Correction: The caption for the four photographs which accompany the article on Donald Wescott Fire Protection District lists the individuals in the wrong order. The correct order, from left to right is: Driver Operator Justin Myers and Firefighter/EMTs Seung Ju Han, Matthew Griggs, and David Bowker. We sincerely apologize for the error in identifying these individuals.
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By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held three meetings in October: a workshop on Oct. 5, a regular meeting on Oct. 7, and a special meeting on Oct. 28. A key topic at the regular and special board meetings was loss of access to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) west driveway on Highway 105 and the effort to find short- and long-term solutions. The workshop on Oct. 5 sought input on the phase two build-out of MA’s east campus, and on Oct. 28 the revised 2021-22 budget and a five-year forecast were discussed.
Highway 105 access
On Oct. 7, Megghan St. Aubyn, board vice president and member of the Highway 105 Committee, read a statement saying that MA had been cooperating with El Paso County in an effort to remove MA west campus traffic from Highway 105 and recirculate cars to its own property. See more at https://www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#ma. The county provided conceptual options shown here: https://epcdevplanreview.com/Public/ProjectDetails/172298.
St. Aubyn noted that the school had had a reciprocal parking and access agreement with the LDS church next door from 2008 when MA opened until 2018 when the agreement expired. Since 2018 there has been no formal agreement. The board and administration have been dealing with the church lawyers in Salt Lake City who informed MA that the church wished to discontinue the parking agreement and no longer wanted MA staff and parents to use the church’s west driveway to access the school. The LDS church set a deadline of Nov. 8. St. Aubyn asked to set up a sub-committee made up of parents, facilities, and administration to brainstorm the best solution for the morning and afternoon carline at MA’s west campus.
At the Oct. 28 special meeting, board President Ryan Graham noted that the statement read at the regular meeting was sent to parents. Some expressed disappointment in its tone, he said, but he stood by it as a statement from the Highway 105 Committee, not the whole board. He asked that concerns be directed to him as board president and member of the committee. He noted that the following day there were upsetting remarks about the LDS church on social media. He does not condone those remarks but has no control over them.
He reported meeting with local LDS representatives in face-to-face meetings and announced that MA and LDS have come to an agreement to keep both MA and LDS seminary students safe while allowing the school to use the driveway until May 2022. He thanked the people who participated in the sub-committee.
St. Aubyn presented a preliminary plan for the carline at the MA west campus. LDS will allow MA to continue to use its west driveway on a temporary basis until May 2022, but it will be a right-turn only exit. This will require rerouting the carline and making schedule and procedure changes. All traffic will enter from Knollwood Drive, drop or pick up students on the left curb from the driver’s side, and exit the LDS driveway on Highway 105 and turn right, she said. School start time will be 5 minutes earlier and dismissal will be staggered in groups leaving every 15 minutes by grade, with siblings leaving together.
MA will lower the number of snow days and identify optional full-day Fridays to ensure it meets state contact hour requirements. There will be a carline app, and students will be assigned a number so that parents and carpool drivers can notify the school when they arrive. After 30 days, MA will consider adding bus service between the campuses but would need to hire two bus drivers.
Attendees expressed concern about parents needing to make a U-turn or drive through side streets if they need to go east. They also asked if other possible solutions such as a cul de sac could be reviewed by a traffic engineer. Graham and St. Aubyn noted that this was a temporary solution and asked for grace and patience from parents.
The board unanimously authorized Graham and Chief Operating Officer Merlin Holmes to finalize and sign a temporary license arrangement with the LDS church for MA’s use of the west driveway for exit-only egress to Highway 105.
Phase two build-out feedback
At the Oct. 5 workshop, attended by board members, staff, teachers, and parents, MA presented a conceptual drawing of the east campus with a second academic wing and a regulation-size gymnasium for discussion. Amy Torrance, communications and marketing specialist, introduced Holmes, saying he had been through eight builds, two of which were high schools. Holmes divided attendees into groups to discuss how to encourage more eighth-graders to stay for ninth grade, what is needed in the final design, and to prioritize needs for phase two and beyond.
Attendees shared ideas such as making high school feel distinct from middle school; adding a gymnasium and sports fields to improve the athletic offerings; adding a performing arts center that could be used by the community; adding an Olympic-size pool or hockey rink; and having fewer shared classrooms.
One parent stated that sixth grade should not be moved back to west campus given its carline issues and fewer extracurriculars for sixth grade. Holmes said it was an option being considered but he wanted input from fifth-grade parents and teacher teams. MA may give parents a choice of campuses. Holmes shared a survey that would be sent to parents who were unable to attend the workshop.
Revised budget and five-year financial forecast
Chief Financial Officer Marc Brocklehurst presented the revised budget and a five-year forecast needed as part of the bond refinancing effort. His forecast shows significant deficits starting in 2022-23.
Brocklehurst detailed changes to the revised 2021-22 budget the board will vote on next month. Revenue increased due to higher per pupil revenue (PPR) and an increased share of the mill levy override (MLO). Revenue decreased due to a lower state capital construction grant and a lower reimbursement for connectivity. Legal and technology expenses have increased. Expenses decreased due to staffing decisions and ending professional marketing services. Brocklehurst said it will be a balanced budget with zero net income and an anticipated ending fund balance of $2.5 million, which would keep MA in compliance with its bond covenants to have a certain number of days cash on hand for each bond series.
For the five-year forecast, he estimated a 13% increase next year to 1,227 students, then 10% to 1,350 students and then a lower percent as MA approaches a total of 1,500 students in 2025-26. Brocklehurst included a moderate 3.5% annual increase in PPR. He said if MA grows more rapidly than the district, its portion of the $4 million generated by the MLO will increase. However, the MLO revenue would be distributed over more students. For expenses, he uses 3% for annual salary increases and 4% increases in health insurance costs. As enrollment increases, more teachers will be needed, he said.
The 2022-23 forecast shows a $692,000 deficit, Brocklehurst said. The biggest reason is an increase in debt service payments for the east campus. In the first two years of the bond, the interest-only payments came from the bond itself, which included a $3.6 million bond interest fund. Starting in 2022-23, MA will have to pay both interest and principal. In 2025-26, the series 2019 bonds are due, a balloon payment of $28.4 million, which is why the forecast shows a net loss of $26 million. MA must refinance before that point, he said, noting that the bond was set up this way to enable enrollment growth but that projections were overly optimistic.
Graham moved that the board direct Brocklehurst and Holmes to bring back a balanced budget for 2022-23 at the next meeting. Brocklehurst noted that the board only votes on the 2021-22 budget, not on the forecast, which is a separate item. Holmes said there are major things MA can do to lower the deficit, but some of those choices are very impactful to the school and are not easy to make. Board member Chris Dole said that he is concerned about not having any assumptions on the phase two build-out as it would represent more debt. Graham withdrew his motion but said he didn’t want to wait until spring to address this and noted that MA would add a December board meeting in next month’s consent agenda.
• Board member Misty McCuen presented Facilities Director Vinnie DeVincenzo with a certificate of appreciation for his work at both campuses.
• Dole reported that the Dads of Great Students (DOGS) program will be restarting at the west campus with a meeting on Nov. 9.
Caption: MA Proposed Carline - Monument Academy is working to finalize an agreement with the Latter-day Saints church next door to continue using the LDS driveway to exit to Highway 105 with a right turn only lane. All traffic to the school would enter on Knollwood Drive at the left of the image. Red arrows indicate turns to and from public roads. Yellow arrows indicate through traffic. Cars can form two lines after the vision clinic. Blue arrows indicate the student pick-up zone. Green arrows indicate traffic exiting the dirt parking lot. Red circles with a line through them indicate no parking at the LDS church or other businesses on Village Ridge Pt. Image courtesy of Monument Academy
Caption: At a special board workshop on Oct. 5, Monument Academy board members and staff hosted over 30 parents to solicit input on options, priorities, and ideas for its phase two build-out of its east campus. Small groups were formed to consider and report back on how to retain more eighth-graders to high school; whether sixth grade should stay at east campus, move back to west campus, or be split based on parent choice; the need to prioritize a new academic wing; adding a full-size gym and more sports fields; adding a performing arts space and more. The current bonds will need to be refinanced and the goal is to have more space by fall 2023. Photos by Jackie Burhans.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. at the east campus band room in person only. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education addressed a number of important issues at its Oct. 18 meeting, including student mental health supports, local community partnerships, and a detailed consideration of staff compensation as compared to neighboring districts.
Examination of student mental health supports
Palmer Ridge High School Senior Thomas Fry gave the keynote speech at a recent meeting of the Social-Emotional Wellness Coalition. This year is the Year of the Story for that organization, and Fry offered his personal experiences in hopes of improving the district’s response to mental health challenges among students.
Fry emphasized that mental health needs to be thought about and taught about in schools. The stigma related to mental health must be eliminated in order to encourage students to seek the help they need.
He said that students do not seek help for a number of reasons in this district, including a challenging academic schedule, fear of being judged, concern that they may not be heard and taken seriously, unwillingness to admit something might be wrong, and unwillingness to admit they can’t cope without help.
Solutions offered by Fry included increasing the number of counselors and making them more accessible as they are often hard to find and are responsible for a large number of students; offering seminars on the subject of mental health or devoting class time to discussion of the issue, creating a welcoming environment to encourage personal interaction between staff and students, and creating peer support groups or clubs to address the subject.
Fry stated that 20% of teens suffer from anxiety disorder, 8% suffer from depression, and 23% suffer from insomnia. When one realizes this, it is apparent that it is an issue which needs to be addressed.
Strategic Plan Priority 3: Deepen professional learning culture committed to continuous growth
Superintendent KC Somers spoke of creating a program to express gratitude to the staff for their efforts and achievements and to create additional training and support for substitutes.
The district will recruit members for a new Financial Advisory Committee in order to examine ways in which available resources are used. The unofficial October student count revealed an additional 140 students over last year’s count, making further funds available over the budget created in June.
Somers offered a detailed PowerPoint on the subject of staff compensation, comparing D38 with seven other districts in the area. Comparisons are challenging due to a number of factors, such as varying cost of living, provision of transportation, and mill levy override funding.
The district is among the lowest in compensation for licensed staff (teachers, administrators) and the lowest for bus driver compensation.
District 49 has a mill levy override on this year’s ballot, and Districts 12 and 20 have successfully passed overrides over the past few years. District 38 last passed an override in 1999.
Somers stressed that federal funding during the COVID emergency could not be applied to such recurring expenses as salaries.
To view Somers’ PowerPoint slides, please refer to boarddocs in the Board of Education section on the district website.
To address the problem, Somers said that work is being done to develop pathways to improve the situation, with projected solutions to be reported in the spring.
Chief Financial Officer Kitte Overton explained the process of determining school funding in the state. Complex formulas involving the number of at-risk individuals, income in the community, and other factors are examined. D38 is among the lowest funded in the state with regard to per pupil funding.
Somers said the district will offer more opportunity for community engagement to address the problem of noncompetitive compensation rates. We need to determine the community’s willingness to invest in education, he said.
The additional revenue due to increased enrollment may offer the opportunity for a one-time compensation bonus.
The board recognized Laura Lambrech, a Palmer Ridge High School senior who won the Denver Young Artists Orchestra Wind Concerto competition. Lambrech is an oboist and clarinetist and thanked the district’s music program for an inspiring education.
Pastor Brian Petak of Ascent Church was recognized for his sponsorship of the 5K Run for Hope to provide funding for teen suicide prevention. The event earned $52,000 this year and applications are available to provide $3,000 to each of 17 schools.
President Rich Hicks of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club was recognized for that organization’s support through such fundraisers as the Empty Bowls Dinner, the annual peach sale, and the North Pole craft fair. The goal of Kiwanis is to make a difference for youths by sponsoring clubs at various age levels to teach leadership in serving the community. Kiwanis raise about $120,000 per year in support of their activities.
Executive Director Haley Chapin of Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) was recognized for her organization’s support of the community. Chapin offered a presentation to outline the ways in which TLC offered housing assistance, snack packs for students, medical programs, and transportation support.
Chapin said that TLC focuses on those who make half the median income and are uninsured or underinsured for medical care.
The organization spent three times its average amount to support families during the pandemic.
When asked what they needed most, Chapin listed toothbrushes, toothpaste, paper products, feminine supplies, and canned protein such as chicken or tuna are needed.
ESSER III funding
Overton presented a preliminary budget for application of $2.75 million ($43,831 to Monument Academy) in funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Relief fund.
These funds must be applied to address the effects of the COVID pandemic, such as providing mental health services, upgrades in physical facilities, and technology to make possible virtual learning.
The budget includes funding for training in social-emotional learning, HVAC upgrades, chrome books, support for the visually impaired, a nurse/COVID coordinator, grant administration, and communication services for stakeholders.
Caption: The Lewis-Palmer School District D38 Board of Education recognized numerous students and partner organizations at its Oct. 18 meeting. Above are some of those recognized for their contributions and accomplishments. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Caption: Thomas Fry, a senior at Palmer Ridge High School, provided a student voice on the state of teenage mental health and what schools and teenagers can do to help. Photo by Jackie Burhans
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education 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 Nov. 15. Meetings are also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The D38 District Accountability Advisory Committee had its first meeting of the year on Oct. 12. The committee voted to approve its bylaws as written and received a report from Superintendent KC Somers regarding the strategic plan, which is the basis for decisions in many aspects of district administration.
Somers reported that the strategic plan was shared throughout the district in the opening weeks of the year. The priorities for this school year are listening to student voices, developing teacher leadership, and using the strategic plan to bring the districts goals to life.
The first priority involves the safety and security of students and provision of a welcoming environment. In addition to physical changes to security such as the addition of security vestibules, there will be an effort to support the whole student in their academics, mental wellness, and planning for the future.
Priority 2 involves delivering a world-class education to district students. This may be achieved through centralizing the preschool system, offering alternative secondary pathways toward career and college, and providing professional development so that staff can support one another to achieve these goals.
Priority 3 involves supporting the staff and committing to their growth through professional development, recognition, and appreciation.
Priority 4 involves effective asset management and efficient use of resources. This goal also involves leveraging available resources and seeking input from stakeholders.
Priority 5 addresses communications with the community by developing relationships with individuals, organizations, and individuals in support of the strategic plan.
Somers encouraged schools to base their individual decisions and actions on this plan, as well.
Strategic Plan Priority 1 activities
Executive Director of Student Services Rick Frampton and Chief of Safety and Security Dennis Coates reported on application of the first priority of the strategic plan.
Frampton reported on a new emphasis on proactive attendance and restorative discipline practices in place of simply suspending students for misbehavior. In this way, students learn to accept responsibility for their actions and are reaccepted into the student community.
Social-emotional learning is also stressed. This supports students by providing a sense of belonging through the use of such programs as Path 2 Empathy and Sources of Strength.
Coates reported that security vestibules were installed at Lewis-Palmer Elementary, Bear Creek Elementary, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, and Prairie Winds Elementary over the summer.
The use of ID scanning will help determine who is in a building and aid in preventing someone from entering who should not be there, such as a student who should be on quarantine.
3M Film is applied to windows near entrances at all locations to resist breakage.
Coates reported that the district has received a $625,000 Safer Schools Grant which will allow open communication between the district security force, dispatchers, deputies, and other first responders in the event of an emergency. Training of dispatchers and deputies is in progress and the program should be active beginning in January.
When asked about incidents involving Tik Tok challenges, Coates said there were a few in September and October. The latest challenge was to touch a staff member inappropriately.
Somers said that an email on this subject would go out to parents the following day.
Frampton reported that training would be offered to staff regarding crisis response, suicide risk assessment, discipline, attendance, and threat assessment. The goal in discipline is to give students the opportunity to report issues and solve them.
Student and staff surveys regarding culture, climate, and availability of student supports will be taken during the fall. Questions will be on the district website (www.lewispalmer.org) and will be developed internally rather than by state authorities. Principals will be asked what they want to know.
Regarding COVID safety protocols, Frampton reported that masks are encouraged but not required for all students, staff, and visitors. Masks are required on buses in compliance with federal law.
Ten days of isolation are required of anyone testing positive for the virus, and contact tracing and quarantines are determined by El Paso County Public Health.
