the county’s code. He also expressed concerns that the proposed access road on the property was now shown on plans as crossing the wetland area with no culvert shown and asked the commissioners not to approve the application until the site plans reflect full conformance with all requirements and permits.
Eric Watts, of Oliver E. Watts Consulting Engineer Inc., on behalf of the applicant, said that they had wanted to continue access via Shoup Road but had been told before submitting the application that access would need to be via Herring Road because the county intended to stop future access onto Shoup Road due to its higher road classification. Craig Dossey, executive director of Planning and Community Development, clarified that the access decision was made for safety reasons as the county worked to get as many of the new access points onto minor roads where speed limits and traffic numbers are generally lower.
Gabe Sevigny, planner II, Planning and Community Development, stated that the applicant would have to ensure conformance with the approved drainage report, and this would ensure that matters such as culvert sizing and placement were addressed at the site application stage. As he had done at the Planning Commission meeting, he addressed concerns raised by the neighboring property owner that there was an intention to run a business from the property. Sevigny again said that any such plans would require a future application which would go through the full approval process.
Black Forest slash and mulch program
At its March 19 meeting, the BOCC unanimously approved the 2020 memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Black Forest Slash and Mulch Committee (SAMCOM), the non-profit that is responsible for the daily operation of the Black Forest slash and mulch program.
The program, which began in 1994 and is staffed entirely by volunteers, accepts slash (tree debris including branches, leaves, needles, etc.) from residents that is ground into mulch that is available free of charge to the public. Educational programs and events provide information to the public about forest health, soil conservation, safe chainsaw use, noxious weeds, and forest pests.
Under the MOU, the county contributes $35,000 toward grinder expenses, and SAMCOM provides $10,000 toward the costs. If the costs exceed this $45,000, the two parties divide any additional costs equally between them. The county coordinates the contract for the grinder and holds the lease for the site. In the aftermath of the 2019 spring storms and bomb cyclone event, the program had a record year, serving 3,563 customers, collecting 44,940 cubic yards of slash and giving out 17,574 cubic yards of mulch.
The site, at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads, opens for the 2020 season for slash drop-off on May 2. Normal business hours will be Saturdays 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays noon-4 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday evenings 5-7:30 p.m. The last date for slash drop-off is Sept. 13. There is a $2 drop-off fee for slash.
Free mulch will be available for self-loading from May 16 through Sept. 19. For large quantities of mulch, an end loader is available on Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., charging $5 for two cubic yards.
For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or call Carolyn, 495-3127, Chuck, 495-8675, Jeff, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878. Anyone wanting to volunteer to work a shift can do so via the website.
Transfer of developers’ fees to school districts
At its March 19 meeting, the BOCC voted unanimously to approve the transfer of subdivision plan and plat fees to the appropriate county school districts. $17,417 went to Lewis-Palmer School District 38. In a letter to the El Paso County treasurer requesting the fee transfer, David Crews, executive director of finance at the school district, said that the budgeted amount of funding from the state and local community of $52.63 million falls slightly short of the $56.63 million needed to fully fund the district.
Crews wrote, "The $17,417 could not come at a better time. Our high schools are looking for additional funding to pay stipends for teacher leaders who will guide other teachers in strategic professional development that would lead to stronger instructional practices in the classroom. This amount would cover these additional expenses."
Academy School District 20 received $8,874, which will go toward the cost of accommodating enrollment trends and facility needs.
Above: A drone’s eye view of the Struthers Road/Gleneagle Drive roundabout construction as it nears completion. Photo courtesy Crystal Peak Design.
Below: As of March 18, construction of various forms was continuing throughout the area, including road work on the roundabout at Gleneagle Drive and Struthers Road and home construction in Gleneagle, Sun Hills, and other areas. Photo by David Futey.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
Public health and emergency managers from El Paso County explained current knowledge of COVID-19 to members of the South Central Region of Voluntary Organizations in Disaster (SCR VOAD) on March 12 at the Red Cross offices in Colorado Springs.
Speakers included Kevin Madsen, Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (PPR OEM) deputy director; Kara Prisock, program coordinator, South Central Healthcare Coalition; Lisa Powell, Regional Emergency Preparedness program manager at the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment; and Sally Broomfield, Red Cross Senior Disaster program manager.
Note: This article is based on what was known March 12, but much of this that follows is out-of-date information now. By March 13, for example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended postponing events for more than 250 people, and recommendations became more strict as the days went by. See related Hindsight: It’s a Small World column on page 21.
Why are we worried?
• COVID-19 is a brand-new disease to humans (so it is a "novel" strain of coronavirus) and needs to be treated more seriously than the seasonal flu because humans are a "naïve population" with no immunity to COVID-19.
• Researchers are learning more about how this new virus behaves every day, which is why officials might need to give different advice from one day to the next.
• We don’t know if there are people out there with no symptoms who are shedding virus, so washing your hands and social distancing are still the best practices to protect vulnerable people.
• It’s a constantly moving target, monitoring contact tracing and expected additional cases, continual changes with what the governor is saying, and coordination with the health department and OEM.
• We are actually fighting four epidemics: COVID-19, misinformation, fear, and stigma.
• Social media and mainstream media can spread very incorrect information to the public without being vetted by scientists first.
• We are taking steps sooner than in other communities and countries as we try to avoid the exponentially increasing cases seen elsewhere around the world. (From El Paso County health officials.)
Protect other people by taking individual responsibility
Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds really is the best way to prevent the spread of this and other diseases. "It’s easy. It’s not sexy. It’s not a secret," said Powell.
If you want to have more control over your life than that, call local community support organizations to see if they need extra volunteers. This will help make sure that those who may go into preventive isolation because they are more susceptible to illness can still get the physical and emotional support they need.
• The vulnerable population includes those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, those with compromised immune systems, or people over age 60.
• If you are in the vulnerable category, you really should consider if you need to go to group activities – church, conferences, meetings – or not! (Note: as of March 18, the governor recommended no gatherings of more than 10 people. See Hindsight column on page 21.
• Washing your hands is the best prevention and also best for not spreading the disease to susceptible people.
• Save the hand sanitizer only for when you can’t get to a sink. Soap and water are more effective, and it’s not in short supply.
• Practice 6-foot social distancing.
• Avoid handshakes.
• Sneeze/cough into a tissue and toss it.
• Wipe down surfaces using soap and water.
• Transmission of the virus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through non-living objects. SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable on surfaces from hours to days.
• Don’t touch your face if your hands are not washed.
• Quarantine yourself at home for 14 days if you have symptoms of cough, fever, or difficulty breathing. No work, no shopping, no dinners out, no meetings.
• Hospitals and nursing homes are already taking precautions about visitors.
• Call your primary care doctor with any questions.
What to do if you might be sick
• Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath.
• Symptoms tend to build gradually for eight or nine days. For 80% of those infected, symptoms stay mild.
• For 20% of cases, in the vulnerable population, symptoms become very serious, including bilateral pneumonia.
• The death rate is about 2% of those infected. This is why it is critical to keep the total number of infected people low.
• If you are symptomatic, just stay home ¬from work, school, parties, stores, everything—don’t pick and choose!
• Call your primary care provider for advice if you have reason to believe you are infected. Do not just walk into the doctor’s office. They need to take several kinds of precautions before you arrive.
• If you are still in the process of being tested, stay home.
• If you have tested positive, stay home.
• Officials are watching other communities to see what is working best for them. This is why we are taking some actions earlier than they did, to avoid exponential increases in cases.
• Other counties in Colorado are being as proactive as El Paso County.
• Let’s make frequent handwashing be our new cultural norm! (This is more effective than the mask-wearing cultural norm in Asia.)
Practical advice for event planners and volunteer organizations
• The Department of Public Health will not tell groups to close their doors.
• It is up to each organization to set its own event cancelation trigger.
• Churches and other community groups should do continuity planning in case the services they provide need to be interrupted.
• See the CDC website for advice for event planners. Start planning now in case it is needed later. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/index.html
• Self-quarantined community members really need socialization and support.
• Establish a network within your group to check on vulnerable members, offer to deliver groceries to them, and visit with them.
• Agencies that support the elderly or vulnerable people that normally receive food at home, or may need to start doing so, may need extra help from volunteers soon.
• Look around your own neighborhoods to see who else might need assistance with supplies, information, or company.
