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By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held a special board meeting on July 29, a regular board meeting on Aug. 13 preceded by a question-and-answer session, and a ribbon cutting and tour on Aug. 29 ahead of the start of its school year. MA previously had delayed its calendar to start the school year on Monday, Aug. 31 to ensure that the new school could be completed.
School opening plan
At the Aug.13 special meeting, COO Christianna Herrera announced that Janyse Skalla has been hired as a contractor to MA to help implement its eLearning system. She has 17 years’ experience in education, with the last 10 years working in an out-of-state charter school that included online, in-class, and homeschool learning. It was reported that Herrera gave up part of her salary to fund this position, because there was no money in the budget for this hire.
Herrera presented the proposed Learning and Operations Resumption Plan for 2020-21. After school ended abruptly in spring, MA has been listing to guidance and attending training and webinars from the League of Charter Schools, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and state representatives to determine how to successfully open without having positive cases of COVID-19 that shut down the school. She presented plans for preschool and elementary school as well as two options for middle and high school. She noted that D38 had approved and published its own plan and, along with the CDE, would be approving MA’s plan. She noted that MA’s funding is contingent on meeting CDE requirements and that she had engaged the charter’s lawyer Brad Miller to review and advise.
Herrera provided a summary of the research and parent and student surveys used to guide decisions. The general feedback is that parents favor returning full-time and having a choice in whether to wear masks. The mask preference was strongest at lower grade levels. She noted that a second survey showed a lower preference for masks. She also reported that 52% of parents wanted a full time in-person schedule; 28% wanted to be full-time with the option to go online if the situation changes, and 6% preferred distance learning with limited screen time. The staff was also surveyed as to their preference on mask wearing and what would make them feel safer.
The board was provided with all survey results along with over 800 comments. Generally, more parents and students preferred not to wear a mask while faculty preferred mask wearing, especially at the higher grades.
Learning plan options
Miller said that he felt the CDE would give the school latitude around student count for distance learning, and that he felt the MA plan was good. He advised the board to give the school leadership latitude to make decisions about things such as when parents could change learning models and how the car line procedures work. He said they should approve the plan in principle without getting into the minutiae. Miller said that while everyone wants kids to come back and feel normal, staff members also need to feel secure. He said they should not be quick to discard mask requirements even if the governor doesn’t extend his mandate if it makes people feel safer. He noted that the school already impinges on people’s liberty by requiring uniforms and dress codes, though that is for culture while masks are for safety.
Miller said he wanted to make sure MA could continue to offer education and not shut down and to expect that the situation would change. He said that other layered controls could be added on to create a safe haven. Herrera reiterated that while there is a government mandate, people will have to wear masks. Miller said the executive order had to be treated as though it was the law as it was issued under emergency powers. He said the school needs to uphold the law but also doesn’t have police powers if someone doesn’t or cannot comply.
Pre-school Director Mia Phillips reported that preschool is considered an essential business and would remain open even if there were a shutdown. She said that preschool was making accommodations such as removing porous toys, moving furniture, and redoing nap times and adult-child ratios. They are creating primary care groups, each of which has primary caregivers. Classrooms will look more normal, there is no mask requirement for kids; teachers will wear face shields and masks. She said that a fence was installed by Eagle scouts on the preschool playground to allow two groups to be out at the same time.
MA elementary Principal Charlie Richardson said that elementary would be offered either in-person or live-streamed. He discussed allowing parents to choose one model and change to the other model, preferable on a quarterly basis. Elementary students will be able to use the multi-purpose room (MPR) for lunch. Kids will be dropped off and go through a thermal scanning machine and spread out between the MPR and the gym. The kids will be released one class at a time to go to their rooms. The plan is that teachers will wear masks but the kids, who are under 11 years old, will not once they are in class. They will be able to switch rooms for specials (elective classes) and go out to recess but will be asked to wear masks during transitions. At the end of the day, Richardson said, they are considering staggering pickup.
For middle and high school students, Principal Julie Seymour presented four options: in-person; at-home synchronous learning (live); at-home asynchronous (recorded); and at-home independent learning with MA curriculum and scope. She talked about two possible plans, one that provided a more normal experience with more risk of quarantine or a second one that was more conservative and used cohorting.
The board preferred the first plan, in which students would not be in cohorts and would attend school on a regular schedule, Monday through Thursday in-person with Friday at home for support/office hours. There would be social distancing in classrooms, with masks. There would be layered protection to maximize the potential to stay open. This includes assigned seats, one-way hallways, no use of lockers, health screening and temperature checks upon arrival. Lunch would be in classrooms, windows would be open for ventilation, and there would be extra personal protective equipment for teachers. This would still allow band, choir, and PE following all guidelines for the National Association for Music Education (social distancing, nylon coverings for instruments, and use of the gym).
The MA board unanimously approved the learning plans as presented, selecting the less restrictive middle and high school plan, with the additional instruction that if there is a change in the state mask mandate, the board will meet to reconsider the plan. For the latest detailed plan, see: https://bit.ly/ma-bts
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Teacher representatives said teachers were desperate to be back with kids but have some concerns about consistency and do not favor the more restrictive cohorting model. They confirmed that the maximum number of students in a class would include both in-person and live-streaming.
• A question-and-answer session was held on Aug. 13 ahead of the regular MA board meeting to answer parents’ specific questions on the back-to-school plan.
• The board tabled the 2020-21 Instructional Time and Attendance Policy on July 29 and passed it unanimously on Aug. 13. This policy talks about how to account for instruction time in an online/virtual format.
• The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Policy was passed unanimously. This provides funds for paid sick leave and must be added to the employee handbook.
• Herrera said they were still looking into the possibility of a shuttle for transportation between the campuses but that the cost was $3,400 per month or $35 per month per family. Masks and social distancing would be required on the shuttle. A survey will be sent out to gauge interest.
• Board President Melanie Strop reported that a move-in date was set for the new school, a detour was in place until the road was finished and a ribbon cutting would be held on Aug. 29 along with tours of the new facility.
• Board member Susan Byrd thanked everyone for their efforts and expressed the hope that the school would open with a sense of joy.
Caption: On Aug. 29, MA held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new secondary school campus at the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 105 to about 100 attendees. Presentations were given by MA’s COO Christianna Herrera, MA board President Melanie Strop and former board President Mark McWilliams as well as Lewis-Palmer D38 Superintendent KC Somers, D38 board member Tiffiney Upchurch, state Sen. Paul Lundeen, and MA secondary school Principal Julie Seymore. Recognition was given to board members, administrators, the JHL construction company, representatives from CRP architects, and developers Bill and Matt Dunston. After the presentation, MA hosted small group tours of the new facility. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. This is expected to be a hybrid meeting in-person at 1150 Village Ridge Point and online using Zoom.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a Zoom invitation to the next board meeting and/or to submit comments or ask questions. See http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board for the latest information.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
At the Aug. 18 Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors meeting, developer Rob Oldach of Creekside Developers Inc.—sometimes referenced as CSI construction—presented a comprehensive sketch of a proposed new subdistrict within Triview called the Jackson Creek Commercial Metropolitan District (JCCMD). Directors conducted an amended 2019 budget public hearing and reviewed and considered for approval two additional resolutions, an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) and a professional services agreement.
Board directors and some staff attended via Zoom. District counsel Gary Shupp and water attorney Chris Cummins were present. Director James Barnhart was absent.
District Manager Jim McGrady scheduled a special meeting that was conducted as a conference call on Aug. 24 to finalize the wording of two IGAs with the El Paso County Office of the Clerk and Recorder. The required coordinated election IGAs pertained to the district’s proposal to repurpose up to seven mills of its current 35-mill levy for operational expenses and for a Schuck Communities Inc. request to create a subdistrict within Triview as a means of funding infrastructure for its Conexus development west of I-25. Triview approved the Schuck request at its July board meeting, and the initiative must be brought before voters. See www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#tvmd for more information about the ballot initiatives.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, landscaping, and parks and open space maintenance, and water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas. See https://triviewmetro.com/districtMap for a map of district boundaries.
The Aug. 18 agenda (corrected) and board packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/Agenda_RegularMeeting_2020-08-18.pdf and https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/BoardPacket_2020-08-18_web.pdf, respectively. The Aug. 24 meeting agenda may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/assets/documents/board/agenda/2020/Agenda_SpecialMeeting_2020-08-24.pdf.
Walkable, bikeable Village includes library land donation
The proposed JCCMD would principally lie south of Teachout Creek, north of the wetlands and detention area behind Walmart, east of I-25, and west of Jackson Creek Parkway (JCP). The development would also expand north of Teachout Creek, straddle JCP, and bump north into Higby Road. A commercial area within the JCCMD’s boundaries, currently named The Village at Jackson Creek, would consume a significant portion of the development.
Oldach described a conceptual configuration of the Village as a variety of retail, office, medical, restaurant, hotel, employment, and flex-industrial businesses with streetscaping and enhanced architecture. A potential residential area would likely include three-story market-rate apartments with tuck-under garages. Castle Rock’s Festival Park, which Oldach characterized as attractive and frequently visited, is the vision that Creekside designers are using as a model.
The mixed-use walkable and bikeable area would also feature a land donation from Creekside to the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) for a new Monument library and an adjacent 1½-acre civic park. Oldach confirmed that PPLD expressed excitement about the land donation and is working to budget for and plan creative fundraising endeavors to support a building project in several years. See pages 3, 4, 5, and 10 of the Aug. 18 board packet for preliminary renderings of an aerial view, PD site plan and plat, division of JCCMD into seven smaller infrastructure-funding districts, and the library and civic area.
Financial impacts of the new commercial district were estimated to include:
• An overall construction budget for public improvements in all areas of JCCMD of $24.89 million.
• A budget of $7.51 million for The Village at Jackson Creek, which includes the library and apartments plus roads, utilities, streetscape, lighting, landscaping, and irrigation.
• A $3.56 million expense for the civic area next to the library with its district welcome sign and monument, lighting, furnishings, planters, pavers, pavilion, amphitheater, sound system, and artwork.
• $500,000 for traffic signals if required for Jackson Creek Parkway.
• $11.63 million for roads and utilities for the areas north of Teachout Creek.
• $1.69 million for roads and utilities for Monument Marketplace North, the planned commercial area immediately south of Harness Road.
• A total expected bond capacity of $13.36 million. The bond would likely terminate upon meeting specific thresholds.
• A public improvement fee of up to 1.5%.
The area within JCCMD’s currently unnamed main avenue, Cloverleaf Road, and Harness Road would be dedicated to the Town of Monument and maintained by Triview. The remaining areas with furnishings and streetscaping in JCCMD would be maintained by the commercial district. A 10-mill JCCMD-specific levy assessed on property taxes will pay for operations and maintenance costs. See pages 6 through 9 and 11 through 51 of the Aug. 18 board packet for additional financial information and the Creekside service plan.
Triview’s directors responded to the presentation with many questions. They asked about the types of businesses Creekside was seeking to attract and if the proposed library would serve as the area’s main destination feature; whether the apartment rents would be competitive so that people seeking to work in the commercial district could also afford to live in the district; if Creekside would nurture hiking and biking trail connectivity; and how the developer would mitigate traffic flow issues.
Oldach explained that Monument’s scale influences the types of businesses that will eventually establish themselves commercially in the district. With an eye directed to creating a community-driven destination, the developer supported the library as a commerce anchor stating that national real estate publications rank libraries as driving more traffic than theaters. However, if a large retailer such as Costco were to express interest in JCCMD, "we’d certainly find a way to figure that out," he said. Oldach added that Ferrari Films had been slated to expand into a larger business space as an anchor in Monument Marketplace North, but the project had to be put on hold indefinitely. One director expressed support for an extended-stay hotel as a potential anchor because of the district’s intended mixed-use environment and proximity to I-25.
Regarding the apartment affordability, Oldach theorized that competition from current residential opportunities such as the Vistas at Jackson Creek and future apartments such as what may be built in the area north of Teachout Creek, would likely keep rents "honest."
Responding to the trail connectivity question, Oldach expressed enthusiasm for incorporating district trails with the Santa Fe trail but stated that he hadn’t explored how to encourage that process. Solutions to traffic mitigation included odd speed limits such as 15.5 miles per hour, roundabouts, street and parking designs that naturally slow traffic, and architecture and landscaping with a zero lot-line effect that also discourages speeding. Oldach added that access between Monument Marketplace and The Village at Jackson Creek should be possible, so motorists wouldn’t need to drive on JCP to travel between the two commercial areas.
After the question-and-answer session, the board unanimously voted to express support for the plan and for the formation of the Jackson Creek Commercial Metropolitan District. Note: All business and residential developments must be approved by the Town of Monument Board of Trustees.
A mixture of votes approved
The first of several board decisions pertained to the public hearing for Triview’s 2019 budget amendment resolution 11-2020 that closed without public comment. District accountant Cathy Fromm explained that the general/capital fund was amended from $11.77 million to $12.03 million primarily to adjust for 2019 road improvements. The water and wastewater enterprise fund appropriation increased from $5.18 million to $9.63 million, mostly to pay for 2019 water purchases.
The two remaining resolutions served to refine existing measures. Resolution 2020-09 provided Triview with the ability to accept funds in lieu of water when developers have insufficient water to supply a development. The update brings in-lieu-of-fees closer to market value and better compensates the district for acquiring water. Resolution 2020-10 modified the district’s pre-paid water and tap fees policy to place parameters around developers’ ability to purchase taps in advance and avoid fee increases. The changes ensure that tap fees are designated for specific developments and specific properties.
In a fourth decision, the board supported an intergovernmental agreement between Triview and the Town of Monument that clarifies cost and on-call boundaries for the district’s requests of the town’s inspection services.
In its fifth and final vote, the board formally authorized McGrady to engage the professional services of LRE Water for environmental permitting and technical support in working toward Triview’s excess capacity contract with the Pueblo Reservoir. As part of Triview’s efforts to establish a 40-year if-and-when storage contract with Pueblo, it must fulfill an environmental assessment as part of the National Environmental Policy Act process. The assessment determines whether the district’s operation of its if-and-when account would create environmental impacts. Although Bureau of Reclamation staff can help conduct this assessment, McGrady requested LRE’s services because of the firm’s experience; Donala Water and Sanitation received LRE’s support in completing a similar contract in the fall of 2019.
Additional reports from staff
McGrady emphasized the benefit of the two Sanctuary Pointe wells when they are fully functional. He anticipated that the pumps would be directing water to the B plant sometime in October. He commented on two other projects: Design of the northern drinking water delivery pipeline continues to progress and topographical work for constructing an inlet channel to the south reservoir of the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex was completed. The complex, located along the Arkansas River near Pueblo, is yet another piece in a long-term puzzle that Triview is assembling to bring renewable water to its customers.
Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton reported that July’s water pumped to residential and commercial customers totaled 45.5 million gallons—a record for the district and more than 7 million gallons over July 2019 numbers. Recent state compliance sampling of total trihalomethanes (TTHM), haloacetic acids (HAA5), lead, and copper all fell well below maximum contaminant levels. Sexton confirmed that staff continues mitigation and monitoring of radionuclides and will plan for a December 2020 annual sanitary survey.
