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By Allison Robenstein
On May 3, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved requests to hold the annual July 4 parade, street fair, and beer garden on July 3. Also, the board reluctantly approved a request by Classic Homes to add houses in Sanctuary Pointe despite numerous homeowner requests for a denial.
Independence Day celebrations to be held July 3
The board approved an event permit from the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club for the Independence Day parade to be held Saturday, July 3 from 9 a.m. to noon. The club expects 100 entries with 1,500 participants. In years past, the parade has brought tens of thousands of visitors to town.
Despite Town Clerk Laura Hogan’s concerns about the emergency services and security plans provided by the club, Police Chief Sean Hemingway signed off on the arrangements.
The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and Visitor Center applied for a permit to hold the street fair and beer garden along Second Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The events will also be held July 3.
Director Terri Hayes said she has seen an interest in vendor tents although she said to expect fewer than in past years. "People are really anxious to get out," she said. Hayes confirmed the vendor tents will be adequately distanced from one another to make everyone feel comfortable.
A discussion popped up among the board members regarding parade cancellations at the state level. Trustee Laurie Clark asked if the board could approve a sanctuary declaration "to protect the town from future or current executive orders coming from the state level." The board decided to discuss such a declaration at the June 7 meeting.
Both requests were passed unanimously.
Sanctuary Pointe Phase 1 PD Site Plan amendment/Sketch Plan amendment
Classic Homes asked to increase the residential density of Sanctuary Pointe by 12 additional homes. Residents were originally told the 5.11-acre parcel along Sanctuary Rim Drive was to be a church. Instead, Classic Homes wants to build 12 single-family homes on lots that range from 8,351 to 15,243 square feet.
Andrea Barlow of NES represented Classic homes, saying now that the church won’t be built, the Sunday traffic it would have generated, an additional 1,700 additional trips, would now be considerably reduced.
There were many public comments against the requests including concerns about trees being cut down for the new homes. Several people said they use a trail to access their mailboxes along the main road, but Lauren Moreland, project manager for the development, said the trail is just a sewer outfall that will be eliminated.
Several residents, including Dr. Sarah Pramanik, were told in writing there would only be eight to 10 homes built on the parcel. A resident of Cat Nap Lane said, "we the residents of Monument have been bullied throughout this process," with a few even calling this a bait-and-switch tactic. Moreland said none of his sales team would ever make such a claim, but did confirm, "I know there are five sides to every truth."
Some sent copies of their documentation to Planner Debbie Flynn, but the information was never passed along to the trustees. When several members of the board expressed irritation that they didn’t have all the information in their packets to make a clear decision, Flynn said, "I wasn’t directed to do so."
Moreland said every contract includes verbiage to the effect that there is no guarantee adjacent properties will remain as initially shown on the plans.
Trustee Jim Romanello encouraged all residents to email concerns to the trustees directly using their public email addresses. He acknowledged the plan meets the town’s requirements for development but said voting tonight without the residents’ documents was unfortunate.
Trustee Mitch LaKind said, "How do we represent the citizens if they are communicating to the town and we aren’t allowed to know about it?"
However, Clark said she didn’t see any reason to withhold approval, noting the promises of salespeople can’t come into play. She suggested residents could retain an attorney, "but that is not our concern."
Trustee Ron Stephens was concerned about the expectation set for the residents by the developers. "I don’t think it’s appropriate to say one thing and then do something different," he said. Stephens also conceded his hands were tied in voting for approval since the developer has met the town’s building requirements.
Residents even claimed to have been threatened by Classic Homes employees that trees would be clear cut if homeowners didn’t come out in favor of this amendment. Moreland said Classic has never committed to a density range.
When Stephens exclaimed, "We’ve done everything by the book," it was obvious the board could do nothing except approve the request.
The request passed 5-2 with Stephens and Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott voting against.
First part of transponder replacement project approved
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish asked the board to approve $67,690 for a Meter Transponder Replacement Project. The money will be spent on labor for contractor Ratliff Utilities to replace 967 meter transponders. Data will automatically populate into the meter and billing systems, giving customers access to their meter readings. The project will be done by the end of the year.
Tharnish will bring a second request to the board so that they can approve the equipment required to complete the project.
The request passed 7-0.
The meeting adjourned at 9:12 p.m.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
After a special hearing over two days in May, the El Paso County Planning Commission voted to approve the county’s new Master Plan, which will guide development in the county for the next 20 to 30 years.
At the May 5 hearing, Craig Dossey, executive director, Planning and Community Development, said the work to update the plan had been a very thorough process and that the county would now have a comprehensive plan instead of a number of disparate small area plans, some of which were very dated. He said he hoped to update the plan every five years if the budget were available.
John Houseal of consultants Houseal Lavigne Associates (HLA) told the commissioners, "The level of effort has been nothing short of herculean by your staff and advisory committee." He described the Master Plan as a foundation for decision-making and a more coordinated approach to planning across the county and noted the extensive community engagement. He said close to 4,000 people had participated in the process, stating the plan had been heavily viewed and heavily vetted by residents and stakeholders. Commissioner Grace Blea-Nunez asked Houseal how the county had compared with others in terms of community engagement. He said he thought they had done very well with feedback being thorough, thoughtful, very specific, and very detailed.
Commissioner Tom Bailey said he was aware of remarks that not all of the public or agency comments had been thoroughly discussed or vetted. He said, "For anyone listening, for the public to understand that yes your comments, your voice, has been heard throughout this and we have this forum and another opportunity later for overflow for people to weigh in yet again but we have taken that, the importance of public participation, public comment, we have taken that very seriously and will continue to do so until the end of this process, but your voice has been heard and I just want to make sure that people understand that."
Judy van Ahlefeldt, a long-time Black Forest resident, has frequently challenged the robustness of the public consultation process. At the May 5 meeting, she raised concerns over the public review period from both a time frame and access point of view. She stated that there had been only five days, from April 28 to May 5, to review the updated draft and pointed out that some of the documents online were large and that broadband speeds in parts of the county made it difficult to download them.
Calling for the commissioners to seriously consider delaying the plan’s adoption, van Ahlefeldt said, "I think this is an inadequate public review opportunity for a document of this physical magnitude, complexity, and importance." The Planning Commission did not agree to the request.
Terry Stokka, representing the Black Forest Land Use Committee and the members of the Friends of the Black Forest, whose preservation plan will be superseded by the Master Plan, said the new plan strips Black Forest of the last protection it had for lot densities. Describing the timbered area of Black Forest as rich in history and wildlife, and having a unique rural nature, he requested a continuation of the Black Forest Preservation Plan’s 5-acre density rule in the Master Plan. He said the draft plan’s 2.5-acre minimum lot size for large lot residential effectively changed the RR 5 (rural residential) zoning to RR 2.5 (rural residential) for thousands of acres of county land and stated 2.5-acre lots mean more roads, traffic, tree clearing, and congestion that destroy habitat and natural features.
Responding to Stokka’s comments made earlier in the day, Bailey said the timbered area of Black Forest already had a number of lots much smaller than 5 acres. He said, "The key to this in my mind or what swayed me against putting language like this into this Master Plan is again the distinction between an advisory document and a regulatory document. Zoning does not have a place here." He further said, "Zoning can change, but for zoning to change it takes the people that currently own that property to want to do something with it, and if Black Forest residents want to preserve Black Forest the way it is, the way you do that is to pass your property to your children and make sure they want to live on it, and not sell it to a developer or subdivide it."