• For more about how to organize and connect your own neighborhood, see the Ready and Resilient Neighborhood Planning Guide at http://epccert.org.
Get your information from credible sources:
• As of March 12, El Paso County had one confirmed case of the virus, which came in from out of state, and the patient self-quarantined immediately when he became symptomatic. He called medical professionals, and it is contained (as this is being typed).
• No "community transmission" of the virus has occurred yet within the county, but we are on the verge of it. Prevention measures such as canceling events will help.
• County emergency planners are in touch with fire districts, school districts, etc. to help them make decisions.
It’s not all about you:
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Yes, this may be inconvenient for some people.
• You may not be at risk, but consider how your actions affect other people.
• Don’t buy more than you need, because other people really might need supplies for medical reasons. Give stores time to restock their shelves.
• Share your calm, correct information from credible public health sources with friends and neighbors.
• An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of response later. Some people are saying we have over-reacted, but our goal is for our numbers to not get as big as they would have otherwise.
Any volunteer group that wants to help out in a disaster is encouraged to join SCR VOAD’s email list so that in times of disaster response, they could fill specific needs requested by officials to help the public. SCR VOAD covers Chaffee, El Paso, Lake, Park and Teller Counties in Colorado. If your organization wants to ramp up its capability to help right now or in future human or natural disasters, write to COSCRVOAD@gmail.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
Final official results for El Paso County, updated March 18. Winning votes are shown in bold type.
Registered voters: 467,021. Ballots cast: 200,665 Total number precincts: 291. Voter turnout: 42.9%
Democratic Party results:
Cory Booker 146 (0.19%)
Tulsi Gabbard 1,201 (1.55%)
Bernie Sanders 28,259 (36.50%)
Elizabeth Warren 12,292 (15.87%)
Roque ‘‘Rocky’’ De La Fuente III 106 (0.14%)
Marianne Williamson 100 (0.13%)
Deval Patrick 27 (0.03%)
Michael R. Bloomberg 13,891 (17.94%)
Robby Wells 28 (0.04%)
Andrew Yang 503 (0.65%)
Joseph R. Biden 20,476 (26.44%)
Tom Steyer 361 (0.47%)
Rita Krichevsky 42 (0.05%)
Republican Party results:
Matthew John Matern 1,034 (0.95%)
Robert Ardini 484 (0.44%)
Joe Walsh 1,699 (1.56%)
Donald J. Trump 101,825 (93.57%)
Bill Weld 3,352 (3.08%)
Zoltan G. Istvan 434 (0.40%)
By Lisa Hatfield
On March 9, neighbors in Colorado Estates gathered to make more wildfire readiness plans.
"There will be fire in our district. This is reality. In Monument, for sure," said Jamey Bumgarner, fire marshal and division chief of Community Risk for Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD). He talked with residents about the long history of fires in our area and actions they can take today to make themselves and their homes safer.
Tree-ring evidence shows that in "pre-settlement" conditions, fires came through every five to eight years and cleaned out the understory. But now that no fires are allowed, there is more and more fuel building up in all the forests around our homes, he said. This means residents must do the cleaning out work.
Bumgarner asked everyone to prepare their homes and properties now for "when the bad day" comes. "We will not have a fire engine parked in front of every home. There are 100 homes just in this one neighborhood," he said. Creating a moat of safe space around the home can make the difference if it is destroyed or not.
Fuel, weather, and topography dictate how wildfires burn. Each neighborhood has its own crazy road configurations, amount of fuels and vegetation, and house maintenance norms. Colorado Estates is like so many Palmer Divide neighborhoods, with dried-out south-facing slopes full of ponderosa pine and Gambel oak brush making it very vulnerable to fire, just like Black Forest and Waldo Canyon.
Getting flammable material away from your home is critical. When you make a defensible space envelope around your home, your house has a chance to defend itself!
• Make sure the roof is not flammable. Need Class A roof and assembly structure.
• Remove dry fuels leaves and pine straw from the gutters, under the front steps, and along the base of the house at least 15 feet out. Those "little things" make a big difference.
• Remove old boards or flammable material under the deck and in the yard.
• Do the work to maintain the vegetation in the 30-foot "home ignition zone" around your house. This will stop the fire creeping through combustible stuff toward your house.
• Ember showers will blow into corners and smolder. But if they just land on bare earth or rock, they will die of starvation.
• Cut back flammable vegetation on both sides of the driveway egress to demonstrate to firefighters that you’ve done mitigation and that it might be safe for them to enter your property.
See "Residents Reducing Wildfire Risk" www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Firewise-USA.
Visualize this: When a 10-foot scrub oak tree catches fire, the flames will be 30 feet high, and with a 40-mile-an-hour wind blowing it, "the flames could lick the side of your house." You need to cut scrub oak at least 30 feet back from the house and out from under pine trees.
Dry grass is a critical fire carrier too, shown in the Mile Marker 117 and Carson-Midway Fires in 2018. Bumgarner has seen how "spot fires" blew miles ahead of these fires. They burned 40,000-60,000 acres in one day. The lesson? "Keep the grass mowed around your home." This will help create a fuel-free zone at least 5 feet wide around the house.
Colorado Estates also has a dizzying maze of roads but very few exit routes. The residents discussed the lack of egress routes from their neighborhood and how, in some cases, they might need to drive through a back yard or a field instead of a road. Bumgarner reminded them how black with smoke the air can get during a fire, making daytime feel like dark of night. "During the Black Forest Fire, I could not see the hood of my truck, there was so much smoke." It’s easy to lose your bearings then. "We had to use a GPS to find intersections that were right next to us."
Bumgarner’s assessment of Colorado Estates was that the narrow roads had pine trees reaching across them and scrub oak right up to the edges, and they would not make good fire breaks in their current condition. They might not even be passable if they were on fire, he said. "It’s very tight. A bad scenario."
He said all property owners who do their own work (or hire out the work) should document the time and money spent and save receipts for possible tax breaks or grant money matching funds.
When a neighborhood earns Firewise USA Community designation, it doesn’t mean you are done, but it gives a roadmap for what you ought to be working toward together as a group effort. He applauded Red Rock Ranch, west of Monument, that is setting a great example with its efforts to become more Firewise. See www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#photos.
Bumgarner said everyone needs to take personal responsibility to create a state of readiness for their family’s evacuation plans and for their ongoing home and property maintenance. Ready, Set, Go! has lists of ideas for people to work on to help get things in order just in case.
It is vitally important to have a family communications and emergency plan.
• You must register all your cell phones and addresses with the Peak Alerts System so they can notify you with a Reverse 9-1-1 notification. Go to https://elpasoteller911.org . (This is different from Amber Alerts and is not automatic.)
• Tell all family members where your secondary meeting place will be if you can’t get back home. Phone lines will fail during emergencies, so you can’t coordinate it all then. Do it now.
• Make copies of important documents, family photos, and home inventory photos. Store them with a friend in another town for safety.
• Read the Ready, Set, Go! website for ideas to prepare for blizzards, wildfire risk reduction, quarantine for pandemics or toxic spills, and evacuations.
• Here’s the Woodmoor-specific version that can help all residents of northern El Paso County: www.woodmoor.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/WIA-ActionPlanBooklet_PROOF4.pdf
• If you sense danger, just go! Don’t wait for the Reverse 9-1-1 call.
• Do you know at least three routes out of your neighborhood?
• If you evacuate, please check in at the evacuation center for accountability to let first responders know you’re already safe.
On Sept. 26, the Office of Emergency Management is planning to conduct an evacuation exercise for residents of northwestern El Paso County, Bumgarner said. Watch for more information so you can sign up to learn from this demonstration.
Our Community News’s coverage area includes four fire districts. Which one do you live in? See the fourth map at www.ocn.me/maps.htm. Call your district for details about Firewise lot evaluations and other resources and community classes they can share with taxpayers who want to improve their safety.
• Black Forest Fire/Rescue PD www.bffire.org
• Tri-Lakes Monument FPD http://tlmfire.org
• Palmer Lake Volunteer FD www.townofpalmerlake.com/fire
• Wescott FPD http://wescottfire.org
Above: On March 9, Colorado Estates neighborhood organizer Becky Zitterich said, "We’re Black Forest waiting to happen. When a fire comes through here, it won’t be a matter of just thinning anymore because all the trees will be gone." The group is brainstorming ways to help each other make their neighborhood safer. Two neighborhood slash chipping days are scheduled for 2020. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
March is typically one of our more active weather months as we often experience wild swings, sometimes over just a few hours. This year was no exception as several storms rolled through producing snow interspersed by sunshine and mild conditions. Overall, temperatures were slightly warmer than normal, mainly because overnight lows were generally mild. In fact, we never managed to dip into the single digits during the months, which is definitely unusual. Precipitation was right at average for the month, a good sign as we head into spring.