Several dying or dead ash trees throughout the district were removed, reported Parks and Open Space Superintendent Matt Rayno, and replacements would likely be planted beginning Aug. 24. Installation of La Cabana pine trees was to be the final landscaping step for JCP, but the trees proved difficult to obtain. Rayno expected that the parkway would be completed in September. Other projects Rayno anticipated for September included curb and gutter work near Bear Creek Elementary School, enhanced pedestrian crossing signs and pavement striping at Agate Park near Venison Creek Drive, aeration and over-seeding, trail improvements and fence repairs, and the sale of unused equipment.
At 7:52 p.m., the board entered executive session §24-6-402(4)(a)(b) and (e) legal advice and negotiations regarding settlement discussion in pending FMIC Change Case No. 16CW3010; negotiations associated with water delivery infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, and water storage on the Arkansas River and its tributaries; negotiations with potential contractors and miners concerning the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex; and negotiations regarding acquisition of renewable water resources. OCN later confirmed that the board did not take actions nor make decisions following the executive session.
The next Triview board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15. Check the district’s event calendar at https://triviewmetro.com/home or call 488-6868 for meeting schedule updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in-person or via conference call. In-person board meetings are held at the district office, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
At the Aug. 17 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, the board voted to place a question on the November ballot asking voters to approve a 0.5% sales tax increase. The board also held a water workshop on Aug. 24 to begin discussions to issue over $20 million in municipal bonds to pay for water projects. Several land development requests were approved as was a new town purchasing policy.
Trustee Jamy Unruh was noted absent from the regular meeting.
Tax increase would support police
The BOT will ask voters to increase total sales tax from 3% to 3.5%. The additional revenues, totaling $1.4 million annually, would be wholly in support of the Police Department.
Police Chief Sean Hemingway, Commander Jonathon Hudson, and Sgt. Greg Melikian presented findings from a needs analysis they performed that included the following:
• The evaluations identified high liability policies, including the habit of having only a single officer on the road per shift. Hemingway said this deployment strategy is illegal in some states.
• Of the 19 officers in the department, 13 have been in Monument less than two years. Some were released from training early to get on the road as soon as possible without shift supervision. The practice creates vicarious liability. Hemingway has split the town into three districts or zones with an officer working in each one.
• Grant opportunities are limited because many require a substantial financial match.
• Based on calls for service, this is one of the safest communities in the state.
• Some tasks performed by officers may be "civilianized," meaning civilian workers will take them over, leaving more officers on the road.
If approved, the tax increase would pay for capital improvements and additional officers. A full list of all requests and the associated costs can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/y4uexfnq. These include:
• Three new officers and one sergeant.
• Personal protective equipment including vests, firearms, and body cameras.
• Vehicles on a replacement schedule, plus new vehicles for new officers.
• Report-writing software and the associated records management system.
• Hand-held radios and in-car systems.
• Less lethal methods of arrest control, such as 40mm bean bag launchers and tasers that will also follow a replacement schedule.
Both Mayor Don Wilson and Trustee Jim Romanello asked to see the ongoing maintenance and replacement schedules for capital items, both saying they didn’t know these items were on such a schedule. The Police Department has asked to replace vehicles and other personal protective equipment through the years, but these are often removed from the finalized budget. Town Manager Mike Foreman said that last year $700,000 was cut from the final budget, most of which were police requests.
Wilson said he would have liked to see comparisons to other local agencies with regard to calls for service and the number of officers who work per shift. Hemingway explained he isn’t thinking about comparisons to other agencies, just to national standards, noting he intends to "make this agency as good as it can be and be at or above the national standard."
During the Aug. 10 workshop, Trustee Laurie Clark read a lengthy statement saying she had performed an analysis on the Police Department’s needs and found the requested tax increase should be .89 to .99% of one cent. "I’ve actually done a poll and the people are fine with a whole penny. They want safety very badly," she said and added "we don’t feel safe right now."
Trustees Ron Stephens, Romanello and Mitch LaKind said they also polled their constituents, who were in favor of a smaller increase, perhaps up to half a penny at the most. Stephens said his constituents likened the continued requests for government money to "socialist creep."
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott said, "I feel very safe in Monument. I see a police presence and am pleased to see a police presence; I have no worries about the safety of the citizens." Romanello agreed.
When it came time to vote, all board members were in favor of asking for more than the original .25% increase. Elliott said, "I don’t think we should settle for .25. I’m a proponent of .50." The board unanimously voted to ask voters for an increase in sales tax from 3% to 3.5%.
Water projects may be financed with $20 million bond
During an Aug. 24 water workshop, members of the board were updated on the over $26 million in water-related tasks the town needs to perform.
Foreman said numerous projects on hold for the past six to eight years need attention. Tom Tharnish, Public Works director, identified all the town’s needs with regard to either bringing new water into the town or maintaining existing infrastructure. Water projects are typically funded through either the 2A Water Fund or the Water Enterprise Fund, which continue to bring in new revenue but not enough to complete all the projects.
Nate Eckloff, managing director of Piper Sandler, is doing an interest rate review for the board so that bonds can be issued before the November election.
A second water workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8 at which time Tharnish will present a list of projects in order of necessity. Foreman asked the board to provide direction on these at the next meeting.
Home Place Ranch replat requested
The board heard a request for a replat of two lots on the Home Place Ranch property situated along Baptist Road, north of Promontory Point and west of Sanctuary Point. Brian Bahr, manager of Wooded Vistas LLC, the owner of the land, would like to build two homes for his family on the lots. See www.ocn.me/v19n12.htm#mbot.
The sketch plan for the development was approved in 2006, and final site plans for the southern portion of the land were approved by the board Nov. 18 for 300 single-family homes.
The formal change request reads, "Although Petitioner desires to retain the entitlement of the approved Sketch Plan, realities of available infrastructure will likely prevent development of the 109 acres for 10 or 12 more years."
Monument Planner Debbie Flynn explained that this change doesn’t respect numerous town ordinances requiring developers to conform to the town’s planning process.
Planning Directory Larry Manning agreed with Flynn saying the request is highly unusual. "The town is counting on a certain kind of development based upon the approved plan," he said.
LaKind was concerned the board’s decision could set a precedent for future changes to sketch plans after they have been approved, but Wilson seemed less concerned since this isn’t a frequent request.
The board unanimously voted to grant an exemption to the ordinance and approve the request for the replat.
Falcon Commerce Center rezone and sketch plan
Andrea Barlow of NES Inc. and Flynn requested approval of the Falcon Commerce Center rezone and sketch plan. The 214-acre project is south of Baptist Road, west of I-25 and north of the U.S. Air Force Academy, just west of Pilot Flying J. In 1989, the land was zoned Planned Industrial Development, but this zoning is no longer recognized by the town, so the request is for a rezone to Planned Development.
In general, the majority of the property will be commercial development, but there might be one 43-acre residential area that includes 15 dwelling units per acre with a maximum of 640 housing units.
The land is part of Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 3 (PPMD3), a commercial district operated by board members President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance of Classic Homes; Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes; Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Doug Stimple, CEO of Classic Homes; and Assistant Secretary Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes. This development, including Pilot Flying J, pays a public infrastructure fee to PPMD3 and sales tax to the town. See www.ocn.me/v17n6.htm#flmd.
The Planning Commission approved the request at its July 22 meeting. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#mpc.
The Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 3 service plan, organized on July 24, 2003, notes that maintenance for common areas including all paved surfaces, snow removal, sweeping, and repairing roads is the responsibility of the district.
The board unanimously approved the rezone and sketch plans.
New special events permitting process
Deputy Clerk Erica Romero asked the board to approve a new special events permitting process. Currently, anyone can use the bandshell in Limbach Park at any time unless there is alcohol or over 100 people in attendance. Town staff didn’t think they needed to know about smaller events, but this has been problematic when additional resources such as electricity are requested as an event is in progress.
Romero asked the board to require a reservation for any bandshell event.
Stephens asked that the number of attendees just be reduced to 50 people, rather than making the requirement for all bandshell needs. Wilson appeared to disagree with the request as it might infringe upon people’s right to assemble. In the end, the request passed 4-2 with Stephens and Wilson voting against.
The new event permitting process will take effect 30 days after approval. To schedule an event with the town, see http://www.townofmonument.org/370/Special-Event-Permits.
New town contracts and purchasing policy approved
Town staff members have been following an outdated purchasing policy. The new policy will now increase the board approval threshold for purchasing and contracts to $25,000. Currently, checks over $5,000 require board approval. Often this means the invoice is paid late to include a late charge. Wilson said, "I know this is something town staff has needed for a long time and has tied your hands" when it comes to paying bills on time.
The old policy was rescinded and then the new policy was adopted. Both requests were unanimously approved.
Request of voters to remove April elections
Town Clerk Laura Hogan asked the board to approve putting a question on the November ballot asking voters to stop holding April elections. The stand-alone elections are off kilter with the county’s coordinated elections and so cost more money.
The average voter turnout for coordinated elections is more than double that of stand-alone elections. Special elections and recalls could still be held in April if necessary. Sitting officials’ terms cannot be shortened, so trustees whose term ends in April will automatically go until November.
The board voted in favor of adding this to the November ballot.
Checks over $5,000
The following checks were approved by the board:
• Murray Dahl Beery and Renaud LLP, $21,782.
• Plan Tools—Monument land development code update, $7,687
• Triview Metropolitan District—sales tax for May, Regional Building use tax, motor vehicle tax, $225,168
• The following local businesses received a $10,000 CARES Act payment from the town:
• UT Proism Corporate (SmartStyle Hair Salon)
• U.S. Taekwondo Center
• SECWIN LLC
• Jarrito Loco
• Vi Vi Nails
• Spa Medica LLC
• Tri-Lakes Community Preschool
• Pho Brothers II
• Mountain Air Salon Inc.
The board went into executive session at 8:34 p.m., to receive legal counsel regarding negotiations with the Monument Sanitation District. No decisions were made, and the board adjourned.
Caption: A 214-acre parcel of land has been approved for mostly commercial development along the west side of I-25, just east of the Forest Lakes development. Map courtesy of Town of Monument.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings see, http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
At a brief special meeting on Aug. 4, the School District 38 Board of Education, in keeping with state statute, elected officers for the upcoming school year. President Matthew Clawson said it had been his intention to serve as president for a year following the appointment of Dr. K.C. Somers as superintendent.
Director Chris Taylor was nominated for the office of president. The nomination was seconded, and Taylor was elected unanimously. Clawson’s title will now be director. The rest of the officers will retain their current titles with Theresa Phillips as vice president, Tiffiney Upchurch as secretary and Ron Schwarz as treasurer. Taylor also designated Shanna Seelye, the district’s new chief financial officer, as assistant treasurer.
This brief meeting was held virtually.
COVID-19 resolution approved
The Aug. 11 meeting involved a number of policy considerations and the passage of a resolution regarding the district’s responsibilities in response to COVID-19. This resolution empowers the superintendent to close schools and thus reduce the number of student contact days in case of emergencies that threaten the safety, health, or welfare of students and staff members.
The resolution instructs the superintendent to provide clear and specific procedures for in-person learning and to develop a contingency plan to temporarily implement distance or hybrid learning. Student contact days will include those when distance learning is provided, and attendance will be recorded on those days.
The superintendent will have the authority to modify current fees to reflect modified calendars and to request any necessary waivers from the Colorado State Board of Education or the Colorado Department of Education as necessary.
Somers said this resolution allows the district to offer distance learning during snow days to meet the requirement of contact hours for the year. It allows him the flexibility to close all or part of a school if necessary. The closure of the entire district would occur only in the case of a state or county emergency.
To read the entire resolution, please see the district website, www.lewispalmer.org.
The board also discussed minor alterations to a number of existing policies, primarily concerning non-discrimination, prevention of disease/infection transmission, staff health, grading and assessment systems, open enrollment, bullying prevention, and visitors to schools. These alterations were recommended by attorneys for the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB).
Somers said CASB requested that the board affirm these policies before the start of the school year.
A new policy regarding workplace health and safety had its first reading at the Aug. 11 meeting. It defines a public health emergency as a public health order issued by a state or local public health agency or a disaster emergency declared by the governor based on a public health concern.
The policy forbids retaliation by the district against any district employee who raises concerns about workplace violations of government health or safety rules or a significant workplace threat to health or safety if the district controls the workplace conditions giving rise to the threat.
This policy was read a second time at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting and passed at that time.
Allocation of relief funds
Chief Financial Officer Shanna Seeley explained the use of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), passed in March. Funding is divided into two categories, Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), which have been received and are being used, and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER), not yet received.
CRF funds cover costs incurred between March and December of this year. Any unused funds will be returned in January of 2021. A total of $2.58 million was received, with $368,396 transferred to Monument Academy. Expenditures so far include graduation and continuation ceremonies, Chrome books, carts, hot spots, thermometers, masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, and a program called Capturing Kids Hearts to encourage the forging of relationships between students and teachers early in the year. Air filters for schools have also been purchased.
The district was required to estimate its expenses by July 31 and will account for expenditures on a quarterly basis.
The ESSER funding will cover costs between March of 2020 and June 30, 2021. These costs would be related to continuing education services during closures and implementing a plan for reopening. The total preliminary award was $290,578, with $41,548 transferred to Monument Academy and $19,545 to St. Peter Catholic School.
The Aug. 24 meeting featured the passage of the aforementioned policies, an update on the back-to-school plan including contingency plans in the event of suspected COVID cases and ensuring safety for all through health screening, facial coverings, division of elementary students into small cohorts to limit contact with large groups of students, and a continuing partnership with superintendents of other nearby districts and health officials.
Nutritional services update
Stacey Baker, director of Nutritional Services, gave an update on activities in her department during the spring closure and for the coming year. At the time of the closure in March, all food on hand was donated to Tri-Lakes Cares.
During the period March 30 to May 22, the district distributed free lunch and breakfast to all individuals 18 and under. The district was reimbursed for these meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program.
In the coming school year, the price of meals will be increased by 10 cents. Elementary students will pick up their food at the door of the kitchen in their school. Middle and high school students will be served in a line with social distancing in place. There will be no self-serve salad bars or microwaves and all meals will be pre-bagged, boxed, or trayed. Menus will be limited until it can be determined how many students will purchase meals.
In the event of an emergency closure, the department has bags and carryout containers on hand, and it is stocking up on food for use in such an emergency. If these meals are needed, students would be charged based on eligibility.
The board recognized Finance Manager Marcy Studtmann and Chief Financial Officer Shanna Seeley for receiving the Association of School Business Officials Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the Comprehensive Annual Report for the fiscal year 2019.
The board also thanked Kathy Nameika for her service as secretary to the board from August 2018 to the present.
COVID-19 outbreak at Bear Creek
The district announced an outbreak of COVID-19 at Bear Creek Elementary School beginning on Aug. 28. An outbreak is defined as two or more positive cases in non-household members with symptom onsets within a 14-day window.
The students diagnosed are being kept at home until they are no longer infectious. Those who were in close contact with them are instructed to stay home for 14 days after exposure. Parents of the students involved have been notified.
According to El Paso County Public Health, no one else is required to quarantine, and therefore the school is not closed.
Caption: The Board of Education now meets in person while enforcing social distancing among themselves and spectators. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: A family arrives at Bear Creek Elementary on the first day of school. Photo by Julie Stephen, District 38 information officer.