The vote to approve was 8-0. Commissioner Grace Blea-Nunez was absent, and Commissioner Thomas Greer abstained.
Following the plan’s approval, the Planning Commission will now certify it for the El Paso Board of County Commissioners and all county municipalities. This is expected to happen in late June, after which the new plan will be implemented.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
Due to technical difficulties at its May 5 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission had to continue the hearing to the morning of May 20. At this continued hearing, the commissioners recommended for approval a final plat request for the Grandwood Ranch development and a preliminary plan request for the Cloverleaf development.
Grandwood Ranch final plat
On May 20, at a meeting continued from May 5, the commissioners approved a final plat request by Sylvan Vista Inc. for the Grandwood Ranch development to create 48 single-family residential lots with two open space tracts. The 146.84-acre property, zoned RR 2.5 (residential rural), is on the north side of Higby Road at the southernmost terminus of Furrow Road.
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a rezone of the property from RR 5 (rural residential) to RR 2.5 (rural residential) and a preliminary plan for the development in November 2020. At that meeting, neighbors voiced concerns about the density of the proposed subdivision, in particular the northern portion which bordered 5-acre lots. As a result of the discussion, the developer worked with the property owner at the rear of lots 28 and 29 to provide an additional buffer. The final plat application shows a 100-foot rear yard setback on these two lots. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n12.htm?zoom_highlight=sylvan
Neighbors had also raised concerns at the preliminary plan stage about the extension of Furrow Road, and a number were present at the May 20 meeting. John Green, planner II, Planning and Community Development, told the commissioners that the road’s extension is now a Department of Public Works corridor project and that, while the staff understands neighbors’ safety concerns, they would be outside the scope of review for this application.
Mark Spowart, representing a group of homeowners’ associations (HOAs) around Furrow Road, explained that they had formed an alliance and hired a consultant specializing in the safety issues associated with cut-through streets such as Furrow. He told the commissioners they had been working with Public Works on traffic calming measures for the existing portion of Furrow Road and had some proposals for the Grandwood portion. He asked that the Furrow Road extension be limited to emergency access only until the traffic volume warrants it being made a through street, pointing out that the extension was not planned to be done for many, many years and that Grandwood had simply provided the opportunity at no cost to the county. Spowart urged the commissioners to create cut-through streets only when absolutely necessary, to implement best practice traffic calming measures, and to consider equally all road users. Silas Graves, a young neighbor, voiced his safety concerns on Furrow Road and shared his experience of riding his bicycle in the area.
Commissioner Eric Moraes told the hearing he lived off Furrow Road to the north of the proposed development and agreed with the public view, describing Furrow as "rural but speedy." Commissioner Becky Fuller said, "I hear what all the neighbors are saying about the safety of Furrow. This just isn’t the correct body to rectify it." She continued, "I would encourage you to work with your county commissioner and Public Works to get what you need." Chair Brian Risley said, "I also very much appreciate you [the neighbors] coming not just with a litany of complaints or problems but with solutions, possible solutions in hand. That rarely happens from a citizens’ group so you should be commended for taking that action."
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval. The application was then heard by the BOCC at its May 25 meeting. See BOCC article on page 5.
Cloverleaf preliminary plan
Also at its May 20 meeting, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend for approval a preliminary plan application by PT Cloverleaf LLC to create 144 single-family residential lots and 6 acres of open space and stormwater detention. The eight parcels of land, totaling 38.78 acres, are zoned RS 20000 (residential suburban) and RS 5000 (residential suburban) and are immediately north of Higby Road and east of Jackson Creek Parkway.
The commissioners agreed to an abbreviated hearing as the neighbor wishing to speak in opposition had withdrawn and staff had no concerns with the application.
The Cloverleaf development includes the redevelopment part of the sale of the "Walters Open Space" land which was rezoned from RS 20000 to RS 5000 by the BOCC in April. Lots 1-141 would be built on the rezoned land; lots 142, 143, and 144 would be built on two parcels separate from the rezoned land under their existing RS 20000 zoning. See https://www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#epbocc
Tish Norman, director of the Woodmoor Open Space Coalition (WOSC), which was formed by a group of neighbors to purchase the rest of the property as permanent public open space, spoke in favor of the application. It will now be heard at a future BOCC meeting.
The commissioners also voted unanimously to recommend for approval a request for approval of a Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 Special District service plan for the Cloverleaf Metropolitan District. The rezoned portion of the property would be included in the service plan. The application is scheduled to be heard at the BOCC meeting July 6.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
At its May 25 meeting, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a final plat application for the 48-home Grandwood Ranch development north of Higby Road. As part of the development, Furrow Road will be extended to connect to Higby Road.
Grandwood Ranch final plat approved
At its May 25 meeting, the BOCC unanimously approved a final plat request by Sylvan Vista Inc. for the Grandwood Ranch development to create 48 single-family residential lots with two open space tracts. The 146.84-acre property is zoned RR 2.5 (residential rural) and is located on the north side of Higby Road at the southernmost terminus of Furrow Road. The county Planning Commission voted to unanimously recommend the application for approval at its meeting on May 20. See the article on page 3.
The commissioners heard that the developer had addressed concerns about encroachment of development raised by a neighboring property owner at the rezone and preliminary plan hearing in November 2020. The final plat now shows a 100-foot setback at the rear of lots 28 and 29 rather than the standard 25 feet.
As at the Planning Commission hearing, Mark Spowart, representing an alliance of homeowners’ associations around Furrow Road, spoke to safety concerns with the extension of Furrow Road through the development to connect with Higby Road. He had previously given a longer presentation on safety issues and possible solutions to the BOCC at its May 11 meeting, and the alliance continues to work with the Department of Public Works to address safety on the existing portion of Furrow Road and the extension. The Grandwood Ranch application had originally been scheduled to be heard at this meeting but was moved to May 25 after the forced continuation of the May 5 Planning Commission hearing due to technical difficulties.
Commissioner Holly Williams praised the work done by the developer and neighbors and said that road safety remained a priority. She said, "It’s one of our decisions we have to balance every time we make it, the decision between the growth in this area, private property rights that are going on versus the safety of the roads, and right now we do have very high growth in this area."
Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. said, "I just want to reclarify again that the Furrow Road issue is a separate issue from this [application] so I just wanted to put that on the record again. There is ongoing discussion into how to best make that a safe street, as safe a street as possible and reasonable." He said the BOCC had gone through a lot of the other concerns and issues on the project months ago and that he was happy with the setback solution behind the two lots and was supportive of the application.
The BOCC voted 4-0 to approve the application. Commissioner Cami Bremer was absent.
• April 27–the commissioners voted to approve a memorandum of agreement and to approve and accept a special warranty deed from property owned by 7-Eleven LLC for the sum of $42,200 at the intersection of Struthers Road and Northgate Boulevard where the county is making improvements.
• May 4–held an executive session at the request of the county attorney’s office to determine positions relating to negotiations on future access to Highway 105 and Knollwood Road in connection with the Highway 105 capital improvement project. Direction was received but no decisions were made.