The month started off with a quick shot of spring-like snow, as 3-6 inches accumulated from the afternoon of the 1st through the morning of the 2nd. Temperatures were not very cold with this storm, with very little snow accumulating below about 7,000 feet. This added to the already good snowpack over the area left over from a snowy February, providing for a beautiful wintry scene. However, quiet weather moved in over the next few days, quickly melting the snow. Temperatures warmed as well, with highs mainly in the 50s and dry conditions from the 3rd to the 7th.
A quick-moving but relatively warm system moved through the region from the afternoon of the 8th through the early morning of the 9th. This produced a few rain showers on the afternoon of the 8th, then a quick shot of snow just after midnight on the 9th. Again, snow accumulated only around the higher portions of the Palmer Divide, with just some wet snow falling elsewhere. If you weren’t up early on the 9th, you probably didn’t even notice.
Clear skies returned over the next couple of days, with temperatures warming again into the 50s and low 60s. But this only lasted until the evening of the 12th, as a cold front rolled in with low clouds and fog that evening. Temperatures were chilly on the 10th, with highs only reaching into the 20s. Light snow fell off and on, accumulating 1-2 inches during the day. Cooler than normal conditions stuck around for the next couple of days, with areas of fog, freezing drizzle, and flurries at times.
After a couple of days of back and forth between fog and sun, the next storm began to affect the region late on the 18th. This turned out to be a big storm for the area, with heavy snow on the 19th. This combined with winds to produce blizzard conditions from late morning through the afternoon of the 19th. Of course, this storm wasn’t quite as strong as the one that blasted through just over a year ago, but it still produced wind gusts over 60 mph and heavy snow. Accumulated snow fell from mid-morning through evening, with 8-12 inches accumulating during the day and high temperatures only reaching the low 20s. The snow and wind made for some tough travel, but of course there weren’t a lot of cars on the roads this year.
Once this storm cleared the region, generally quiet conditions returned for most of the remainder of the month. Temperatures reached the upper 40s to low 60s from the 21st through the 27th. A quick-moving yet powerful storm moved through the region from late on the 27th through the 28th. However, this storm developed just far enough north that the main areas of precipitation and wind occurred just to our north and east.
We did receive a couple inches of wind-driven snow, but had this storm set up about 100 miles farther south, we would have been hit by a lot of worse conditions. Spring-like weather stuck around for the rest of the month, with generally mild conditions and areas of afternoon clouds and a few rain and snow showers.
A look ahead
April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region and is on average our snowiest month of the year. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Several recent years have seen over 50 inches of snow accumulate during the month. Of course, it also melts very quickly, often adding beneficial moisture to the soil and helping the vegetation, which is just getting started.
March 2020 Weather Statistics
Average High 49.9° (-0.3°)
100-year return frequency value max 57.9° min 38.0°
Average Low 24.1° (+2.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 27.0° min 12.0°
Highest Temperature 63° on the 11th, 26th
Lowest Temperature 13° on the 21st
Monthly Precipitation 1.54" (-0.5", 2% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 4.29" min 0.22"
Monthly Snowfall 21.8" (+1.5", 7% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 118.8"
(+27.9", 24% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 7.62" (+1.28", 17% above normal) (the precip season is from Oct 1 to Sept 30)
Heating Degree Days 869 (-44)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Above: On March 19, the Tri-Lakes area was enveloped by a blizzard, with over 10 inches of wet snow and high winds creating hazardous travel conditions. Those who ventured out encountered slick and slushy road conditions and poor visibility as seen by these cars and headlights barely visible on Gleneagle Drive. Photo by David Futey.
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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.
Note: The letters this month are arranged in alphabetical order by the submitter’s last name.
Domestic cats are the No. 1 killer
I read with growing dismay and incredulity Janet Sellers’ article regarding bird mortality due to anthropogenic sources. She cites a USFS study dated from 2005 which concluded that "... annual bird mortality from anthropogenic sources may easily approach 1 billion birds a year in the U.S. alone." A more recent study published in Nature Communications in 2013 says, "We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3-4.0 billion birds and 6.3-22.3 billion mammals annually" and, "Our estimate of bird mortality far exceeds any previously estimated U.S. figure for cats, as well as estimates for any other direct source of anthropogenic mortality, including collisions with windows, buildings, communication towers, vehicles and pesticide poisoning."
The 2005 study underestimated all sources of bird mortality, but especially the mortality due to domestic cats. Domestic cats are the No. 1 killer, by far. www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380.
Great job, Safeway
I want to thank Safeway in Monument for handling this coronavirus scare with grace and kindness. During this time of uncertainty, all the employees have created a sense of calm and security. From explaining when supplies will be in store to gentle words of encouragement during checkout and even a sense of humor, all this have been appreciated by me very much. Keep up the great work and thank you very much. You are the heart of the community.
By Lisa Hatfield
This is a sampling of assorted headlines from around the world about the "novel" (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) over the past few months, watching it grow from an outbreak to a pandemic. It was compiled from various sources to give a general overview of "the beginning."
Dec. 27—China alerts World Health Organization (WHO) to several mysterious pneumonia cases.
Jan. 7—U.S. public starts to hear about coronavirus (specifically named SARS-CoV-2) in Wuhan, China. It is "novel" because it is a new virus, and the human population has no immunity to it.
Jan. 13—WHO reports first case outside of China, in Thailand.
Jan. 20—WHO Situation Report 1: total confirmed cases 282, all but four of which are in China.
Jan. 21—First U.S. case reported in Everett, WA.
Jan. 2—City of Wuhan placed under effective quarantine.
Jan. 25—Wuhan rushing to build two hospitals in two weeks, sets up 11 temporary hospitals, others for influx of patients.
Jan. 31—Delta, United, American Airlines suspend all flights to mainland China.
Feb. 4—Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan quarantined after passenger diagnosed with coronavirus.
Feb. 7—Dr. Lee Wenliang dies of "novel" coronavirus. (On Dec. 30, Lee sent a warning to colleagues in the medical profession that doctors in Wuhan had treated seven patients with a SARS-like illness after they had visited a seafood market in the city. But local police quashed him, accusing him of spreading "illegal and false information.")
Feb. 8—Panic-buying of toilet paper begins in Hong Kong.
Feb 11—The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus has been given the official name COVID-19, WHO announced.
Feb. 23—Number of cases spikes in Italy.
Feb. 25—Europe refuses to close borders as Italian coronavirus cases jump.
Feb. 27—Saudi Arabia closes two holiest shrines of Islam and bans pilgrims from entering the country.
Feb. 27—Australia enacts emergency response to COVID-19, deeming it a global pandemic (much earlier than WHO).
Feb. 29—Four residents at nursing home in Kirkland, WA die of coronavirus.
March 1—Second death near Seattle adds to signs virus is spreading in U.S.
March 3—The difference between quarantine, isolation, and social distancing explained.
March 5—First "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19 in Colorado.
March 5—El Paso County Public Health and local officials give a press conference asking community to use preventive practices to keep selves and others healthy.
March 6—First El Paso County resident tests positive for COVID-19.
March 7—Stanford and Denver University move to online classes.
March 7—Panic-buying of toilet paper evident in Monument … and everywhere else
March 9—Pentagon begins social distancing measures amid coronavirus concerns.
March 9—Ireland cancels all St. Patrick’s Day parades.
March 10—"Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now" by Tomas Pueyo, to politicians, community leaders: https://link.medium.com/YIQNaGTUX4. Scientists know a huge spike is coming, with tsunami of sick patients, as has happened in the other countries. Variable is undiagnosed cases.
March 10—Coronavirus sparks European Union nations to close borders – dump "European solidarity."
March 10—Many major U.S. universities begin to switch to online classes, dispersing students across the country.
March 10—Gov. Polis declares a disaster emergency in Colorado due to evidence of community spread.
March 10—Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro calls coronavirus a "fantasy."
March 11—WHO declares coronavirus a worldwide pandemic (instead of an outbreak).
March 11—National Basketball Association (NBA) cancels season after one player tests positive.