When asked whether students would be allowed to take "mental health days" in response to stress, Frampton responded that if a student is achieving well they are allowed, but it is more problematic if they have other challenges.
The Social-Emotional Wellness Coalition is a group that supports attention to all aspects of students and their welfare. This is the Year of the Story, encouraging individuals to tell their stories of how they have overcome problems.
Members of the committee shared actions taken by their individual schools with regard to social-emotional learning and other issues. Prairie Winds reported that they have created a health and wellness committee and are stressing emergency preparedness.
Lewis-Palmer High School is using the Capturing Kids Hearts program to increase connections between staff and students and between students.
Bear Creek Elementary is adjusting to the new security vestibule and examining the school’s reaction to the COVID pandemic.
Monument Academy encourages students to know others through sports, drama, and other such non-academic activities. At the east campus, the final period of the day Monday through Thursday will be devoted to study hall, homework, or clubs.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five times per year on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. Locations vary. The next meeting will be on Nov. 9 at Lewis-Palmer High School.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) decided to take steps toward annexing Higby Road into the town during its Oct. 4 meeting. A design contract was approved for the expansion of Jackson Creek Parkway. Two land resolutions were approved, and the model traffic code was adopted.
Trustees Laurie Clark and Jim Romanello were noted absent by Town Clerk Laura Hogan. Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott attended virtually.
Higby Road annexation a possibility
The town is taking steps to annex Higby Road after the county refused to allow Home Place Ranch to connect to it other than for an emergency egress. On July 26, the Board of County Commissioners submitted a petition for annexation that includes 21.442 acres. This includes Higby Road from where the older portion intersects with I-25 to the eastern edge of the Home Place Ranch property line. The next step for the town is to hold a public hearing to determine whether the site is eligible for annexation. This has been set for Nov. 15.
The cost of improvements to the roadway that would be required to hold Home Place Ranch traffic was not discussed. However, Triview Metropolitan District has discussed improving Higby Road along with HR Green and CSI Construction. See www.ocn.me/v21n2.htm.
The request was unanimously approved.
Jackson Creek Parkway improvement designs approved
A contract with Felsburg Holt & Ullevig for $966,364 was approved for the design of the Jackson Creek Parkway expansion between Higby Road and Highway 105. The contract will be paid for through federal funding that was awarded in the amount of $800,053 with a required local town match of $166,311.
The town estimates the cost to expand the roadway will be $8-10 million, of which $3.4 million has been secured.
This request was approved unanimously.
Land use resolutions approved, even virtually
The board heard and approved two land resolutions. Since Elliott was an online participant, the board decided she could vote on these items. Previously, the board had decided quasi-judicial items could not be voted upon by virtual attendees. Acting Town Attorney Joseph Rivera said online requirements have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, when the board is acting as judge and jury, the pendulum has swung, affording more rights to remote participants. Rivera said it is the board’s discretion to allow virtual attendees to vote. Mayor Don Wilson said the board would ponder this and decide in the future.
Planner Debbie Flynn presented the Sanctuary Pointe Filing No. 10, Final Plat resolution. This parcel consists of 5.35 acres, in Phase 1 of Sanctuary Pointe. It will eventually become 12 single-family detached lots that range from 8,400 to 14,416 square feet. In the original plans that some homeowners say was presented to them, the parcel was to be a church site.
This request was originally heard by the BOT on May 3, when several Sanctuary Pointe homeowners whose properties are adjacent to this new development expressed concerns, even calling the change in zoning a bait and switch tactic by Classic Homes. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#mbot0303
Resident Joel Lusby read an email that had been sent to him from former Planning Commissioner Steve King. In the email, King accuses Classic Homes of clear cutting in the development with the expectation that these five acres would get the same treatment. Lusby said although the developer boasts about Sanctuary Pointe being a fire safe community, this is the result of cutting down so many trees. Classic Homes Vice President/Project Manager Loren Moreland rebutted the statement by noting a church would have required the property to be fully graded whereas these homes will allow for some trees to remain while following the Firewise standards.
The request was heard on Sept. 8 by the Planning Commission and recommended for approval. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#mbot0303.
The board approved the request 4-0.
Flynn asked the board to approve the Homeplace Ranch Filings Nos. 1 and 2, Final Plat. This portion of the Home Place Ranch sits to the north of Promontory Pointe and west of Sanctuary Pointe. Filing No. 1 is 22.3 acres and will eventually include 75 single-family detached lots ranging from 4,467 to 10,555 square feet. Filing No. 2 totals 16.6 acres, with plans to build 67 single-family detached lots with lot sizes between 5,292 and 10,437.
The development’s emergency egress plans have concerned residents of nearby developments. So much so that in September 2019, the BOT refused to approve the preliminary/final PD site plan. See www.ocn.me/v19n10.htm#mbot.
During the continuation of the hearing on Nov. 18, 2019, an emergency access route from the proposed roundabout where Gleneagle Drive and Sanctuary Rim Drive meet, out to Higby Road, was to be completed with Filing 1. The access road will be gravel and follow the existing ranch road. See Vol. 19 No. 12 – Dec. 7, 2019 ( www.ocn.me/v19n12.htm). During that meeting an additional emergency access route had been discussed that would extend from the western cul-de-sac on Sanctuary Rim Drive and connect to Saber Creek Drive. It was to be completed with filing No. 1, but there was no mention of it tonight.
Resident Ken Kimple said Promontory Pointe residents have been raising concerns about this emergency access, but they don’t feel their voices are being heard.
Resident George Worth commented online, saying as a Promontory Pointe resident and cyclist, an approval of this request is "asking for a disaster to happen." Resident Al Sands told the board that vehicles are traveling at such high speeds along Gleneagle Drive that just getting out of side streets can be difficult. Resident Howard Hayworth said he is not looking to stop development, suggesting a secondary connection to Leather Chaps. Online contributor Robin Parrish watches while construction trucks pull into St. Lawrence Road to turn around while small children are playing near the roadway.
HR Green Planner Phil Stuepfert rebutted these claims by saying the original sketch plans were approved without mention of the Higby Road connection. "We can’t help what happens outside our property," said Stuepfert of the traffic in the nearby developments.
Trustee Ron Stephens said in 2019 there was no chance the county-owned Higby Road was ready to service more traffic. Now that the town may eventually own the roadway, he suggested suspending or modifying the resolution. Planning Director Meggan Herrington reminded the board the hearing for consideration is just that: Higby will not be annexed when the hearing occurs.
The Planning Commission recommended approval during its Sept. 8 meeting.
Both filings were approved 3-1, with Stephens voting against both.
Model traffic code adopted
Commander Jonathon Hudson asked the board to approve the recently published Model Traffic Code. The Department of Transportation released the new 2020 revision over the summer. According to the ordinance, "the Model Traffic Code for Colorado, published by the Colorado Department of Transportation and revised in 2020, embodies the rules of the road and vehicle requirements as set forth in Article 4 of Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes."
Although there were a few questions from the board, Hudson was able to quell any concerns. The request was approved unanimously.
During public comments, Kimple asked town staff to update online Planning Commission meeting minutes. Mayor Don Wilson asked if draft meeting minutes could be uploaded until such as time as they could be approved by the board. Meeting agendas, minutes and board packets can be found at https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com.
Resident Janet Ledowski referenced a letter written by Trustee Darcy Shoening saying educators are very disappointed and thought it was "completely inappropriate."
The meeting adjourned at 9:18 pm.
Caption: On Oct. 16, candidates on the Town of Monument’s 2021 ballot (2G) for a home rule charter commission held an event at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce facility to answer questions about home rule and how the commission would draft a charter. The vote on Nov. 2 only allows the formation of the charter commission and selects its nine members. If the vote passes, the commission will draft a charter with community input and residents will vote the following year on whether to enact that charter and become a home rule town. The meeting also provided information on issue 2F, increasing Monument’s sales tax by 0.5% to fund the Police Department. From left are Steve King, Janet Ladowski, Matt Brunk, Shannon Clark, Ashley Watt, and Brandy Turner. Not shown: Sana Abbott, Jennifer Coopman, and Joel Lusby. Photo by Jackie Burhans. Based on early election results available as OCN was going to press, it appears 2G will pass.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15. Call 719-884-8014 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
The Oct. 13 Monument Planning Commission (PC) meeting was a work session during which no specific planning proposals were brought to a vote or considered during a public hearing. Instead, the PC discussed questions, including one recently brought up by the Board of Trustees (BOT), and were informed of plans. Representing the PC were Bill Lewis, Sean White, Daniel Ours, Cathy Green, and Sean Zernickow. Planning Director Meggan Herington and Planner II Debbie Flynn represented the town’s planning staff.
For more information about this and other PC meetings, please see www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com. This site is useful for accessing both PC and BOT meeting minutes, agendas, and informational packets when available. Many PC meetings, including this one, are also available to watch in their entirety on the town’s YouTube page, at www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA. Citizens may find it easier to search for "Town of Monument" or "Monument Planning Commission" in YouTube’s search bar. Planning staff can be contacted by calling 719-481-2954 or sending an email to email@example.com.
Higby Road annexation
• El Paso County recently submitted a proposal for Monument to annex about 21.442 acres of Higby Road, beginning west of Bowstring Road and ending at the eastern edge of Home Place Ranch. This proposal will now go to the BOT on Nov. 15. This is not the sort of annexation that has to be considered by the PC, but town staff thought it should be informed.
• There is substantial development in the works around Higby Road: Repairs are needed along with the extension of Furrow Road. Residential developments being built in this area will provide funding, and Triview Metropolitan District "has agreed to do those improvements." When Herington asked if the PC would like a presentation explaining plans for the new road designs at its December meeting, the answer was a resounding "Yes." So, Flynn will ask for such a presentation to be arranged. It was noted that a presentation on this subject will also take place at the Nov. 15 BOT meeting.
• On the subject of traffic and roadways, Flynn was asked about what will happen to help with traffic flow along Jackson Creek Parkway near King Soopers. Flynn answered that the issue is being worked on. The town is seeking approval from the county to alter the traffic signals. Specifically, if all goes according to plan, motorists may be required to wait for a turn arrow to turn right from Baptist Road onto Jackson Creek Parkway so that people leaving King Soopers have more time to turn.
Maximum building height
• When voting to approve Monument’s newly rewritten code, the PC added language distinguishing the east and west sides of Highway I-25. The maximum building height on the west side is to be 75 feet, and the maximum building height on the east will be 50 feet. The BOT has asked that the PC take another look at the situation to determine if this building height is ideal.
• There was a presentation during this portion of the meeting listing various buildings’ heights. It was explained that all current projects should be viewable on the town’s project development page at http://www.townofmonument.org/235/Development-Projects.
• The PC will receive a map in December detailing all the areas that would be impacted by this change in maximum building height. This new code will apply only to buildings not yet approved as of its adoption.
• The question was brought up as to whether the PC has ever decided on an ideal maximum building height to preserve the small-town feel of Monument.
• Conversations about this issue are expected to continue.
Industrial zoning standards
• The goal here was to talk about how the PC can work to shape industrial land uses in Monument. Herington presented a draft of three potential tools to design industrial zoning standards, putting specifications in the code to help guarantee industrial land uses suit agreed-upon visions for the town while working within the perimeters of what can actually be done.
• First: adding supplemental use standards to the code. Examples of what this could look like were provided, including ideas like limiting the number of loading doors a building might have or requiring that industrial properties be set back 500 feet from residential zonings.
• Second: revising and/or adding definitions for technical terms like "Distribution Facility Large" or "Micro Fulfillment Center," so that the town’s vision for industrial use is solidified, accurate, and accessible through those definitions.
• Third: a "Zoning Overlay," which was a suggestion from a citizen. This would involve the town rezoning properties "that share similar characteristics or similar goals and purposes from the Comprehensive Plan," as stated in the presentation slides. Herington said this sort of thing is rare and not ideal, raising the question, "What size hammer does the Town of Monument want to wield?"
• The town is looking to organize a group of citizens and industrial property owners to discuss Monument’s goals, future, and Comprehensive Plan as they relate to industrial land use. A BOT member and a PC member are expected to be part of this group, should it form.
• While the town is still working on procuring specific business cards for each PC member, generic Planning Commission business cards now exist.
• There was a brief discussion about whether public comment for planning items not on the PC’s agenda should still be allotted time. It was determined that it should remain on the agenda for now, but they would check later to see where things stand.
• The PC was asked if it would like to have occasional joint meetings with the BOT. The answer was yes, preferably "on a routine schedule" rather than as an occasional special meeting or novelty.
• Ours stated that it seems the new director understands the need for discussion concerning "gray" areas.
• Also, Ours talked about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring schools within 1,000 feet of gas stations to be studied. He wondered if it would be possible to reflect that in Monument’s planning standards—for example, adding code stating that gas stations can’t be built within 1,000 feet of a school.
Another work session is expected at the PC meeting on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. in the Monument Town Hall.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met twice in October, holding regular board meetings on Oct. 10 and 28. The Oct. 14 meeting ended with an executive session on the topic of a possible annexation.
Led by Trustee Glant Havenar, the board planned for a time capsule to be installed in the rebuilt Town Hall. The board’s work on policies to address metering residential wells and to manage short-term rental (STR) properties continued. A draft budget for 2022 was discussed and the board voted on a resolution for an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Monument to allow the two towns’ water systems to be interconnected in preparation for emergencies affecting water service.
A public hearing was held on a request to replat 717 Westward Lane. The board approved a new mission statement for the town and took a position on participating in the state of Colorado’s opioid settlement case. A special event permit for an outdoor hockey classic was approved. Finally, the board heard operational reports.
Inclusions for time capsule sought
Havenar told the board she is collecting items to be placed in a 50-year time capsule that will be installed in the Town Hall building as part of its refurbishment on Nov. 21. She invited ideas for what to include from the board and from residents. Havenar said she would include a letter to her 15-year-old son, who will be 65 in 2071 when the capsule is opened. Pictures, badges, patches that commemorate events and letters from students concerning the COVID-19 pandemic are examples of what to include, she said. Articles on Palmer Lake published in Our Community News were proposed. Local TV station KOAA had been invited to the ceremony, she said.
Details about the capsule can be found on the town’s webpage here: https://www.townofpalmerlake.com/administration/page/creating-50-year-town-time-capsule
Residential well meters and overuse fee considered
At its Oct. 14 meeting, the board gave town staff direction on drafting a policy to meter and charge for residential wells, which have been inconsistently handled in the past. The policy under development is a part of the board’s ongoing work to manage the town’s water resources and is based on recommendations from GMS Inc., the town’s water consulting firm. Residential wells are used when a home is not connected to the town’s water delivery system. No fee for overuse is defined.
Town Administrator Dawn Collins said more input from residents was needed. She pointed out the current well agreements require a meter on every residential well and an annual usage report made by the resident to the town, but that these requirements had been spottily enforced in the past.
In its recommendations to the town regarding residential well management, GMS said each residence should be allocated one-third acre-foot of water annually, about 9,050 gallons per month. That allocation and the thickness and porosity of the aquifer are used to calculate the minimum lot size that will receive that water allocation. The minimum lot size will vary by locale: in the Suncrest Road area, the minimum lot size is 0.34 acre; in the Meadow Lane area, it is 0.23 acres. The allocation will increase or decrease for a specific lot based on the lot’s actual size.
The board discussed how to handle the case where there is no meter on an existing well, how to inspect new wells to ensure they have a meter, and whether the town should have meters to provide, at the resident’s expense, to those whose wells are without them.
Mayor Bill Bass said the town’s code currently specifies wells must be metered but does not address enforcement.
The cost of a new meter, with accessories and inspection, is listed on the town’s fee schedule at $650.
The board also discussed whether to use a 100-year or a 300-year depletion rule for planning purposes. Trustee Nicole Currier pointed out that El Paso County uses a 300-year depletion standard. Bass said GMS had recommended using the 100-year standard and added that the steps the board is considering are not unusual and, "We are doing what is in the best interest of Palmer Lake, things that we haven’t been doing that we should be doing."
The consensus of the board was to have GMS attend a board meeting to answer questions and to have a draft of the policy ready for review in January. Collins said her goal was to have any well fees or costs built into the budget.