• May 18–approved the final acceptance of certain streets within the Misty Acres Filing 3 and 4 subdivisions into the county road maintenance system. Public improvements in both subdivisions have been completed and inspected.
• May 25–approved the preliminary release of a letter of credit for $330,001 following the completion and satisfactory inspection of all subdivision improvements at the Winsome Filing No. 1 development. The commissioners also approved the release of two bonds following the completion and satisfactory inspection of all subdivision improvements at the Misty Acres Filing No. 3 and 4 developments. These were for $147,694 and $31,400, respectively.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
Over the past 30 years, the Town of Monument has been updating zoning codes piecemeal, but this has proven ineffective. The Board of Trustees approved town staff to undertake a complete update to the zoning, subdivision, and signage code provisions. The objective is to implement the goals of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan. The project started in the fall of 2019, and final approval is expected during the June 7 Board of Trustees meeting.
Both residential and commercial zoning codes were updated, condensing them into one document for ease of use.
The project is funded in part through a state Department of Local Affairs grant. To get more information about the project, see www.plan-tools.com/Plan-Tools-Projects.asp.
Caption: On May 11, Monument Planner Debbie Flynn, right, talks with a resident about the land development code project that the town has been working on since the fall of 2019. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
The May 2021 Monument Planning Commission (PC) meeting was a long and eventful one, lasting four hours and featuring some notable announcements. First, a new alternate commissioner was sworn in: the PC welcomed Sean Zernickow. Next, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Filing No. 1 Replat & Rezone was approved for recommendation to the Board of Trustees (BOT), along with the Jackson Creek North Filings 3-6 Final Plats. A presentation on the land development code rewrite followed, which will be discussed only briefly in this article but is available in its entirety in the meeting’s recording on YouTube. The rewrites were approved for implementation by the PC with an amendment. The final vote was 5-1, with Commissioner Bill Lewis opting to "pass" on his vote. These rewrites are expected to be presented to the BOT on June 7.
It was also announced that Meggan Herington will start as Monument’s new planning director on June 14. Herington has been working as assistant planning director for Colorado Springs. Citizens interested in hearing this announcement can find it at the end of the meeting recording.
Further information about all projects discussed by the PC can be found in the meeting packets located at www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com. This site is also a good resource for accessing approved meeting minutes, as well as the agendas for upcoming meetings. This latest PC meeting, along with many older ones, can be found recorded on the Town of Monument’s YouTube channel at 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.
According to the town’s website, planning staff can be contacted by calling 719-481-2954 or sending an email to email@example.com.
For further information about the Land Development Code rewrite see the article on the facing page.
Fire district Filing No. 1 Replat & Rezone
Some facts about the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Filing No. 1 Replat and Rezone, according to a presentation from Planner Debbie Flynn along with the meeting packet and discussions during the meeting, including explanations from a representative of the fire district:
• The facility is located off Highway 105. It is 15.849 acres.
• This proposal includes a rezone from Planned Industrial Development (PID) to Planned Development (PD).
• The fire district is remodeling to improve its housing quarters and the available office space. This is because the facility was originally built when this was a volunteer fire department, and now there are paid staff members living on the property.
• This proposed development would include a fire district training area.
• The applicant is listed as "Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District" in the packet, and the property owner is listed as "Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District," too.
There weren’t any speakers during the designated public comment period, and the proposal was recommended for approval to the BOT without opposition.
Jackson Creek North Filings 3-6 Final Plats
Some facts about this project, according to a presentation from Planner Debbie Flynn, along with the meeting packet and discussions during the meeting, including explanations from a representative of Creekside Developers Inc.:
• These filings are within the Regency Park development, serving as continuations of Filings 1 and 2, located off Higby Road. They encompass 165 acres and will include 378 single-family detached lots ranging from 7,150 to 29,215 square feet.
• The development is also expected to feature 41 tracts, with 10.2 acres set aside for a park and 34.1 acres of open space.
• Land on this property has been dedicated to Lewis-Palmer School District 38.
• The applicant is listed as "Creekside Developers Inc." in the packet, and the property owner is listed as "Eagle Development Company, Lorson South Land Corporation and Jackson Creek Land Company LLC."
Several citizens spoke during the designated public comment period, mentioning various concerns including but not limited to:
• How fast development is occurring around Monument. Overcrowding was mentioned as a concern as well as shortage of space in hospitals and water availability.
• Potential dangers around the intersection of Harness Road and Higby Road as well as apprehension about traffic and road quality.
• Questions about what the big dirt pile by Harness Road and Bowstring Road was for and how long it will stay. It was later explained that the pile relates to Jackson Creek North Filing 2 construction and will be cleared when the project is complete.
In the end, this project was also approved for recommendation to the BOT without opposition.
Land development code rewrite
Some broad facts about the land development code rewrite, according to the presentation during the meeting:
• A draft of this rewrite is available to read in the meeting packet online.
• This project is intended to update the town’s code, improving its functionality. This involves streamlined review procedures, concretely defined standards, and zoning maps.
The PC voted to approve that this resolution be adopted after first amending the motion to maintain distinction between east and west of I-25, establishing that the west side will have a maximum building height of 75 feet and the east side will have a maximum building height of 50 feet. Everyone voted "yes" to both these motions, except for Lewis who passed.
For the time being, the public will be able to attend PC meetings through Webex software. Citizens are also afforded the option of calling in to listen to meetings, and if alternate accommodations are needed, the town website states, "Individuals without the ability to participate by phone or computer may contact Drew Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-396-0842." Further information: http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.
If there is a PC meeting next month, it is expected to be held on June 9 at 6 p.m.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
Monument residents might see a tax refund next year because the Board of Trustees (BOT) could not agree how a ballot question should be written that would ask voters about revenue retention. During a workshop that preceded the regular May 17 meeting, the board considered converting from a statutory town to a Home Rule one. A survey of residents shows most are happy with the value they receive from town services.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott and Trustee Jim Romanello were absent for both the workshop and the meeting. Trustee Jamie Unruh attended the regular meeting but not the workshop.
Excess revenue may come back to residents
The board considered a ballot question that would allow the town to keep and spend excess revenues for a period of five years. According to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, a vote of the people is required for a municipality to keep excess revenues. TABOR limits revenue from property and sales taxes, town fees, and funds allocated to the town’s reserves. Treasurer Rosa Ooms said federal grants are exempt from TABOR restrictions.
Trustee Mitch LaKind asked about the town’s intergovernmental agreement with Triview Metropolitan District that requires the town to give half of its sales tax revenue to the special district. Town Attorney Andrew Richie said sales tax that flows into Triview’s accounting system counts against their revenues, not the town’s.
The board first discussed the request at the April 15 meeting. Richie said the amount to be retained is based on the previous year’s revenues.
The board couldn’t agree on the ballot question verbiage. Ultimately the request failed due to lack of a motion.
Town still considering Home Rule
The board is considering a conversion to Home Rule, a function of Colorado’s constitution that gives municipalities greater control over local matters, such as election procedures, boards and commissions, zoning, traffic issues, and methods for passing ordinances and resolutions. Local concerns are ultimately decided by a court, but in some instances state statutes supersede local government. Trustee Ron Stephens said it must be abundantly clear that the autonomy of Home Rule doesn’t give the town the authority to ignore Colorado statutes.