March 11—President Donald Trump says he will suspend all travel from Europe except the United Kingdom.
March 11—Italians isolated at home applaud health care workers from their balconies every night at 8 p.m., setting trend for other European countries to show support.
March 11—China offers medical teams, support to Italy, Foreign Minister Wang Yi says.
March 12—Coronavirus shutters Statue of Liberty, Cirque du Soleil, Smithsonian museums, Eiffel Tower.
March 12—Disney World and Disneyland close until end of March.
March 12—NCAA cancels its 2020 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
March 13—Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends canceling events for more than 250 people and encourages schools to extend spring break.
March 13—El Paso County School districts announce spring break will start a week early.
March 13—President Trump declares national emergency.
March 13—Gov. Polis asks retired doctors, nurses to connect with healthcare work again.
March 13—El Paso County Public Health information line phone banks open at 719-575-8888.
March 13—Colorado’s first death is also first person to die of COVID-19 in El Paso County.
March 14—El Paso County Public Health alert for people who visited Colorado Springs Bridge Center from late Feb. to early March and may have been exposed to COVID-19 during the tournament.
March 14—Polis suspends ski resort operations.
March 15—New Orleans police drive cruisers down middle of Bourbon Street to clear out large crowds to prevent spread.
March 15—U.S. begins to see lists of states that have closed bars and dine-in restaurants.
March 15—U.S. begins to see lists of states that have closed all schools.
March 15—CDC recommends postponing events for more than 50 people for next eight weeks.
March 16—Spain, Lebanon, Canada shut borders.
March 16—Trump says to avoid groups of more than 10 people.
March 16—City of San Francisco issues stay at home order.
March 16—Polis issued statewide Public Health Order 20-22 suspending dine-in services at all restaurants, bars, theaters, gymnasiums, and casinos in the state for the next 30 days. Food takeout and delivery will be permitted under the order.
March 16—Pikes Peak Library District closes physical locations.
March 16—A 21-year old soccer coach dies of COVID-19 in Spain. When he went to doctor with coronavirus symptoms, he discovered that he also had leukemia.
March 17—Italy’s death rate jumps 16% in 24 hours.
March 17—Researchers at Imperial College London projected that around 250,000 people in Britain would die if "chains of transmission" for the virus weren’t immediately slowed or broken.
March 17—Israeli President Netanyahu announced that the highly secretive Shin Bet internal security service would soon begin deploying its highly sophisticated counter-terrorism technology to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
March 17 – Thousands of students on extended spring break due to school closures flock to Florida beaches, ignoring coronavirus concerns and social distancing recommendations.
March 17 – IRS delays tax season by 90 days.
March 17 – Amazon seeks to hire 100,000 workers to meet delivery demands.
March 17 – Voters in Illinois asked to bring their own pens to the ballot box for primaries.
March 17 – U.S.: 5,600 confirmed cases, 100 deaths. Colorado: two deaths, 160 confirmed cases.
March 17 – UC Health in Colorado Springs has set up outside tents to make room for screening in preparation for influx of patients.
March 17 – UCCS extends remote learning to end of school year.
March 17 – Doctors wonder if virus will mimic the two waves of the 1918-19 Spanish Influenza, and economists debate whether recovery will be V-shaped or W-shaped. See videos at https://www.fox21news.com/top-stories/facts-not-fear-primetime-panel-on-coronavirus-pandemic-tuesday/.
March 18 – Southern Colorado universities cancel May commencement and move to remote learning.
March 18 – U.S. Navy hospital ships to deploy off coast of New York City and West Coast in preparation for waves of patients.
March 18 – Dr. Anthony Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) says, "We cannot do this without the young people cooperating."
March 18 ¬—Governor orders Colorado schools closed, limits gatherings to 10 people and directs ski areas to stay shuttered.
March 18 – Manitou Springs Incline closed.
March 18 – Blood donations still vitally needed but in short supply.
March 18 – President Trump talks about invoking Defense Production Act of 1950 to provide vital materials.
March 18 – City of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China continues to be under total lockdown.
March 19 – El Paso County has had 11 people test positive, and two deaths.
March 19 – California issues statewide stay at home order.
March 19—The Broadmoor Hotel suspends operations until Memorial Day.
March 20 – Illinois and New York under stay at home orders.
March 20 – Rocky Mountain National Park closed until further notice.
March 20 – Panama City Beach among last in Florida to close beaches. Young people warned, "You’re more vulnerable to coronavirus than you think."
March 21 – New Jersey under stay-at-home order.
March 21 – El Paso County’s third death from COVID-19.
March 22 – Sen. Rand Paul is first senator to test positive.
March 22 – Polis orders "non-critical workplaces" in CO to reduce in-person workforce by at least 50% to help halt person-to-person spread of the virus by reducing workplace density.
March 23 – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issues shelter at home order. Liquor and marijuana stores included as "essential retail" that can stay open.
March 23—80 million Americans are on virtual lockdown.
March 23 – El Paso County reports fourth death.
March 23 – Car makers answer pleas to produce medical supplies
March 23 – Madrid doctors must prioritize who gets scarce ventilators.
March 23 – Trump wants to re-open some businesses.
March 23 – Iran: millions refusing to stay indoors and are traveling for Persian New Year.
March 23 – U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warns virus has been silently spreading. "Gathering in large groups is going to accelerate the spread of COVID-19. This week is going to get bad."
March 23 – King Soopers holds mass hiring events in Colorado Springs (with social distancing rules).
March 23 – D.C. mayor brings in National Guard to keep crowds away from city’s cherry blossom trees amid coronavirus fears
March 23 – India: 1.3 billion people are in lockdown.
March 23—United Kingdom shut down except grocery stores, medical outlets, and for exercise outdoors. Young people are also getting very ill, too, doctors warn.
March 24 – Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management starts Tuesday and Thursday emergency supply collection point for N95 masks and PPE for health care workers. RobinAdair@elpasoco.com
March 24 – 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021.
March 24—Florida governor catches flak for his refusal to close beaches.
March 24 – Town of Monument declares disaster emergency, joining El Paso County, Fort Carson, Colorado Springs.
March 24 – New York City Mayor Andrew Cuomo: "Coronavirus is moving like a bullet train. Where we are today, you will be in three to six weeks. We are your future."
March 24 – President Trump calls for country to reopen by Easter, less than 4 weeks away.
March 24 – New Zealand under lockdown.
March 24 – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro accuses state governors of "taking extreme measures, hurting the economy."
March 24 – Conference centers, warehouses converted to hospitals in London, New York City. NYC will need 40,000 ventilators soon.
March 24 – Colorado: 8,064 people tested; 1,086 cases; 147 hospitalized, 20 deaths.
March 25 – New Orleans emerging as next epicenter.
March 25 – One-third of world’s population under lockdown.
March 25 – Charles, The Prince of Wales tests positive, self-isolates in Scotland.
March 25 – Jobless claims skyrocketing.
March 25 – Navy sailors test positive at sea.
March 25 – Chloe Middleton, age 21, dies of virus though has no underlying health conditions.
March 25 – U.S. Senate approves bipartisan $2 trillion historic economic stimulus package, a "wartime level of investment in our nation."
March 25 – WHO Situation Report 65 says: Global confirmed cases; 413,467. Deaths: 18,433. U.S. confirmed cases: 51,914. Deaths: 673.
March 25 – In order to minimize the duration of the epidemic, Polis announces Colorado statewide stay at home order March 26 through April 11. Exceptions include leaving to obtain food and necessities, commuting to work if at critical business, seeking medical care, and caring for dependents. Critical businesses are exempt but must comply with 6-foot social distancing requirements. State parks will remain open, but parks that are conducive to public gatherings, such as playgrounds, are closed.
(April 2-3—A "skeleton crew" of Our Community News volunteers plans to meet (but only in groups of four, spread out over 16 hours) to count and pack the 21,000 copies of our newspaper to get them in the mail to you for this April 4 issue. If you are reading this, we must have succeeded.... We will definitely need some help on this for the May 2 issue, also. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you could help.)
For more information
Community Resources for businesses and community members available during COVID-19 Pandemic:
www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0 has lists to help with:
Behavioral Health Resources
Childcare Resources for Children & Teens
Health and Wellness Resources
Volunteer Opportunities (Local and Immediate Needs).