Short-term rental policy takes shape
Trustee Jessica Farr, who owns a short-term rental (STR) property in Palmer Lake, excused herself from the Oct. 14 meeting at the beginning of the STR discussion. At previous meetings, the board Planning Commission and staff had roughed out a policy based on these principal criteria:
• An STR is defined as less than 30 days.
• STR properties are classified as owner-occupied or non-owner occupied; the fee for owner-occupied is $250 and the fee for non-owner-occupied is $400.
• A non-owner-occupied STR can’t be within 1,000 feet of another non-owner-occupied STR.
• All STRs must apply for a business license annually.
Karen Stuth said the town should restrict the number of STRs, arguing that the town does not know how many such properties currently exist and that the next step should be a moratorium, as Elizabeth and Leadville have put in place, until the STRs have been inventoried. She said it would be a mistake to wait too long to limit the number of STRs and that too many STRs cause "a small-town death spiral" by raising the cost of housing and making it impossible for the town to attract workers.
Collins agreed the number of STRs is not presently known.
Trustees Nicole Currier and Havenar doubted the requirement that non-owner occupied STRs be 1,000 feet apart was workable.
Trustee Dawson said he wanted to prevent large investors from buying too large a share of the town’s houses for use as STRs.
Bass was not concerned that too large a portion of the town would come to be used as STRs.
Collins said staff would work on a draft of the policy that removed the 1,000-foot separation requirement and limited the number of STRs to a percentage of the town’s residences. She estimated it would take more than a month to complete a draft of the policy.
Draft budget updated
At the Oct. 14 meeting, Collins gave the board copies of an updated 2022 budget, with more accurate numbers for revenue from property taxes and less money budgeted for contingencies. She said staff was hopeful grants would be obtained to cover some costs related to the Town Hall refurbishment and of hiring a consultant to handle the town’s Master Plan update. She noted that the cost of workers compensation had increased, but the cost of medical benefits might go down. Refining the budget would continue until the public hearing on the budget, she said. She asked if the board had any direction to provide to staff as they continued their work on the budget. A shortfall in the draft budget was noted by Havenar and Farr.
Bass suggested the work on the budget could continue at the board retreat to be held the next day.
Water systems to be interconnected
The board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 50-2021, which creates an IGA between Monument and Palmer Lake to connect their water systems to mitigate water service emergencies. The resolution specifies the design fee for the interconnect is not to exceed $2,500. The expected cost to the town for the work is $6,500. Collins said the interconnect would be funded in part by federal American Rescue Plan money.
Public hearing on replat resolution held
A public hearing on Kurt Ehrhardt’s request to replat a property at 717 Westward Lane was held at the Oct. 28 meeting.
Ehrhardt explained the property he intended to develop was a large one, some of which is in a flood plain. The resolution to replat would divide the property into three lots, he said, the first of which has an existing house, the second of which would have a new "affordable" house built on it by Ehrhardt, and the third of which, the portion in the flood plain, would be donated to the town for use as a park. Ehrhardt said he had raised $20,000 to spend on the proposed park.
Ehrhardt made an additional request of the board: that an unnamed "crossover" that connects Westward Lane with Meadow Lane be named "Whoa Nellie Lane" in honor of his granddaughter. The crossover needed to be improved, he said, adding it was likely that water would flow over it during a flood.
Town Attorney Matt Krob objected that the naming of the crossover was separate from the replat request and was not formally before the board that night. Collins agreed only the replat was up for a vote. Ehrhardt responded that he had been trying to get direction from town staff on how to rename the crossover but had not gotten a clear answer. Krob said he would research the process and get Ehrhardt an answer.
Trustee Nicole Currier moved to vote on Resolution 52-2021, which requested the replat. The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
Mission statement updated
At its retreat, the board drafted a new mission statement for the town, which reads:
The Town Board of Trustees hereby declares their mission is to provide leadership to preserve our small community dynamic with measured and sustainable growth in partnership with the citizens of the town of Palmer Lake including the following vision:
• To serve the community to meet fundamental needs while respecting the diversity and values of our citizens;
• To foster trust through effective communication, transparency, and partnership with the community; and
• To develop sustainable, durable revenue streams to assure Palmer Lake’s future."
The board voted unanimously to approve the mission statement.
Town to participate in state opioid settlement
The state of Colorado has settled with six pharmaceutical companies for their role in causing opioid addiction in the state, resulting in $400 million in settlement funds for abatement of the crisis.
The board voted unanimously to approve a Memorandum of Understanding authorizing the town to participate in the distribution of funds from the settlement. Information in the board packet said the Palmer Lake Police Department approved of the agreement and intended to use settlement funds for training and Narcan, a medicine that treats opioid overdoses.
Outdoor Hockey Classic approved
In a sign that winter is coming, the board considered a special event application for the First Annual Palmer Lake Outdoor Hockey Classic. Nick Baker and Scott Bradley of Lewis-Palmer High School, told the board they were planning an outdoor hockey game between Lewis-Palmer School District 38’s hockey team and the team from Cheyenne Mountain High School. The game, planned for Jan. 6, 2022, would be a fundraiser for the school district and an outreach to the community, as some time for public ice skating would be in the schedule. The southern part of the lake, adjacent to the bridge, would be prepared for the game, they said. Baker and Bradley emphasized that safety would be the top issue, and that the Palmer Lake Fire Department would help prepare and test the ice before the game.
Havenar asked if the game could be incorporated into the town’s traditional Winterfest.
The board voted unanimously to grant the license and to waive the associated fee.
Highlights of operational and board reports
• Bass presented a certificate of appreciation to Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt in recognition of his long service to the town. Bass also recognized Water Operator Jeremie Dunda and Water Technician Charles Roubidoux.
• Fire Chief Christopher McCarthy thanked business owner Dino Salvatore and his family for matching the $2,500 raised by a car show fundraiser.
• McCarthy and Police Chief Jason Vanderpool were recognized for their contributions to an evacuation drill held on Oct. 2. McCarthy said the drill demonstrated that The Glen is not a safe evacuation path.
• Completion of the new ramp to the library is delayed until a railing is delivered. Completion by December is expected.
• The roof trusses have been installed in the Town Hall, and that project is on schedule to get to interior finishing by mid-December.
• Residents can send their suggestions for how to use the 28-acre Elephant Rock property using an online form here: https://www.townofpalmerlake.com/administration/page/seeking-town-input-28-acre-property.
• A public hearing on the proposed 2022 budget will be held at 5 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Palmer Lake Elementary School Library, 115 Upper Glenway.
• The Master Plan committee has been selected and one application for the Master Plan consultant has been received.
Caption: On Oct. 14, Mayor Bill Bass recognized Steve Orcutt for 22 years of service to Palmer Lake. Orcutt is Palmer Lake’s water supervisor and holds the following certifications: Class A Water Operator, Class "C" Wastewater License, Class "4" Water Distribution and Class "1" Wastewater Collection. Bass also introduced Charles Roubidoux, a new certified water operator for the town. The Water Department, with three full-time employees, is responsible for maintaining the town’s water treatment facility, two wells, and the upper and lower reservoirs. They repair water main leaks and hydrants and assist homeowners with frozen pipes. From left are Charles Roubidoux, Steve Orcutt, and Bill Bass. Photo by Jackie Burhans
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold three meetings in November, a regular meeting on Nov. 12 and a workshop and regular meeting on Nov. 26. See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times, dates, and locations. While the Town Hall is being repaired, evening meetings will be held at the Palmer Lake Elementary School Library at 115 Upper Glenway, and daytime meetings will be held at Tri-Lakes Chamber Community Meeting House at 300 Highway 105. Meeting times may change. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) meeting on Oct. 19 the board witnessed a promotion and the swearing in of four personnel, approved a volunteer retirement pension increase, and received multiple updates.
Secretary Larry Schwarz was excused, and Director Joyce Hartung was not excused.
Personnel take oath
Chairman Mark Gunderman administered the oath during the swearing-in process at the beginning of the regular board meeting for newly promoted Driver Operator Justin Myers and volunteer Firefighter/EMT’s David Bowker, Seung Ju Han, and Matthew Griggs. Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones also administered the oath of office at the preceding ceremony in the bay at Station 1, and family members took part in the pinning-on ceremony in the bay and were also present at the board ceremony.
Volunteer retirement pension actuarial increase
Gunderman made a motion for the board to increase the volunteer retirement pension benefit from $400 per month to $450 per month effective Nov. 1, 2021, and pursuant to "Plan B" of the 2021 actuarial study. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#dwfpd.
The board approved the increase, 3-0.
Jones said the following:
• DWFPD and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) are eagerly awaiting the Emergency Services Consulting International feasibility study report from consultant Dan Qualman. See www.ocn.me/v21n9.htm#dwfpd.
• After both district chiefs have reviewed the study and ensured all the information is correct, the findings of the study will be presented to both boards collectively at a joint working session in early November.
• A series of meetings will follow and some subcommittees might be formed, and it is likely a fire authority will be created, followed by a soft merger in the first year as both district operations are combined.
• A contract for an Intergovernmental Agreement is expected, allowing TLMFPD Chief Andy Kovacs to be the fire chief for both agencies.
The process is expected to move quickly, and both districts hope to avoid a messy, drawn-out merger, but if the unification does not work out, we will have a budget and then begin the search for a chief, said Jones.
Gunderman said the two organizations and personnel work together closely enough that a unification should be possible, and six TLMFPD firefighters he met at the grocery store last month were equally excited, optimistic, and enthusiastic about the possibility of a unification.
2021 budget status
Jones said the following:
• The district will receive a gain of $100,000 over the anticipated budget revenue for wildland deployments, a bonus since the district budgeted for only $50,000 in 2021.
• The district will save about $30,000 in overtime, but due to a medical leave of absence the overtime savings could be less. The battalion chiefs will be filling in on Engine 2 almost every day.
• A clearer picture of the 2021 ending fund balance will be known by the November board meeting. See www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#dwfpd.
The district’s attorney, Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor Pascoe PC law firm, said the following:
• Board approval will not be required to roll over the end-of-year balance unless the district is going to expend more than previously budgeted.
• Drawing from reserves to cover any over expenditure on the 2021 budget would require board approval.
• The board should wait to see what the total 2021 budget expenditure is at the end of the year before approving any supplemental revenue, and approval can be made after the books for 2021 are closed.
2022 budget update
Jones thanked the board for the two-hour work session that provided a better understanding of where the district stands financially and said:
• Staff have been conservative in developing the 2022 budget, and a late October staff meeting to discuss the 2022 budget will finalize the details.
• The 2022 budget has about a $70,000 hole in it right now, and we can deal with that deficit by cutting a little bit here and spending less there on some line items.
• The district may not be able to fund the educational assistance that was offered last year for paramedic training, and currently the district does not have an education program set up, but TLMFPD is implementing a program.
• If no equipment and apparatus is purchased for the next five years, it may be possible for the district to purchase an engine in the future.
• The district receives 95% to 99% of its revenue from assessed property value, and next year an apartment complex and a few single-family dwellings will be built, generating a small revenue increase.
• It is a "big lift" for a small district to move to a next-level department with only a single source of income.
• Tight belts and a lot of discipline will be needed with little commercial and single-family home growth, and unification will be important to the district.
• The 2022 budget will be presented to the board in November for final board approval in December.
Director Charles Fleece said he appreciated the feedback and helping the district prepare for the future will help us out down the road.
Gunderman agreed with Fleece and said he appreciates the chiefs looking under every stone to be as frugal as we can, and regardless of what happens we will need to be disciplined.
Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich read the district financials for Sept. 30, 2021 and said the following:
• The Community Banks Fund of Colorado holds $233,936 of district funds.
• The Wells Fargo Public Trust Fund has $1.28 million.
• The district has a total of $1.52 million.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 3-0.
The board approved the September meeting minutes, 3-0.
Jones said Battalion Chief Scott Ridings had prepared the September activity report, as he does every month, and Jones noted the following:
• Except for the few usual wrecks on Highway 83 and a small grass fire there, September was a quiet month and calls were down a little bit.
• Some training exercises took place with neighboring partners.
• The remaining driver operator open position will be filled mid-November with one of the three firefighter/EMT volunteers that were sworn in at the beginning of the meeting.
• The Station 1 roof repairs will be made by Summit View Roofing for $26,000 after all the materials have been received. The cost of the roof repair is well below the estimated $40,000 approved by the board and funded from the reserves in September. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#dwfpd.
• Live fire training with TLMFPD is scheduled for several days in November at the Air Force Academy, and the board is invited to attend one of the training days.
• Eight new hand-held radios were purchased for about $70,000. The district is close to completing the radio replacement project.
Jones thanked Battalion Chiefs Sean Pearson and Shannon Balvanz and Lt. Matt Gibbs for the successful federal grant request that made the purchase of the additional radios possible.
Jones also said Popovich will be working remotely from home from Nov. 9 until the end of 2021, and the system has worked well in the past.
The meeting adjourned at 4:56 p.m.
Caption: From left, Driver Operator Justin Myers and Firefighter/EMTs David Bowker, Seung Ju Han, and Matthew Griggs receive their badges from family members at the pinning-on ceremony in the bay at Station 1 after Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones administered the oath of office. The ceremony continued as board Chairman Mark Gunderman administered the oath of office in the board room to all four staff before the regular board meeting. Family members attended both ceremonies. Photo by Battalion Chief Sean Pearson.
Meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of the month at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., at 7 p.m. Due to COVID-19 distancing protocols, meetings are held virtually for public attendees. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. For updates, virtual meeting joining instructions, agendas, and archived minutes, visit: www.wescottfire.org or call the Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) meeting on Oct. 20, the board reviewed and accepted the proposed 2022 budget for public review in November and heard eight entry-level firefighters would join the district on Nov. 1. The board also received numerous updates, to include the sale of the 2013 tender. At the pension Board of Trustees’ "special meeting" on Oct. 28, the board approved funeral benefits and a survivor pension benefit.
Vice Chairman Nate Dowden was excused from the regular meeting.
2022 budget revealed
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid reviewed the detailed proposed 2022 budget with the board, noting multiple decreases and increases, and said:
• The district assessed property tax revenue is expected to be $3.7 million for 2021, and it includes the first 392 exclusions of property. See www.ocn.me/v21n2.htm#bffrpd.
• The district received $3.3 million last year, but growth in the region has been a benefit to the district. However, more exclusions of property are pending.
• Specific Ownership Tax is trending up, and $250,000 is anticipated for 2022.
• The wage and leave schedule adopted into the budget at the September board meeting will include some structural changes, specifically for paramedics. The district has three paramedics and a fourth will join in November, providing more flexibility on shifts. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#bffrpd.
• A sick leave accrual adjustment from 2.7 to 4.6 hours, will allow staff to accumulate 120 hours of sick leave per year. Sick leave is owned by the district and is not paid out to the employee when leaving the district.
• The district is now using an accounting firm for payroll, resulting in a cost savings.
• The proposed training budget is $157,865, a significant increase for 2022.
• The funds set aside to purchase an engine and two tactical tenders in the 2021 budget will be used to pay down the purchased Pierce Enforcer Pumper engine. The engine cost was about $632,000, and the loan will be reduced to $316,000. The district did not purchase the tenders. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd and www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#bffrpd.
• The district saw an unusual 18% growth in 2021, and Zillow predicts the county will continue with a 17% growth rate. If the growth rate reduces to about 9%, the district would retain more revenue than previously predicted. But a 2% growth rate would be a concern, and the district would lose $244,000 over two years, so it will continue to roll over revenue each year in case the economy changes.
• The district will take a "big hit" in 2023 and 2024 due to the exclusion of property south of Black Forest.
Langmaid said "the district is heading in the right direction" and after the board approves the 2022 budget, an abbreviated three-page general summary will be available on the district website, in the same abbreviated format that was posted on the website and sent to the state in 2021.
Hinton said, "at least we can give the line staff an 11% wage increase for paramedics and below" and he made a motion to accept the proposed 2022 budget for public presentation and comment at the Nov. 17 board meeting. Final board approval will take place at the December board meeting.
The board accepted the proposed 2022 budget as presented, 4-0.
Treasurer Jack Hinton said:
• The district’s total assets were $2.369 million as of Sept. 30, and the district is 22% under budget year to date.