The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer District 38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Sept. 21. Seating is extremely limited due to social distancing, but each meeting is livestreamed on the district’s Facebook page.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met Aug. 10 at the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Barn Community Center, to allow for adequate social distancing. Board members heard a presentation from their engineering company concerning bids on the district’s active capital improvement projects. They held a public hearing on a request for inclusion in the district’s service area and voted on that request. District Manager Jessie Shaffer gave the board a mid-year budget update. The board also heard operational reports from district staff.
Board hears updates on capital improvement projects
Richard Hood of JVA Engineering reported to the board on recent developments with three capital improvement projects that the district is upgrading: the South Water Treatment Plant (SWTP), the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP), and the Central Lake Pump Station (CLPS). All three of the projects are using the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) method of project management. The CMAR methodology emphasizes contractor involvement during the design portion of the project and requires contractors to give a guaranteed maximum price. In the past, the district has used the more common design-bid-build approach on capital projects.
Hood said the SWTP project was currently on hold. The "90% drawings" for the work are complete, according to Hood, and he is working with the contractor on the guaranteed maximum price. Work is expected to start in September, he said.
In regards to the CLPS, Hood said the option the board approved at its meeting in August, to construct a new pump station at the base of the dam on the south side of the lake, was proving more costly than anticipated, and that he was working on another option that he thought would be less costly. After the CMAR contractor was on board with the project, Hood said he would bring the new option to the board for consideration.
Hood said six contractors had attended a presentation on July 14 about the district’s projects, and two of them had submitted proposals for the three projects. The bids were very close, Hood said, adding that he believed Stanek Constructors was the best fit for the district. The next step, according to Hood, would be for the district to choose a contractor and approve a design phase contract with them.
Shaffer explained that each of the district’s three projects would have several contracts, beginning with a design phase contract. Once the design phase contract work is complete, Shaffer said, the district would have the option to continue with the contractor or to choose another contractor. Shaffer advised the board to approve a design phase contract with Stanek Constructors.
Board President Brian Bush asked the board to approve a $25,000 design phase contract with Stanek Constructors. The board voted unanimously to approve the contract.
Inclusion petition granted
At the Aug. 10 meeting, the board held a mandatory public hearing concerning Jon Mills’ petition to have his property in the southeast part of Woodmoor at 255 Cimarron Road included in the WWSD service area. Mills’ petition was first discussed at the July board meeting. After the public hearing, WWSD staff members presented their analysis of the petition, and then the board voted on it.
At the beginning of the hearing, Bush told the board members they were to consider the best interests of the district in making their determination. First, Mills would make a presentation, Bush said, then district staff would comment, and then residents would comment. Finally, Mills would have a chance to rebut any points made in opposition to his request.
Mills told the board his mother had purchased four lots in the 1920s. One of the lots had recently been sold, he said. The lots are currently taxed at a commercial rate of 29 percent. The El Paso County assessor recommended combining the lots, thereby making them eligible for a residential tax rate of 7 percent, Mills said.
If his petition were approved, he would not connect his residence to the district’s water delivery or sewer systems but would continue to use his well, Mills said, adding that his family had no intention of developing the lots.
Shaffer and District Engineer Ariel Hacker presented the district’s analysis of the petition.
Shaffer reviewed the process for handling an inclusion petition, which includes a $5,000 deposit from the petitioner, an analysis by district staff, a public hearing, a court order granting the inclusion, and finally recording of the change to the service area. He also mentioned that some of Mills’ property is already in the WWSD service area.
Hacker told the board she had considered three scenarios in developing her analysis: no change to the residences on the property, subdivision into two lots at a later time, and full build-out of the property. Hacker said that only the full build-out scenario would require the district to add infrastructure to serve the property.
Shaffer said if Mills’ petition were approved, the water rights for his property would go to the district. That water allocation would be pumped from a nearby well already in place, rather than drilling a new well on Mills’ property, Shaffer said.
There were no comments from the public during the hearing.
Bush recommended that the board waive any per-acre fee for the inclusion since Mills had already paid for all the expenses incurred as part of the inclusion process.
The board voted unanimously to grant Mills’ petition for inclusion in the district.
Mid-year budget update presented
Shaffer reviewed mid-year changes to the district’s budget.
The number of taps sold in the first half of 2020 were just over half of the number anticipated, Shaffer said, and the anticipated revenue was reduced from $898,344 to $482,813. Slow progress at The Beach at Woodmoor was a contributing factor, he said.
The update contained the following changes:
• Interest income was reduced from $500,000 to $350,000 due to the economic downturn lowering interest rates.
• Miscellaneous income was reduced from $95,000 to $83,000 due to the district’s waiving of late fees and disconnect fees.
• Total revenues declined from $8.4 million to $7.9 million.
• On the expenditure side, Cost of Facilities declined from $5.12 million to $3.7 million due to timing of construction projects.
• Expenditures for salaries are up slightly due to staff turnover and unanticipated retirements.
• Expenditures for purchasing land of easements were increased from $5,000 to $80,000.
• On the whole, expenditures were reduced from $11.7 million to $10.6 million.
Highlights of operational reports
• Maintenance Operator Gary Potter, who took over District Assistant Manager Randy Gillette’s responsibilities when Gillette retired, is leaving the district.
• Board Secretary William Clewes was appointed to represent the district on the Joint Use Committee.
The next meeting is scheduled for September 14 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. Meetings may be held at the Woodmoor Barn Community Center rather than the district office; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) special board meeting held on Aug. 11 via teleconference, the board discussed implementing mandatory water restrictions and well water supplementation, and heard about the plan to open an additional section of a popular trail that is currently closed.
Water restrictions implemented
FLMD Manager Ann Nichols gave the following updates:
• Stage 1 voluntary water restrictions were implemented on July 24 for the residents to limit their landscape watering to three days per week.
• The Dillon Well head at the FLMD water treatment plant is supplementing the Bristlecone Lake water.
• The water level of Bristlecone Lake had been dropping 1 foot per week before the Stage 1 water restrictions were implemented.
• The water level of Bristlecone Lake is being monitored to determine the level of water conservation needed for both the district and the residents.
Nichols recommended the board approve the immediate implementation of three-day mandatory water restrictions for residents as follows:
• Stage 2 Level A—mandatory three days per week watering schedule per address.
• Stage 2 Level B—mandatory two days per week watering schedule per address.
• Residential water users should not water for more than three hours on their designated day and should not water between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
If drought conditions continue and the lake level drops to 35 feet or less, the Stage 2 Level B water restrictions should be implemented for the residents, Nichols said. "We need to limit the drop." For more details on the water restrictions, visit www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com.
Note: At the time of the meeting, the lake level was at 35.9 feet.
Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Douglas Stimple, chief executive officer of Classic Homes, said he and Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes, had looked at the typical water use per residence and determined that residents were staying under the average acre use. "In an abundance of caution to help with the lake levels, the watering of the park and common areas should be restricted to two days a week until the weather breaks, and for a period of time we will have less than robust-looking landscaped areas," said Stimple.
The board unanimously approved the motions to adopt the FLMD’s recommended Stage 2 Level A water restrictions for residents and Stage 2 Level B for the ground maintenance company, and a directive for the district manager to implement Stage 2 Level B for residential watering should the lake level drop to 35 feet or less.
Supplemental well water
Stimple said the following:
• The Dillon well was originally the primary source of water for FLMD until Bristlecone Lake became the sole residential water source on June 2, 2019.
• The Arapahoe well, although drilled, requires approval from the family that owns Forest Lakes LLC for the purchase of a pump and incremental well equipment.
• Water testing is required by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which will take about two to three months. A decision to proceed with bringing the well on line will be made if the water testing results are positive.
• If all the water samples meet the state requirements, the district could have an additional supplemental well on line by March 2021, before the next irrigation season.
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, said the following:
• Since the start of the development, Forest Lakes LLC has continued to focus on water use and refining the resourcing of water.
• Although the residents see multiple beaches forming around the lake, the capacity in some areas is 50 to 60 feet deep when the water level is at the spillway.
• Bristlecone Lake offers plenty of capacity and we are trying to make smart decisions early on, since the long-term weather forecast shows the area is likely to remain dry for some time.
• A graphic of the lake showing the variations in depth would be provided to the district manager for the website. See map above.
South Trail could be extended
Blunk confirmed that Forest Lakes LLC owned the South Trail and that many residents had asked if more of the trail could be opened for them. Blunk said the following:
• A further 1-1.5 miles of trail west of where the existing trail currently ends on the south end of the lake could be made available, however the trail will not be extended into the "west valley" construction zone until it is safe to open for hikers. See www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#ppmd1.
• A license agreement/waiver to "hold harmless" would be required between Forest Lakes LLC and FLMD before the trail can be extended.
• The trail extension would be open for maintenance vehicles only and signage would need to state "vehicle traffic prohibited" on the South Trail.
• The grazing lease will continue in 2021 and a fence would be placed on the south side of the trail to prevent any interaction with livestock.
Boulton confirmed the trail could be further extended over Beaver Creek once Filing 5 is completed in 2021.
Nichols said she would instruct District Counsel Russell A. Dykstra to develop the license agreement in time for board approval in September.
The meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.
Caption: A colored graphic showing the various depths of Bristlecone Lake is now posted at www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com/blog/. Map courtesy FLMD.
The combined FLMD and PPMD 2 and 3 board usually meet quarterly. Please check www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com for upcoming meetings and joining instructions. For general information, contact District Manager Ann Nichols at (719) 327-5810 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Aug. 19, the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board listened to updates on many projects in progress and approved a tap fee rate study.
As of July 20, Mike Wicklund, MSD’s district manager since 1994, was "no longer with the district." According to minutes from a July 22 special meeting, that is when the board appointed Erin Krueger for a six-month term as MSD’s interim district manager.
All current MSD board members were present on Aug. 19. They are President Dan Hamilton, Treasurer John Howe, Secretary Marylee Reisig, and Directors Laura Kronick and Katie Sauceda. MSD Special District Attorney Joan Fritsche also attended. Jim Kendrick, MSD’s Environmental/Regulatory Compliance advisor, attended via Zoom.
Wagons West discussed
Wagons West is being developed along Old Denver Road by ProTerra Properties LLC. See www.ocn.me/v18n9.htm#mbot.
MSD consultant Dave Frisch, of GMS Consulting Engineers Inc. (GMS), is monitoring the project’s progress.
The board approved a resolution that would conditionally release more sewer taps to the developer, ProTerra, through Aug. 26, when ProTerra Director of Development Charlie Williams must deliver four specific sets of engineering and financial documents to Krueger. No more MSD taps will be issued to ProTerra after that without receipt of the documents.
Willow Springs a few months out
Willow Springs Ranch will be north of Forest Lakes/Baptist Road, west of I-25. See www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#mbot.
GMS and Forsgren Engineering are working on the designs for the new Willow Springs Ranch wastewater collection system, lift station, and force mains. GMS recommended that MSD not issue any sewer taps for the Willow Springs Ranch Development until all these design/construction drawings have been accepted and approved by MSD. The county will not issue any building permits to the developer Polo Brown until then.
This means construction on those Willow Springs Ranch facilities will not start for several months, Frisch’s summary memo said.
North Monument Creek Interceptor
The intention of the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) is to eventually allow consolidation of wastewater treatment for up to six Tri-Lakes region special districts into more efficient treatment by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) at its J.D. Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility at the east end of Garden of the Gods Road, just east of I-25.
The initial phase of the NMCI is to provide a wastewater collection system for the new Air Force Academy Visitor’s Center and other associated facilities.
CSU has requested that wastewater entities north of the Academy also consider connecting to the NMCI. The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) is jointly owned by MSD, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. For TLWWTF to participate, it would require building an interceptor from TLWWTF to the north end of the NMCI adjacent to North Gate Boulevard by the Academy’s north gate.
The GMS memo said GMS is continuing discussions for MSD with all involved parties to the NMCI negotiations. Until some associated surface water rights issues and the return surface water flow issues have been addressed, it will be difficult for northern water districts to move ahead. Note: MSD is only a sanitation district and has no water rights.
Tap fee rate study approved
The board approved a tap fee rate study to be done by GMS for a cost not to exceed $19,000.
One goal is to make sure tap fees reflect the district’s anticipated capital improvement costs by this winter, before a lot of residential sewer taps are sold in the new developments and before the NMCI project might begin.
Another goal is ensuring that these future tap fees from new construction cover the cost of new additional MSD wastewater infrastructure to provide service to these new developments.
More items in progress
The board discussed a wide variety of other upcoming issues, including:
• The public hearing for the 2021 budget will be Nov. 18.
• Consideration of engagement of Hazen & Klopman Law for personnel matters.
• New cash flow procedures.
• New employee handbook to be drafted by Fritsche and reviewed by Hazen & Klopman to bring it up to date with new state regulations and reflect COVID-19 safety rules.
• Sustaining smooth operations of the TLWWTF.
• Updating the MSD website to comply with new state regulations.
At 10:30 a.m., the board went into executive session to discuss determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations. Krueger told OCN that when the board came out of executive session at 11 a.m., no announcements were made, and no votes were taken.
Caption: The Town of Monument has numerous residential developments in process. The land was annexed into the town in late 2017, then the final planned development site plan was approved during the Aug. 6, 2019 Board of Trustees meeting. See https://www.ocn.me/v18n9.htm. The Wagons West development along the west side of Old Denver Road began in April 2018. To see a full list, see http://www.townofmonument.org/235/Projects-Around-Town. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Monument Sanitation District meetings are normally held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 481-4886.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
Nate Eckloff of underwriter Piper Sandler and Co. returned for the Aug. 20 Donala Water and Sanitation Board of Directors meeting to encapsulate refinancing benefits of the district’s debt prior to the board voting on a related resolution. General Manager Jeff Hodge and Superintendent of Water Operations Mark Parker apprised directors on various projects and operations.
A win-win financial move
Hodge and district accountant Christina Hawker informed directors of their search for bonding services to refinance Donala’s debt. Out of three requests for proposals, two bonding agencies responded and, after a review, Hodge and Hawker recommended Piper Sandler and Co.
Eckloff confirmed that interest rates had remained low and the current financial climate presents a good opportunity to refinance the district’s Laughlin Ditch loan as well as two other loans. Resolution 2020-4 verified that the Laughlin loan had a five-year balloon payment due in March 2021 of more than $3 million. Summarizing the loans, Eckloff stated that the 2007 bonds would mature in eight years at an interest rate of 3.75%. The 2011 bonds had a 4.98% rate and the Laughlin loan had a 4% rate.
In today’s market, the shorter-term 2007 debt could net a 1%-1.15% range in interest cost, 2011 bonds would net about a 3% interest cost, and the Laughlin loan, with a term extended to 2040, could net an interest cost of about 2.58%. Because two loan terms remain the same, the district could realize significant savings in interest. The Laughlin loan would have a little bit of a loss because of the extended term from 2022 to 2040, but because of the lower interest rate, the present value of the additional cost is $138,000 over the life of the loan. Overall, with the level debt structure Piper Sandler proposed, from the present to 2036, Donala could reduce its overall debt service by $634,000, said Eckloff.
Other benefits attached to the debt refinancing included level, more manageable debt service, enhanced cash flow, adequate debt capacity for future needs, savings for ratepayers, and avoidance of a $3-million-plus balloon payment.