Can you volunteer today?
www.elpasocountyhealth.org/community-resources-0 has direct links to needs right now for groups like:
• Care and Share
• Crossfire Ministries
• Citizen’s Project - (email email@example.com for virtual opportunities to help with Census 2020)
• Donate Blood
• Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity)
• Foster an animal
• Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County
• Salvation Army
• Silver Key
• United Way (ongoing opportunities)
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint and the soil and sky as canvas."
After our long, snow-filled winter and coronavirus warnings filling our minds, planning a garden might be the perfect escape. Here are some great books, with expert advice from professional Colorado gardeners; we’ve also included one for children.
Rocky Mountain Month-by-Month Gardening
By John Cretti (Cool Springs Press) $26.99
Help take the guesswork out of gardening with this month-by-month guide that includes detailed instructions on topics from watering and fertilizing to pruning and problem solving. No matter your gardening level, from beginner to expert, you will reap the benefits of Coloradan John Cretti’s more than 32 years of gardening. Complete with specific advice on growing annuals, perennials, bulbs, grasses, roses, ground covers, trees, shrubs, and vines.
Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs
By Tammi Hartung (Storey Publishing) $19.95
The Hartungs own Desert Canyon Farm in Colorado, which has been certified organic since 1996. Tammi has great advice and multiple books for gardening in Colorado. In this one she provides in-depth profiles of 101 popular herbs, including information on seed selection, planting, maintenance, harvesting, and drying. You will also learn how to use your herbs in a variety of foods, home remedies, body care products, and crafts. Whether you’re a seasoned herbalist or planting your first garden, Homegrown Herbs will help you get the most out of your herbs.
The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature
By Tammi Hartung (Storey Publishing) $16.95
This is a guide to creating harmony between the vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. It explains how to start with a healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through thoughtful planting, attract beneficial insects, pollinators, and butterflies, and how to purposefully create habitats for wildlife with strategies to help garden and wildlife peacefully coexist, including blocking access to unwelcome guests.
The Undaunted Gardener: Planting for Weather Resilient Beauty (2nd edition)
By Lauren Springer Ogden (Fulcrum Publishing) $34.95
Lauren Springer Ogden offers well-adapted plants, practical and environmental perspectives, and a uniquely aesthetic approach to gardening in a challenging climate. You will find more than 370 new full-color photographs; 100 portraits of underused, exceptional plants; information on drought-tolerant and deer-resistant plants; and insights and lessons from Lauren’s three personal gardens. Lauren and her husband Scott design public and private gardens. Together they tend two intensive gardens in Fort Collins and Austin, overseen by cats, wildlife, and three mildly interested children.
Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard
By Mike Lizotte (Storey Publishing) $16.95
A mini-meadow can be any size, any location, or even multiple locations. With as little as 50 square feet and less than $20, gardeners can plant a colorful meadow that demands little in the way of space or maintenance, drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and provides habitat for pollinators. From choosing the right variety of seeds, preparing the soil, sowing evenly, and watering well, author Mike Lizotte guides readers through the process of successfully creating a miniature meadow that suits their climate, soil, and growing goals.
Xeriscape Handbook: A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening
By Gayle Weinstein (Fulcrum Publishing) $24.95
Xeriscape plant materials are water-conserving, beautiful, and thrive in specific environments. You will find an easy-to-follow, step-by-step approach to creating a water-wise garden. Environmental gardening factors are combined with the seven principles of xeriscape and good gardening techniques. Gayle Weinstein has worked with Denver Botanic Gardens in their Xeriscape Experimental Garden, as well as other areas of the public garden. She makes her home in Denver.
We Are the Gardeners
By Joanna Gaines and Kids (Thomas Nelson) $19.99
Joanna and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From failed endeavors, obstacles (bunnies that eat everything!), and lessons learned, the Gaines family shares how they grew a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn’t always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward.
"Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds."
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
We of the Monument and Palmer Lake libraries miss our patrons and hope to see you soon.
We want to assure our younger patrons that Ruby, the Monument Library gecko, and the ducks are being cared for by library staff and await your return.
In the meantime, please be aware of these policies during the time of our closure:
• Please keep all library materials at this time. The book drops are closed. Due dates will be extended into May. No fines will be charged on materials returned in good condition.
• Interlibrary Loan due dates are also extended. Interlibrary Loan services are suspended.
• Available holds will not expire.
• All programs, events, and room reservations are cancelled.
• Mobile library services are suspended.
• Library cards will not expire during this time. Those wishing to register for cards online may do so at www.ppld.org. The cards may be used immediately.
• The Winter Adult Reading Program has been extended.
• Please keep books that you plan to donate at this time.
• Those patrons who use OverDrive for digital resources can now have 10 checkouts for a total of 14 days each. We will continue to add copies of digital materials as our budget allows.
• Those wishing to begin taking advantage of digital resources should go to Cybershelf on the PPLD.org website. Resources include ebooks, e-audiobooks, movies, comics, magazines, and more for all ages.
• Please see the library website for updated information.
We understand that such library services as the internet and the availability of newspapers at our locations are important to many of you, but your well-being is of primary concern. The library district is following the advice of the governor and El Paso County Health in this troubling time.
Please take care of yourselves, and we hope to see you soon.
Above: The Monument Library is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but some remote services are available to patrons. Photos by Harriet Halbig.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
Many might remember family stories about gardens of hope from the Depression era of the 1930s and the Victory Gardens of the 1940s war era. As a kid at age 10, my father raised chickens for eggs to sell to neighbors and rabbits to sell to the butcher for meat during the Depression era, helping his own family with food and income. Legally blind with very limited vision, he was unable to go into World War II as a soldier, but he did his part and was a block captain, and helped his community grow its food at that time. It is estimated that American Victory Gardens made up more than 40% of the local food supply.
Block captains were elected for the unofficial job and coordinated activities on the home front. Doing their part for the community in many capacities, they organized War Bond drives, scrap metal drives, Victory Gardens, patriotic gestures, and held ceremonies for those departing for the military as well as erected small shrines for those who did not return. Block captains went nightly door-to-door to make sure lights were out for safety from possible air raids.
People were encouraged to grow food gardens at home or in community gardens as a food source and morale booster during World War II and afterward, using the traditional gardening knowledge of the elder population for the most part and encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their efforts.
Many find that "a planting of seeds today is an act of hope for tomorrow." We can do that here in our area, even in our on-again, off-again snowy spring season. Windowsill gardens, sprouts, and other indoor growing methods as simple as starting seeds in potting soil in containers can give us that sense of hope and resilience. We can even grow a tasty salad from seed within days in the form of sprouts.
Many kinds of seeds make tasty sprouts, but of course it takes lots of sprouted seeds to make a meal. With fully grown plants, we can use a few leaves per person for salad and cooked greens.
Sprouts grow fast and have good nutrition, though. We can buy sprout systems or use the DIY versions.
A key to healthy sprouts is rinsing often to keep them fresh. Growing up, my mother put cheesecloth or netting held in place with a rubber band over a mason jar of water and the desired seeds (we mostly used alfalfa seeds for sprouts), and in a few days we had our fresh sprouts. Her method was to soak tiny seeds for two or three days until they swelled, pour off the excess water, then rinse with clean water daily until the sprouts reached the desired size.
Sunflower sprouts are sweet and tasty, but it’s difficult to separate the hard shells from the sprouts in a jumbled jar method—so by improvising, we had better luck and an easier harvest. The easiest way to harvest them that we found was to keep them in a tray after the soaking stage, rinse daily, then cut them by hand with scissors when they are 3-6 inches tall. Lots of people do wheat grass this way, too.
Monument Community Garden
We started the demonstration beds preparation at Monument Community Garden in March, with numbered beds, and we’ll have our traditional sunflowers as surroundings again. Check out our extensive "library" of articles and videos of handy gardening tips and tricks for our area on our Facebook page, Monument Community Garden. I’ve been keeping that going for six or seven years now, with lots of information at the ready to maximize our short outdoor gardening season.
Above:The secret sauce to the rich organic Monument Community Garden soil is the alpaca beans and fall leaves mixed into the soil every fall or alternating years, growing beans, which fix nitrogen in the soil, and pine straw paths and mulch. Here, 2019 saw the garden in its prime before a deer invasion. 2020 promises denser, protective sunflower plantings. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an avid "lazy garden style" gardener, using those organic, no-till methods when possible for optimal results. If you have local, helpful garden tips, send them to email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
"Just to paint is great fun. The colors are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out."