• The district has received 97% of the intake of property taxes, which is about the same as last year.
• The district is in good shape.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.
Langmaid said the following:
• The interviews for entry-level firefighters have been completed and the district will be hiring eight extremely high-performing candidates to start on Nov. 1. Staff feedback indicates the investment made to develop a hiring process is paying off.
• District legal counsel reviewed the resolution for the Joint Plan for the exclusion process and it is moving forward. The Colorado Springs City Council has amended the plan to reflect the correct administrative dates and the additional addresses, and Chairman Rick Nearhoof has signed the Joint Plan. The Joint Plan will be presented in district court by the legal teams. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#bffrpd.
• The 2013 tender was sold to a broker for $130,000 and shipped to a North Carolina fire department. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) and a Minnesota fire department were considering purchasing the tender. See www.ocn.me/v21n9.htm#bffrpd.
• The district has hired a part-time local mechanic, and he is already assessing the fleet and developing a fire apparatus maintenance program. In-house repairs will alleviate the need to send apparatus away for lengthy repairs.
• Deputy Chief James Rebitski attended a multi-day conference in Kansas City on fire station remodels, renovations, design, and construction, to assist with the Station 2 remodel project. A request will be made for a work session in November to discuss the findings.
• Estimates from two contractors for the small minor improvements (a concrete wall/or large decorative concrete wall blocks, regrading, and shower upgrades), previously approved for Station 2, are expected soon. See www.ocn.me/v21n9.htm#bffrpd.
• A firefighter deployed with Security Fire Protection District to Silverthorne, and the Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn deployed to Oregon to solve logistic problems. Both are back in district and there was no operational impact to daily staffing.
• Eight previously budgeted fire signs have been purchased, and the district is researching the county specifications for signage positioning. The signs will be placed around the periphery of the district boundary.
Langmaid said the following:
• A weeklong auto extrication class was held in-district and attended by TLMFPD, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Cimmaron Hills Fire Protection District, and Falcon Fire Protection District.
• A lecture by Battalion Chief Nick Martin from South Carolina brought in firefighters from as far away as Cheyenne, Wyo., Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
• A four-day rope rescue skills class was complete by six district firefighters.
Black Forest resident Linda Smith asked if the district would continue to receive revenue from the new construction in Wolf Ranch up to Old Ranch Road, Colorado Springs, or will a mill levy increase be needed.
Hinton said the following:
• Property values and assessed property taxes have increased, and that has made a huge difference in district revenue. The construction of large homes continues, and it will take a while before property values decline.
• The Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) is currently set at 7.15%, but for the next two years it is set to drop temporarily to 6.5%.
Langmaid said the following in response:
• Wolf Ranch is no longer part of BFFRPD, but the district is providing services to the homes east of Old Ranch Road and Sterling Ranch.
• The properties pending exclusion from BFFRPD will impact district revenue, and those properties are south of Cowpoke Road and Cumbre Vista Way.
• A request to increase the district’s mill levy will not be made until all options have been explored, but if the RAR set by the state drops to a much lower level in the future, the district can adjust the mill levy to maintain the status quo.
• The matching adjustment is possible due to the voter approved decision to de-Gallagher the district in 2018, but the district can only match up to the current 7.15% RAR by adjusting the current mill levy to maintain revenue, and not a penny more without further voter approval.
Executive session—performance evaluation
The board moved into an executive session at 7:51 p.m., as per Colorado Revised Statutes §24-6-402(4)(f), personnel matters, for the annual evaluation of Chief PJ Langmaid’s job performance.
When the board returned to the regular session, the meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m.
Pension Board of Trustees’ "special meeting"
Nearhoof called the Pension Board of Trustees’ "special meeting" to order on Oct. 28 to approve funeral benefits and a survivor pension benefit.
Director David Hoffpauir was excused.
The board approved the minutes of the Sept. 15 meeting, 4-0.
Nearhoof requested the board approve a $1,000 funeral benefit to the survivors of both volunteer pensioners, Imelda Evans and Kathy Russell.
The board approved both funeral benefits, 4-0.
Nearhoof requested the board approve a monthly survivor pension benefit of $127.09, which is 50% of the vested pension amount, for David Russell, the surviving spouse of Kathy Russell.
The board approved the survivor pension benefit, 4-0.
Board Secretary Donna Arkowski said the district currently has 19 retired volunteer pension recipients and the minimum amount of eligibility is 10-20 years for retired volunteers. The district is required to hold a minimum of one Pension Board of Trustees meeting per year.
The next regular pension board meeting will be held in 2022.
The "special meeting" adjourned at 7:09 p.m.
Note: As of June 30, 2021, the volunteer pension fund balance was about $1.4 million.
Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday every month at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. For updates, agendas, and minutes, visit www.bffire.org or contact Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 719-495-4300.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board held a special meeting on Oct. 4 to approve funding for a survey. At the regular meeting on Oct. 27, the board received an update on the unification process and a second presentation on the proposed 2022 budget. The board approved the 2022-26 district strategic plan, made a change to the district observed holiday schedule, and received numerous updates.
Director Terri Hayes was absent.
Wescott unification update
Fire Chief Andy Kovacs said:
• The draft feasibility study from Emergency Services Consulting International Project Manager Dan Qualman has been received by Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD), and both he and Jones are reviewing the draft.
• He recommended a joint study session with both the DWFPD and TLMFPD boards in early November, to include a presentation of the feasibility study by Qualman.
• The final decision will be made by the boards of directors from DWFPD and TLMFPD and be presented to the fire chiefs.
Kovacs said the feasibility study demonstrates the value-added benefits to the community of a unification, and he highlighted some of the benefits found in the study:
• The apparatus and water tender fleet required for the Wildland Urban Interface would be increased.
• The unification is fiscally achievable and sustainable, and the district has strong economic growth.
• Operational benefits would reduce response times up to 50% in certain areas and staff a water tender on a first-alarm structure fire with the ability to staff a third ambulance when required.
• Staffing would increase with an extra two personnel per shift, which would allow the merged districts to manage vacancies for fire academies and allow staff to attend training events.
• A third ambulance when in service could easily generate $300,000 annually.
• EMS and fire prevention services would be enhanced.
President John Hildebrandt said the annexation by the City of Colorado Springs in 2019 created a significant impact to revenue for DWFPD and a unification failure would be a detriment to both districts. See www.ocn.me/v17n8.htm#dwfpd.
2022 budget—second presentation
Kovacs said the El Paso County assessor notified the district of a $1,200 reduction in the previous property tax revenue assessment for 2022. The district is expecting $12.9 million in total revenue, and he proposed the following major increases to the 2022 budget:
• In response to inflation, a 4% cost-of-living allowance across the board, for staff and firefighters, is proposed to counter the cost of food and fuel, an increase of $350,103.
• An increase of $94,625 for training and tuition costs, to include all training, for a total of $217,150.
• Station 1 requires the added security of a fence for firefighter privacy, some work order changes to include greater utilization of space, re-painting to match the existing color, and an additional $100,000 is required to make the changes.
• A consulting expense for the Wildland Urban Interface pre-plans for $45,000.
Kovacs also requested an additional increase of $175,765 to the communications expenses for First Arriving. The proposed budget includes the HAAS Alerting System, First Watch (data management), and First Due software. The total proposed communications expense is $412,265.
Division Chief of Community Risk/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner said the following:
• The installation of First Arriving at each of the three stations would allow the district to run more efficiently.
• First Arriving integrates multiple data streams on one screen for everyone to see.
• The IT upgrade would be a "wise investment" to organize the firefighters from shift to shift with live streaming and constant updates to include weather data and Colorado Department of Transportation cameras.
• The daily operational data would also be collected by Active 911 and PS Trax for future referencing of the operations management systems.
• First Arriving would also allow the executive staff to display messages, information, and recorded videos to all stations simultaneously.
• After the initial outlay, recurring fees will be about $1,700 per year.
• The purchase of four screens would be an additional expense, and the administration office would be included in the rollout of the system.
Battalion Chief Mike Keough said from an "operational perspective," it would cut down on about 40 minutes of updates on morning shift change. Staff would not have to log into about 17 systems, and real time information would be available at all three stations all the time.
Secretary Mike Smaldino requested the district explore the true cost of the Station 3 remodel and asked for an update on the availability of two sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for personnel.
In response, Kovacs said:
• Station 1 and Station 3 overlap in area of responsibility, and the estimated $400,000 in the proposed 2022 budget for the Station 3 remodeling is high.
• It would be a waste of funds to use all of the funding if a decision is made to relocate a station.
• The budget includes two additional extractors, and 90% of the contaminants are removed by soap and water, with the last 10% of contaminants extracted out of the station.
• Alternatively, a third-party vendor could be used, but it would create a three-week turnaround time before returning PPE to the district.
Bumgarner said PPE has a 10-year lifespan and Lt. Mauricio Ayala is planning to replace 33 sets over the next three years, at eight to 10 sets per year.
Kovacs requested the board review the 2022 budget documents and contact the staff with questions before the public review at the Nov. 17 board meeting.
Vice President Roger Lance thanked Kovacs for answering all his questions during the presentation.
2022-26 district strategic plan
Kovacs said the request made by Hayes to include public opinion via a survey has been incorporated in to the 2022-26 district strategic plan. Kovacs requested the board adopt the plan as presented. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#tlmfpd.
The board adopted the 2022-26 strategic plan as presented, 6-0.
Hildebrandt requested the board remove Colorado Day (first Monday in August) from the current district-approved observed holiday schedule and add the federal holiday Juneteenth Day (June 19) to the schedule.
The board approved the changes to the district-observed holiday schedule, 6-0.
Station 1—remodel update
Kovacs said the following:
• The Station 1 remodel is almost complete, but the station can’t be occupied until the generator and appliances have been installed.
• The color selected for the building addition does not match or complement the existing building, and although it will require an additional expense to match the existing building color, it will look better.
• We have to make it right and fix all of the overlooked issues such as firefighter security, lights that dim in corridors, and areas of under-utilized space.
Hildebrandt said that it was unfortunate that certain small items were not identified earlier in the process, and the usability for firefighters should be enhanced.
Kovacs said the following:
• Lt. Mike Smith organized the first-ever Driver/Operator academy, and DWFPD personnel attended.
• The district is consistently responding with mutual aid ambulance support with neighboring agencies.
• The lieutenant promotion selection is underway, and assessment will occur on Nov. 16.
• Paramedic Stephanie Soll will be the full-time EMS coordinator starting Nov. 1. The early start date is due to the recent retirement of Deputy Chief Randy Trost and to assist Battalion Chief Kris Mola in his temporary battalion chief of training position. It will be a great opportunity for Mola to gain experience.
Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley said the district received 97 applicants for the two open firefighter positions, and 36 have passed the written test. Seventeen applicants will be invited to interview on Nov. 4.
Kovacs said Battalion Chief Mike Dooley’s father, Wayne Dooley, passed away, and on Sept. 7, the celebration of life was well-represented by the district and surrounding agencies.
Board member recognition
Kovacs recognized Hayes for receiving the Tourism Leadership Award from Visit Colorado Springs on Oct. 14. Hayes is the board president and chief executive officer of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Visitor Center.
The regular board meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m.
Special meeting—survey work for bore project
Secretary Mike Smaldino and Directors Terri Hayes and Tom Tharnish were excused on Oct. 4.
Kovacs requested the board approve up to $25,000 for a survey at Station 1, and said:
• The Town of Monument (TOM) received the go ahead from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for the survey work to begin for the bore project under Station 1.
• Each participant in the TOM’s pipeline project is required to pay for its own site survey.
• The bore is estimated to cost about $50,000 in addition to the survey fee.
• The district will eventually move from well water and be connected to the Town of Monument for its water supply at Station 1. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#tlmfpd.
The board approved up to $25,000 for the survey work to be completed for Station 1, 4-0.
The special meeting adjourned at 9:05 a.m.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For Zoom meeting instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit www.tlmfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
At its October meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board considered a request from the Village Center Metropolitan District (VCMD) to change its policy on delivering non-potable water used for irrigation. The board also scheduled a workshop and public hearings on the 2022 budget and on changes to rates and fees, and rescheduled its November board meeting. Finally, the board heard operational reports.
Change to irrigation water schedule requested
Forrest Hindley, president of the VCMD, asked the board to consider a different method for calculating the allotment of non-potable water VCMD receives.
WWSD calculates VCMD’s irrigation water allotment based on Grass Irrigation Demand (GID), a standard that calculates the water required to irrigate Kentucky bluegrass. WWSD uses three blocks to price irrigation water:
• Block 1, which covers 0 to 80% of GID, is sufficient to maintain healthy green grass, and costs $3.55 per irrigated acre.
• Block 2, which covers 80 to 100% of GID, is sufficient to maintain grass in its greenest possible state and costs $5.54 per irrigated acre.
• Block 3, which covers more than 100% of MGID, is essentially wasted, and costs $9.68 per irrigated acre.
Hindley pointed out that VCMD’s Block 1 allocation for August was too low, moving VCMD’s usage for August into the more expensive blocks. Hindley said the allotment for August assumed that it was typically a rainy month, when in fact that has not been the case since 2014, according to his research. Hindley asked the board to consider averaging VCMD’s usage over June, July, and August to allow more of its usage to be billed as less-expensive Block 1 water.
District Manager Jessie Shaffer said that originally VCMD qualified for WWSD’s more-expensive Modified Grass Irrigation Demand (MGID) standard based on the number of acres it irrigated. Due to VCMD’s expansion of irrigated acres, on May 1 WWSD determined VCMD qualified for WWSD’s GID standard, and water based on that standard is less expensive, Shaffer said. WWSD discussed Hindley’s conclusion about monthly rainfall amounts with BBA, its consultants, who explained GID was based on long-term numbers, on other factors such as hours of sunlight, altitude, and climate, and on a technical measure called the Blaney-Criddle Equation that calculates evaporation. Shaffer said granting Hindley’s request would undermine the carefully developed GID structure WWSD had put in place and could potentially affect billing for other customers of irrigation water.
Board President Brian Bush said the decision before the board was whether to redesign its GID policy in conjunction with BBA or leave the current policy in place. Bush pointed out that the development of the GID structure was a considerable benefit to the district’s irrigation water customers. Shaffer added the current method promoted conservation. Shaffer also pointed out that VCMD planted fescue grass, which requires less water that Kentucky bluegrass, so the current standard used by WWSD was already supplying more water than VCMD needs.
The consensus of the board was to leave the current policy in place.
Budget workshop scheduled
The board scheduled a workshop meeting on the 2022 budget for Nov. 1 at 8 a.m.
November board meeting rescheduled
The board rescheduled its November meeting from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15 to allow Raftelis, the district’s financial consulting company, more time to develop rate changes.
Hearings on 2022 budget and fees scheduled
The board decided to hold two public hearings—the first on the 2022 budget and the second on rates and fees for 2022—during its board meeting on Dec. 13 at 1 p.m.
Highlights of operational reports
• Woodmoor Ranch is wrapping up its summer operations, and the Chilcott Ditch has been shut down for the year.
• Both re-use studies—the Colorado Springs Utilities re-use study and "The Loop"—are proceeding on schedule and on budget.
• Colorado is getting higher-than-expected tax revenue from online betting, and some of that revenue is earmarked for water projects in 2022.
• The Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP) is still operating at a reduced capacity as its upgrades are completed.
• A lightning strike damaged a sewer service lift station.
• The schedules for upgrades to the CWTP and for the construction of the Lake Pump Station are tightly coupled and the CWTP will soon be shut down entirely to allow the contractor to complete its upgrades.
• Woodmoor Lake should begin to be refilled by the end of the year and should be 66% refilled by June 2022.
• The water tank re-painting project is substantially complete.
The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m., but the November meeting was delayed to allow consultants additional time to work on rates for 2022. Meetings are held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive; 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 Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on Oct. 12 to discuss the first draft of the 2022 budget and decided to update its existing engineering master plan to help with future capital decision-making.
TLWWTF is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: PLSD board member Reid Wiecks, JUC president; MSD board Treasurer John Howe, JUC vice president; and WWSD board Secretary/Treasurer William Clewe, JUC secretary/treasurer.