A charter commission composed of elected town residents would be tasked with creating the new government charter. Richie said the process "gives citizens the chance to determine how the town will operate." Elected charter commissioners would be given access to town staff and relevant portions of the state constitution.
The process must be initiated during one of the July board meetings to meet the rigorous time schedule. Otherwise, it cannot be included on the November ballot.
The board first discussed Home Rule at the April 15 meeting.
Trustee Laurie Clark suggested offering a refresher course on the state constitution, but Mayor Don Wilson said this would be out of the board’s purview and might influence the commission toward the board’s recommendations.
Foreman said there will be town hall meetings to educate the public before the process begins.
No decisions were made, nor was there any further direction given to staff.
Survey shows residents don’t see balance of town growth
Magellan Strategies of Louisville completed a survey of town residents. The intent was to understand "Monument residents’ thoughts and opinions of town services, programs and budget priorities and quality of life aspects." Just over half the respondents said the town has not done a good job of balancing the growth of residential housing while preserving open spaces. Other survey results include:
• Overall, respondents said Monument is a good place to live and raise a family but find the town needs more dining and shopping options, and more work opportunities.
• 64% of all residents who responded said they "receive a good value in town services and programs considering how much they pay in taxes."
• For all men responding, 48% said the town is moving in the right direction, whereas only 28% of all women approved.
• Road maintenance services such as snow plowing and resurfacing were more important to residents than public safety. However, police budgeting was voted as a higher priority than funding road operations.
• 81% of respondents said they either never or rarely visit the town’s website where all development requests are available for public review.
Other important decisions by the board
• Public Works Director Tom Tharnish asked the board to approve the purchase of a used vacuum (VAC) truck for water operations and maintenance. It was unclear what the town would do with the existing 1995 VAC truck. The purchase cost is $134,000 for a 2017 Ford F-750, with 186 work hours.
• The board approved the purchase of 970 transponders from Badger Meter Transponders and Endpoints to replace the town’s water metering system with electronic meters. During the May 3 meeting, the board approved the labor costs. See related BOT article on page 6. The hardware cost is $229,570. Funding comes from the town’s Certificates of Participation bonds.
• Black Forest Foods, 140 Second St., was approved for a liquor license after showing strong commitment to the safe distribution of alcohol. Terri Hayes, CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, said the establishment’s employees are professional and the restaurant is an "integral part of the community." The request passed unanimously.
Resident Jeremy Harrigan told the board, "I do believe the time is now to raise awareness about making our town a sanctuary town from all the things that are assaulting us." He noted Clark had drawn up a resolution, but Wilson said it contradicts the state constitution. Board members received copies of the resolution, but the public did not.
The meeting adjourned at 8:37 p.m.
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 June 7. 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 James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met twice in May. Regular board meetings were held on May 13 and May 27. A workshop scheduled for May 27 was cancelled.
In May, the board reversed its course on parking, opening streets for parking by visitors to the town except where signs specify no parking. The board held a public hearing on a resolution to grant a temporary conditional use permit to Fletcher Drilling, allowing the business to store and repair heavy equipment at its site. The board returned to its effort to update the town’s noise ordinance, an issue tabled in April. Water issues were also on the agenda, with the board considering long-term water conservation policies. The board passed a resolution to name a general contractor for the Town Hall restoration project. Finally, two special event permits were approved.
Board rescinds no parking ordinances, opens streets to visitors
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a much larger than typical number of visitors seeking outdoor recreation to Palmer Lake, putting pressure on available parking. In response the board passed Ord. 01-2020 and Ord.03-2020, which together prohibited visitors from parking on town streets and closed the parking areas at the reservoir trailhead and at Glen Park.
At its meeting on May 13, the board changed its approach and discussed Ord. 7-2021, which rescinds the two previous ordinances and specifies that town staff will designate with permanent signs areas where parking is not allowed, effectively reversing the default from visitor parking prohibited to visitor parking permitted unless a sign indicates no parking. The southern end of the town, known as The Glen, will continue to prohibit visitors from parking on all streets.
The change was made with feedback from residents and business owners and followed a street-by-street analysis of parking options done by town staff. Several residents expressed to the board their concern with traffic, noise, litter, and other problems they attributed to visitors.
In the discussion preceding the vote, Town Administrator Dawn Collins pointed out that public parking was available adjacent to Highway 105, just west of the lake, close to the town’s restaurants and shops. The public parking is marked with blue and white signs on Highway 105, and the town is working to complete an additional public parking lot behind the town’s baseball field.
The board voted in favor of Ordinance 7-2021, with only board member Glant Havenar voting no.
Heavy equipment storage prompts debate
At the May 13 meeting, the board held a public hearing on a Resolution 25-2021, which proposes a six-month conditional use permit that would allow Fletcher Drilling to continue to store and repair heavy equipment related to their well service business at 797 S. Highway 105. The town’s Planning Commission had recommended the temporary permit be granted to allow the business owner time to address the issue.
Resident Gary Atkins gave the board his understanding of the company’s history. Fletcher Drilling had been in business for 50 years, he said, and they switched from well drilling to well service about 20 years ago. Their business license has lapsed, and their property is littered with old equipment and debris that the neighbors want cleaned up, he said. Atkins argued the company should not get a permit until they commit to a time frame to remove the equipment from their property and urged the board to ask the business owner to attend a future hearing.
Board member Karen Stuth moved to continue the hearing until the May 27 meeting, and the board voted unanimously to do so.
At the May 27 hearing, Tommy Fletcher, the business owner, told the board the tanks on the property would be removed and he would auction the drill rigs and all other equipment. Fletcher said he thought six months would be enough time to clear the property of equipment.
Resident Matt Stephen told the board that the equipment in question had not been moved in years and that the property was in effect an illegal junkyard. Fletcher was stalling, Stephen said, and asked the board to apply penalties.
Board member Nicole Currier said she wanted the resolution to have teeth. Stuth recommended an extension shorter than six months, and she asked for a financial penalty if the deadline were not met. Mayor Bill Bush said he wanted updates every two months from Fletcher and asked him how confident he was that he could dispose of the equipment in six months. Fletcher responded that six months would be adequate, but three months would not be enough time. Fletcher acknowledged that he was notified his business was out of compliance at the beginning of 2021 but had not removed any equipment due to COVID-19 and inclement weather.
Following the discussion, Stuth said she did not think the resolution had adequate penalties if the deadline were missed.
Town Attorney Matt Krob said the town’s municipal code established penalties that could be applied if the six-month deadline in the resolution was not met.
The board voted to approve Resolution 25-2021 with the stipulation that Fletcher give the board an update in person every 60 days. Stuth voted no; Havenar was absent.
Excessive noise ordinance gets additional fine tuning
At the May 13 meeting, the board continued its effort to draft an enforceable ordinance governing excessive noise and to provide clear direction to the town staff. The board heard input from several residents, board members, and Chief of Police Jason Vanderpool, who together made the following points:
• Decibel levels, wind direction, and barometric pressure are difficult to measure and to enforce, and should be removed from the ordinance.
• Defined "quiet times" are easy to enforce and are popular.
• Amplified music is a special concern to residents who live near businesses that provide it.