—Sir Winston Churchill
In our current mandated, protective isolation with the pandemic, we need to help each other keep our spirits up and our health strong. I found enormous encouragement reading about the life interests of Winston Churchill, especially his love of painting. He held dear what all artists do, and that is the being in the flow of creative imagination, the joy of it as a pastime "We cannot aspire to masterpiece," he wrote. "We may content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint-box. And for this Audacity is the only ticket."
If we sum up Winston Churchill, we’d need to do it in his own words (the polite version), "We must just KPO." The initials stand for "Keep Plodding On," words for which he is most famous in his country and the world during a time when any words of defeat must not be uttered. People who knew him personally said if there was one word to describe the great Winston Churchill, it would be the word "inspiring." Inspiration means to "breathe the spirit into."
The son of a British aristocrat and an American-born British socialite, Churchill lived and breathed this zeal for life, all the while channeling his gusto for enjoying it and his urgency for making things happen for the right outcomes for all in his country, from the traditionally reserved aristocracy to the foot soldier fighting in the trenches. "Inspiring" originated as a term for a divine or supernatural being, in the sense of imparting a truth or idea to someone. Churchill’s dauntless, influential personality transformed naturally into leadership and getting his government and his people to follow him. His drive knew no bounds in thankfully the most beneficial of ways.
Churchill had such an urgency about him that, in recollections of his verve, his colleagues reported that everyone in his presence and connected to him began to run, not walk, in the corridors of the Whitehall offices, continually influenced by his contagious urgency to accomplish what was needed in all the times of war and peace.
Elected to Parliament at age 25, he was celebrated as a lifelong avid reader, scholar, war correspondent, author, journalist, and painter. He took up painting as a soothing pastime after the travesty of his ordered attack at Gallipoli, Turkey, and continued painting all his life. "Painting came to my rescue in a most trying time," Churchill wrote in an essay in his small book Painting as a Pastime. He loved painting outdoors, en plein air.
His interests knew no bounds, and he was able to create in people a desire to take action even in the most hopeless of times to follow his lead into an optimistic future. He was of such character that he could bring together the common man and the elite and strengthen all the people’s resolve in the most dismal of circumstances. He was an experienced soldier, knew the march, and understood the needs of his people to never give up—there was no choice but to create his leadership into winning and accomplishing peace.
Churchill was known for his strategic foresight, his intuition of how things could play out in the moment, the foreseeable future and for the long term. Even during the terms of the 1938 Munich Agreement/Munich Betrayal, the Chamberlain-Hitler negotiations that let Germany take over Czech lands, Churchill criticized the terms as impotent and dangerous. He was right, and World War II was the consequence.
Even at that, Churchill set his spirit on leading Britain and all of Europe out of that war and into a brighter future with his strategies. He was absolutely determined. In his own words, "I am convinced that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood on the ground."
After both world wars, Churchill took time to visit friends, travel, and paint. "Painting is complete as a distraction," he wrote in 1948. "I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen ... when I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject."
Above: "The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman, simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion."—Winston Churchill. Churchill loved painting and wrote essays on the topic that became the little book Painting as a Pastime. "Armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, at loose ends, or have several days on one’s hands," he wrote in the book. Public domain photo.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, speaker and educationalist. She is known for her public art sculptures and monumental murals, smaller paintings, and writes about many things. firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCN Readers: We need your photos for our May 2 issue
All the regular events for April are postponed or canceled, so we need your help. What is happening in the Tri-Lakes area in your household as we continue isolating from society? We can’t guarantee publication, but we would love to hear from our readers.
We would also need a brief caption naming those pictured (left to right), what is being shown including any helpful background information, when it occurred, where, and the name of the photographer. Email your photos to us at email@example.com by Friday, April 24.
Thank you from all your Our Community News volunteers!
Coping with COVID-19
Above: On March 25, Barbara Murray and her kids joined many others in the Bear Creek Elementary School neighborhoods to wave at a caravan of 60-plus teachers in cars who held a parade to honk and wave at their students who have been out of school since March 16 due to the ongoing pandemic. The teachers’ parade was greeted by excited kids and emotional parents and included a police escort. Bear Creek families stood in their yards, held signs and drew messages of support in chalk on their sidewalks. Caption by Jackie Burhans. Photo by Amy Shertzer. See additional coping with COVID-19 photos on 25-28.
CC students at Black Rose, Feb 28
Above: Colorado College students once again brought their musical vitality to traditional folk favorites Feb. 28 at the Black Forest Community Center. This advanced bluegrass ensemble performed as part of the Black Rose Acoustic Society concert series held twice monthly. Under the direction of professional banjo player and Colorado College music instructor Keith Reed, they explore the development of instrumental and vocal blue grass band compositions in a challenging, creative environment. From left are Camille Newsom, fiddle; Helen Lenski, banjo; Hub Hejna, guitar; Ethan Hall, bass; Ada Bowles, mandolin; and Charles Hall, banjo. Photo by Todd Ryan, Performance Photography. Caption by Sharon Williams. Note: This concert performance took place shortly after COVID-19 was identified and little information was yet available to the public. Therefore, the musicians and those attending this concert were unaware of the dangers of this global pandemic. According the Black Rose website (www.blackroseacoustic.org), all future events are temporarily suspended in response to the pandemic.
Left: On March 11, Screenagers the Next Chapter, a documentary by filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston, was shown at Lewis-Palmer High School to help whole communities, including parents, teachers and kids, learn more about the damaging effects of screen time and devices on people, especially children and teens, and ways to uncover skills for stress resilience. Delving into the physiological, emotional, social, and psychological damage from screen devices on the brains, bodies and minds of growing youths, the film focused on the pervasiveness of the use of screen devices and solutions for healthy use. The school plans to have more events on the topic. Ther is more information at www.screenagersmovie.com. Caption by Janet Sellers.
COVID-19 Help Line: 575-8888
Above: El Paso County Public Health opened a COVID-19 information line on March 13 at the Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management. (The next week, it switched to home-based call responders). Ellie (pictured) and other people from Pikes Peak United Way 211 joined Pikes Peak Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members on the phone banks to answer the public’s questions about symptoms, testing, health providers, decision-making about event planning, and Health Department recommendations. The line is still open and has added information including financial assistance sources, whether you should wear a mask, and questions about the stay at home order (which is the law of the land now through April 11 at least). Call at 719-575-8888 any day of the week. Or see www.Elpasocountyhealth.org. For more on stay at home, see https://covid19.colorado.gov/stay-home-except-essential-needs. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Pegmatites at WMMI, Mar. 10
Left: Mark Ivan Jacobson presented a lecture on "Colorado Pegmatites" March 10 at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI). Pegmatites are coarsely crystalline granite or other igneous rock with crystals several centimeters to several meters in length. Pegmatites include rare earth minerals such as topaz, aquamarine, feldspar, and quartz. The type of minerals created depends upon the rate at which the granite cools and its depth and pressure. Pressure and rate of cooling determine granularity and texture of pegmatites. Hobbyists may hunt for various types of pegmatites in mineral-rich areas such as Crystal Peak, Devil’s Head, Cañon City, and many others. Several areas have been mined extensively for the valuable minerals, such as cesium, contained in pegmatites. WMMI schedules lectures on mining and mineral-related subjects each month through November as well as on its annual "Family History Day" Sept. 19. For a schedule of events, visit www.wmmi.org. Photo by Steve Pate.
Water-wise Gardening, Mar. 13
Above: Monument Landscape Supervisor Cassie Olgren conducted a Water-wise Gardening Class open to all Tri-Lakes residents March 13. This course helps to create a smart, classy landscape using less water. She explained how to maintain a landscape affordably and responsibly in our challenging areas by choosing suitable designs and irrigation methods. She gave lists of water-wise plant favorites and Colorado native plants and recommended highly successful plant varieties for our 7,000-feet altitude. Olgren explained how to use cardboard as a weed barrier and about xeriscape designs. She showed a diagram about how to group plants according to irrigation needs called hydrozoning. To watch her recorded class online, go to: www.facebook.com/pg/TownofMonument/videos/?ref=page_internal. For more landscaping tips: www.epa.gov/watersense/landscaping-tips. Photo by Sreedevi Vangala.