WWSD Manager Jessie Shaffer suggested that Facility Manager Bill Burks add a line item to the 2022 budget for an update to the facilities engineering master plan. The board consensus was to take a holistic view of treating phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients to maintain compliance with Colorado Regulation 85 and Colorado Regulation 31, and also consider Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
Shaffer said the impetus for his suggestion was the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project coordinated by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), which plans to pipe untreated influent from participating sanitation districts in northern El Paso County to the JD Phillips Water Resource Recovery facility in Colorado Springs. Having updated engineering and cost data would help TLWWTF determine if the NMCI participation benefits outweighed the potential costs.
If all three JUC members decided to participate in NMCI, then eventually TLWWTF would be shut down, but in the meantime the facility is operating smoothly. Currently, TLWWTF’s treated effluent is discharged into Monument Creek just below the facility, but if CSU treats the influent and discharges effluent much farther downstream, dealing with wastewater return flows and water rights become part of the decision equation for combined water and sanitation districts.
CSU will likely soon require the sanitation districts of northern El Paso County to commit to CSU if they plan to participate so that future NMCI cost-sharing can be determined.
Burks said Tetra Tech engineering consultants estimated the update would cost $51,500, and the consensus of the members was to proceed with that plan.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 9 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public from all three owner-districts. For information on virtual meeting access, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans and James Howald
The Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board met twice in October, a budget workshop on Oct. 7 and a board meeting on Oct. 20. With financial matters in the foreground, the board meeting opened with a debate on how to structure the district’s chart of accounts and worked on a draft of the 2022 budget, without reaching consensus. The board began planning for a board election to be held in May 2022. District Manager Mark Parker gave the board an update on two upcoming housing developments in the MSD service area.
Chart of accounts fine-tuned
The board discussed how to organize expenses into categories in the district’s chart of accounts to help them track high-priority items while maintaining some continuity with past practices. The board debated where to put software costs, contract costs, and IT costs in the chart of accounts. Director Marylee Reisig asked if Haynie & Co., the district’s accountant, could help; Director John Howe said their answer had been that the board could organize expenses however they wished.
2022 draft budget debated
At the board meeting, Parker verbally presented some changes to the draft budget for 2022 and Director Laura Kronick said she felt it was premature to approve a draft budget, adding she wanted to see the updated amounts Parker was proposing in writing. Parker said that could require a special meeting of the board to meet the deadline of having the budget available for 30 days prior to voting on it. Parker suggested adding in the suggested changes and emailing a new draft to the board members.
Parker said the proposed draft had not substantially changed since its presentation at the budget workshop. He pointed out that the $168,000 that had been budgeted in 2021 for the North Monument Creek Interceptor project had not been spent and was not likely to be spent in 2022, bringing the budget for contingencies up to $368,000. Kronick said she felt her concerns had been resolved.
The board decided to have Parker send out an updated budget to approve via email.
Designated election official sought
District Manager Mark Parker told the board a designated election official needed to be found to facilitate a board election scheduled for May 2022. Parker suggested Mary Kirk of Fritsche Law. Kronick suggested Laura Hogan, the town clerk of Monument. Board President Don Hamilton directed the staff to inquire if Hogan was available.
Developments take shape
Parker told the board that the developers of Willow Springs Ranch, which is planned to include 399 houses on 214 acres west of I-25 and north of Baptist Road, have started putting foundations in place. Parker said MSD would not issue any taps until a new lift station is built, tested, and in production.
Parker also mentioned developments, in very early stages, planned for land south of County Line Road and east of Beacon Lite Road and for land south of County Line Road and east of I-25. These would require a new lift station, Parker said, adding he had engaged GMS, Inc., an engineering firm to help with the lift station planning.
The Town of Monument is considering annexing both properties, Parker said.
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 Nov. 17 at 9 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 719-481-4886.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors met on Oct. 21 to consider a request to include a commercial business on the west side of I-25 into its service area.
Triview staff, all board directors, and legal representatives attended the meeting either online or in person.
The October board meeting packet, including the agenda, may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Triview-Board-Packet-for-10.21.2021.pdf.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, park, and open space maintenance, as well as water, stormwater, and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
Board reviews locals’ requests
District Manager Jim McGrady discussed a request from Monument Ice Rinks to be included into the district’s water service boundaries. Having met with Monument Ice Rinks Facility Manager Jeremy Hunter and others, McGrady stated that the business was looking to expand the facility and had concerns about potential water service limitations from its current provider, the Town of Monument.
McGrady and water attorney Chris Cummins underscored that a letter from Monument Ice Rinks was the very first step in the inclusion process and served as an inquiry into the board’s interest. If inclusion occurred, Triview would receive the business’ associated property taxes and the district’s share of sales tax. Directors accepted the inclusion petition and directed the appropriate entities to begin consultations for an inclusion agreement.
Cummins also summarized a resolution listed under the agenda’s action items. Resolution 2021-11 would temporarily allow the 100-acre Woods parcel within the Home Place Ranch development to use individual well service—via Triview-owned Dawson aquifer water resources—and septic service as opposed to using the district’s water and wastewater municipal infrastructure. The resolution places all permitting, regulation, administration, and other obligations on the shoulders of the landowner as well as an annual water use fee of $1,000 with a 4% escalator. Cummins emphasized the temporary nature of the agreement and discussed the parameters under which municipal infrastructure would eventually need to be connected—essentially, if or when any development occurred on the property. Directors unanimously approved the resolution.
Departmental updates showcase improvements
Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton and Parks and Open Space Superintendent Matt Rayno reported on their respective monthly activities. Along with maintenance work on the district’s wells and completion of some electrical conduits and minor plumbing work in new wells in Sanctuary Pointe, Sexton stated that he was waiting for state approval to begin the district’s demonstration study for an alternate radium removal system using hydrated manganese oxide (HMO). See https://www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#tvmd. Sexton explained that the system had the potential to reach a 90% removal rate depending on how the process was introduced into the plant, and it could be customized depending on how much water operators needed to treat. This allows the district to economize on chemical use and reduce chemical loading on the plant. The HMO process "is a better, all-around way to go," he said.
Rayno discussed the recently completed retaining wall at the northwest corner of Baptist Road and Leather Chaps Drive (see photo above) . He planned to add xeriscaping and other enhancements to the corner in spring 2022. He also intended to adorn the newly planted trees in the median at the Baptist Road entrance with holiday lighting.
Two petitions emerged in Rayno’s commentary as well. The first was a request to expedite the purchase of $10,000 municipality-grade, 48-MHz, two-way radios for snow crews. He explained that the new radios would provide clearer and more consistent communication among his own staff and allow for collaboration and cooperation with Town of Monument’s snow crews during big snowstorms. Rayno requested permission to initiate the purchase in 2021 to prevent the radios from arriving after the 2022 snow season since he was told to expect a 10-week delivery delay.
Rayno’s second request involved ordering an automated gate security system for the A-Yard. He and McGrady recommended contracting with Mountain Fox Garage Doors for the approximated $13,000 gate system in 2021 to ensure an early 2022 installation. By initiating the purchase ahead of schedule, Rayno planned to coordinate its installation with the gate’s slab pour and other related construction work.
Directors approved both requests.
Stonewall Springs storage highlighted
Referring to continued construction at the Stonewall Springs South Reservoir, McGrady announced that the outlet pump and the pipe that extends up the dam face had been installed and that work on the gravity outlet had begun. He explained that there would be two ways to draw water from the outlet: One is to pump water when the water level dips below 75% of the reservoir’s capacity and the other is to allow gravity to naturally direct water from the outlet when the reservoir’s capacity is at least 75% or higher.
The pump station can move about 64 acre-feet (an acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre at a depth of one foot) of water per day and would allow the district to empty the reservoir in about one month, which would help maximize full use of the storage space, he said. Gravity flow is preferable, however, simply because it is cheaper.
Responding to a director’s question, Cummins confirmed that the Stonewall Springs Reservoir water rights also included rights to use the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex as a flood control mechanism. This permits Triview to capture flood waters temporarily to help reduce stress on the water system and then time-release the water as appropriate. Triview must account for the water and would not keep it, but the flood control would provide a significant service to other irrigators along the Arkansas river.
Progress on the Stonewall Springs Central Reservoir was suspended due to a reviewer’s additional obligations, McGrady said.
Other projects updated
• McGrady reported that information discussed at the district’s Oct. 16 open house at Fox Run Park about the Northern Delivery System (see photo at right and map above) had been posted on the district’s website. See https://triviewmetro.com/water-resources/. A second open house was planned for a different venue and an as-yet determined date in November. This second event would incorporate a brief presentation and more opportunity to receive comments and questions.
• The district initiated plans for the route and design of a water pipeline to service the new subdivisions in Jackson Creek filings 3 through 6 and Home Place Ranch. A preliminary plan to run the pipe through the subdivision—as opposed to having the pipe run parallel to adjacent roads—was expected to decrease costs. The plans must be ready for a spring 2022 installation.
• Triview’s master plan regarding the purchase of property and water rights in the Buena Vista area continued to progress. The district planned to conduct a Nov. 3 presentation for the Buena Vista Planning Commission and meet with various stakeholders and property owners.
• McGrady confirmed that the Pueblo Reservoir Excess Capacity Agreement had been signed by the appropriate Colorado Bureau of Reclamation entities and had entered a three-week legal sufficiency review. The bureau informed Triview that the contract would likely be complete and in-hand by Nov. 15.
• Continuing to work toward the district’s 1041 permit with Pueblo County, Triview and the county scheduled an Oct. 28 meeting.
• Directors and staff discussed options for alleviating traffic congestion and hazards for drivers exiting left from the King Soopers shopping plaza onto Jackson Creek Parkway. No decisions were made, but the topic was considered a priority.
• Rayno confirmed that some contractual work on the district’s A-Yard building had stalled construction momentum. He expressed optimism that staff would occupy the building by Nov. 1.
Caption: At Fox Run Regional Park on Saturday, Oct. 16 Mario DiPasquale of JDS-Hydro Consultants Inc. and Triview Metropolitan District Board President Mark Melville display the proposed route of the Northern Delivery System (NDS) pipeline project (shown at th top of the page). Triview, along with representatives from the El Paso County Park System, JDS-Hydro, and N.E.S. Inc. were available to answer questions and give an overview of the proposed NDS to local residents at a two-hour outdoor open house. The 10-mile pipeline, a series of tanks and one booster pump station would move renewable potable water from Colorado Springs to the northern water systems and reduce the reliance on groundwater that is decreasing in both quantity and quality. For more information visit: https://triviewmetro.com/projects/northern-water-delivery-system/. The next meeting will Wed., Nov. 17 at Bear Creek Elementary School, 1330 Creekside Drive. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Caption: Another significant project completed by the Parks and Open Space crews of Triview Metropolitan District is the retaining wall at the northwest corner of the Baptist Road and Leather Chaps Drive intersection. Photo courtesy of Parks and Open Space Superintendent Matt Rayno.
Triview board meetings are generally held on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18. The December meeting, which will encompass hearings on the 2022 budget, rates, and fees; approve the 2022 budget; and certify the mill levy will be held Tuesday, Dec. 14. The district office is located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. Check the district’s website, https://triviewmetro.com, or call 488-6868 for meeting updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in person or online/teleconference. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board met on Oct. 21 to hear the results of a well field study prepared for the district by Leonard Rice Engineers Inc. (LRE) and to consider a proposal from LRE to oversee the drilling of new wells.
General Manager Jeff Hodge updated the board on radium levels in the district’s water and compared the 2022 budget being written to the 2021 budget. He told the board DWSD’s contract with Forest Lakes would be discontinued. Finally, the board convened an executive session to discuss negotiations concerning the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project.
Study reveals issues with wells
Hodge told the board that five wells had developed issues since 2020; some had been brought back online but some were still out of production. In the case of Well 1A, which suffered an electrical failure recently, spare parts to make needed repairs have not been made in 20 years, but replacement parts were found in a supplier’s inventory. They used the last of that inventory, so no more such parts are available, Hodge said.
Hodge said the LRE well field study recommended that DWSD drill two new wells, one into the Denver aquifer and one into the Arapahoe aquifer. Hodge estimated the new wells would cost about $4 million to bring into production and some of the wells might be candidates for re-drilling.
Joel Barber of LRE explained what the study showed about water quality. The water is basic rather than acidic, he said, and was aggressive in terms of its capacity to erode metal well components, especially at points where dissimilar metals are joined. Levels of aqueous iron 10 times higher than expected also contributed to corrosion and bacteria growth, reducing the output of the wells. Both issues raise the risk of well failures, Barber said.
Barber pointed out DWSD’s wells are 15 to 20 years old and said new wells would use all stainless-steel components beneath the water table, thereby increasing their reliability. Hodge estimated using stainless steel components could increase well life to 40 to 50 years.
Barber ended by pointing out DWSD used to have 13 wells but four have now been abandoned.
Director Wayne Vanderschuere said: "Aging infrastructure is starting to catch up with us," adding that even with more use of renewable and reused water, reliable wells are essential for meeting customer demands. Hodge agreed wells would always be part of a robust drought-proof water service strategy. The immediate need, according to Hodge, is to identify the best locations to drill or re-drill new wells.
Board approves proposal to design new wells
The board moved on to consider a proposal from LRE to design two new wells and get the needed permits, with DWSD contracting with a second company to drill the wells. LRE would charge $192,000 to design, oversee the construction, and commission the new wells.
Barber said if the proposal were approved, LRE would identify the best locations for the wells based on infrastructure, land availability, and impact to residents, estimating that the assessment would take a month. LRE would then get bids from drilling companies based on those specifications, with the goal of preparing the board for a vote in December to drill one or two wells.
Brett Gracely, a water resources manager with LRE, explained that re-drilling a well requires a new bore and is similar in cost to an entirely new well. Re-drilling does allow the same well permit to be re-used, he said, which saves time. "A re-drill is like a new car with the same license plates," he explained.
The board voted unanimously in favor of a motion to authorize LRE to proceed with its proposal.
Radium level update
Hodge told the board testing at the Holbein Water Treatment Plant (HWTP) showed an increase in radium and the treatment plant had been taken out of production completely on Oct. 1. According to the DWSD website, all water is now being served by the R. Hull plant, which does not have high radium levels.
Hodge reviewed the radium mitigation strategies being considered: use of pressure vessels, use of hydrous manganese oxide (HMO), replacing filter media in treatment plants, and use of green sand. Hodge said replacing filter media would cost $170,000, and green sand would cost $190,000. Six pressure vessels would cost $1 million plus installation and engineering costs. Hodge said the cost of disposing of the radium once it is removed from the water supply is an issue to consider when choosing between radium reduction strategies.
The consensus of the board was to continue to work with both GMS Inc. and Corona Environmental Consulting on a wide range of potential approaches to reducing the radium in DWSD’s water service.
2022 budget takes shape
Hodge compared the 2022 proposed budget to the current budget, and noted these changes:
• Water and sewer revenue would be 3% higher.
• Increased testing for radium would raise chemical and testing costs by 66%.
• The Residual Management line item would increase by 112% due to radioactive materials licensing being recategorized in the proposed budget.
• The Tools and Equipment line item would see a 304% increase due to equipment purchases needed to upgrade plants.
• Engineering costs would rise by 33% due to upkeep, repair, and re-drilling of wells.
• The Capital Projects line item includes costs for drilling two new wells, for the Northern Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project, and for the HWTP upgrade.
Vanderschuere pointed out the proposed budget would dip into reserves, and that was not sustainable.
Contract with Forest Lakes to end
Hodge told the board that six years ago, DWSD agreed to provide operational support to Forest Lakes. Due to difficulties hiring staff, DWSD no longer had the capacity to continue this support, Hodge said, and he asked the board to approve sending Forest Lake a notice that the agreement would end in 60 days. Vanderschuere said DWSD customers were the priority and Forest Lake had been warned about the change.
The board voted unanimously to end the agreement.
The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 1:30 p.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month and include online access due to 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. See www.donalawater.org for more information about the district.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso County Planning Commission (BOCC) met once during October and recommended for approval two minor subdivision requests in Black Forest. The commissioners also received a presentation on the draft Highway 83 Access Control Plan that will come to the BOCC for approval later this year.