• Construction noise needs different rules and should be more limited on weekends.
• Home businesses should be subject to the same rules as construction.
• Permits for businesses that provide outdoor music should be included in the ordinance.
After the discussion, the board voted unanimously to table the ordinance until the next meeting to allow staff to review ordinances from other communities.
At the May 27 meeting, the board reviewed an amended draft of the ordinance that incorporated the feedback from the previous meeting. The consensus of the board was that prohibiting noise before 7 a.m. was too restrictive and recommended 8 a.m. as the time after which noise would be allowed. Bass asked for an exception for snowblowers. The board approved the language added to the amended draft requiring permits for outdoor music between noon and 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and between noon and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The board asked that language limiting the number of permits issued to a business annually and requiring fliers be distributed to nearby residences be removed from the draft.
The board directed town staff to revise the draft in light of their discussion and bring it to a later meeting.
Water conservation measures considered
At the May 13 meeting, the board began a review of the town’s water conservation policies. Bass suggested they be divided into two categories: those required at all times, and those required only during emergencies.
The board discussed Ordinance 2-2013, which establishes schedules for residential watering based on even and odd addresses and was passed at a time of severe drought. The provision allowing police officers to enter any property to investigate complaints drew special attention from the board.
At the May 27 meeting, the board discussed a draft ordinance that allowed more residential watering, defined a process for declaring a water emergency, and enumerated water uses that would be prohibited during Stage 1 and Stage 2 water restrictions.
Stuth suggested that the issue be discussed in a workshop meeting in June. No vote was taken.
Town Hall restoration resolution approved
At the May 27 meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 29-2021, which authorizes town staff to hire TN Parker as the general contractor for the Town Hall restoration project.
Fishing derby and Mount Herman Adventure Run scheduled
The board approved two special event permits.
The first was for the Tri-Lakes Lions Club Fishing Derby, which will be held on Saturday, June 5 from 8 until 11 a.m., with awards presented at 11:30. The event is open to children between 4 and 14 years old. Fishing tackle and bait will be provided if needed. A donation of a non-perishable food item for Tri-Lakes Cares is requested as an entrance fee. The fishing derby is an annual event but was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.
The second special event permit was approved for the Mount Herman Adventure Run, to be held July 16, 17, and 18. The event is an ultra-endurance run with runners starting at Centennial Park and proceeding past the Palmer Lake reservoirs to Balanced Rock Road 322. A total of 50 runners may choose between a 50-mile course and a 100-mile course. They will be required to carry a GPS tracking device and a cell phone with a GPS tracking application installed. Only experienced runners will be allowed to race.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold three meetings in June, a regular meeting on June 10 and a workshop and regular meeting on June 24. The workshop will be held at 5 p.m. and the regular meetings at 6 p.m. All meetings will be at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
By Allison Robenstein
Forest View Acres residents might gain access to the town of Monument’s water supply. The Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board met with town officials during the May 26 meeting to review the possibilities of emergency access to the newest water tank.
Possible interconnect to town water
The board invited Monument Town Manager Mike Foreman and Assistant Public Works Director Stephen Sheffield to the May meeting after learning the town’s new 2-million-gallon water tank was being installed in Forest View Estates. The town intends to run five miles of 12-inch pipe from the tank into the town, so the district hopes to access a section of the pipe for emergency water access.
Foreman told the board he could bring an intergovernmental agreement to the Monument board sometime in July. President Brad Hogan said the one-way interconnect would benefit the district more than the town, so Forest View Acres will likely be burdened with the most cost.
During the April meeting, Gabby Begeman of ORC Water.com told the board the inlet thawed where the district’s renewable water is processed at its surface treatment plant. Begeman mentioned the challenges the plant had in April, but during the May meeting she elaborated. The board will hold a special meeting in the future to discuss a possible treatment plant replacement.
In April, Badger Meter told the board the existing meters would need to be replaced to access current and future cellular technologies. New meters are compatible with LTE and future 5G networks. The 110 current CDMA-compatible endpoints must be replaced by the district at a cost of $60 each. Although the new meters carry a 20-year warranty, Director Eckehart Zimmermann commented that this covers the product but not the cellular network, suggesting the warranty is worthless if services upgrade again in a few years. In May, the board approved the purchase.
The board will continue to offer remote access for the public, but Hogan encouraged all board members to attend in person to reduce the multiple conversations that have been happening among in-person and remote members.
Forest View Acres Water District holds meetings on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Monument Sanitation District boardroom, 130 Second St., at 6 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for June 23. See the website for more information at Home | Forest View Acres Water District (www.colorado.gov).
Allison Robenstein may be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
On May 10, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board began the process of refinancing some of the district’s existing bonds. The board also discussed the impact of the district’s aging residential water meters on its management of water use and began discussing how to update the meters. Finally, the board heard operational reports.
Bond refinancing expected to bring savings
District Manager Jessie Shaffer began the meeting by introducing Jim Manire, director of Hilltop Securities, who serves as the district’s financial advisor. Shaffer told the board that in November of 2021 bonds issued in 2011 would become eligible for refinancing on a tax-exempt basis. Shaffer said he estimated refunding the bonds could save the district $5 million and asked the board to designate a board member to participate in the process. Board Treasurer Jim Wyss volunteered to help with the refinancing.
Manire explained that the bonds issued in 2011 would be locked out of prepayment and refinancing for 10 years. He said the anticipated $5 million in savings represented about 25 percent of the district’s outstanding debt. "The timing is right" to refinance, he said.
Manire recommended that the district retain Sherman & Howard LLC as bond counsel, adding they had served in that role in 2011. A request for proposal would be put together to choose an underwriter to market the new bonds, Manire said.
Board President Brian Bush said Hilltop Securities’ offer included a survey and analysis of the district’s financial resources and asked Manire to provide options to the board concerning refinancing, especially the length of time required for the bonds to mature, adding that he would prefer to have the bonds become due in 2036, which is when the 2011 bonds would mature. Bush said he would consider an earlier maturity date. Bush asked if the board could spend the district’s cash reserves to enable it to issue fewer bonds, and then use the district’s Renewable Water Investment Fee for four to five years to replenish reserves. Bush asked Manire to investigate using $2 million to $5 million from reserves in the bond refinancing analysis.
Manire agreed that Bush was framing the issue correctly and said the district had some flexibility in how the new bonds would be issued. He said he would provide the board with options. Manire cautioned the board about any decision that might lower the district’s credit rating.
Wyss said the 2011 bonds specified no prepayment for 10 years and asked if a 10-year lockout was still a requirement. Manire said in general a "no prepayment" guarantee was still the norm, but the length of time was negotiable and that the board could consider eight- or-nine year no-prepayment terms.
Shaffer said in terms of the timeline, he expected an underwriter will have been selected before the board’s June meeting. The board would need to make a final decision by August, he said.
Following the discussion with Manire, the board considered letters of engagement with Hilltop Securities and Sherman & Howald LLC that laid out the services the companies would provide. Hilltop Securities’ letter specified it would act as the district’s Municipal Advisor and would provide financial planning and other services, including supervising the sale of the bonds and selecting an underwriter, for a fee of $29,500. Sherman & Howard’s letter said it would serve as bond counsel and special counsel and would provide an objective legal opinion with respect to the authorization and issuance of the bonds, including the preparation of the Official Statement for the Bonds, for a fee of $90,000. The board voted unanimously to approve both letters of engagement.