Churches find ways to serve
Left: The Church at Woodmoor demonstrated its mission in response to COVID-19 by offering new and different services to its membership and the community. Senior Pastor Ellen Fenter’s leadership on an international water foundation provided lead time for addressing the pandemic. The church sends daily emails to encourage people of all ages and provide activities such as story- and music-time links for kids, movie suggestions, and meditation opportunities. Tech-savvy individuals are teaching the less tech-savvy how to use online tools for connecting with one another. Youths assembled soup kits (while wearing masks and gloves) of dried beans and seasonings for church members and the poor of the community while others put together over 200 medical-mask-and-hand-sanitizer kits for people who come to the church. When Palm Sunday arrives, volunteers will deliver palms and flower seeds to church members who will be encouraged to grow the seeds indoors through Memorial Day. On March 14, the church added take-home Communion packs accessible via the church drive-through as its early answer to the coronavirus. Pictured: Scarlett Pascual receives Communion at her home. Photo by Mark Pascual.
Time on our hands
Above: David W. Jones, avid member of the PDGA-Professional Disc Golf Association, finishes a practice round at the popular Palmer Lake disc golf course. Aspiring to qualify for national and international sanctioned events, he just learned of the cancellation of upcoming scheduled tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. David’s enthusiasm and passion for this fast-growing sport is not deterred by the change of events. As he carries his disc backpack, he can readily select any numbered types of distance and fairway drivers, midrange discs, and putters based on need for disc throwing stability, accuracy, speed, and distance. Introduced by a friend to this throwing version of golf, he has proven himself a friendly, but formidable competitor, steadily moving to more advanced levels. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Above: Neighbors greeting neighbors - From left, Sondra and Dave Wayman and dog Boomer. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Above: Brad Fuller, Larkspur, CO who is new to the game of disc golf, throws from the 10th tee at the Palmer Lake disc golf course. He and his son joined a group of friends from Monument, CO who are cheering him along the challenging up-hill fairway. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Above: L-R: brothers, Xander and Keegan Owen, and mother, Carolyn Owen. Normally, Carolyn works in an administrative capacity at Pikes Peak Community College. Recently that changed when public health mandates brought her work home. She had just finished her 8-hour workday and now follows it with an exercise regimen with her two sons. With an extended school break, Xander is experimenting with cake baking. Brother Keegan is primer painting his room followed with a color choice of tan for the final coat of paint. As a family, they are valuing two precious assets in life, time and health. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Above:A 3½-mile hike around the "Rock" on Mount Herman trail on March 14 provided glimpses of people on horseback, mountain bikers, a young woman with two retrievers, and a fellow hiker. For this hiker, who felt admonished to stay home and keep a 6-foot distance from others, this was a good way to get out of the house and get some exercise and fresh air. On March 25, a similar loop of 2½ miles included encounters with 25-30 people enjoying the outdoors with kids home from school and folks who cannot go to work. Gov. Polis’ Stay in Place order states that Coloradans can leave their home to engage in outdoor activity such as walking, hiking, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, biking, or running. Remember to maintain the minimum 6-foot distance from those who do not live in your household. Photo by Steve Pate.
Left: Remember wildfire risk reduction? Teens and adults with lots of free time + nice weather = a great time to reduce your home’s "ignition potential" when wildfire comes. Let’s make use of this isolation time to make our homes safer this summer and beyond with regular maintenance. Rake pine needles 10-15 feet away from base of house. Clear those dry fuels out from under steps and in your gutters. Use loppers to cut back scrub oak at least 30 feet from the house, and thin out "doghair thickets" of pine trees. Trim limbs 6-10 feet up big trees and scrub oak. Make neat stacks of slash so it’s easy for contractors to collect. Team up with neighbors later on when you hire a contractor so you can save money. Here, George and the team from Tree Masters finish up annual forest management work for the Woodmoor Improvement Association along the Fairplay Drive median. See https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Preparing-homes-for-wildfire for Home Ignition Zone safety tips. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
A day in the life of Tri-Lakes, Mar. 18
By David Futey
As the coronavirus, COVID-19, began to affect most of the country, its impact could be seen across the Tri-Lakes area. Grocery and other stores, facing empty shelves, were requesting customers to purchase only what was needed and not hoard products. They were also seeking full- and part-time employees to meet the customer demand of re-stocking products and cleaning stores. Stores also adjusted and reduced hours to assist in those processes. Note that many grocery stores have special hours set aside for those 60 or older as "senior" hours. With social distancing being encouraged, schools and some businesses closed entirely for two or more weeks due to state and federal guidelines, with restaurants limited to take-out and delivery service. However, Tri-Lakes-area residents also took the time to enjoy the outdoors individually or in small groups at parks or on their own by foot or bike. Remember to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others who are not part of your household when venturing outside for any reason. Also, given the rapidly changing situation, stay informed regarding the possible closure of trails, parks, playgrounds, and other outdoor spaces. Do not use these or other public areas should you be exhibiting symptoms of the coronavius or any other illness. Information on a state level can be found at https://covid19.colorado.gov/about-covid-19. The Towns of Monument and Palmer Lake will provide updates through their websites and media outlets. David Futey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above and right: The Baptist Road King Soopers was busy with shoppers at their 7 a.m. opening. Though some shelves were empty, as in the soup section, King Soopers employees were busy re-stocking dairy and other items throughout the store. At Natural Grocers, produce and bulk item cases awaited re-stocking. Staff were in the process of re-stocking various items mid-day across the store to meet customer demand. As many of us shelter in place, this is a good time to remember those who so faithfully fill our basic needs.
Below: At Lewis-Palmer High School, the student parking lot was empty as schools across the area and state were closed to encourage social distancing. Districts offered online learning for class instruction before and after the traditional spring break week. The Donald Westcott Fire Department responded to an emergency in the Gleneagle area. With social distancing and other actions residents can take to mitigate the virus’s spread, the hope is to "flatten the curve" of infections so health services such as hospitals and EMS are not overwhelmed in the coming weeks. Photos by David Futey
Above: Studios are empty and teachers are teaching their classes online. Now that everyone has gone home to wait for the word to get back out, a new billion-dollar business has emerged all over the country. Olivia Pennington (pictured), yoga teacher with Live.Now Monument, has begun to teach yoga in an empty studio with eager students at home ready to click the link of the Zoom (Zoom Technologies) meeting notice and they "are live." Janet Sellers started teaching her art class to her students online. "They were all set up to take classes, and everything they do in person they can do at home with their own art supplies." Anyone with a smart phone or laptop can join a video meeting. Go to www.startmyart.com to sign up for art classes today. This new way of doing traditional classes can give everyone the chance to safely mingle with others and know that we are not alone. Caption by Marlene Brown. Photo by Victoria Pennington.
Lunches for vets, first responders
Left: Pastor Sherry Ferriman of First United Methodist Church in Fountain runs an organization called Neutral Zone, a place to help military veterans and first responders transcend the moral wounding they experience through combat and crisis experiences. In January and February, Ferriman had organized once-a-month veterans’ breakfasts. When Gov. Polis issued the March 25 coronavirus stay-at-home order, Ferriman needed to rethink ways to support the service population. By rallying volunteers from Monument’s Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church (TLUMC) and Veterans Referring Veterans and partnering with Level Up Coffee and Raven Retro Games, Neutral Zone provided grab-and-go lunches on March 27. TLUMC families assembled 100 lunches. Above, Ferriman organizes lunch donations for a grab-and-go giveaway to veterans and first responders. Photo by Margie Frostman.
D38 provides computers
Above: On March 30, the day before Lewis-Palmer School District 38 students began classes via computer, staff and IT techs distribute Chrome computers to families to enable their children to virtually attend classes during the COVID-19 pandemic and keep up with their education. Photo by John Howe.
A fond farewell to Jennifer
Right: Jennifer Kaylor has been a volunteer and leader for Our Community News since 2017. She is always ready to brainstorm a problem, report on a local government entity’s public meeting, and explain the technical details in layman’s terms. In these unprecedented days of uncertainty, she’s been hard at work juggling all the variables as we make decisions about how to proceed. These photos were taken on March 6, where Jennifer and many other loyal volunteers counted and tubbed 21,500 papers to take to the post office. Note: Newspapers are considered an "essential industry" in the governor’s March 26 stay at home order. Write to email@example.com if you can help on April 30-May 1 mailing day, since many of our regular volunteers must not venture out right now. Photo by Sharon Williams.
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.