Rapson minor subdivision
The commissioners heard an application by Andrea and William Rapson for approval of a minor subdivision request to create two single-family residential lots on their 19.6-acre property. The property is zoned RR-5 (residential rural) and is located southeast of the intersection of Hardy Road and Black Squirrel Road, about one mile north of Hodgen Road.
Lot 1 would be about 14 acres and would contain the current residence, barn, and related structures. Lot 2 would be just over 5 acres in size. Access would be via Hardy Road.
The application was approved unanimously as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion. It was then heard at the El Paso Board of County Commissioners meeting on Oct. 12. See the BOCC article below.
Bridle Bit Ranch
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend for approval a request by Nicole Telle for a vacation and replat of one single-family residential lot into two lots. The 10.12-acre property is zoned RR-5 (rural residential) and is on the west side of Bridle Bit Road in the Bridle Bit Ranch subdivision, about one mile east of the Shoup Road and Highway 83 intersection. Both proposed lots would be just over 5 acres in size.
The application was then heard at the BOCC meeting on Oct. 26. See the BOCC article below.
Highway 83 Access Control Plan
Jennifer Irvine, county engineer, presented the draft Highway 83 Access Control Plan to the commissioners at the end of their meeting. The presentation was for informational purposes only as this is not a matter on which the Planning Commission votes.
Irvine explained that the project is a collaboration between the county, the City of Colorado Springs, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that has resulted in an access control plan for the approximate 10-mile section of the highway between Powers Boulevard and County Line Road. She told the commissioners that such a plan is long-range and aims to improve mobility and enhance safety.
She said improved access options to the highway might include reducing the number of access points along it by accessing local properties through secondary roads or new or improved access roads, consolidating the number of locations where vehicles could enter or exit the highway, limiting turning movements to locations with dedicated left turn lanes, and realigning intersections to create a more familiar layout. Speed limits are not addressed in an access study.
The plan does not identify specific projects or establish a timeline for when changes would occur.
The plan will help the county, the city, and CDOT make access decisions during development and redevelopment and will streamline the access permitting process. Irvine said it would also provide predictability for developers because they would know how access would look before they started planning.
The Highways Advisory Committee reviewed the plan at its Sept. 15 meeting and unanimously recommended its approval to the BOCC. Irvine said the plan would go to the BOCC for approval in the next month or so and was effectively an intergovernmental agreement between the three jurisdictional entities.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
During October, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) heard proposals for the 2022 county budget. The commissioners also made decisions relating to various developments.
Preliminary balanced budget
The county Financial Services Department presented the preliminary balanced budget at the Oct. 5 meeting. The approximate $512 million budget for 2022 includes the second tranche of the $69 million American Rescue Plan Act funds. It allocates $11 million for road improvements, about $3.6 million to hire new employees, and $7.4 million for pay increases for county employees in the face of the rising cost of living. It also provides additional support for El Paso County Public Health to help the community recover from the pandemic.
"Out of the 10 largest counties in the state, El Paso County citizens enjoy the lowest county property tax burden and the lowest cost per citizen for delivering high impact services," said Nikki Simmons, county controller. "This budget prioritizes the highest needs of service to our citizens while maintaining our fiscally conservative organizational culture."
As part of the budget-setting process, county departments and offices presented their critical needs to the commissioners at the Oct. 19 and 21 meetings. A further budget hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16 when the BOCC will give its final direction on budget allocations. About $159 million of the budget is discretionary revenue that the BOCC will distribute to provide core services such as public safety and infrastructure. The remainder goes to projects and programs set by state or federal law or other restrictions that the commissioners cannot alter.
The public is encouraged to participate in the budget-setting process. The preliminary balanced budget and all supporting documents can be viewed on the county website at: https://admin.elpasoco.com/financial-services/budget-finance/county-budget/.
The final budget vote will be held at the BOCC meeting on Dec. 7.
The commissioners unanimously approved an application by John Puskas to rezone 3.94 acres of a 74.46-acre property from RR-5 (rural residential) to RR-2.5 (rural residential) and the remaining acres from RR-5 to A-35 (agricultural) at their Sept. 28 meeting. The property is located at the southwest corner of the Monument Lake Road and Peakview Boulevard intersection, west of Highway 105.
The 3.94-acre parcel has been purchased by neighbors and adjoins their existing property in the Shiloh Pines subdivision, which is zoned RR-2.5. The remaining Puskas property is used for agricultural purposes, which are more in keeping with an agricultural zoning. Puskas is not proposing any changes to the existing uses at this time. The neighbors envision one day possibly building another house on the property they have acquired.
The item was heard as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion. The request was heard by the county Planning Commission at its Sept. 2 meeting and came to the BOCC with a unanimous recommendation for approval.
Rapson and Bridle Bit Ranch minor subdivision requests
The commissioners unanimously approved two applications to divide existing properties into two single-family lot subdivisions in October. Both requests came to the BOCC with recommendations of approval at the Planning Commission’s Oct. 7 meeting. The Rapson application requested approval of a minor subdivision request to create two single-family residential lots on their 19.6-acre property. The property is zoned RR-5 (residential rural) and is located southeast of the intersection of Hardy Road and Black Squirrel Road, about one mile north of Hodgen Road.
The request by Nicole Telle will see the single-family 10.12-acre property in the Bridle Bit Ranch subdivision on the west side of Bridle Bit Road, about a mile east of the Shoup Road and Highway 83 intersection, divided into two lots of just over 5 acres each.
The commissioners approved the release of bonds, checks, and a letter of credit relating to subdivision improvements at various filings within the Misty Acres development at their Oct. 19 meeting. The decisions followed the completion and satisfactory inspection of improvements in filings 1, 2, 2C, and 3.
Highway 105 improvements project
At their Oct. 12 meeting, the commissioners approved a contract amendment request from the Department of Public Works relating to its contract with HDR Engineering Inc. for final design and property acquisition services for the Highway 105 Projects A and B at a cost not to exceed $2.19 million.
Gleneagle North Homeowners Association (HOA) agreement
The commissioners approved a public right-of-way license agreement between the county and the Gleneagle North Homeowners Association (HOA) at their Oct. 26 meeting. This will allow the HOA to install and maintain stop signs and street signposts within the county’s right of way.
Note: Starting this month, the BOCC will hear land use items separately from other BOCC business at meetings held the first and third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave. Regular meetings will continue to be held every Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) met on Oct. 27 to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen. The board also explained the most common covenant violations, reviewed fire mitigation, and heard.
Chief celebrates 30 years
Board President Brian Bush opened the meeting by reporting a significant mission failure that neglected to inform the board that one of "our stalwarts" passed 30 years of service on Sept. 7 of 2021 and should have been recognized at the last board meeting. That stalwart is WPS Chief Kevin Nielsen. Nielsen started his WPS career in Woodmoor in 1991 as a police officer, was promoted to captain in 1995 and chief in 1999.
Bush said Nielsen has done an "absolutely superb job" leading his workforce and making Woodmoor a much better place to live. Director of Public Safety Brad Gleason expressed appreciation for Nielsen’s knowledge, expertise, and work in this community. The board presented Nielsen with a commemorative plaque and a gift card to his favorite restaurant.
Nielsen said he wouldn’t be here without his co-workers, including the WIA staff and the board. He would not have succeeded without the backing of Woodmoor residents, he said. He noted that he has been asked when he plans to retire but feels too young to give up something he loves.
For more information on WPS, see https://www.woodmoor.org/woodmoor-public-safety/.
Forestry Director Tom Smith reported seven forestry visits in September. Common Areas Director Steve Cutler noted that Forestry Administrator Matthew Nelson and Smith had mitigated five trees on The Point open space that had been mentioned by a resident at the previous meeting. Cutler also reported accepting bids for fire mitigation in common areas.
Smith reported submitting a second round of reimbursements for about $7,500 on a 50% cost basis to the Western States Wildland Urban Interface $245,000 grant program. The grant, which is focused on the Woodmoor Drive corridor, requires a Firewise evaluation before and after mitigation to confirm the work has been done. Smith expects money to be left over in the spring for residents outside the corridor.
• The deadline for nominations for prospective board members is Nov. 16. The form is on the website at: https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-board-nomination/. The election will be held at the annual meeting in January 2022.
• Vice President Peter Bille reported that the proposal for updated fees and fines would be available at the November meeting.
• Treasurer Connie Brown said the board will consider and approve the 2022 budget at the next meeting.
• The December board meeting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 15 due to Christmas.
Above From left are Public Safety Director Brad Gleason, Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen, and board President Brian Bush. Gleason and Bush presented Nielsen with a plaque commemorating his 30 years of service on WPS as an officer, a captain, and chief. Bush said Nielsen was a superb leader and Gleason appreciated his experience and knowledge. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
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 has been moved to Wednesday, Nov. 17 due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
October was another month of drier-than-normal conditions and warmer-than-normal temperatures. Most of the month saw quiet conditions with almost no storm activity except for a couple days. One benefit of the mainly sunny skies and clear cool nights was the nice progression of fall colors. This is in contrast to the last few years when early season snow and cold produced a quick end to the fall color season.
The first day of the month saw a few sprinkles and temperatures slightly below normal with highs in the upper 50s, but this was an anomaly over the next two weeks. Temperatures rose into the 70s from the 3rd through the 8th, with overnight lows holding above freezing during the period. A few brief rain showers fell during the morning of the 9th behind a departing storm that moved just to our north.
This ushered in some slightly cooler air as well, with highs dropping back to normal levels in the upper 50s and low 60s. The cooler air combined with the longer nights to produce several mornings in a row of temperatures in the 20s. Unsettled conditions affected the area on the afternoon of the 12th, with mostly cloudy skies and even a few brief flurries. Another storm moved by just to our north and west on the afternoon and evening of the 14th. This storm produced our first accumulating snow of the season with a trace to an inch throughout the area above 7,000 feet. The farther north, the more snow there was, as the departing storms moved through just to our north.
Dry and quiet conditions returned over the next two weeks with temperatures ranging from just below normal to above normal between the 15th and the 25th. Skies were generally clear to mostly clear during the period as stronger winds moved across the mountains and produced some gusty conditions at times.
The most powerful storm of the month affected the region on the 26th, with the first effects felt during the afternoon and the stronger dynamics moving over during the evening hours. This was the same storm that brought record rainfalls and heavy mountain snows to much of the western U.S. from central California through Washington state.
Initial conditions included just about everything—rain, snow, graupel, ice pellets, and even some thunder during the late afternoon. Then, as the moisture continued to surge, heavy wet snow developed for areas above 7,000 feet. The warm conditions the previous several days meant roads were mostly wet, and a lot of snow melted at first. But as the heavier snow continued during the evening, a wet couple of inches accumulated and roads became very slippery. This was most prevalent above 7,300 feet, showing the fine line between rain and snow in early season snowfall events.
The good news with this event was just about everyone received much-needed moisture. Clear conditions returned for the next few days with temperatures jumping back above average on the 29th and 30th. Unfortunately for our trick-or-treaters, a final surge of cool weather with fog and drizzle moved in just in time for Halloween. This kept temperatures in the low 30s with wet and icy conditions for Halloween evening.
A look ahead
November is generally dry and cool around the region. We usually get several light snowfalls interspersed with sunny skies. Gusty winds commonly develop on a couple of days as the jet stream becomes more active and more directly affects Colorado. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to low 40s by the end with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits.
October 2021 Weather Statistics
Average High 62.1° (+2.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 67.7° min 50.7°
Average Low 32.9° (+3.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 36.8° min 26.4°
Monthly Precipitation 0.89" (-0.84")
100-year return frequency value max 4.63" min 0.18"
Monthly Snowfall 2.5" (-8.5")
Highest Temperature 74° on the 4th
Lowest Temperature 22° on the 15th
Season to Date Snow 2.5" (-8.9") (the snow season, October 1 to September 30)
Season to Date Precip. 0.89" (-0.84") (the precip season, October 1 to September 30)
Heating Degree Days 544 (+16)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)
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.
No letters were submitted this month.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"I owe everything I am and everything I will ever be to books."—Gary Paulsen
The annual bookseller’s trade show was in person once again. What a welcome sight to see authors and publishers and discuss their new releases. We always come back with great books. Here’s a sampling:
By Amor Towles (Viking) $30
Bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility returns with a novel set in 1950s America. Eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is home after serving 15 months at the juvenile work home. His mother is long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon. Emmett’s intention is to pick up his brother and head to California to start their lives anew. But two escapees from the work farm have hatched an altogether different plan.
The Man Who Died Twice: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery
By Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman Books) $26
The Thursday Murder Club is still riding high off its recent murder case when an unexpected visitor arrives, desperate for help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds worth millions from the wrong men. The Thursday Murder Club is up against a ruthless murderer. Can they catch the killer before the killer catches them? And if they find the diamonds, too, well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?
A Single Rose
By Muriel Barberry (Europa Editions) $22
Bestselling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog is back with a story about a woman’s journey to discover the father she never knew and a love she never thought possible. Rose has just turned 40 when she gets a call from a lawyer asking her to come to Kyoto for the reading of her estranged father’s will. Paul, her father’s assistant, guides Rose along a mysterious itinerary designed by her father. As the reading of the will gets closer, Rose’s father finally, posthumously, opens his heart to his daughter, offering her a poignant understanding of his love and a way to accept all she has lost.
By Susan L. Gemmill (Merry Dissonance Press) $17.95
In 1942, 18-year-old Bill Gemmill was eager to serve his country. After a circuitous route, the crash of a ferried bomber behind his house, and 14 months of training, Bill and his crew were on their way to southern Italy. Disaster struck after more than 20 successful missions. Parachuting into the Yugoslavian countryside, Bill found himself alone. Like so many veterans, Bill was reluctant to tell his story, but later in life opened up to his daughter. This is his story of becoming a man in the midst of defending his country.
A Sparrow Alone
By Mim Eichmann (Living Springs Publishers) $16.95
Desperate following her mother’s sudden death, 13-year-old Hannah Owens apprentices as domestic help with a wealthy doctor’s family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere’s brothel, Hannah is thrown into a vortex of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution, and the economic, political, and cultural upheavals of 1890s Colorado. Two of Cripple Creek’s most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine, and Pearl DeVere, madam of The Old Homestead, come to life in this coming-of-age saga.
Between the Tides
By Angel Khoury (Dzanc Books), $24.95
Set on two wild seascapes, Cape Cod and North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this novel tells the story of two women stitching together a family ripped at the seams and discovering that even through absence, love’s presence is everlasting. Cape Cod, 1890s: A man deserts his wife to start a new family at Cape Hatteras. 1940s: His daughter, en route to serve in World War II with the Red Cross, travels to Cape Cod where she meets his first wife, Blythe, reanimating a life she had long buried.
By Nicole Magistro (Read Island LLC), $18.99
Join a brave girl and her furry friends on an adventure to Read Island. Through the power of imagination and the pleasure of reading, they set sail for a magical island made of books. On their way they discover a joyful collection of animals, just in time for an unforgettable story hour. A rhyming celebration of nature, books, and the importance of stories,
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at the Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
Due to understaffing, the library district has opted to close one branch each day. The Monument Branch will be closed on Thursdays. Hours on Friday and Saturday evenings have been extended from 5 to 6 p.m.
Patrons are all welcome to come to the library and use our resources and services. To reserve a meeting room, go to the ppld.org website and look under special services, meeting rooms. Select a room and a date and time. We recommend that you have more than one date in mind.
Take and make craft kits for children, teens, and adults are available to pick up. A new one of each is issued each week.
To view the programs available, go to programs on the website and search by location. Some programs are virtual and others in person.
Staff and volunteers in the library are masked. It is recommended that unvaccinated patrons and young children who are not yet vaccinated also wear masks.
Progress continues on the new ramp for the Palmer Lake Library. Viewed from the west, there is a ramp going down to the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s museum and the first section of the ramp to the library has been completed.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Nov. 25 and 26 in observance of Thanksgiving.
We hope to see you soon at the library.
Caption: Progress continues on construction of new ADA-compliant ramp to the Palmer Lake Library and the museum on the lower level. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Sharon Williams
On Oct. 21, a full house experienced John Stansfield’s presentation in celebration of the Long Expedition’s Bicentennial. The Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting was held at Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Building in Monument.