Directors approved the resolution to refinance Donala’s outstanding obligations at lower interest rates. Eckloff anticipated that he would return in September to present the board with a parameters bond resolution before sending the financing package to rating agencies and bond issuers.
Wastewater projects make incremental progress
In reference to the proposed North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI)—a regionalized pipeline that would transport wastewater flows from six northern El Paso County wastewater service providers for treatment at the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) J.D. Philips Water Resource Recovery Facility—Hodge reported that he had received a contract from CSU that detailed the pipeline’s design costs. The deadline for returning the contract was in August, but Donala and some of the other northern entities—which include Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Triview Metropolitan District, Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District—raised concerns about getting credited for return flows, the treated wastewater that is returned to surface or ground water. The northern entities were pursuing a meeting with CSU but had not determined a specific date and time, said Hodge.
Related to the NMCI, the contract for a potential temporary pipeline that is intended to expedite wastewater services to the U.S. Air Force Academy Visitors Center (AFAVC) remained unsettled as of Donala’s August board meeting. Although the AFAVC would normally be served by CSU, Donala and Triview are coordinating efforts with CSU to provide temporary wastewater services to the Academy while CSU completes a lengthy environmental assessment that is a required step in completing the NMCI. For more information, see https://www.ocn.me/v20n6.htm#tvmd and https://www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#dwsd.
At the July board meeting, directors authorized Hodge to pursue revisions in the interim contract. Hodge and Parker had voiced concerns about unforeseen complications pertaining to the intergovernmental agreement between Donala and Triview, as well as logistical and accounting efficiencies.
Hodge confirmed that the interim contract had circulated among the three districts and the revisions were currently under CSU’s review.
PPRWA subcommittee taking shape
The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority subcommittee on drinking water regionalization met for organizational purposes in July, reported Hodge. Some of the challenges facing the group entail gathering and organizing information to brainstorm a regional system that connects water sources with consumers as well as structuring the administrative responsibilities to maximize efficient, consistent communication and division of labor.
• Parker praised newly hired Chief Waste Plant Operator Michael Boyett and Water Quality Specialist Amy Azevedo for rapid assimilation into their respective roles.
• The residual management facility was completed, and staff members are working with manufacturer M.W. Watermark to maximize operational efficiency. See https://ocn.me/v20n7.htm#dwsd for additional information about arsenic and the residual management facility.
• Central El Paso County maintained its classification of moderate drought as of Aug. 4, and the eastern edge remained in a severe drought status.
• Staff members are working with Hydro Resources to restore the functionality of well 7. Parker estimated that the well could serve the district for another two decades.
• The district produced 39.75 million gallons of water in July. Some residents are still watering mid-day, which not only violates district policy but essentially wastes the customer’s water because of evaporation.
At 2:16 p.m. directors moved into executive session §24-6-402(4)(a), C.R.S. – potential water right purchase(s) and interim wastewater conveyance and treatment agreement. Hodge confirmed later that directors did not vote on any motions or make decisions following the executive session.
Board meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. The next board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 17. The meeting may be held in person or as an online video meeting depending on the status of coronavirus restrictions; call (719)488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs, CO, 80921. When the board meets in person, meetings are held in the district office conference room. See https://www.donalawater.org to access prior meeting minutes and the 2020 meeting calendar.
Jennifer Kaylor may be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees approved several emergency water project requests during its Aug. 3 meeting. Several land use decisions were approved, too.
Trustee Laurie Clark was noted absent.
2-million-gallon water tank approved
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish asked the board to approve $378,650 from the 2A Water Fund for the design and engineering of a 2-million-gallon water tank and pipeline. This fund is to be used for "the acquisition of water rights and storage and delivery of any newly acquired water." Revenues for the 2A fund come from a 1% sales tax approved by voters in 1989. The 2020 budget includes $3.5 million for a new tank and pipeline.
Currently, the town has only one water storage tank, which is reaching end-of-life and has been slowly deteriorating.
Originally, Tharnish had asked for a 1.2-million-gallon tank, but in light of the possible North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project, this tank can be used to store water returning from Colorado Springs Utilities. The town will contract with Forsgren Associates Inc. The request passed unanimously.
New well approved to keep up with needs
Tharnish said the town needs to drill a new well to keep up with water needs. The well will be situated near the Well 4/5 treatment plant at the corner of Beacon Lite Road and Second Street. It will access the treatment plant so that a new plant doesn’t need to be constructed. Lytle Water Solutions has consulted for the town on numerous well projects and is "well versed in current water wells and water rights."
This will be an Arapahoe well dug to 1,000 to 1,800 feet. The other two wells nearby are Alluvium wells dug to a depth of 30 feet. The new well will have increased capacity over the older wells, providing 250 gallons per minute of water. Drilling will begin this fall.
Tharnish requested $31,645 for the design and development of this new well from the 2A Water Fund. The project is within the 2020 budget.
The project request passed in a vote of 6-0.
Freedom Express Carwash
The final planned development site plan for Freedom Express Carwash was unanimously approved. The new business is to be built in Monument Marketplace North on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway. Monument Planner Debbie Flynn said the 5,966-square-foot tunnel car wash includes a self-service dog wash and 21 parking spots. The request was approved at the July 8 Planning Commission meeting. See https://ocn.me/v20n8.htm#mpc.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott confirmed the majority of the water used will be recycled. Applicants Matt and Christy Musser confirmed the system will recycle 50% to75% of wash water depending upon the various types of washing.
Flynn requested board approval of the final development site plan of Redline Pipeline in the Wolf Business Park along Beacon Lite Road. The locally owned business, which was founded in 1999, will build a 15,000-square-foot building as a warehouse and office. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the request on July 8. See https://ocn.me/v20n8.htm#mpc.
The Board of Trustees approved the plan 6-0.
The meeting adjourned at 7:31 p.m.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings see, http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
Chairman Melanie Strop was present at the Aug. 12 Planning Commission (PC) meeting, joined by Commissioners Sean White, Bill Lewis, Steve King, and Joshua Thomas. While the meeting’s agenda mentioned the possibility of voting for a replacement chairman, that vote did not take place. The agenda for the PC’s Sept. 9 meeting lists a scheduled vote for the new chairman and co-chair instead.
Melanie Strop will soon be moving out of town limits and will be stepping away from her role on the Planning Commission.
Planning Director Larry Manning has returned to the Monument Planning Department, and he was welcomed back enthusiastically. Planner Debbie Flynn presented the proposals at this Aug. 12 meeting.
Further information about all projects the PC discussed can be found in the meeting packets located at www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com. After another meeting has taken place and the minutes from the prior meeting have been approved by the PC, those minutes will also be posted on this site. This latest PC meeting, along with many older ones, can be found recorded on the Town of Monument’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA.
Woodmen Valley Chapel, Monument Campus Final PD Site Plan
Some facts about this project:
• Highway I-25 is located to the east, with Old Denver Road to the west, and undeveloped land to the north and south. This property comprises Lot 1 of Conexus Business Park Filing No. 1. The site size is 5.45 acres.
• The chapel itself is expected to be 29,694 square feet and three stories tall. It will not feature any separately licensed school or childcare. A playground is anticipated.
• To reach the property, parishioners will travel down Old Denver Road onto Wagon Bow Way, and then into the site via two access points. This is expected to involve one of the six allowable crossings of Santa Fe Trail, according to a deal the landowner made with El Paso County in 2008.
• To address traffic concerns regarding Sunday morning services, there will be volunteer traffic monitors/flaggers within the site, and Monument police will help direct traffic at Old Denver Road/Wagon Bow Way.
• The anticipated 642 assembly seats would ordinarily require 161 parking spaces, but the Woodmen Valley Chapel wanted to provide more for people during such occasions as holiday services and congressional overlap between meeting times. 394 parking spaces are expected. Landscaping will involve one tree per 10 parking spaces.
• There are drainage wells to the north and south of the property.
• Woodmen Valley Chapel currently has five campuses: Heights, Monument, Rockrimmon, Southwest, and Ark Valley.
• The applicant is listed as Matrix Design Group in the meeting packet, and the property owner is Woodmen Valley Chapel.
Other PC discussions included the possible amount of generated traffic given the ice rink across the street from this property, as well as whether it would be possible to reroute the Santa Fe Trail to the east side of the property along I-25 as opposed to the crossing.
Note: This is the first discussion about possibly diverting the trail to the east side of the property or trying to do a land trade with the county to reduce the number of times the trail must cross driveways out of business complexes.
In the end, the project was approved for recommendation to the Board of Trustees unanimously, with the condition that the applicant consider accommodating rerouting of the Santa Fe Trail from the property’s west side to the east side if that deal can be struck between the county and the town.
Conexus Business Park Phase 2 and 3 Rezone and Sketch PD Plan
Some facts about this project:
• The property is located southeast of downtown Monument and southwest of the intersection of I-25 and Highway 105/Second Street. It comprises 146 acres and involves the remaining portions of the Conexus Business Park. The rezone from Regency Park Planned Industrial Development to Planned Development is required. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#mpc
• There will be a maximum building height of 90 feet allowed on this property, as well as a 50-foot minimum distance from I-25 and a 25-foot minimum distance from Old Denver Road.
• The Sketch PD Plan is a conceptual plan rather than a more specific design for what will be built on the property. Phasing to fill out the property will take place from south to north and involve "a mix of commercial, civic, office, light industrial, multi-use, residential high and medium density, open space, park, trails, drainage, and right-of-way," according to project planner Debbie Flynn’s presentation.
• There is expected to be a trail to connect this development to the regional Santa Fe Trail and an informal park area.
• This property is expected to involve some of the six allowable access points along Old Denver Road crossing Santa Fe Trail. Those crossings are: Conexus Phase 1, one trail crossing; Santa Fe Park, two trail crossings; Conexus Phase 2 and 3, three trail crossings.
• New southbound left-turn lanes and northbound right-turn lanes are expected at each access point on Old Denver Road.
• The applicant is listed as Schuck Communities c/o NES Inc. in the meeting packet, and the property owner is Phoenix Bell Associates. Andrea Barlow of NES was present to explain the project and answer questions.
The PC’s discussion included concern about how the possibility of residential uses in this property could affect traffic, as well as a question about where things currently stand in regard to widening or expanding Old Denver Road. There are no current plans in regard to Old Denver Road, as that is something Monument town staff expects to look into as the project progresses. The applicant is aware of the conversations concerning Santa Fe Trail and expressed willingness to participate in an agreed-upon solution.
It was suggested that it could be good to assemble the options for Santa Fe Trail, including possible alternate trails or paths. Santa Fe Trail was acknowledged by the PC as a "cherished" resource for the town.
There were multiple public comments pertaining to this proposal. A citizen stated that it was possible no one in the neighborhood knew what was going on, people thought this property was owned by someone else, and that this project was "news" to them. This citizen came to see what was going on and expressed concern that people will move away when they hear about this development.
The PC also received a letter expressing opposition to this development due to the possibility of decreased home value, increased traffic, and a lost walking trail. This letter included 18 signatures from neighbors. There was also an email explaining how the Santa Fe Trail adds to Monument residents’ quality of life, describing how it is used every day by people of all ages. The concern that each road crossing this trail degrades its value was expressed.
Barlow offered a rebuttal, stating that this property has been in the possession of its current owners and zoned for industrial use since the 1980s.
In the end, the project was approved for recommendation to the Board of Trustees 4-1, with King voting against because while he liked that the applicant was trying to lighten things up, he would rather see mixed use. He noted a goal to "be advocates for the citizens." Lewis noted that he was voting yes because this movement was specifically for rezoning.
The next PC meeting is expected to be on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. PC meetings will be held online over the next few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees met on Aug. 13 and 27. The meetings were held in person at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.
At the Aug. 13 meeting, the board granted a liquor license and a new business license to applicants intending to open new businesses at the location previously home to both The Depot and Dex’s Depot. The board debated, and in most cases voted on, eight ordinances and resolutions covering a range of issues. Plans for increasing the availability of parking and opening the trail to the town’s reservoirs were also debated.
The board also took up the issue of repairs to the building that was used as the town’s library, and two special event requests. Finally, the board heard comments from trustees and operational reports from staff at both meetings.
New business licenses granted
At the Aug. 13 meeting, the board considered the liquor license application of Alicia Gatti to open a bar at 11 Primrose St. Gatti told the board she had operated a restaurant named The Depot with a liquor license at that location for 22 years. She sold the business, and the new owner did not renew the liquor license, requiring Gatti to take that step. Her new business will be called The Ugly Mug, she said. The board voted unanimously to grant Gatti the license.
At the same meeting, the board heard a request for a new business license from Stanley Latham, who plans to open a business named Wild Bills Buffalo Wings Too at the same location. Latham explained Gatti would run the bar and he would run the food service, showcasing chicken wings and catfish. He plans to run the food service on a to-go basis, he said, as he runs another restaurant in Colorado Springs. The board voted unanimously to grant Latham the business license.
The board also approved a business license for Dr. Nathan Morris M.D., who plans to open a functional medicine practice, with three other providers, at 88 Highway 105, previously the site of Kirkland Photography. Functional medicine, Morris explained, focuses on root causes and tries to help the body heal naturally. The board voted unanimously to grant Morris the business license.
Board addresses ordinances and resolutions
The first ordinance the board considered, Ordinance 09-2020, concerned a request from John Kerr to vacate a portion of the Rio Grande Street right of way adjacent to County Line Road east of Palmer Lake. Kerr wants to use the land for a septic system for his business. As the town has no intention of ever using the right of way, the ordinance was approved unanimously.
Ordinance 10-2020, to vacate a right of way to allow access to lots from Epworth Highway, passed at the previous month’s meeting. At the Aug. 13 meeting, Trustees Glant Havenar and Paul Banta said they now wanted to change their votes to no. Town Attorney Matthew Krob told the board that people had moved forward based on the previous vote, and a change could raise legal issue. Trustee Susan Miner argued against changing the board’s stance on the ordinance. The board voted for a second time to pass the ordinance.
The next ordinance considered, Ordinance 11-2020, amended the rules relating to the use of Palmer Lake. The discussion at the Aug. 13 meeting began with the issue of whether the ordinance should be viewed as relating to just the lake or to both the lake and the surrounding park. The board voted unanimously to remove from the ordinance the item prohibiting swimming and wading in the lake and the item requiring pets to be on a leash and kept out of the lake.
Ordinance 12-2020 addressed sexually oriented businesses. Banta made a motion to remove the item specifying sexually oriented businesses may not operate within 2,000 feet of a residence. The ordinance specifies sexually oriented businesses may not operate within 2,000 feet of a similar business, a church, a school, the boundary of any residential district, or a public park. The board voted unanimously to approve the amended ordinance.
Ordinance 07-2020, relating to excessive noise enforcement, was tabled at the Aug. 13 meeting. It was taken up again at the Aug. 27 meeting, and the board amended the ordinance to remove the exemptions for school bands and school events and outdoor gatherings such as public dances, shows and sporting events. The amended ordinance passed unanimously.