Community resources available during COVID-19 pandemic
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). The public health information number is 719-575-8888. It is open 7 days a week.
Silver Key Senior Luncheons
Connections Café sites will have "grab and go" (prepared meals). A $2.25 donation is requested. Please call 719-884-2300 to reserve your meal. Meals on Wheels and Home Delivered Meals will deliver frozen meals for the week to Monument on Wednesdays. If you qualify but are not yet enrolled for meals, phone 719-884-2300 or visit www.silverkey.org. The Food Pantry is implementing a "pick up only" model for clients. Mon.-Fri., 12-12:30 p.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. Reserve & Ride is temporarily limited to essential transportation needs only: strictly medical and food-related trips. Reservations are requested, phone 719-884-2300.
Rocky Mountain Custom Trim now hiring
Help is needed for shop work, shipping and receiving, and delivery. For details, contact 719-488-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 16.
Blood donations needed
Blood donors are needed at the Colorado Springs Blood Donation Center, 3670 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Suite 110; Colo. Springs. Do not donate if you are sick; Vitalant does not test for COVID-19. An appointment is required; book by phone or online: 303-363-2300 or 800-365-0006, opt. 2; www.vitalant.org
Personal protective equipment needed, pickup available
The Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management is accepting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donations every Tuesday and Thursday, 1-4 p.m., at the parking lot for 3755 Mark Dabling Blvd., Colorado Springs. If donors cannot get to the drop site, pickup is available; contact RobinAdair@elpasoco.com or 719-575-8858. They are accepting the following items: gloves, masks (N95 and surgical), face shields, gowns, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, Tyvek suits.
Local grocery stores offer senior shopping hours, ages 60+
During the COVID-19 pandemic, local stores have made some changes to their schedules: King Soopers is open for seniors only Mon., Wed., & Fri 7-8 a.m.; they close at 8 p.m. Safeway opens for seniors Tue. & Thu., 7-9 a.m.; they close at 8 p.m. Walmart opens for seniors Tue., 6-7 a.m.; they close at 8:30 p.m.
Silver Key Calls of Reassurance are available for seniors
Extended social isolation and loneliness significantly impact the quality of life and health of older adults. The current public health crisis has increased the need and demand for seniors to receive these critical calls and connection with others. Seniors who self-enroll can be called weekly (1-3 times) to talk with a Silver Key volunteer. They currently offer two types of helpful calls. Social Calls are for seniors who wish to have a weekly, bright, and supportive connection with a well-trained VIP volunteer. Safety Checks are similar to Social Calls but if the senior does not answer after three calls, emergency contacts (maintained on file) will be called, then the police if the emergency contacts cannot be reached. For more details, visit www.silverkey.org.
Can you sew homemade masks? Free mask-sewing kits, drop-off site available
The Sew-In-Tune shop in Monument is providing mask kits for sew-ers to make up to 1,000 masks (each kit makes 5 masks). Email your request to email@example.com or leave a message at 719-203-5642. Include your name, contact info, number of kits requested, and what day you would like to pick up or if you would like them delivered. Sew-in-Tune has many more detailed instructions about how to make, package, and label the masks, so even if you are not using their kits but using your own materials instead, please email them for all the specifics they can share. To find out more, call 719-203-5642 or visit facebook.com/sewintuneservicing.
Can you volunteer today?
Links to local organizations with 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), donate blood, Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity), foster an animal, Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, Salvation Army, Silver Key,
United Way (ongoing opportunities).
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us now more than ever
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 for us 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.
YMCA offers critical child care
The YMCA offers critical childcare to medical professionals, first responders, and other parents who need to work during this time. For more information, please visit www.ppymca.org/coronavirus. Care will be offered Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. for ages 5 -12 at their Garden Ranch and Tri-Lakes YMCAs. Financial scholarships are available. For more information, visit www.ppymca.org/childcare.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Teleconference Family Support Group
NAMI offers teleconference support the first and third Tuesdays of every month, 7-8:30 p.m. Pre-registration for each teleconference support group meeting is required. To pre-register, contact NAMI Colorado Springs at 719-473-8477, 719-482-0918 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Ethel Leslie 970-527-3284, email@example.com.
County parks, trails, and open spaces remain open for drop-in use
Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers, park headquarters, and county fairgrounds are temporarily closed to public access to combat COVID-19. Also closed are playgrounds, picnic pavilions, and park restrooms. County parks, trails, and open spaces remain open for drop-in use. Please enjoy the outdoors during this challenging time, but practice social distancing. For more information, phone 719-520-7529, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.elpasoco.com.
Clerk & Recorder offices closed; some services available
Residents can renew their motor vehicle registration online at http://mydmv.colorado.gov, by phone 520-6240, by mail, or by self-service kiosks at King Soopers or at the North Motor Vehicle Office at 8830 N. Union Blvd. (24/7 kiosk). Additionally, marriage licenses can be obtained by appointment. For more information phone 520-6200. See ad on page 8.
Sixth Annual Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival, register now
Registration for the festival (May 15-17) begins Apr. 4, 10 a.m. The festival offers numerous activities and field trips including geology exploration in the restricted-access portion of the Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Some events fill up fast, so register early for discounted festival cost and a spot in your preferred workshops and trips. For details, visit www.pikespeakbirdingandnaturefestival.org.
Monument Hill Kiwanis grants, apply by May 15
The Monument Hill Foundation, the charitable arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, has an annual granting program. Grants are awarded to charities as defined by the IRS, to various qualifying youth activities, and to schools for various educational activities and scholarships. Applications will be accepted through May 15. The grant application is available at www.monumenthillfoundation.org (select "Apply for a Grant").
MVEA board nominations open
The board election will take place during the annual meeting June 4. If you are interested in being a candidate, find application details at www.mvea.coop. For more information, phone 719-494-2528 or email email@example.com. See ad on page 13.
MA is expanding; enroll now
Monument Academy is a free public school of choice and features academic excellence, award-winning programs, and more. Its new east campus will open this fall. Learn about this growing school; schedule a tour at 481-1950 ext. 1710, www.monumentacademy.net. See ad on page 11.
St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling
Preschool through eighth grade features academics, athletics, and faith formation. For more information, call 719-481-1855 or visit www.petertherockschool.org. See ad on page 2.
Emptier roads can still be dangerous if you don’t drive safely
The Colorado Department of Transportation reminds drivers that less traffic on the roads does not mean less danger, especially when some choose to abandon safe driving practices. Several multi-car pileups, in addition to significant additional crashes, have caused road closures and injuries throughout Colorado. At a time when medical facilities are already stretched, drivers can #DoYourPartCO and move responsibly. Your trip and the health and safety of your community are counting on it. For more information, visit www.codot.gov.
Friends of Monument Preserve (FOMP) seeks board members
FOMP manages a 1,000-acre hiking/biking/equestrian trail area. The group is recruiting new board members. For more information, visit www.fomp.org.
County seeks citizen input: Master plan survey now online
El Paso County continues to seek citizen input in an online survey as it creates the new county master plan. To complete the survey, go online to www.planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com. For more information, phone 719-520-6300.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1" emergency notifications to your cell phones
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
County assessor launches enhanced website
The newly redesigned site with the Property Record Card and Citizen Comper (value comparisons) makes parcel and property searches more informative, easier to use, and accessible on mobile devices as well as desktops. Find the enhanced website at https://property.spatialest.com/co/elpaso/.
Monument text alerts
Text "Monument" to 41411 to receive updates and news of meetings, weather alerts, openings and closings, as well as other important town information to your phone or personal mobile device.
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
On March 11, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) invited news media to a candid conversation about leading causes of increased crashes in the construction zone along the I-25 South Gap from Monument to Castle Rock. Addressing three primary culprits—speeding, following too closely, and unsafe driving practices—CDOT has funded increased enforcement along the corridor. Motorists can expect increased law enforcement seven days a week, increased aircraft enforcement, and speed limit reductions during peak travel and inclement weather.
Be aware that a speeding violation of 10 to 19 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone will incur fines and surcharges of $323. Following too closely will cost at least $221 and four points against a driver’s record. "On land or in air, our job is to ensure everyone is as safe as possible when traveling on Colorado roadways," says CSP Maj. Tim Keeton. "But we cannot do it alone. We need every driver to make it their personal responsibility to keep themselves, and others, safe when behind the wheel. And then drive accordingly."
CDOT and CSP remind motorists:
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
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.
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