Aging residential water meters give customers a break
At each monthly meeting, the board reviews reports that detail the district’s water use, including "unaccounted for water"—water that is pumped and processed but not billed to a customer. Several things can contribute to this measurement, such as main breaks and inaccurate meters in residences and processing plants.
At the May meeting, the impact of aging residential meters was discussed. Bush pointed out that most of the residential meters are 15 years old and are at the end of their useful life. Older meters tend to err in favor of the consumer by undermeasuring the water used. New meters cost about $300, Bush said. He said the board should begin thinking about meter replacement.
Shaffer agreed that as meters age their accuracy declines, and they tend to measure less than was used. The district needs to be proactive in replacing older meters, he said. In response to a question from board member Lee Hanson, Shaffer said the district did a study in 2006 and found that residential meters were undermeasuring by about 4 percent and the district replaced some meters in 2007. He recommended the district consider replacing meters in 2022.
Operations Superintendent Dan LaFontaine explained that older meters may not capture low flows, such as a dripping faucet, but are more accurate with high flows.
Hanson pointed out that customers might not understand a sudden increase in their bill due to a meter replacement.
Highlights of operational reports
• The Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP) is offline while hardware is being upgraded. The work should be complete by Aug.1.
• Water restrictions may need to be implemented depending on how capital improvements to the CWTP, South Water Treatment Plant and the Lake Pump Station proceed.
• The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority water reuse study held its kickoff meeting.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 14 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. Meetings are currently held at the Woodmoor Barn Community Center rather than the district office; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein and Lisa Hatfield
During a special meeting on May 7, the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board unanimously voted to hire Mark Parker as the district manager. Two specific actions taken by the district’s attorney caused one board member alarm. And the board decided although masks are not required in board meetings anymore, they will still be required to enter the district office.
New district manager begins employment
Parker, who formerly worked as the Superintendent for Donala Water and Sanitation District, was selected as the new district manager during a special meeting May 7.
Background: MSD has been without a full-time district manager since Interim District Manager Erin Krueger was terminated in September. Earlier, MSD board President Dan Hamilton had announced that, as of July 20, 2020, District Manager Mike Wicklund no longer worked for MSD. See https://ocn.me/v20n9.htm#msd.
Parker’s at-will contract includes three months of pay and insurance should the board terminate his employment with or without cause. Director Laura Kronick noted a job description wasn’t attached to the contract, so the board tabled its ratification.
Chairman Dan Hamilton said he would sign the contract with Parker later that day, so it was unclear if this would happen without the board’s vote of approval.
Attorney Joan Fritsche confirmed after the meeting that Parker had officially been hired. "The issue is updating the district manager job description attached to his contract," she said.
Fritsche clarified after the meeting had adjourned that the MSD out-sourced operating contract with Donala will continue, as will the MSD out-sourced engineering contract with GMS Consulting Engineers.
Attorney acting without board direction
Kronick confronted Fritsche regarding two specific issues. First, Kronick had sent revisions for the special May 7 meeting minutes, but her comments were simply summarized by Fritsche. "The summary is misleading and inaccurate," said Kronick. The board decided to postpone approval of the minutes until next meeting with the intent to include Kronick’s full statement regarding the hiring process.
Next, Kronick asked Fritsche why Parker’s employment contract had been signed by Parker on May 6, yet the board did not meet to approve hiring him until the following day. "This really bothers me a lot," said Kronick. "This isn’t the way the board works." Fritsche simply replied, "Noted." No other board members commented. Board Treasurer John Howe and Parker worked on the job description before this May 19 regular MSD board meeting but had yet to complete it for review and approval by the other board directors, before formally voting to hire Parker.
Board finds accounting entries in wrong line items
Kronick noted the Statement of Revenue and Expenditures in the monthly Haynie and Co. accounting firm "Financial Statements and Accountant’s Compilation Report April 30, 2021" reflects the wrong use of line items for expenses. Specifically, she said Engineering Fees, which listed an over-expenditure of 927% for April, don’t reflect actual spending. Hamilton noted the Professional Fees line item, which shows a 5,145% usage for the month, should be reviewed. Accounts Administrator Cheran Allsup has been making an effort to place expenses into the correct line items but didn’t have a district manager to rely upon with the authority to direct Haynie to make a correction to these line items. Board Secretary Marylee Reisig said of the budget, "this is all new territory."
Kronick and others have been asking Allsup to transfer excess cash from the Integrity bank account to the restricted Colorado Trust capital fund account. However, Allsup wanted to wait until a district manager had been named and could approve such a transfer.
Wakonda Hills lift station electrical box found under water
Parker said the Wakonda Hills lift station had a general alarm on April 28, resulting in operators having to clean one of the two installed pumps but finding the other installed pump completely unusable. He found replacement pumps in the district conference room to replace the faulty one. A third replacement pump has yet to be located in the storage facility. No customers were adversely affected.
The bigger issue, though, was that the electrical termination box, located in the wet well of the lift station, was full of water, shorting out the pumps. Parker recommended moving the electrical junction box and running all new wiring. Also, he suggested doing the same with the second lift station as a 2022 budget request. He brought a quote of $3,027 for one station. The work will be done by Sun Valley Electric Inc. The board directed Parker to get both stations rewired and not to exceed double the quoted cost of $3,027.
Board member pleads for better remote connectivity
Kronick made a plea to Hamilton to use Zoom rather than Google Meets for the monthly board meetings. She said the public should at least hear what is being said, "and have a good ability to understand what is going on." Hamilton said the problem wasn’t platform-based but device-based. This reporter and others have asked numerous times to be able to see the participants in the meeting, but the board will not purchase a camera. Instead, the board decided to raise the conference call Polycom unit up above the table to possibly decrease the sound of paper shuffling that causes noise distortion. No vote was taken.
Liquor license for tenant could cause building issues
Kronick said she attended the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on May 17 and learned that MSD’s tenant Black Forest Foods Café and Delicatessen had been approved for a liquor license. She learned they have ordered a refrigerated unit for outside the facility where the tenant intends to keep alcohol. Specifically, she said there will be a lockable walk-in freezer that stands 8 feet tall, with a 6-by-10-foot footprint.
Parker said easements could be affected if the unit blocks the rear sidewalk. The board members agreed if they can’t accommodate this tenant, they could lose the business and associated rent payments. Hamilton led the board in deciding to "do what we can to be reasonable."
The meeting adjourned at 10:17 a.m.
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 June 16 at 9 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 719-481-4886.
By Allison Robenstein
During the May 20 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD), the board approved two action items that stemmed from its April 15 workshop. A new accounting software vendor was approved, and the board discussed Well 7D.
April workshop yields multiple action items
In April, the board held a workshop so that new members could have a tour of the facilities and the whole board could review action items that are important for this year. A few items are already completed, including:
• On April 30, board President Ed Houle held an informal meeting with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) to keep the lines of communication open. Houle said he considers both boards to be "on the same sheet of paper."