The issue of odor control, particularly as it relates to cannabis businesses, has been discussed by the board on many occasions, and residents who live near the town’s two cannabis businesses have complained about cannabis odors on several occasions. Ordinance 08-2020 specifies that medical marijuana businesses must operate in accordance with a plan that includes mitigation controls that must filter out the odor of cannabis so that it can’t be detected by a person with a normal sense of smell at the exterior of the business or any other tract of real property. The ordinance specifies that the town’s code enforcement office will make the determination about the level of odor. The board voted unanimously to approve the amended ordinance.
The board passed the following resolutions at the Aug. 13 meeting:
• Resolution 12-2020, which authorizes the mayor to execute an agreement with Steven A. Beebe that would allow him to place a private driveway along the right of way of Verano Avenue.
• Resolution 13-2020, which authorizes the mayor to purchase a small piece of land in Glen Park that could someday be the site of an alluvial well.
• Resolution 14-2020, which authorizes the mayor to purchase a 20-acre property that is the site of the Living Word Chapel, adjacent to Highway 105 south of Santa Fe Ridge. The property is being donated to the town at no cost.
The board acted on the following resolutions at the Aug. 27 meeting:
• Resolution 16-2020, appointing Amy Hutson to the Planning Commission, was tabled.
• Resolution 17-2020, which creates a minor subdivision of several lots of Lakeview Heights Unit 2, was approved.
Parking and opening of reservoir trail debated
The issue of parking received lengthy discussion at both meetings. At the Aug. 13 meeting, Trustee Mark Schuler asked the board to give the town’s staff direction of long-term plans for parking. Trustee Susan Miner said the staff wanted to continue allowing only residents to park on city streets. Trustee Bob Mutu said he wants the Glen to continue with street parking restricted to residents. Interim Town Manager Bob Radosevich said four one-hour parking spots had been created to accommodate the town’s restaurants. Miner said she wanted the master plan process to address the issue. Havenar emphasized that the town’s restaurants need additional parking.
Parking at the reservoir trailhead also received attention at the Aug. 13 meeting. The board asked staff to clearly designate the parking available at the trailhead.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, Mayor John Cressman pointed out that the maintenance work on the road to the reservoirs is complete and asked if the parking at the trailhead should be opened. He suggested that the issue be tabled due to the Stage 2 fire restrictions that are currently in place. Public safety trumps parking and trail use, he said.
Park Committee member Reid Wiecks told the board that the fence by the trail had been cut so that the trail could be used. Wiecks suggested that opening the trail to residents might help enforcement.
Fire Chief McCarthy said opening the trail is a public safety concern and he would prefer to keep it closed.
The board decided not to open the trail.
Board ponders fix for library building
At the Aug. 13 meeting, Schuler told the board that the Pikes Peak Library District had moved out of the library building because the ramp is too steep to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Radosevich said he had been working on a plan to demolish the existing ramp and had one bid for $27,940. He said the condition of the foundation of the ramp could not be known until the ramp was removed. Radosevich said the library district had estimated the cost of demolishing and rebuilding the ramp to be about $195,000.
Havenar asked if CARES funds could be used to rebuild the ramp. Radosevich pointed out that the ramp was out of compliance before the pandemic hit, and Town Clerk Dawn Collins said she believed CARES funds could not be used.
Miner pointed out that the board wants to keep the library and is highly motivated to figure out how to do it.
At the Aug. 27 meeting, Radosevich said he had rewritten the library bid to cover both demolition and construction. He said he had met with library district officials and they are willing to pay rent and some of the cost of utilities. Radosevich said the library district asked him about the town’s commitment to the library, and he told them it’s the town’s number one priority.
Two special events approved
The board voted unanimously to approve a special event permit for Monument Academy to hold a cross-county race around the lake. The plan for the event does not allow for spectators to be present and requires closing the lake to the public while the race is underway.
The board also approved the Awake the Lake .5K race. The race will be held virtually.
Highlights of trustee comments and staff reports
• Trustee Schuler told the board that five of the town’s firefighters had a total of $2,500 in fees for training waived by the Fire Academy because Fire Chief McCarthy donated his time to teach classes at the academy.
• Schuler also commented on progress that Town Administrator Dawn Collins had made in finding a way for the water and fire departments to work together harmoniously.
• Radosevich told the board that six local businesses—O’Malley’s Steak Pub, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, The Speedtrap, 105 Social House, Tri-Lakes Building Co. and Shana’s Place Assisted Living—had received grants of up to $6,500 from the town’s CARES allotment.
• Radosevich told the board the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency would cover some of the costs of repairs for the Town Hall building.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold two meetings in September, on Sept. 10 and 24 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
By Allison Robenstein
During the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) meeting on Aug. 18, the board continued to move forward with a ballot question to de-Gallagherize revenue. The chiefs provided updates on ongoing and completed projects, including a $124,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant award for the stations.
Secretary Larry Schwarz and Director Joyce Hartung were excused.
De-Gallagherization ballot question on November ballot
A question will be on the November ballot for both the district and sub-district, asking voters to approve de-Gallagherization of the district’s revenues. District counsel Michelle Ferguson said the board had until Aug. 25 to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with El Paso County. During the July meeting, the board agreed to begin the process for a ballot question by sending a letter of intent to the county. See https://ocn.me/v20n8.htm#dwfpd.
Background: The Gallagher amendment is a voter-approved measure requiring a maximum of 45 percent of the state’s total property tax burden to be paid by residences in order to relieve the increases in residential property taxes. The other 55 percent is paid by nonresidential (commercial) property. Because of TABOR, the tax rate can never increase without voter approval. Fluctuations in the residential tax directly affect the district’s budget.
All Coloradans will be asked to remove the automatic ratio between commercial and residential percentages, putting it in the hands of the Legislature. Ferguson said the district should also take this opportunity to stabilize revenues should the statewide question fail.
Ferguson created financial models to identify how much revenue the district would lose if the property tax rates decreased. For example, if the current 7.15% was reduced to 5.88% as some have suggested, this would represent a loss of $410,000 in revenue. Should the residential rate fall to 3%, Wescott will lose $1.25 million in revenue.
Chairman Mark Gunderman said such changes to revenues have a "shocking impact on the operating budget to the district," noting a vote in favor of de-Gallagherization does not increase taxpayer expenses.
Resident Steve Simpson expressed his desire for the district to find cost savings should the de-Gallagherization question fail in November.
Chief Vinny Burns and Battalion Chief Scott Ridings updated the board on the following:
• The district was approved for a FEMA grant totaling $124,000 for a station exhaust system. Chief Shannon Balvanz wrote the grant. Currently, when the trucks run in the station, a fan draws some of the exhaust up and out, bringing in fresh air through the open bay doors. Nonetheless, soot has built up on bunker gear and the walls of the bay. The new system will be a hose structure that attaches to the apparatus exhaust pipe eliminating any exhaust in the bays. The hose disengages as the trucks drive away from the station. The grant requires a match of $6,000 which was unanimously approved by the board.
• The LED project was approved March 31 to replace bay lighting at Station 1 and bay and living quarters lighting at Station 2. The project reduced electric costs and spares firefighter turnout gear, which is susceptible to ultraviolet lighting degradation. See https://ocn.me/v20n5.htm#dwfpd.
• Call volume for COVID-19 has been minimal.
• Several firefighters are deployed on wildland fires in Colorado.
• Call volume for June and July totaled 138 calls for service, including 75 EMS-related calls and 63 fire-related calls. There was no fire loss for the two months. Average call arrival time is six minutes and 35 seconds. Turnout time, from the time the call is aired from dispatch to leaving the station, averages 48 seconds.
• The district is pre-planning water supply locations in rural areas.
• All houses within the district have been triaged with traffic signal-like ¬ratings—red, yellow, and green—in case of a wildland fire.
• Firefighters are talking with Gleneagle homeowners associations to educate them on becoming a firewise community.
Paradise Village resident Mary Gunderman told the district what a great job they do for the community.
This reporter noted most of the district’s regular board meetings have now gone virtual, but the Zoom phone number and access code for these meetings is not available to the public on their website.
The meeting adjourned at 5:13 pm.
The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. If the meeting is held in person, it will be at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Should the meeting be held virtually, the phone number is 669-900-9128, and the meeting code is 980 378 2073.
Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting on Aug. 19, the board discussed a new fleet replacement plan, received a progress report on the dual taxation process, and approved financial policies.
Treasurer Jack Hinton was excused.
Fleet/apparatus replacement planning
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid asked the board to consider exploring the option of using four lease/purchase agreements to replace two engines and two tenders. He said the following should be taken into consideration:
• The current Apparatus Replacement Plan is unsustainable as it was written in 2017, and will take until 2029 to fully achieve, by which time the cost of apparatus replacement will be higher.
• Saving funds at $225,000 per year for multiple years in the Capital Reserve Fund is unrealistic due to the current age of the existing fleet.
• In 2020, the allocated funds were used to purchase two new ambulances with the assistance of a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.
• The district does not have water infrastructure and the current apparatus has varying water pump capacities that do not all interlock with each other.
• Using a lease/purchase agreement over a 10-year period would allow the district to start taking delivery of new apparatus in 2021 or early 2022.
Langmaid said, "The district would have instantaneous upgrades and the intention is to dive deep and explore the technical side in depth and find the best lease/purchase agreement."
After a lengthy discussion, Vice Chairman Nate Dowden made the motion for Langmaid to further investigate the cost of new possible apparatus and to research details of a lease/purchase agreement using a Request for Proposal process; the outcome would be contingent on the board authorizing funds. The board agreed, 4-0.
Dual taxation update
Langmaid said Colorado Springs City Council member Andres Pico had received the list of 2,000 homes that he requested on July 20. After receiving a map from the City Council and a second review by district counsel Linda Glesne of Collins, Cockrel and Cole Law Firm, Denver, the list showed that two large parcels in the district were not in the city of Colorado Springs and those parcels would remain within the BFFRPD.
The district has requested those properties be removed from the BFFRPD exclusion process, but the district has not heard back from the City Council. He encouraged residents to continue checking both BFFRPD and Colorado Springs City Council websites. Visit www.bffire.org and www.coloradosprings.gov. See www.ocn.me/n20v8.htm#bffrpd.
Communications and dispatch
Langmaid said the following:
• The Mobile Data Communication (MDC) platform has been installed and tested to ensure the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) configuration worked properly.
• Before making the previously approved purchase of MDC units, the district met with South Metro’s MetCom to determine if the MDCs were warranted should the district move dispatch services. The MDC purchase will now go ahead regardless of whether the district moves to a different service in the future.
• A service that offers satellite imagery to advise incident commanders of crucial information before arriving at an incident and a Computer Aided Dispatch interface for Station Alerting would be beneficial in helping shave minutes off dispatch to calls.
• A lack of budget resources in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office fire dispatch unit and other communications issues are one of BFFRPD’s primary issues, and all options should be investigated.
"Good communication is imperative to saving lives and the current communications system is lacking and raising blood pressure," said Langmaid.
Langmaid read the financial report and clarified a concern raised by Hinton earlier in August regarding increased overtime. Langmaid said the following:
• The increase in overtime occurred due to COVID-19, sick employees, training, and the district’s three staff vacancies.
• Monies set aside in the budget for training should have been placed in the wages budget and it could be transferred, but district Finance Director Frances Esty said it is not necessary.
• The district is currently just under budget for the year.
• The district has been reimbursed $19,000 for wages and other expenses related to COVID-19 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant Program.
• The hope is that the district will continue to recoup COVID-19-related expenses.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.
New financial polices
Langmaid asked the board to approve four new financial policies that Hinton had presented to the board in January, since copies of previous financial policies could not be found in 2019:
• 401—General Budget, new.
• 402—Revenue, new.
• 403—Capital Improvement, new.
• 404—Financial Reserves, revised since September 2019.
The board approved the four financial policies, 4-0.
Langmaid gave the following update:
• Three full-time staff members resigned; two due to family school scheduling concerns related to the pandemic.
• BFFRPD interviewed 13 candidates in an oral hiring board with the assistance of two chiefs from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD).
• Two personnel have deployed to the Grizzly Creek Fire, and it remains unknown if others will replace them on their return.
• Deputy Chief James Rebitski is now receiving Electronic Development Application Review Plan (EDARP) requests for developments and commercial occupancies regularly from El Paso County, which consume a great deal of time.
• Stations 1 and 2 have several maintenance issues that are being fixed.
Potential water resource
Langmaid said a recent water flow drill training event in conjunction with TLMFPD and DWFPD revealed that there is currently no water user agreement between BFFRPD and Cherokee Metropolitan District (CMD).
The event also revealed that CMD could easily support Flying Horse North for water supply and wastewater should Classic Homes Inc. choose to enter into an agreement with CMD. Langmaid recommended the board contact Classic Homes to assist with a potential solution that could be beneficial to the community and be a "win, win" for everyone.
Note: The current approved plan is individual wells and septic systems for Flying Horse North’s minimum 2.5-acre lots. No water or wastewater infrastructure is being built. See www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#bocc, www.ocn.me/v18n10.htm#epbocc.
Chairman Rick Nearhoof and Director Jim Abendschan asked if the district could push harder for the collection of impact fees for fire districts in unincorporated El Paso County from new development.
Langmaid gave an update on the current status of the impact fee impasse as follows:
• Colorado Springs collects fire impact fees on new residential properties.
• Zero progress has been made with the Board of County Commissioners.
• Stakeholders and developers are not interested because other districts have asked for impact fees up to $5,000 per home.
• However, Classic Homes, in previous talks with BFFRPD, have agreed that $450 per home would be reasonable.
• County Commissioner Holly Williams brought up the subject at a BOCC meeting and was advised that the talks are tabled indefinitely.
Langmaid added that discussions with Pikes Peak Fire Chiefs and developers has come to a grinding halt, but once social distancing has come to an end, he hopes all parties can find common ground and a decision can be reached that would not impede the local economy. See www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#tlmfpd, www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#tlmfpd, www.ocn.me/v19n4.htm#bffire.
Langmaid mentioned that construction in Flying Horse North has slowed noticeably so Classic Homes can concentrate on Flying Horse East on Highway 94.
IT contract renewal
Langmaid asked for clear direction from the board to renew the current information technology (IT) contract. Deputy Chief Jim Rebitski said that the district receives excellent service and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and at times outside the scope of the contract, for $1,700 per month. See www.ocn.me/n20.7.htm#bffrpd.
The board approved a motion to continue the contract with the current IT provider, 4-0.
The board approved, 4-0, for Hinton and Director David Hoffpauir to conduct the first semi-annual inspection of equipment and apparatus before the next regular board meeting. See www.ocn/v19n9.htm#bffrpd.
Langmaid said he had received a complaint from a resident regarding livestock in trailers being scared by sirens en route to calls. Crews have now been instructed to turn sirens off when approaching and navigating around horse trailers during their response to calls.
The meeting adjourned at 8:48 p.m.
Meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at BFFRPD Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. A Pension Board meeting was scheduled for Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. and the next regular board meeting is scheduled a week early on Sept. 9. For updates and minutes, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meeting on Aug. 26, the board heard details about the search for a new fire chief and that the purchase of administrative office space for its six administrative positions was nearing completion.
Treasurer Jason Buckingham was excused.
Fire chief search progressing
Board President John Hildebrandt said the Fire Chief Search Committee had met on Aug. 18 to examine four proposals and the committee members had unanimously agreed that Prothman Company from Issaquah, Wash., was best suited to achieve the goals in the three- to four-month time frame allocated to find a replacement for Chief Chris Truty, who will retire soon.