Stansfield delivered a direct account as read from the report "An Expedition from Pittsburg to the Rocky Mountains," Maj. Stephen H. Long, Commander; Compiled by Edwin James; by order of the Hon. J.C. Calhoun, Secretary of War.
In early May 1820, Maj. Long was ordered to abandon an expedition along the Missouri River, return back east and ready himself to lead another expedition of the Rocky Mountain west to learn about the Platte and Arkansas Rivers and sources. John Quincy Adams, on behalf of President James Monroe, had recently signed a treaty with Spain expanding the U.S. western boundary to the Pacific Ocean.
On June 6, 1820 a party of 22 men with supplementary military support departed on what became a 1,600-mile journey. After one month of slow prairie travel, the first sighting of the Rocky Mountains was noted on June 30 by Dr. Edwin James. Dr. James was a surgeon, linguist, botanist, and geologist. Upon logging 568 miles from the eastern origin of the expedition, the party was at the mouth of the Platte River and traveled south along the base of the Front Range.
After passing sandstone fins along the mountains near today’s Sentinel Rock in Perry Park by West Plum Creek, they arrived to camp in an area of insulated (island-like) table lands. The landscape was described as a north-south open region of a divide, now the Palmer Lake area. Here they camped at the headwaters of Monument Creek July 10 to July 12 to study and document their observations.
During this encampment, Dr. James identified several new plant species. Among them was the Colorado blue columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, now our Colorado State Flower. It is believed the discovery was in the general area where Pine Crest Lodge now exists in Palmer Lake.
The expedition followed the South Platte, Arkansas, and Red Rivers, eventually ending at Fort Smith, Ark., in September 1820. Among the list of discoveries were 42 animal species, 75 insect species, and 140 plant species.
Caption: Our Colorado state flower, Colorado blue columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, was discovered and identified as a new species in the Palmer Lake area by Dr. Edwin James, botanist with the Long Expedition. Photo by Sigi Walker. Caption by Sharon Williams.
Caption: This Long Expedition depiction features the butte country of the Palmer Divide using the antiquated descriptive word "insulated," which means island-like. Photo from Long Expedition Collection: Samuel Seymour, View of the Insulated Table Lands at the Foot of the Rocky Mountains, 1820. Caption by Sharon Williams.
Presenter John Stansfield is a storyteller and writer. For 40 years, Stansfield has recounted stories from the American West and the world, re-enacted the lives of pioneers, and authored award-winning biographies. His book Writers of the American West: Multicultural Learning Encounters (Teacher Ideas Press, 2002) earned a Colorado Authors’ League Award and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. His latest book, a folkloric short story collection titled Rocky Mountain Stories to Read Aloud or Alone, is pending publication.
The Palmer Lake Historical Society monthly programs are presented at 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce-Community Rm, 166 Second St., Monument. The Nov. 18 program will be Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division presented by Col. Tom Duhs. Info: 719-559-0837, www.palmerdividehistory.org.
Sharon Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
During an evacuation exercise on Oct. 2, residents received first-hand experience evacuating their homes in a hurry in case of a wildfire or other disaster. It also provided first responders from across the region a chance to practice interagency communication and deployment of their evacuation procedures.
Note: Every resident of El Paso and Teller Counties should register their cell phones with Peak Alerts at https://peakalerts.org (same as www.ElPasoTeller911.org) so local authorities can tell them how to take action when emergencies strike their neighborhood. (This is different than the automatic statewide AMBER alert system.)
Residents of Palmer Lake, Lake of the Rockies, Red Rock Ranch, and Colorado Estates were invited to participate in the wildfire evacuation drill. It was hosted by El Paso County, Town of Monument, Town of Palmer Lake, Monument and Palmer Lake Police Departments, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Palmer Lake Fire Department, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management.
Registered participants received a pre-planned evacuation notice directing them to gather at a simulated evacuation center. The emergency preparedness fair there included organizations that support evacuations in El Paso County and had information on emergency planning and shelters for people and animals, wildfire risk reduction, ideas for people with disabilities, and how to pack a "go-bag" and make electronic copies of all your vital documents.
Outside, the Touch-A-Truck display included HazMat, American Red Cross, Special Communications Unit, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The volunteers of EIS (Emergency Incident Support) provided breakfast and lunch for all the first responders and participants.
One participant said the exercise helped him start thinking about his emergency meet-up plans if he’s separated from his wife, what to pack in an evacuation bag, and what creative alternatives he has to escape from his neighborhood if the usual roads are jammed with cars and danger is zooming toward them.
Caption: Monument Police Department Sgt. Melikian notified Jeff and Kathy Baker it was time to evacuate from Red Rock Ranch and head to the safety fair during the Oct. 2 Northwest El Paso County Evacuation Drill. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at email@example.com
By Janet Sellers
Zombie gardens and growing indoor greens
It takes about three to four weeks to grow greens in the windowsill, and although they will be baby greens or relatively short, they will be ready to eat! We’ve had great luck growing chard and onions, like green onions, and other vegetables in the windowsill from what we call zombie vegetables, which are given a second life in just a few inches of soil.
You can take bulb onion ends or scallions, even garlic cloves, place them in about an inch of water, or in a few inches of well-watered soil. They’ll begin the very next day to grow again. In a few weeks, you will have some to add to a meal.
I’ve done this with lettuces, onions, or anything that comes with a root including celery. The onions and garlic leaf greens are delicious and subtle in flavor. Just snip off a few by the inch, not the whole thing, and they will continue to grow and give you tasty food.
Lazy gardening is Mother Nature’s secret
We desperately need pollinators and microorganisms for our garden and our planet to be healthy and continue to grow well for next year. If we can keep the fall leaves together, even in a hidden place, that will protect Nature’s little critters that help our gardens to grow (mulch chopping the leaves chops up good bugs), and come spring we can tidy up, saving lives and our gardens in the process.
Debugging is not just for computers
We can bring our beloved potted flowers such as geraniums and other potted favorites indoors, but beware and debug them first! Debug the potted plants that have a drain hole by dipping them in a soapy solution of water with a few drops of mild soap for 20 minutes outdoors, rinse, scrub the outside of the pot and drain and dry before you bring them indoors. It’s simple. Soap can work as an insecticide in the garden, and for potted plants and soil. I have also used a tub of water indoors when the temperature felt too cold for working outside. This remedy works for house plants already indoors, too.
Monument Compost Program
Until Nov. 30, local residents can bring their items to the south end of Limbach Park to be composted. Accepting: pumpkins, leaves, and fruit and veggie discards. No-no’s include pine needles, animal waste, chemical waste. For a limited time, the Town of Monument is offering this drop-off location for all residents’ pumpkins and bagged leaves.
Janet Sellers is an avid lazy gardener, learning Mother Nature’s secrets with nature as the guide.
By Steve Pate
Last March, we mentioned that the 65-acre parcel purchased by El Paso County would become a new open space for trail users—hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians—with plans for public access by late summer/early fall. See https://www.ocn.me/v21n3.htm#trail. The county hired a contractor, Performance Recreation, and the Santa Fe Open Space (SFOS) is coming along well, according to Ross Williams, park planner.
The contractor hired to build the trails and prepare the area for public use has cleared "corridors through the scrub (Gambel) oaks and is building "benches" for single-track trails. The corridors are wide enough to allow access by park staff on ATVs but the trails will generally be about 2 feet wide. The trail corridors will also allow access in case of wildfire, and some trees have been "limbed" or skirted to reduce "laddering" in case of fire.
As one proceeds into the open space up toward Elephant Rock/Ben Lomond, the views are quite nice, as shown in the accompanying photo. The SFOS is still expected to open to the public before year’s end, but no firm date has been set. As described in our March column, this area has historical, cultural, and conservation value. The only known inhabitants were Native American tribes that date to the Folsom period 10,000 years ago; more recently the Mountain Ute, Arapahoe, Kiowa, Sioux, Cheyenne and others have been present.
In 1812, an Army expedition led by Maj. Stephen H. Long camped at the base of what is now known as Elephant Rock—at that time it was called Castle Rock, then Phoebe’s Arch, and so on. Located just east of the New Santa Fe Regional trail, the SFOS allows hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians easy access to a less-traveled area. Look for the official opening of the SFOS in an upcoming issue of OCN.
Caption: View from the SFOS on Oct. 10 looking southwest toward Mount Herman showing the fall colors of Gambel oak. Photo by Steve Pate.
Steve Pate can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
"Art is the highest form of hope."—Gerhard Richter
Since ancient times, people have understood the importance of the arts in their daily life and, in fact, it was a requirement in ancient Greece, for Greek culture. The Greco Roman underpinnings of our education system has forgotten that part and alludes only to the fact that they existed, looking at technology and the sciences as contemporary muses.
But daily life in ancient Greece included the imagination born of the muses. As a dedication to them, music and the arts were practiced if not worshiped as a way to live life to the fullest and optimize a person even in death.
The ancient Greeks considered art an important part of the human life force, an important daily connection to the heavens from birth until death, and even after death. They lived by the idea that art and the muses help keep our imagination alive, and it supports our cherished memories to remain alive as well. Perhaps we all would benefit in thinking this way.
Local and national artists have a day of their own
Beginning last year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is known nationwide as Artists Sunday. It is the world’s largest art event, dedicated to supporting artists and recognizing the impact they have in enriching our lives, communities, and the economy.
In person or online, it’s an opportunity for artists to share their works and for people to buy the artwork. Positioned during the year’s busiest holiday shopping weekend, Artists Sunday falls between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, and unites artists and communities across the country, all promoting purchases from local artists.
For convenience, I have created a Facebook page, and people can connect with our local artists to enjoy and purchase works of art by going to Facebook.com using the search box: Artists Sunday, November 28, 2021. There will be more and more information there as the month goes along.
Janet sellers is an artist, writer, and speaker, and she looks to foster a love for the arts for all ages locally and globally. JanetSellers@ocn.me.
Teens help clean up the community garden
Caption: On Oct. 30, members of the Palmer Ridge High School honor society helped with Fall preparations of the beds at the Monument Community Garden. From left to right in the back row: Todd Osborn, Talan Terlizzi, Rachel Zarkovacki, Marya Nay, Hannah Miller, Amaya Taylor, Naomi Snyder, Cora Goodwin, and Nicole Day. From left to right in the front row: Emily Miller, Katie Miller, Danielle Day, and Ella Nagaraj. Photo by Amber Wright.
Caption: Snyder, Nay, and Miller hard at work. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Correction: Demolished building was Elliot’s store, not Henry Station
Caption: In the October issue of Our Community News, a September 21 photo taken of the structural demolition on Front Street, Monument was identified as the original building and site of the 1872 Rio Grande railway station known as Henry’s Station, named after early homesteader and postmaster, "Dutch" Henry. Although Henry’s Station was established after the railroad came through in 1869, it was not in this specific location, but located nearby. The actual structural demolition as seen in the published September photo was that of the Elliott’s General Store, seen in this photo, opening in 1879. It was established by Robert C. Elliott, a prominent man in Monument, and his partner, J. W. Mudge. Elliott married Mudge’s daughter, Fanny. They were a hardworking couple who ran the store, a cheese factory, and the Carriage and Wagon Repository. Elliott was appointed town trustee, served as town clerk May 1887-April 1896, and one of town committee members to purchase Monument’s three coal oil lantern streetlights on posts for $19.35. The demolition of this structure was the last of Monument’s original, commercial building sites. Photo provided and copyrighted by Palmer Lake Historical Society/Lucretia Vaile Museum from Images of America: Communities of the Palmer Divide, Arcadia Publishing. Caption by Sharon Williams.
Caption: This is one of the last photos taken of Elliott’s General Store structure on Front Street, Monument as it existed as a long-time residence in recent decades. Photo by Jim Sawatski, Palmer Divide Productions. Caption by Sharon Williams.
Caption: The photo that ran on page 27 of the October issue of OCN. Photo by Steve Pate.
Palmer Lake Creek Week, Sep. 25
Caption: More than two dozen people took part in the Palmer Lake Parks Commission’s semi-annual Volunteer Day on Sept. 25. Among the volunteers were members of Monument Boy Scout Troop 17. The Scouts earned community service hours for their efforts. The volunteers spent three hours clearing dead brush and trees from around Palmer Lake, removing noxious weeds and repairing trails along the creek in Glen Park. Photo by Michael Pietsch.
PLAG makes Holiday ornaments
Caption: Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) members Irmi Knoth, left, and Vicki Mynhier prepare the annual hand-painted holiday tree ornaments for the November and December fundraising season. Members painted tiny canvas artworks that can be used as holiday ornaments for trees or wreaths or even as miniature works of art. This year, the ornaments and the holiday tree will be at Bella Art and Frame shop in Monument. Funds from the sale of the ornaments will go to the PLAG local high school scholarship fund. Photo by Joanie Lang.
Black Forest Farmers Market, Oct. 9
Caption: A spectacular variety of pumpkins are displayed as shoppers brave a blustery fall morning at the Black Forest Backyard Farmers Market on Oct. 9. The market began in 2020 and continues in popularity every Saturday from May through October in the Black Forest Community Center backyard. The markets showcase local fresh farm produce, vendors, and food trucks, and offer children’s activities and live musical performances each week. For more information and upcoming Christmas holiday market information, visit www.thebackyardmarkets.com. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Monument Lake Mural, Oct. 9
Caption: More than a dozen people showed up on Oct. 9 to help local artist Lawson Barney paint a mural of the Front Range on the 300-foot retaining wall at Monument Lake. Barney traced an outline of the mountains and volunteers filled it in with blue, green, white, and black paint. Barney later added white birds. The work was expected to last as many as four Saturdays, but it took only one. It was part of the celebration of Pikes Peak Region Arts Month. The Public Works department later added a coating that would protect the mural from vandals. Photo by Shannon Bryant.
American Heritage Girls, Oct. 1
Caption: The local chapter of American Heritage Girls held a fundraiser at McCord’s Garden Center and Landscaping on Oct. 1, raising money for Wreaths Across America. A ceremony will be held Dec. 18 at the Monument Cemetery for the laying of Remembrance Wreaths at the graves of veterans. For more information and to sponsor a wreath for the Monument cemetery, see https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/142960/overview. The American Heritage Girls Troop has several projects going on for girls ages 5 to 18, learning about faith, community, and country while having fun outdoors and providing service to others. Photo by Marlene Brown.
PLAG Show, Oct. 8
Caption: Palmer Lake Art Group member Irmi Knoth presents the People’s Choice Award to Kim York at the annual small-works show held this year at Bella Art and Frame shop.
Caption: Ethan Ahlstrom hosted the small-works art show and was the head judge of the show for the group of award-winners.
Photos by Janet Sellers.
DAR work on Fox Run Park, Oct. 9
Caption: Members of the Kinnikinnick Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), inspected, cleaned, and spread crushed red rock Oct. 9 in the Pine Meadows area of Fox Run Regional Park. It was part of the DAR’s Day of Service. Members are encouraged to engage in meaningful service projects in their communities. Photo by Pat Borah.