• An information meeting with the El Paso County Commissioners was held May 19 to discuss the Master Water Plan and Draft Master Plan. Commissioners Holly Williams and Carrie Geitner attended the meeting, and representatives from WWSD, Cherokee Metropolitan District, and Widefield Water and Sanitation were also in attendance. General Manager Jeff Hodge said during the meeting with the commissioners that the districts demonstrated the depth of cooperation among the water entities.
• A formal fiscal policy was unanimously approved by the board members during this May 20 meeting. It is intended to "give direction to financial planning and decisions that help secure water and wastewater services at the lowest possible cost to customers." Hodge said the policy ensures the district’s "principle is not at risk."
• The board also approved an investment policy with the objective of creating a conservative portfolio "that seeks to ensure the preservation of capital." The policy gives the district manager the authority to manage the investment program, noting it should be considered an investment for income production and not speculation.
The items from the workshop that have yet to be completed include:
• Studying the restructure of the waste treatment rate system to link waste fees to water use, as well as the draft Colorado Springs Utilities rates and tariffs.
• Creating an intergovernmental agreement with WWSD for the "loop" project. The district manager at Woodmoor, Jessie Shaffer, is in favor of a sustainable, long-term, shared method of getting water to customers. A looped system would provide redundancies to all districts including Donala. The board may look for grant funding to pay for the feasibility study.
• Assessing the storage of additional Donala water in the Pueblo Reservoir. The board is considering a change to the Bureau of Reclamation Excess Storage Capacity Contract it holds but had not yet determined how or when to move forward. The district may be able to add more renewable water sources to the stored water.
Update to accounting software a must
Office Manager Tanja Smith told the board that the district’s current accounting system was no longer supported by the vendor. After an upgrade, office staff is manually entering data into the system that has lost communication with their bank. She suggested a change to Tyler Technologies, a municipal accounting software company that would customize a system for their needs. Smith said the new software allows connection to accounting, billing, and meter reads. A customer portal allows clients to view their usage and pay bills online.
Smith said the current system upgrade caused random billing errors that caused customers to be billed incorrectly. Tyler Technologies was recommended by the district’s auditors. A new fully customized system will take nine months to a year to bring online. In the meantime, Smith has asked the current software provider if the district offices could just use the previous version of their software.
Board member Wayne Vanderschuere asked if Tyler could build a pilot so the office could run a small sample of data from the beginning of the process to the end, even if it used dummy accounts for the test. Smith said future software updates are included in the implementation price of $94,690, but there was no mention of data conversion costs. The board unanimously approved the purchase.
Hodge said a video survey of well 7D by LRE Water shows a failure in the well casing at 723 feet below the surface due to a failing weld. According to the April 20 report associated with the survey, the 27-year-old well is approaching life expectancy. Significant bio growth was found in the top 100 feet of filtration screening that could reduce the well’s efficiency. LRE suggested drilling a new well rather than trying to re-equip the existing well because "the mechanical integrity of the weld at 732 feet is extremely compromised.
Houle asked if the district needs the well and suggested renewable water should be a high priority, but board member Ed Miller said he would oppose that, preferring to get water from wells. Hodge said it has no radio nuclides and produces good water.
The board entered an executive session to discuss the general manager’s review at 4 p.m. and adjourned with no decisions upon re-entering open session afterward.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 17. 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 https://www.donalawater.org for more information about the district.
Allison Robenstein may be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District postponed its April meeting to the fourth Thursday of the month, which was after OCN’s publication deadline, therefore this article combines the April 29 and May 20 Board of Directors meetings. Directors received operational reports and considered in-house steps pertaining to private data management and financial reporting.
All board directors attended the meetings either online or in person except Director Marco Fiorito was absent from the May meeting. General counsel George Rowley and water attorney Chris Cummins participated in both meetings.
The April 29 and May 20 agendas and board meeting packets may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Agenda-4-29-21-Triview-Draft.pdf, https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Agenda-5-20-21-Triview.pdf, https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Triview-Board-Packet-for-4.29.2021-web.pdf, and https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Triview-Board-Packet-for-5.20.2021-compressed.pdf, respectively.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, landscaping, and parks and open space maintenance, as well as water and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
"The bore is officially out to bid," announced District Manager Jim McGrady. Referring to the significant step of boring a path under I-25 to install a regional water pipeline called the Northern Delivery System, he described a two-phase bidding schedule. The first phase involved drilling underground from Jackson Creek Parkway to I-25, and the second phase continued the path from I-25 to Old Denver Road. The purpose of the two phases was to secure firm costs should entities west of I-25, such as the developer Conexus or the Town of Monument, choose to participate in the second phase of the project.
Conexus is a potential partner due to its plan to develop large warehouse-style businesses in the district’s narrow strip west of the highway. The Town of Monument might also benefit from the connection to create a redundant water source for its customers. McGrady anticipated opening bids on June 9 and deciding the contract award at the June board meeting.
In an April 29 public comment, resident Ken Kimple called to ask whether the section of the Northern Delivery System’s pipeline coming from Sanctuary Pointe would lead into Triview property. McGrady confirmed that the pipe would cut straight into district territory and a separate section of pipe would go north behind Kimple’s house. In response to Kimple’s question about a start date, McGrady estimated construction in the open space area to occur in 2022 or 2023 and explained that the bore phase of the project needed to be completed first.
Switching to a different pipeline topic, the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI), which is intended for regional wastewater transport from the Tri-Lakes area service providers to a Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) treatment plant, McGrady confirmed that the project’s momentum continued. He conveyed that CSU anticipated completing its required environmental assessment (EA), a step mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act, by the end of October, thus regional partners would need to make a firm commitment by late 2021 or early 2022. The EA, not to be confused with the more complex and lengthier environmental impact study, must be completed before the pipeline’s design can begin. McGrady alerted the board that Triview’s 2022 budget would reflect an approximate $200,000 expense for the district’s share of the NMCI’s design.
Open space matters examined
Kimple also inquired about Promontory Pointe irrigation system reparations that had been identified in the past. Parks and Open Space Superintendent Matt Rayno expressed his concern about replacement trees dying. He confirmed that the area along Gleneagle Drive was slated to be redesigned to incorporate more xeriscaping but that a crew would be addressing exposed irrigation lines and mulching needs in June and July.
Following Rayno’s report, directors discussed a strategy for maintaining landscaping in which the district did not have design input. Balancing water resources and financial expectations, the district must be mindful not to direct excessive effort to tree and shrub replacement. Acknowledging that developers often overplant with the notion that some of the landscape elements will die, discussion centered on reserving the right to maintain open spaces as the district deems appropriate and achieving greater input as landscape plans enter the development process.
Financial report changed
At the April meeting, McGrady described the current system for gathering and reporting disbursements over $5,000 as tedious and time-consuming. He proposed the possible alternative of collecting the information from the district’s CPA, Cathy Fromm, via her accounting software. Fromm’s check register could likely be sorted to suit the district’s reporting needs, he stated.
Directors discussed the original purpose of the "Checks over $5,000" report and the board’s fiduciary responsibility. Rowley confirmed that the dollar limit is up to the district, and the board’s responsibility is to ensure that the district is spending its funds wisely. Director James Otis expressed confidence in McGrady and Triview’s support staff but also cautioned about personnel changes that will inevitably occur. Director James Barnhart also dispelled the notion that the checks were held for the board’s review before being sent to the respective payees.