Hildebrandt said he had signed a contract with Prothman and that Mark Risen from the company is scheduled to visit TLMFPD on Sept. 15-16, at which time it would be preferable if all staff, including firefighters and the board, could meet face to face and come up with a profile for the search. See www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#tlmfpd.
Hildebrandt requested the board approve the consulting fee of $19,000 plus $5,000 for candidate travel expenses with the total fee not to exceed $35,000. The board approved a sum of $35,000 for the executive search for a replacement fire chief, 6-0.
The Fire Chief Search Committee is made up of: John Hildebrandt, board president; Mike Smaldino, board secretary and Colorado Springs Fire Department public information officer; Jonathan Bradley, battalion chief of Training; Franz Hankins, Local 4319 Union president; and Christian Schmidt, Union Board director.
Vice President Roger Lance said he hoped the whole board would be able to meet the final three to five candidates before the final selection is made.
Truty said the majority of the meetings would need to be advertised and open to the public, and attorney Adele Reester of Lyons Gaddis Attorneys and Counselors would provide information on the statutory rights of how and when to be public during the search.
The board approved the motion for the search committee to move forward until the final candidate selection narrowed down to a few candidates, 6-0.
Suites 102/104 purchase
TLMPFD currently rents office space at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 103, in Monument for about $37,000 annually. Truty said that approval from the bank for the purchase of suites 102/104 was received on Aug. 20, the morning of the contractual deadline, and the next step is for the board, through resolution, to approve the financial documents. The cost for the purchase of suites 102/104 is not to exceed $1.05 million, a sum approved by the board in June.
The district’s attorney, Maureen Juran of Widner and Juran LLP, will provide the board with the financial structure of the financing arrangement. Given the time needed to review the documents, a special Zoom meeting has been arranged for Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m. to approve the financial documents through resolution. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#tlmfpd.
Truty gave the board the following updates:
• No changes for the district have developed with COVID-19, and the district has maintained a three-month supply of Personal Protective Equipment.
• Firefighting resources are scarce throughout the state with the surge in wildland fires.
• A Stage II burn ban will be in effect for a number of weeks or until significant weather changes occur. For updates, see www.tlmfire.org.
• The first deposit has been made to ColoTrust, a local government investment pool, and that money will be instantly available should the district need it in an emergency. The trust fund offers a higher rate of liquid asset return and is held in a pool with other special districts in Colorado. See www.ocn.me/v20n5.htm#tlmfpd.
• Two candidates for the EMS coordinator position are scheduled for final interviews on Sept. 14-15.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said Lt. Mauricio Ayala and firefighters Robert "Engine Boss" Horne and AJ Armstrong deployed to the Pine Gulch Fire and were extended for an additional week for a total of three weeks, and Capt. Mike Keough deployed to the Williams Fort Fire for two weeks as a division supervisor trainee.
TLMFPD will not be able to supply more staff to other wildfires when the four deployed staff members return, but the "Engine Boss" may go back out to operate the rig if requested, since he is the only one qualified by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) to operate on federal lands.
Director of Administration Jennifer Martin thanked the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club on behalf of the district for a grant of $3,013, which Battalion Chief Kris Mola submitted to purchase three Concept 2 static exercise bikes, one for each station. The TLWC grant helps the department invest in fitness, prevent injuries, reduces stress, improve the effectiveness in completing the job, and potentially aids in extending the careers of firefighters and paramedics.
Martin thanked The Timber Homeowners Association for its donation of $250 for TLMFPD’s support during the chipping events that firefighters had conducted in June and July. "Kudos to the firefighters who are part of the chipping program for helping with fire mitigation in the area," said Hildebrandt.
Trost thanked Emergency Incident Support (EIS) for the donations of pediatric cuffs and stethoscopes.
Note: EIS is a rapid response group of volunteers with experience and skills related to emergency services. It provides critical support services to first responders in El Paso County and surrounding areas. These services include hydration, nourishment, and shelter from the elements. For more information, visit www.epceis.com.
The meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.
Caption: Firefighter/Paramedic Jeremy Furman uses a Concept 2 BikeErg at TLMFPD Station 1 on July 13. Tri-Lakes Women’s Club granted $3,013 for the purchase of three Concept 2 BikeErg stationary bikes, one for each of the TLMFPD’s stations. The Concept 2 BikeErg has a sport-based ergometer and heart rate monitor. Photo by Kris Mola.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information on upcoming agendas and Zoom meeting participation instructions, contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011 or visit www.tlmfire.org/board.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
During August, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) heard an appeal by the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) of an executive decision authorizing litigation against it after events were held at the property that are not allowed uses under its zoning. The BOCC also amended contracts relating to two road projects in the Tri-Lakes area.
WMMI code violation appeal
At its Aug. 25 meeting, the BOCC heard an appeal by Grant Dewey, executive director of the WMMI, of a decision made by Craig Dossey, executive director of Planning and Community Development. Dossey issued an executive determination authorizing the county attorney’s office to proceed with litigation against the museum in June 2020. This related to events held at the museum that are not allowed uses under the North Gate Boulevard property’s RR-5 (residential rural) zoning. This zoning allows for museum activities but does not permit public events or building rentals unrelated to the museum’s business. For such events to take place, the museum would need a variance of use.
In 2014 and 2015, Planning and Community Development approved temporary use permits to allow the museum to hold the Tiny House Jamboree events. The county’s Department of Public Works became aware of a planned Celtic Festival at the property in June 2019 when concerns were raised about potential traffic problems. As no temporary use permit had been applied for, a courtesy email was sent to the organizer and the museum. The event went ahead and county’s code enforcement staff then learned that the museum has continued to advertise and hold events on the property that were unrelated to museum activities, such as an Indie Festival, Oktober Fest, and farmers markets and to advertise building rentals for events such as weddings. Violation notices were issued in August 2019 and April 2020.
At the BOCC hearing, the commissioners heard from staff that the museum had very recently filed a variance of use application. Mary Ritchie, assistant county attorney, said the staff would still ask that the appeal be denied so that county would be able to commence litigation if the application were unsuccessful. However, the county would stay any enforcement action as long as the museum continued to actively pursue the variance. The application review process normally takes three to six months and culminates in a BOCC hearing.
Addressing the commissioners, Dewey said, "We have been carrying on similar activities for quite a few years, so we were kind of a little surprised to have this issue, this violation come upon us." He continued, "We have filed the application for a variance because we do need these type of activities. As all of you know, it’s not easy to run a nonprofit and keep it going for 50 years. So, we want to keep that going for another 50 and so we appreciate hopefully in the future we’ll be here to get approval from you all for that variance."
Commissioner Mark Waller asked, "Help me understand why it took more than a year to get that application filed?" Dewey responded, "Partly because, as I mentioned, we are now an enclave of the city and we’ve had a meeting with the mayor who may have some interest in maybe annexing us. So we were kind of waiting to see how that might play out. Obviously COVID stalled things for many of us for months, so that was part of the issue, and then also honestly hoping that you’d recognize that we’ve been doing these activities and they might be accepted."
Dossey told the commissioners that his department wants to work with the museum to bring it into compliance "but we more or less got radio silence for a year, over a year." With no variance application being submitted, he made the executive determination authorizing litigation. Stressing that it was primarily a matter of safety, he said "So what’s happened is the site has been under parked on some of the larger events.… People were walking across North Gate Boulevard which if you’ve been on North Gate, there’s a lot of traffic on North Gate and there’s not all the pedestrian connections there to facilitate something like this."
Mindy Madden, code enforcement supervisor, Planning and Community Development Department, said the museum was still advertising a barbecue event in September and building rentals, so such events were ongoing. Commissioner Holly Williams voiced concerns that the museum would be forced to cancel events if the appeal were denied and everything was put on hold while the variance application was reviewed. She said, "I know that they’re a nonprofit and this is one of the ways they’ve struggled to survive." She continued, "I don’t mind saying no you can’t do the big events, but can they apply for a special use for the small events?"
Dossey replied that staff could certainly look at events getting temporary use permits, but they would have to look at the scale of planned events on a case-by-case basis. Waller pointed out that currently COVID restrictions meant public gatherings were limited to 250 people or less.
Waller commented, "I think sometimes the threats of litigation have to be brought forward to let the entities and organizations know we’re serious about complying with the code requirements. It quite frankly, Mr. Dewey, sounded to me like you weren’t too serious about complying with the code requirements until the threat of litigation happened." However, Waller proposed staying the vote on the appeal for a period of time to allow the variance of use application to be considered. The commissioners voted unanimously to table the appeal until Dec. 1.
Highway 105 project
At their July 28 meeting, the commissioners approved a contract amendment with HDR Engineering Inc. relating to the section of the Highway 105 project from Lake Woodmoor Drive to Highway 83. The amendment authorizes HDR to carry out a corridor-wide update to the traffic analysis to affirm the conclusions made in the original study and to better account for changes in traffic along the corridor since the traffic volumes that were gathered from 2004 through 2011 for the 2013 study.
Since the original study was done, the corridor has seen appreciable growth in housing, enrollments at Monument Academy have grown, and traffic volumes have increased along Highway 83. The contract amendment also includes additional scope and services for water quality final design work. The total cost of this additional work is $133,700.
Beacon Lite Road Improvements Project
At its Aug. 11 meeting, the BOCC approved a contract amendment with Michael Baker International Inc. for final civil engineering design work at the intersection of County Line Road and Beacon Lite Road, which is part of the Beacon Lite Road Improvements Project. The final design work at the intersection is being expedited in an effort to construct this portion of the project concurrently with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s County Line Bridge replacement, which is part of the I-25 Gap project. The aim is to reduce the impact of construction on the traveling public and minimize costs. The additional cost associated with this is $150,946, bringing the total contract amount to $558,142.
• July 28–the commissioners approved the application by Black Forest Diversified Services LLC d/b/a/ Firehouse on the Run 2, for a hotel and restaurant liquor license at 12480 Black Forest Road.
• Aug. 11–approved two ambulance permits for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The one-year permits run until July 31, 2021.
• Aug. 11–approved the liquor license application by Flying Horse Country Club d/b/a The Club at Flying Horse to be located on Stagecoach Road. This is part of the Flying Horse North development.
• Aug. 18–approved intergovernmental agreements with Monument Academy and Lewis-Palmer School District 38 to retain school resource officers provided by the county Sheriff’s Office for the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
• Aug. 25–approved an ambulance permit for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to run for one year until April 30, 2021 and two permits for the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District that run until Aug. 31, 2021.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Aug. 26 to fill a board vacancy and approve work on a portion of the roof on the Barn. Board member Connie Brown was absent.
Board vacancy filled
President Brian Bush announced that the board had appointed Rick DePaiva to fill the vacancy left by former member Rich Wretschko, whose departure was announced at the previous meeting. DePaiva will serve the remainder of Wretschko’s term, which ends in 2023. The board also reorganized roles, with DePaiva to serve as board secretary and director of community relations and board member Bert Jean to serve as director of Common Areas. No other changes were made.
Vice President Peter Bille made a motion to remove Jean as a signer on the bank account and confirm Bush, Bille, Treasurer Connie Brown, and DePaiva as authorized signers. The board unanimously passed the motion.
Barn roof work
Bush raised a new item of business to approve a capital expenditure to replace that portion of flat roof that remains between the Barn and the administrative offices that is now leaking. Bob Pearsall, Common Areas administrator, explained that the current flat roof is coated with an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber membrane that was last replaced in 2014 at a cost of $6,000.
The two options considered were reroofing it again with EPDM, which has a five-to-seven-year lifespan, or rebuilding the flat roof with a structure that has a pitch on it. He consulted with an architect who proposed extending the Barn roof to the existing roof over the offices and then building a gable over the front door of the Barn, which would match the entrance of Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS). It would provide architectural consistency and alleviate the ongoing problem with the flat roof, which led to internal damage in the past.
WIA put it out to bid and got a proposal for $37,000, which would provide a return of investment of about 25 years compared to using EPDM. Bush asked for a motion to approve the project at cost of $37,000 but not to exceed $40,000 in case of an unforeseen cost overrun. The board unanimously approved this project. Pearsall said he hoped to get started next month to complete it by mid-October.
• El Paso County has issued a Stage II fire ban that basically allows only the use of liquid or gas fueled stoves or grills. For more information see: https://www.epcsheriffsoffice.com/services/ready-set-go and https://bit.ly/34odVsA.
• Traffic on Monument Hill Road will be closed by the campground for seven months for work on a wildlife underpass. For more information, see https://bit.ly/i25gap-mhfr-close.
• WIA has spent about $13,000 to provide three no-charge chipping days for residents and have cleared a substantial amount of material. Non-residents are charged a nominal fee.
• The board reported that income is down slightly from Barn and office rentals but is being offset by building fees and HOA checks. WIA is running at 4.5% under projected expenses and still projecting a surplus.
• Residents must still make an appointment to speak to someone in the office.
• Board member Brad Gleason reported that WPS received final approval to join FirstNet by AT&T, a wireless communications network for public safety entities. It provides reduced cost, network priority during incidents, and interoperability with other local first responders. WIA is the second homeowners association in the United States to be approved. See more information at http://firstnet.com.
• Bush noted that it has been an extraordinarily dry summer and commended residents for maintaining their yards by cutting down tall grass to minimize fire danger.
• Wild Duck Pond and Lower Twin Pond were restocked with fish on July 30. See photo on page 24.
Caption: Woodmoor Improvement Association stocks Wild Duck Pond and Lower Twin Pond on July 30. Ponds are usually stocked with trout, carp, and minnows. Because Woodmoor is private property and not subject to state licensing requirements, you do not need a license to fish in the ponds. Residents are encouraged to come by and cast a line. Photo courtesy of Woodmoor Improvement Association.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be Sept. 23. The WIA calendar can be found at www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
Very warm and generally dry conditions were in place for almost the entire month of August. Temperatures averaged almost 5°F above normal for the month, with the average high temperature exceeding the 1% chance of occurrence (greater than a 1 in 100-year event). Precipitation for the month was also well below normal for most of the region, as the hot, dry weather kept the usual influx of moisture from the desert Southwest at bay.
The first three days of the month were an exception, as temperatures averaged slightly below normal with highs in the low to mid-80s on the 1st and 2nd, then mid-70s on the 3rd. Warmer air began to work into the region quickly with high temperatures hitting the low 90s on the 4th before dipping back into the 80s on the 5th and 6th.
Consistently warm weather held tight over the next couple of weeks with each afternoon reaching the mid-80s to low 90s. The warmest days were the 7th, when we again reached the low 90s, and the period from the 18th through the 26th. Several daily record highs occurred over this period. To make matters worse, several large wildfires erupted in the mountains. This, combined with the general west/northwesterly air flow aloft, brought high levels of smoke to the region. This made for some unpleasant conditions during the day, but also produce several vivid sunsets.
Finally, some relief from the heat arrived during the last week of the month with temperatures finally returning to below normal levels.
Even with all the hot and dry weather, there were a few days that experienced widespread areas of thunderstorm activity and brief heavy rainfall. The wettest days were the 19th and the 26th when lines of thunderstorms and brief heavy rain moved through the region from the northwest to the southeast. Fortunately, most of us missed out on damaging hail, but not by much, as severe thunderstorms did bring damaging hail to the south and west side of Colorado Springs during the afternoon of the 5th.