Ruth Anne Steele fundraiser
Caption: From left, Kay and Lynn Stricklan display a photo of Ruth Ann Steele at the Black Forest Backyard Farmer’s Market on Oct. 9. The Stricklans held a booth to promote a GoFundMe page for a "Ruth Ann Steele Memorial Bench" in the hope of raising enough funds for a memorial bench to celebrate and honor the legacy of Ruth Ann Crook Steele. Her legacy includes founder of the Slash and Mulch Program, beloved teacher, conservationist, noxious-weed warrior, bluebird lady, musician, composer, founder and kingpin of the forest chorus, and Black Forest "Keeper of the Keys." The 35-acre Black Forest property owned by Ruth and her husband Jim for 55 years will continue as a conservation easement. The bench design will reflect the passions Ruth Ann shared with the Black Forest community and will be handcrafted at Bliss Studio and Gallery. The bench will eventually be installed near the playground and the pavilion at the Log School Park, on the corner of Shoup and Black Forest Roads. To donate, visit GoFundMe—Ruth Ann Steele Memorial Bench. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Pumpkin giveaway, Oct. 16
Caption: From left, Keeley O’Brien and Jack, Laney and Maura Petrie with Sparky the Fire Dog attend the Local 4319 Pumpkin Giveaway on Oct. 16. At the fourth annual giveaway, 923 pumpkins from Cooksey Farms in Longmont were neatly positioned at the Monument Marketplace clocktower for selection. This year, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District’s Fire Chief Andy Kovacs introduced the first annual pumpkin carving competition between each shift for the chance to receive a glass pumpkin trophy and a meal cooked by the chief. "C Shift" won the day with its trio of carved pumpkins, complete with a highly detailed "Smokey Bear" carved pumpkin. The event also featured Lori Lynn’s Cookies & Cream treats and a live performance from Manitou Strings. The Monument Police Department also participated, and attendees explored the many first responder vehicles on site. The annual event is sponsored by Dianna Goodfellow of Mutual Security Mortgage Ltd. and made possible by a donation from Skyline Moving Co. and the members of the L4319 and their families. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
100+ Women Who Care, Oct. 20
Caption: 100+ Women Who Care contribute $100 two times a year to local Tri-Lakes charities, which positively impacts the community by giving $20,000 annually. It’s a "big impact, without a big commitment." On Oct. 20, the group met at the Woodmoor Barn to hear presentations and decide which of the nominated charities would receive all the donations from that meeting. The choice was between Awake the Lake, Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference (RMYLC), and Wild Blue Cats. After a first and second vote were tied, the board decided to split the donations between RMYLC and Wild Blue Cats. Previous recipient Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance provided snacks and wine and described how it used the funds it received. Board member Cathy Wilcox leads the meeting. The next meeting will be on April 20, 2022. See www.100womenwhocaretrilakes.com. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
WMMI Oct. events
Caption: The Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) held two events during October: the annual Harvest Festival on Oct. 2-3 and Miners Pumpkin Patch held on those days and subsequent October Saturdays. The festival included gold panning, blacksmith demonstrations, live music, and the operation of WMMI machinery. For the price of admission, the Miners Pumpkin Patch offered a hay maze, apple press demonstrations, hayrides, games such as sack races, tether ball, a tube slide and pumpkin patch, where attendees had their choice of pumpkins. WMMI Executive Director Grant Dewey said the museum’s biggest fundraisers offered "tech-free family fun with a variety of old-time games and other activities" and was appreciative of the great turnout the events received. Information on events at the WMMI is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.
Awake Palmer Lake .5K, Oct. 10
Caption: Awake the Lake held the Seventh Annual Palmer Lake .5K "race" on Oct. 10. This year’s run started on the east side of Palmer Lake and incorporated the new pedestrian bridge. "Runners" were treated to donuts at the "rest" stop just before climbing the east ramp to the bridge and to either beer or root beer at the finish line where vendors and sponsors had set up displays. Awake the Lake contributes to maintaining and improving parks and recreational areas in the town. The 765 participants—715 humans and 50 dogs—helped with these costs. Photo by Steve Pate.
Glen Park Trail work, Oct. 16
Caption: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Monument Ward, volunteered with the Palmer Lake Parks Commission on Oct.16 to perform maintenance on trails in Glen Park. They also spread mulch on the playground and helped establish a second wildlife refuge on the lakeshore. Photo by Michael Pietsch.
Business Expo, Oct. 21
Caption: The Tri-Lakes YMCA and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce partnered to present the Business Expo on Oct. 21. About 97 local businesses, nonprofits and community services explained and talked to residents of the Tri-Lakes vicinity. After nearly two years of cancellations and suspensions of events, Tri-Lakes residents enjoyed the free event and speaking to business leaders of the area as they showcased their products and services. For future events, go to the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce website www.trilakeschamber.com. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Woodmoor sinkhole, Oct. 22
Caption: A broken water main caused a sinkhole that ate a truck on Caribou Drive West in Woodmoor and affected traffic on Oct. 22. The front of the truck got stuck in the water-filled hole. The water main break affected 25 to 30 homes in South Woodmoor Preserve. It was fixed by the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Department. Photo by Scott Henderson.
Makers Market, Oct. 23
Caption: The 25th Annual Front Range Makers Market took place at Lewis-Palmer High School on Oct. 23-24. About 3,000 shoppers were presented with 120 vendors and three food trucks during the market. Last year’s event was held outdoors due to the pandemic. This year’s market visitors could choose among pottery, wood items, fiber items, CBD concoctions, and Christmas decorations. Creative Director Stephanie Barker provided an websitel address where shoppers can continue to select items after the fair. The address is www.supportlocalmakers.com. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
St. Peter Trunk or Treat, Oct. 29
Caption: Kids of all ages dressed up in costumes and parents decorated their car trunks and truck beds for a fun, candy-filled Trunk or Treat evening at St. Peter Catholic School on Oct. 29. Decorations included celebration of el dia de los muertos, including pictures of ancestors and all the special trimmings, a ship complete with pirates for Sea Scouts Troop 789 (pictured above), along with trunks filled with games of skill. Almost all of the elaborately decorated trunks were made of cardboard. The event was a fundraiser for the school with a raffle and prizes for the most popular festive trunk. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Ballot issue 2F, Nov. 2
Caption: On Nov. 2, Monument Police Department’s ballot issue 2F asked residents of Monument to increase the sales tax rate from 3% to 3.5% to enable the MPD to shorten response times, hire and train more officers, and enhance its ability to conduct criminal investigations. The MPD pursued the sales tax option instead of a property tax increase, which would have placed the burden solely on Monument residents. The MPD routinely assists unincorporated El Paso County and Palmer Lake with emergency police calls. Sgt. Melikian, standing, conferred with other MPD officers during the Oct. 2 wildfire evacuation drill. Photo by Lisa Hatfield. Based on early election results available as OCN was going to press, it appears 2F will pass.
Wildfire booksigning, Oct. 23
Caption: After years of experience in wildfire risk reduction, OCN volunteer Lisa Hatfield donned her woodsmen’s helmet as she presented her novel, To Starve an Ember, for signing Oct. 23 at Covered Treasures Book Store. Hatfield outlined the theme of her first book as she signed copies for, from left, Jade Kleinhans, Paul Kleinhans, Kitra Scott, Garrett Pyle, Tiffany Scott, Lisa Hatfield, Cyndy Matlack, Chris Scott, Madison Scott, Hunter Scott. Photo by Teri Stephens. See ad on page 4.
TLC client appreciation pumpkins
Caption: On Oct. 18, Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) built a pumpkin patch and distributed carving kits, candy, treats, apple cider, and hot cocoa to show client appreciation at one of its bi-weekly food distribution events. Parents and kids alike enjoyed the treats and holiday festivities while picking up their grocery orders. For more information about TLC, a community-based, volunteer-supported resource center, see www.tri-lakescares.org. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Oktoberfest and Trunk or Treat
Caption: From left, Jackson Hensch, Ellie Hoang, Cayden Olds, Isaac Hoang, and Abigail Hoang attend the Second Annual Black Forest Oktoberfest—Trunk-or-Treat on Oct. 30. The Black Forest Community Center hosted Oktoberfest with great food and live German music from Das Half Pint Band in the Log School pavilion and garden. A long line of costumed children extended around the parking lot to the "back yard" behind the community center, where about 30 candy-laden trunks and a fire truck awaited. Multiple organizations, local businesses, and families and the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District gave out candy and treats. The event began at 3 p.m. and by about 6 p.m. all the trunks were empty! The event was organized by Tiffany Coles with the efforts of many volunteers, Boy Scout Troop 70, generous donations, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and www.WeAreBlackForest.com. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
By Janet Sellers
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. Please notify us if your event listing needs to be updated.
Monument Santa on Patrol
This year Santa and his First Responder Elves will have selected families visit them at the Monument Police Department on Sat., Dec. 18. Santa is asking for the community’s assistance identifying families with hardships or needs. If you know a family who would benefit from this event, submit the following information in the below format to Santa@tomgov.org no later than Mon., Dec. 13: Name and age of child/children in household, name of parent(s), address, phone number, brief description of why the family is a good candidate. Families will be selected based on the description of need in the nomination, so please provide enough detail in your submission. All toys collected will be donated by Santa on Patrol. If you are considering donating to any program this holiday season, we encourage you to remember our local children and their needs. New, unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the Monument Police Department located at 645 Beacon Lite Road or at any Toys 4 Tots box located at various businesses throughout the Tri-Lakes area. Gift cards should be delivered to the Monument Police Department. Toys should be dropped off no later than Mon., Dec. 13, 5 p.m. so there is time to get them ready to be delivered by Santa and his elves. Please contact Sgt. Andrew Romano at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Seniors Driver’s License Electronic Renewal
With the implementation of the Driver’s License Electronic Renewal By Seniors Act (HB21-1139), Colorado seniors now have the permanent ability to renew their driver license or identification card online, but there are new laws to understand. Information is online via www.mycolorado.state.us. Some restrictions apply to drivers aged 21-80, and drivers over 80 need a special doctor’s statement. Coloradans who are concerned about an elder family member’s ability to drive should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
El Paso County—Department of Motor Vehicles online and kiosks
Clerk & Recorder’s Office provides motor vehicle and driver’s license services. 30+ services at www.mydmv.colorado.gov. Renew registration online or at a kiosk. Make appointments. check in for appointments and wait where it’s convenient for you. The DMV encourages Coloradans to skip the trip and use its online services whenever possible. So before your next trip to the DMV, remember to save time, go online. Visit www.DMV.Colorado.gov/Save-time for more information. See www.epcdrives.com.
CO 21 (Powers Blvd.) & Research Pkwy. construction
Work will be completed in fall 2022 and will consist of replacing the current at-grade intersection with an innovative Diverging Diamond Interchange by constructing an overpass for Powers Boulevard/Colorado Highway 21 traffic to move continuously through the intersection over Research Parkway. For many more details and rendering of final configuration, including a video showing new traffic flow, see https://cccpi.net/cdot-powers-research.pdf.
I-25 and CO 21 (Powers Blvd)
The new northbound I-25 exit ramp to Northgate Blvd. is now open. A new interchange and a ¾-mile stub of state highway CO 21 (Powers Blvd.) will soon connect I-25 to Voyager Pkwy. This $65 million project is the first part of a two-part plan. Funding has not yet been secured to connect CO 21 from its current terminus at CO 83 & Interquest Pkwy. to Voyager Pkwy. For a map of the new interchange and connection from I-25 to Voyager Pkwy., see https://i25powers.com.
MVEA scholarships and summer trips
Mountain View Electric Association’s Youth Leadership Trip Contest offers a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., or be invited to Colorado Electric Education Institute’s Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs. Deadline Nov. 11. MVEA’s college scholarship program deadline is Jan. 17.
MVEA planning broadband service
Mountain View Electric Association is planning to provide reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband service to all its 51,000 members in the next six years. MVEA and Conexon Connect teams are now designing and mapping the network. It hasn’t been determined what areas and neighborhoods will be included in the first phase, but members will be updated as those decisions are made. For more information about MVEA and Conexon Connect’s fiber-to-the-home project, visit www.mvea.coop/broadband.
Palmer Lake seeks residents to serve the community
The Town of Palmer Lake continues to seek volunteer residents to serve on upcoming potential seats for the Planning Commission, the Parks Commission, and the Board of Adjustments. The Planning Commission meets once a month on the third Wednesday. The Parks Commission meets a minimum of once a month but also has opportunity to be involved in Work Groups for various Park areas. The Board of Adjustments meets up to once a month on the first Tuesday, as needed. To qualify, you must be a resident of the Town of Palmer Lake for a minimum of 12 consecutive months and be at least 18 years of age. See www.townofpalmerlake.com.
Photos of past Palmer Lake festivities needed
If you have photos to share from past Palmer Lake winter festivities (Winterfest, Yule Log, Star Lighting, etc.), please share them to the town website email@example.com with a description of the timeframe and festivities. The Parks Commission will be gathering memorabilia to assemble an exhibit.
Work around Palmer Lake Town Hall
The ramp reconstruction work on the town museum and library is well underway. Also, Town Hall roof restoration will continue into December. Thus, staff is alerting residents that typically stroll through the town green area to be cautious and respectful of the construction equipment and process in the weeks and months ahead. Furthermore, due to construction crew parking in the area lots, it may be limited parking. Please feel free to contact the office to assist with business that can be conducted by phone or email for your convenience. Phone: 719-481-2953, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, the Town Hall will not be available to rent for events through this time. Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to celebrating both projects getting completed!
Palmer Lake Vaile Museum to reopen
Plans to reopen soon with several new exhibits upon completion of the improved handicap accessible ramp. We are in great need of volunteers to carry on the work of the society. Visit www.PalmerDivideHistory.org or call 719-559-0837.
Noxious weed removal is our responsibility
As a private property owner, you are responsible for the removal of noxious weeds on your land to keep them from spreading. We often see plants we think are pretty that are really noxious. To see photos to help you identify local noxious weeds and get tips on removal and control, see https://assets-communityservices.elpasoco.com/wp-content/uploads/Environmental-Division-Picture/Noxious-Weeds/Noxious-Weed-Control-Book.pdf .
Area code required for local (719) and (970) calls
Colorado customers with numbers in the 719 and 970 area codes should start dialing 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. They will still count as local calls. Beginning Oct. 24, 10 digits are necessary for all local calls or they will not go through. Check your safety and security alert devices to be sure they are programmed with 10-digit dialing. You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services) and other local three-digit services including 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, dial these codes with just three digits.
Openings on Monument boards
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit http://townofmonument.org/261/Available-Board-Openings.
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 youths, 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/.
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us
Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization located in and serving northern El Paso County through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. The community-based, volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. The best way to help support Tri-Lakes Cares is to make a financial donation. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Nicole Pettigrew, director of Volunteers and Community Partnership, at 719-481-4864 Ext. 111; email@example.com; or visit www.tri-lakescares.org.
YMCA Three Race Series
Three races and one great cause: Creepy Crawl, Sat., Oct. 30; Turkey Trot, Thu., Nov. 25; and Jingle Jog, Sat., Dec. 11. See details at www.ppymca.org/raceseries and ad on page 6.
LEAP—help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1-April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
WMMI seeks volunteers
WMMI has positions for docents/tour guides, front desk, landscaping, and building and maintenance. For more details, contact Loretta, 719-488-0880, or email Volunteer@wmmi.org. See ad on page 14
Free services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. Private transportation to medical appointments or a grocery store is now provided by Envida, 719-633-4677. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
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.
Foot Care Clinic
A registered nurse examines your feet and provides foot care advice, toenail trimming. Silver Alliance Senior Center across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. By appointment only, 303-698-9496. $40 charge unless insured through Kaiser. Info: Nurse Association, 719-577-4448.
MCSS needs driver volunteers
Mountain Community Senior Services is in desperate need of drivers to drive senior citizens to appointments. For information on how to help, call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com .
El Paso County services to veterans
If you or someone you know needs food, housing, transportation, behavioral health counseling, or employment support, Mt. Carmel continues to be a beacon of support for those who served. Please call 719-772-7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to a member of the Mt. Carmel team. For more information, visit www.veteranscenter.org.
Can you volunteer today?
Links to local organizations with an immediate need for volunteers are listed on the county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/volunteering-and-donations, for groups like Care and Share, Crossfire Ministries, blood donations, Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity), foster an animal, Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, Salvation Army, Silver Key, and United Way (ongoing opportunities).
I-25 MyWay commuting options website
In another effort to improve traveler and worker safety along the 18-mile-long construction zone of Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock, rush-hour travelers now can take advantage of I-25 MyWay, a new partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Denver Regional Council of Governments. I-25 MyWay is offering transit, vanpool and carpool incentives to commuters willing to try a new mode of transportation between Colorado Springs and Denver. Taking more single-occupant vehicles off the road helps reduce congestion and enhances the environment. Commuters can learn more about eligibility and types of incentives at i25MyWay.org. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1"
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
El Paso County Hazardous Materials & Recycling Collection Facility
https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/environmental-division/ Appointments required. 719-520-7878.
Reading tutor volunteers needed
Children’s Literacy Center provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level! Tutoring is at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and our Summer Session will run through Aug. 14. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or email Christine Jeffson at Christine@childrensliteracycenter.org.
By Janet Sellets
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. Please contact email@example.com with changes and additions.
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.