A look ahead
September is a transition month for the region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change by the end of the month as well, and in some years a little snow can happen. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later in the month. Our first sub-freezing low temperatures usually occur during the third week of the month, so prepare those tender plants.
August 2020 Weather Statistics
Average High 84.6° (+5.2)
100-year return frequency value max 83.9° min 72.9°
Average Low 52.3 ° (+3.0)
100-year return frequency value max 55.2° min 46.8°
Monthly Precipitation 1.44" (-1.46") (55% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.94"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Highest Temperature 92° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature 42° on the 31st
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 3.08" (+3.14") (50% below normal) (the precip season is from October 1 to September 30)
Heating Degree Days 13 (-49)
Cooling Degree Days 127 (+84)
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.
Resume activities and athletics for students
I would like to publicly recognize the courageous and consistent leadership of LPSD Superintendent KC Somers and the School Board. During unprecedented times, they collaborated with parents, educators, and students to make the courageous decision to reopen schools to in-class learning. Concerns have been expressed by some educators over risks they may face due to exposure to COVID-19. I encourage LPSD to develop plans to address their fears by providing an alternative work-from-home policy.
Research has shown students involved in athletics or activities perform more effectively in their studies. Active students are also well-adjusted, less prone to use drugs or alcohol and suffer less from depression and suicide.
This June a CDC study found that there has been a shocking increase in substance abuse and decline in mental health with 25.5% of youth seriously considering suicide and 74.9% with adverse mental or behavioral symptoms. This is a red flag as we live in the county with the most suicides in Colorado!
COVID-19 has caused hospitalizations and loss of life, but least affected are school-age youth. As of Aug. 14, CDC reports 247 hospitalizations nationally among youth that didn’t have underlying conditions, with one death.
This death of a school-age child matters, yet the impact on mental health of our youth without access to group activities and athletics makes clear that more students will likely die from suicide in Colorado this fall than from contracting COVID-19.
Let us act upon the fears of educators and accommodate them as much as possible, restate our commitment to in-class learning for students, and come together as a community to stand with LPSD. Lastly, group activities and athletics must resume immediately for the wellbeing of our students since every death is tragic whether from COVID-19, suicide, or other cause.
The right words
Throughout the years, I’ve often struggled finding the "right words" when expressing my sympathy and condolences to someone grieving the loss of a loved one. Like many, I’ve often said, "If there’s anything I can do, just let me know." While sincere, that expression can easily be interpreted as perfunctory, perhaps even trite.
Recently, I happened onto the words that one widow, following her husband’s funeral, said made her cry but at the same time be so appreciative. Those words: "I will be at your house, every Monday at 9 a.m. Have a list of whatever you need done, and I will take care of it." (Jody Johnson, quoted from the website Quora.com.)
For me, it’s hard to imagine words any better.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
The publishing industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. As a result, there have been many delays to all suppliers of books, including online and independent bookstores. Many publication dates for new books have been delayed. But some great books are coming out in the next few weeks.
All the Devils Are Here
By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books), $28.99
Inspector Gamache’s godfather, billionaire Stephen Horowitz, is critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident. Solving this mystery will take Gamache from the top of the Eiffel Tower to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded works of art. To find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past, his own family. For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in the darkness devils hide.
Next to Last Stand: A Longmire Mystery
By Craig Johnson (Viking), $28
One of the most viewed paintings in American History, Custer’s Last Fight, was destroyed in a fire in 1946. Or was it? When Charley Lee Stillwater dies at the Wyoming Home for Soldiers & Sailors, Walt Longmire is called in to try to make sense of a piece of a painting and a Florsheim shoebox containing a million dollars, sending the good sheriff on the trail of a dangerous art heist.
Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
By Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane Books), $26.99
Officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. An unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood abduction. The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine, but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.
Mesa Verde Victim
By Scott Graham (Torrey House Press), $15.95
Hounded by false accusations of murder, archaeologist Chuck Bender and his family risk their lives to track down an unknown killer in a rugged canyon on the remote western edge of Mesa Verde National Park, where ancient stone villages and secret burial sites, abandoned centuries ago by the Ancestral Puebloan people, harbor artifacts so rare and precious they’re worth killing over.
Elway: A Relentless Life
By Jason Cole (Hachette Books), $28
This biography of John Elway, Hall of Fame quarterback, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and current president of Football Operations and general manager of the Denver Broncos, is the most complete look at one of the most accomplished legends in the history of American sports.
The Midnight Library
By Matt Haig (Viking), $26
"Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices.... Would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo your regrets?" Nora Seed must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life and what makes it worth living in the first place.
A Time for Mercy
By John Grisham (Doubleday Books), $29.95
Jake Brigance, the hero of A Time to Kill, one of the most popular novels of our time, returns. Jake finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid 16-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line. In what may be the most personal and accomplished legal thriller of John Grisham’s storied career, there is a time to kill and a time for justice. Now comes A Time for Mercy.
When We Were Young & Brave
By Hazel Gaynor (William Morrow & Co.), $27.99
Bestselling author Hazel Gaynor sets her unforgettable new novel in China during WWII, inspired by true events surrounding the Japanese Army’s internment of teachers and children from a British-run missionary school. As Gaynor says in the Afterward, "No matter the time or distance from an historical event, the universal themes of love, grief, friendship, regret and resilience are what connect us all across the decades."
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The Monument Library enters fall with the ability to welcome our patrons back into the library to enjoy such services as use of a computer and printing and copying services. Also, feel free to simply browse and check out a new movie for the weekend or the latest in new book titles.
All programs, including literacy and math tutoring, are suspended for the remainder of the calendar year. This is due to the unavailability of meeting rooms and the requirement of social distancing in the library.
For those who are hesitant to come inside, curbside service is also available to pick up patron holds. You can call ahead (488-2370) to ensure that your materials are ready and waiting, or simply drop by and ring the doorbell on the table outside and we will come to you.
Please see our website (ppld.org) for a wide variety of virtual programs including yoga, story times, and book groups. Some of these programs are interactive and others are available to view at any time on our Facebook page.
Returned library materials are quarantined for four days before being processed, so please place any returns in the outdoor book drop on the north side of the building before entering.
In keeping with state and county Health Department mandates, all patrons over the age of 2 are required to wear masks in the library. There are large hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the library and staff will sanitize computers and self- check devices frequently during the day.
The Palmer Lake Library remains closed at this time. The district Bookmobile will visit the site on Mondays from 9 to 11 and Wednesdays from 2:15 to 4. The book drop is still available at all times.
Palmer Lake patrons may no longer specify Palmer Lake as the pick-up location for their holds. They will instead be delivered to the Monument Library, 4 miles east on Highway 105. If you prefer to have your holds come via the Bookmobile, please call 531-6333 extension 2313.
Please refer to the website for any changes in schedule or services.
We hope to see you soon at the library.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
Victory gardens had a mega-boost early on in 2020, as backyard gardens gave us our own food at arm’s reach and people wanted to make sure they would have food at hand during the pandemic. Many places ran out of garden seeds and supplies quite early, stemming from that surge of garden activity.
Inspired by the national movement promoting backyard books and seed libraries at www.littlefreelibrary.org, we’re looking to have a little organic seed library exchange: People bring organic food and flower seeds, dried, packed and marked in new paper envelopes (safest from mold). We’ll exchange them at the Farmers Market at Southwinds Fine Art Gallery, 16575 Rollercoaster Rd., Friday, Sept. 11. Bring your own exchangers’ blank envelopes for seeds, too.
The beans are still producing and the corn is almost ready, tomatoes are still green, so we’ll have to look for other open spots for our fall crops: Arugula in fall grows into lush plants; dwarf bok choy grows from seed to table in six weeks, also chard, collards, kale, lettuces, mustard, radishes, spinach, turnips, and my 55-day zucchini seeds—these are our last fast crops. I’m just waiting to harvest my bolted plant seeds to do it!
Handy hints for September
• Compost kitchen scraps for optimal kitchen garden soil. See sidebar.
• Prudent watering with a hose timer and targeted sprinkler: no forgetting or overwatering.
• Use pine needles as mulch—weed seeds can’t get in or take hold, soil stays moister.
• Pop some banana peels in water overnight for a bloom booster.
• Protect plants from heat: Make a screen by draping burlap or a shade cloth.
• Protect plants from cold snaps: Cover with cloche, floating row tunnels, or even a bedsheet.
Janet Sellers is a self-declared ethnoecologist and avid gardener, following Mother Nature’s age-old wisdom of indigenous science. firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
"When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life."
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD,
Using our hands to create things has a hugely beneficial effect on people, known for millennia as a calming, regulatory outcome similar to meditation. The immersion in crafting and art is known as "flow," where we are so absorbed in the creative activity that nothing else seems to matter. Flow, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Claremont Graduate University’s Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, is the secret to happiness—a statement he supports with decades of research.
"There’s promising evidence coming out to support what a lot of crafters have known anecdotally for quite some time," says Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist and wife of craftsy.com CEO John Levisay. "And that’s that creating—whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography, (or) cake decorating—is beneficial to us in a number of important ways."
Most everybody with a smartphone enjoys the digital craze in modifying photographs, videos, interactive art, and just having fun with images. The phone does a lot of technologically advanced work such as modifications into paintings or drawings mixing the new media visuals including sound, video games, and biotechnology.
Digital practices appear to make a person adept, but are they capable of creativity with lasting value or merely a stream of electronic dabblings? While highly engaging, are people actually creating with it or just going down another rabbit hole?
As we become more dependent on electronics and screen time, will we also lose natural abilities to use our minds and bodies for our benefit? Downsides of screen time for all ages include weight gain, poor sleep, and brain atrophy. Screen time degrades our physical and mental agility.
A National Endowment for the Arts study showed the powerful positive intervention effects of community-based art programs run by professional artists. It points to true health promotion and disease prevention effects, "In that they also show stabilization and actual increase in community-based activities in general among those in the cultural programs, they reveal a positive impact on maintaining independence and on reducing dependency. This latter point demonstrates that these community-based cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care." Key here is such programs are run by professional artists, those that are in the art field actively creating, and actively creating within flow puts us in that happiness driver’s seat.
Enter old-school technologies—pencil, paper, paint and clay, or woodworking, knitting and needlework. Yes, just picking up a pencil to draw from observation enhances our faculties, enhancing memory and retrieval, being present cognitively and socially, making our lives more enjoyable—and happy.
Caption: A smaller than usual but happy public enjoyed coming back to the Art Hop on Aug. 20. Janice Dahl, left, and Bill Dahl shared their large format photography as the featured artists at Bella Art and Frame. Member artists of the gallery were also in attendance, as were artists and craftspeople outside the shop with festive, art-filled booths to welcome the public to the art festivities. Art Hop returns Sep. 17. See the ad on page 12. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is a professional artist, writer, and speaker, shows her paintings in Colorado galleries, and her sculptures in Colorado cities and museums. She teaches locally. She can be contacted at JanetSellers@ocn.me.
Sunset over Mount Herman
Caption: Sunset over Mount Herman, Monument, amid the haze on Aug. 21. Front Range residents grow accustomed to days of low visibility and smog caused by multiple fires burning in the western and northern portions of the state. After experiencing many days of thick haze from Colorado fires, strong winds from the west direct smoke from the California fires, causing an increased heavy layer of smog and further reduced visibility. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Home ignition zone
Caption: If your home doesn’t catch on fire, it won’t burn down. You can take simple steps today to help your home resist burning embers blown by the wind. Woodmoor Forestry Volunteer Lisa Hatfield and Woodmoor Covenants and Forestry Administrator Matthew Nelson spoke at the Woodmoor Barn on July 30. Their Reduce Your Home’s Ignition Potential in Wildfire 33-minute presentation is posted on YouTube. Watch the video or ask your HOA or fire protection district for a free property assessment. Diagram courtesy of National Fire Protection Association.
Bookstore celebrates Colorado Day
Caption: Covered Treasures Bookstore celebrated Colorado Day on Aug. 1 with local photographer Todd Caudle. Caudle has various photography books including his newest, Natural Wonders of Colorado. His annual Colorado calendars are a hit. Hosting Caudle was the store’s first in-house event since COVID-19. A fun and safe time was had by all. The masked customer asked that her name not be used. Photo courtesy of Covered Treasures Bookstore.
King’s Deer Garage Sale, Aug. 7-9
Caption: The annual King’s Deer Community Garage Sale was held on Aug. 7-9. Those who wished to participate exhibited their wares on their driveways. As drivers passed by, they could choose to pull in to treasure hunt or bargain shop. Pictured from left are Dillon Harder, Becky Harder, Sherry Feeney, and Stacey Snyder at the Harders’ sale. Photo by John Howe.
Gold panning championships
The Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted the 47th Gold Panning State Championships on Aug. 7-9 in collaboration with the Gold Prospectors of Colorado (GPoC). The event had nine competitions including speed, where the panner is timed for how long it takes them to pan out eight nuggets in a pan filled with sand and place them in a vial, skill, where the panner has 15 minutes to pan out five to10 gold flakes from a half-gallon bucket of sand, and dry-panning. Attendees not participating in the competition received instructions on how to pan from GPoC members and perhaps found a gold flake of their own. Marty Allen, GPoC president, said events as this demonstrate the "big family feel" of the GPoC where all are welcomed, from those wanting to learn how to pan to experts. Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmi.org.
Caption: After eight gold nuggets are placed in a pan filled with sand, Angelika Meissan competes in the speed competition where she is timed panning out the nuggets then placing them in a vial to end the timing. Photo by David Futey.
Silver Center Book Club. Aug. 14
Caption: The Silver Center Book Club met Aug. 14 at the Senior Center to discuss its chosen book The Supremes @ Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Kelsey Moore. The group chooses a selection each month from the public library’s recommended list and then picks up copies at the library to read and share their thoughts about at the next meeting. Left: front to back, are Mary Ann Milke, Steph Irsay, Robert Gibbons, and Sue Walker. Right: front to back, are Judy Martin, Kathy Jones, and Rita Thieme. The group is socially distanced. Photo by John Howe.
Power outage, July 31
Caption: Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) crews replace a damaged transformer on July 31 in The Heights at Jackson Creek. MVEA crews worked during the evening hours to restore power to thousands of customers after a transformer suffered an unusual catastrophic disintegration of the lightning inductor/arrestor. The disintegration caused a relay effect resulting in the failure of multiple transformers in the immediate neighborhoods. Technicians had not seen this kind of failure happen in the past without a lightning strike. If you experience a power failure, check the Outage Center at www.mvea.coop for instructions, but never assume your neighbor already provided MVEA with crucial outage information. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Ham operators prepare
Caption: Amateur radio operators: Are you a neighborhood resource for El Paso County? Join us for Neighborhood Net at 10 a.m. each Saturday on the PPHN repeater network 146.910 (negative offset, 151.4 tone). Also, the county Special Communications Unit (SCU), a volunteer team, provides auxiliary communications during fires, blizzards, severe weather, and any other time communications help is needed. Amateur radio operators are also important in the event of an extreme emergency or catastrophic communications failure in the community. SCU meets once a month and welcomes new volunteers interested in participating. Volunteers are not required to have previous experience or radio license to join. See video at https://admin.elpasoco.com/ham-radio-field-day/. Shown here is amateur radio operator Jason Martin. Info: Robert Nuttelman, SCU director, at email@example.com. Photo courtesy of Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management.
LPHS Class of ‘75 makes donation
Caption: In lieu of the 45th high school class reunion that was cancelled due to COVID-19 travel and other restrictions, the Lewis-Palmer High School Class of 1975 collected and made a donation of over $2,400 to Friends of Monument Preserve (FOMP) Aug. 11 in the name of Tim Watkins, Randy Jones, and other class members who have passed away. FOMP was near and dear to Watkins’ heart; he worked and was instrumental on several trail building projects on Mt. Herman. Pictured is the presentation of the check. From left are Russel Renk, class member, Brian Mullin, FOMP president, Bill Normile, FOMP vice president, and Randy Royal, ‘75 class president. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Black Forest Reverse Parade
Caption: This year’s Black Forest Festival was replaced by three days of Black Forest Days. Events included a staggered-start Biergarten Stroll, a Backyard Market, and a Pancake Picnic Breakfast in partnership with the Boy Scouts at the Black Forest Community Center. On Aug. 15, A Reverse Parade took place along Shoup Road between La Foret and Black Forest Road. In a Reverse Parade, the Parade Exhibits are stationary and the spectators remain in their personal vehicles and slowly drive past the exhibits. Community Emergency Response Team volunteer Robert Toy made sure the drive-by spectators knew they could learn basics about how to respond to a disaster or emergency in their community through training provided free by the Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management. See epccert.org. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Palmer Lake virtual TRY-athlon
Caption: On Saturday, Aug. 15, in lieu of its annual TRY-athlon at Palmer Lake, Awake the Lake sponsored a "virtual" TRY-athlon. This year, instead of an organized event with participants swimming, "running," and cycling in groups, there was no organized "race" event. Supporters of the fundraiser swam across the lake, ran (or strolled) to a pre-positioned bicycle (or trike) and finished at one’s own pace or "virtually" in one’s own mind. Jeff Hulsmann and April Fullman distributed T-shirts, stickers, and inflatable "donuts" to participants at the pavilion on the east side of the lake for those who did not pick up their "race" packet at O’Malley’s previously. This fundraiser and the upcoming .5 (POINT 5) K "Race" in October are sponsored by Awake the Lake to help maintain parks and natural beauty in Palmer Lake. These activities are organized and staffed by volunteers. Photo by Steve Pate.
Monument Lake maintenance
Caption: Weeds and parking have been reduced at Monument Lake. The Public Works Department trucked in several huge boulders on July 20 to block some areas where people had been parking. On crowded days, so many vehicles had been parked at the lake that emergency vehicles wouldn’t have been able to gain access in case of an emergency. From left, aquatic biologists Noel Browning and Katelyn Behounek of SOLitude Lake Management in Denver prepared to launch their boat on July 29. They applied an herbicide to get rid of the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil that had clogged parts of the lake. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Inline skating at LPMS
Caption: The Synergy Inline Speedskating Club of Colorado skates every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. The group practices all along the Front Range in 11 locations from Loveland to Colorado Springs. All ages and abilities are welcome. The team includes skaters age 6 to 66, including five Olympians. For more information, see http://www.synergyinline.com/team/colorado. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Chamber guest speaker, Aug. 26
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce held its quarterly members’ luncheon Aug. 26 with Gregory V. Williams as guest speaker. Williams gave a detailed talk on effective communication relating especially to business dealings. There were about 65 people present (socially distanced) at Ascent Church in Woodmoor and several on Zoom. Terri Hayes, chamber executive director, introduces Williams. Photo by John Howe.
Fishing license checks, Aug. 15
Caption: Colorado Parks and Wildlife agents were checking fishing licenses on Aug. 15 at Palmer Lake. Licenses are required for anyone 16 years old or older who fishes in public waters. Fishing or hunting licenses are also now required for anyone who camps or hikes in state parks in Colorado. License fees are used to help maintain trails and facilities on state land. Two Parks and Wildlife agents checking licenses during the Palmer Lake TRY-athlon asked a woman for her fishing license, and she did not have a current one. An agent helped her buy a license using her cell phone and avoided the need to cite her. Photo by Steve Pate.
Hip, Hip Hooray, PLVFD! Aug. 15
Caption: A huge shout out to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, in association with the Palmer Lake Firefighters Association, for conducting a successful chipping day for Palmer Lake residents Aug. 15. These guys donned heavy gear/protective clothing and worked well over eight hours in 90-plus degree heat to get it done. They only took breaks to respond to two fire calls. From left are Lt. William Berry, Lt. Dan Snelling, and Chief Christopher McCarthy. Thank you for your service to our community. Photo by Samantha Holmes.
Hummingbird Festival, Aug. 21
Caption: As the hummingbirds began their flight out of town, Southwinds Fine Art at Roller Coaster and Baptist Roads celebrated with the second annual Hummingbird Festival. The family-friendly festivities included educational talks about hummingbirds by local artist and author Janet Sellers, gallery tours, and a farmers market. Tom Tezlaf, featured vendor/owner of DWB Wild Bird, had hummingbird feeders, nectar, bird seed, and feeders and accessories for other local bird species. You can find Tezlaf at local farmers markets and at www.dwbwildbird.com. Southwinds Fine Art will continue to have a farmers market every Friday through Sept. 11. For vendor information, call or text 719-492-0355. Photo by Marlene Brown.
OCN photo contest winners
Caption: July 19 sunrise at Forest Lakes. Getting ready to put the kayaks in the water. My sister-in-law Sharann Mills and I took in God’s gift of this glorious sunrise. Photo by Laura Mills.
Caption: Enjoying the field in Walden Subdivision at sunset on Aug. 9. We just moved here and cannot get enough of these Colorado sunsets and golden hour. My two boys, Trenton in yellow shirt and Gavin in white shirt, and our sweet dog, Liberty. Photo by Lynse Schmidt.
Caption: I live in Pleasant View Estates and we have had sightings of a Mom doe and her two fawns. They showed up in my front yard and decided to give me a show. They were not afraid of the camera at all. In fact, the one fawn was curious—came within 4 feet of me and snorted at me! Photo by Keith Knudson.
Keep them coming!
Send your best "Life in Tri-Lakes" photo to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Sep. 25. Please don’t send more than two photos. Include names of any people in the photo, date taken, a description of the activity or location, and the name of the photographer. Call Lisa at 719-339-7831 with questions. We will print the winners in our Oct. 3 issue.
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.
Incomplete SNAP redeterminations will delay assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps feed families. The program experienced a surge in applicants across the state and country starting in late March. People who applied in March must turn in redetermination paperwork this month in order to receive September benefits in a timely fashion. As of Aug. 5, more than 2,000 SNAP recipients had files that were not complete and must take immediate action to submit documentation to receive benefits. Documents required for redeterminations may be submitted via PEAK at www.colorado.gov/PEAK, or in person at El Paso County Department of Human Services, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road. Those whose cases are current do not need to take action.
Online voter services available at GoVoteColorado.gov
Check that your voter record is up to date now; ballots will be mailed starting Oct. 9. The deadline to register to vote or update your registration and still receive a ballot in the mail is Oct. 26. For more information, phone 719-575-VOTE (8683) or visit www.govotecolorado.gov.
Election judges needed for November general election
The El Paso County Elections Department has many short-term election judge temporary jobs available to assist in the November general election. This is an exceptional opportunity to be involved in this historic presidential election. To learn more, visit www.govotecolorado.gov or contact Angie Leath, director of Elections, email@example.com or 719-575-8683.
Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery welcome you
People of all faith traditions are welcome to the monastery to walk the prayer paths or labyrinth with social distancing. For more information, contact the retreat coordinator, Eileen Beuler: 633-0655 x132, www.benethillmonastery.org. See ad on page 11.
Small business grants available
The Energize Colorado Gap Fund will provide more than $25 million in small-business loans and grants to boost small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Sole proprietors, businesses, and nonprofits with less than 25 full-time employees can apply for up to a $15,000 grant and a $20,000 loan for a possible combined total of $35,000 in financial assistance. For more information, visit https://energizecolorado.com.
Stage II fire restrictions
Stage II fire restrictions are now in effect for all the unincorporated areas of El Paso County. The following activities are prohibited during Stage II fire restrictions:
• Open burning defined as campfires and warming fires, charcoal grills and outdoor wood burning stoves, the use of explosives, outdoor welding or use of acetylene or other torch with open flames other than in an area cleared of all flammable materials. Fires contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves are permitted.
• The use or sale of fireworks of all kinds.
• Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
Violations of Stage II fire restrictions in unincorporated El Paso County may result in a fine of up to $1,000. Please report any suspected violations of the order by phoning 719-390-5555. For more information, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com.
Slash-Mulch season ending
The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch program will accept slash (tree and brush debris only) through Sept. 13. Mulch will be available through Sept. 19 or until mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost for slash is $2 per load. The mulch loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone the County Environmental Division, 520-7878; Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; Jeff, 495-8024.
YMCA 5K Race Series and Kids Fun Runs
The annual three-race series includes the Creepy Crawl Oct. 31 on the Santa Fe Trail in Palmer Lake, Turkey Trot Nov. 26 at the Briargate YMCA, and the Jingle Bell Dec. 12 at Fountain Creek Regional Park. A virtual race option is available so that you can choose the day, time, and location to run/walk at your own pace. Sign up online at www.ppymca.org/raceseries.
YMCA fall youth basketball starts in October, register now
Registration is now open for youth basketball, which will start in October. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org/basketball or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. See ad on page 6.
Taste of Palmer Lake
This year your ticket will get you free food or beverage offerings from all of our local Palmer Lake restaurants. Purchase your ticket and receive a punch card for a one-time use for your free item anytime through Feb. 28, 2021. This is a limited time offer. Tickets are $25, available at all Palmer Lake restaurants, and all the money goes to this year’s downtown Christmas decorations. Help light up Palmer Lake. For details, visit www.awakepalmerlake.org.
Tri-Lakes Cares online auction,
Due to COVID-19 there will be no Empty Bowls dinner this year. Monument Hill Kiwanis will distribute pre-paid bowls in a drive-through Oct. 3 at the Lewis-Palmer High School south parking lot, but this fundraising effort won’t match the funds normally raised by the usual Empty Bowls event. So, Tri-Lakes Cares will hold an online auction Oct. 3-10. Check the website, www.tri-lakescares.org, later in the month and watch for details in the October issue of OCN.
Volunteer for Tri-Lakes Cares
There are many areas within Tri-Lakes Cares that you can help serve. Volunteers interact with clients, stock the food pantry, distribute grocery orders, process donations, pack Snack Packs for local youth, and contribute in many other ways to the success of Tri-Lakes Cares. Becoming a volunteer is easy and fun. For details, contact Volunteer Coordinator Nichole Pettigrew, 719-481-4864 x113, VolunteerCoordinator@Tri-LakesCares.org; or visit https://tri-lakescares.org/volunteer/. See ad on page 13.
Virtual Fill the Boot Campaign
Local firefighters won’t be able to conduct their campaign in person this year, but you can still support their fundraising efforts. Visit https://filltheboot.donordrive.com/participant/Tri-Lakes-Monument-Fire or see the ad on page 7.
VFW scholarship competitions
VFW’s Voice of Democracy Scholarship competition gives local high school students a chance to compete for thousands of dollars in scholarships and a trip to Washington, D.C. Students must write and record a three-to-five-minute essay on the selected theme using an audio CD or flash drive and present their recording, typed essay, and completed entry form to their local VFW Post by Oct. 31. The 2020-21 theme is "Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?" Middle school students also have a scholarship competition, Patriot’s Pen. This year’s theme is "What is Patriotism to Me?" For more information about both contests, visit www.vfw.org/VOD.
MVEA Scholarships, enter by Jan. 18
Each year, MVEA awards $1,000 scholarships to 14 graduating high school seniors. Applications are due by Jan. 18, 2021. Apply online at www.mvea.coop/scholarships. For more information contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 10.
MVEA youth leadership trip contest
High school sophomores and juniors can win a summer trip. Apply at www.mvea.coop/essay-contest. Leadership trip availability may change due to COVID-19. For more information, contact Erica Meyer, 719-494-2654, email@example.com. See ad on page 10.
Local team in PBS inventions competition
Monument resident Allan McMullen and his son Ian are featured in Make48, a national home inventor competition on PBS. Each week, they had 48 hours to create a working prototype and a promotional video for an invention. How far did they make it in the competition? See Make48.com Season 4 online starting Oct. 2.
36th Annual National Night Out, Oct. 6
National Night Out, a national community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships has traditionally been scheduled for the first Tuesday in August. This year it is delayed until Oct. 6 due to COVID-19. Turn on your porch light and go outside to join your neighbors to make a show of solidarity and strength. Plan a block party, barbecue, neighborhood walk, or other activity. Register for free and receive information and suggestions at www.natw.org.
Openings on Monument’s boards
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit www.townofmonument.org.
Environmental Assessment for Preparatory Leadership Campus Construction at USAFA
The proposed action would construct new facilities and demolish old facilities on the Preparatory Leadership Campus. The public can review and comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). A copy of the Draft EA and Draft FONSI is available for review at the USAFA Library, Community Center Building, 5136 Redtail Dr., Suite H103. The Draft EA and Draft FONSI are also available on the USAFA website. Go to www.usafa.af.mil/Units/Mission-SupportGroup/Civil-Engineer-Squadron, then click on Civil Engineer Squadron, then on the second Public Notice. Please provide any comments by Sept. 15 to Robert Fant, firstname.lastname@example.org, 719-333-9739, 8120 Edgerton Dr., USAF Academy CO 80840.
Tri-Lakes Senior Center reopens
The senior center now has a temperature check station at the entrance and will follow all state guidelines to allow seniors to participate safely in various activities. The senior center is located in the portable building between Lewis-Palmer High School and the Don Breese Stadium. For more information, contact 719-464-6873 or www.trilakesseniors.org.
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.
Monument Hill Frontage Road closure
Crews have closed a portion of the Monument Hill Frontage Road, east of mainline I-25, for about seven months. The 1,100-foot closure is required as crews construct a wildlife underpass, replace drainage pipes, complete roadway construction, and install a sound wall between northbound I-25 and the frontage road. The closure will be located between the Colorado Heights Campground access points. See map at right. Access to and from the campground will not be disrupted. Wildlife underpasses will help reduce animal-vehicle collisions along the I-25 South Gap corridor, and the improved drainage will prevent flooding and soil erosion in this area. The sound wall will extend from Misty Acres Boulevard, just north of Palmer Ridge High School, to the Telios Law building on Monument Hill Frontage Road. For more information on this closure, visit www.codot.gov/projects/i25-south-gap/monument-hill-frontage-road-closure.
By Judy Barnes,
Community Calendar Editor
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
The unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation presents scheduling challenges to area governance entities and other organizations. Because OCN is a monthly publication, readers should assume that information published in this issue is subject to change and event information should be confirmed a day or two before the event by calling the information number or checking the organization’s website.
Many entries show dates even though the event has been canceled or suspended. The date indicates when the event was planned to be held or when it would normally have been held.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on November 30, 2020. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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