McGrady concurred about not holding payments for board review, stating that he was unwilling to jeopardize the district’s reputation by not paying its invoices punctually. Invoices are scrutinized to ensure that the district is paying only for the goods or services provided and, in many cases, oversight of contractual work is provided by the engineers associated with the respective projects, he said.
All directors agreed to simplify the process and to keep review of checks in the public forum with the caveat that expenses be explained with brief notations. At the May board meeting, McGrady presented the report in a slightly different format that included all expenses over $5,000. The board approved the new format unanimously. The district’s other financial statements such as cash position, fund summary, cost allocations, and capital projects fund remained unchanged.
A second resolution, 2021-05, established a public records request policy for Triview and its subdistricts A and B. The policy articulated the means by which the district would provide access to and protect its custodial public records and establish standardized fees in compliance with the Colorado Open Records Act.
The directors adopted both resolutions unanimously.
Additional reports and actions
• Rayno and McGrady confirmed that work on the district’s A-Yard building had accelerated after overcoming weather and supply delays.
• Rayno discussed recent repairs to a portion of Sanctuary Pointe’s irrigation system. Substantial damage caused during the winter by a private utility boring company destroyed about 130 feet of irrigation line along with its connected monitors and clocks. He confirmed that the boring company would be billed accordingly.
• Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton reported that water pumped during April 2021 was lower than the same month in 2020, which he attributed to this spring’s heavier precipitation. He outlined the repairs and rehabilitative work completed or planned for the district’s wells and associated water plants to improve efficiency, expand pump use, and extend equipment life.
• The district’s water storage project known as the South Reservoir Complex at Stonewall Springs was nearing completion. Cummins explained that during heavy precipitation seasons, Triview could establish short-term storage leases for water districts to help preserve their water assets when the Pueblo Reservoir threatens to spill or overflow.
• McGrady confirmed that the water meter replacement program would likely resume during the first week of May. Director James Otis praised the new meters on behalf of his neighbor, Amanda Carlton, who had received an alert about a continuous flow of 7.64 gallons per hour. Carlton texted Otis, "Not gonna lie, the new meters with the app are pretty sweet. Leak detected ... the app notifies you when [the] leak is stopped. Such peace of mind."
The public sessions for the April 29 and May 20 meetings ended at 7:15 p.m. and 6:04 p.m. respectively. The board entered an executive session after each public meeting per Colorado Revised Statute §24-6-402(4)(a)(b) and (e) acquisitions, legal advice, and negotiations regarding the following general topics: negotiations associated with water delivery infrastructure; negotiations associated with water storage on the Arkansas River and its tributaries; negotiations with potential contractors and miners concerning the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex; and negotiations regarding acquisition of renewable water resources.
Triview board meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for June 17. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD), Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts 2 & 3 (PPMD 2 & PPMD 3) board meetings held via telephone conference on May 27, the board approved the completion of two wells, ratified a water purchase, and discussed return water flows and lake levels.
Secretary James Boulton was excused.
A1 well progressing
FLMD District Manager Ann Nichols said the following:
• JDS Hydro has been managing the well process, and the district received multiple bids for the completion of the A1 well.
• The total estimate to bring the well into service is likely to be close to $375,000 for the entire project. See www.ocn.me/v19n1.htm#flmd.
Nichols said that naturally occurring radioactivity was detected during the testing phase of the A1 well water, and JDS Hydro went through a "basis of design" report that was approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The blending method of the surface water with the A1 well and the Dillon well water at the Surface Water Treatment Plant will reduce the radioactivity level. A fair amount of the A1 well water will be drawn from the Arapahoe Aquifer and mixed with the Dillon well water and Bristlecone Lake water, said Nichols.
Note: The well and lake water mix is the residential and common area water source.
The board approved the notice of award for the bid and authorized the district manager to proceed with the contract for the remainder of the project, 3-0.
Water purchase agreement
Nichols requested the board ratify a water purchase agreement executed by President George Lenz on May 3, and said:
• A water purchase agreement, made a few years ago, detailed the transfer of the Dillon well to FLMD for use as the primary water supply.
• The district also transferred water that was not needed to the Forest Lakes LLC. FLMD keeps track of the value of the water owed to Forest Lakes LLC, which is about $5.155 million.
• The proposed transaction transfers Denver and Laramie Fox Hills aquifer water rights from Forest Lakes LLC to FLMD to enable the drilling of the Denver well next to the Dillon well on the future site of the Falcon Commerce Center. The water rights on the tract are currently under the ownership of Forest Lakes LLC.
• The proposal transfers 137 acre-feet of ground water from each aquifer at the appraised value of $2,500 per acre-foot and an additional obligation of $685,000 to Forest Lakes LLC for the deed of the two water rights.
The board approved the ratification of the document to approve the transfer of water rights to FLMD, 3-0.
Additional well planned
Nichols said FLMD has obtained the water rights to drill the Denver well, and an application for a well drilling permit from the Division of Water Resources is being processed. The Denver well is estimated to cost about $736,000.
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, said a third well is being installed to enhance the water supply from the metro district to the residents.
Nichols said the district anticipates that the Bristlecone Lake level will always be an issue during periods of long-term drought. The new well combined with the re-use study will give us a good water supply portfolio for the future, said Nichols.
Bristlecone Lake level concerns
Nichols said the following:
• The Bristlecone Lake level is back from 34.8 feet to almost 40 feet, and the diversion gate to Pinon Lake was opened for three days to allow water to flow into the smaller lake.
• The district is fortunate to have had a wet spring, but it would be premature to expect the lake level to remain high when we expect hot, dry, and windy conditions. The main reason the lake level drops is from evaporation.
Nichols recommended the board stick with Stage 2 Level B water restrictions.
Blunk said the bank storage (water absorbed and stored in the bed and banks of a lake, river, or reservoir) will also deplete the lake level as the lake refills due to the long period of time the banks were exposed. "The lake is driven by mother nature and it will do whatever it wants to do," said Blunk.
Northern Delivery System update
Nichols said the following:
• The Phase 1 re-use study for the Northern Delivery System currently includes eight participating water districts, with each contributing $10,000 to accomplish the study along with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU).
• Participants are being interviewed to determine how much water each district would want to receive back through this process; the study will also determine the individual water rights and issues of each district.
• FLMD now has an emergency interconnect with Triview Metropolitan District, and its district manager, Jim McGrady, has signed a memorandum of understanding to potentially bring water back to all of the northern entity water districts. See www.ocn.me//v21n1.htm#flmd and the FLMD March 1 board meeting minutes at https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com and the Triview Metropolitan District article on page 18.
Nichols proposed the board ratify the March 1 approved audit exemption for PPMD 3, as discussed at the March 1 board meeting. The board also approved an audit exemption for PPMD 3 in 2020.
PPMD 3 is the operating district for the planned Falcon Commerce Center and where Pilot Flying J travel center opened in 2018. Although PPMD 3 is incorporated into the Town of Monument, the district receives a Public Improvement Fee (PIF) from sales tax revenue collected in the commercial development area.
The board approved the ratification of the audit exemption, 3-0.
The meeting adjourned at 1:34 p.m.
Caption: Bristlecone Lake in the foreground and Pinon Lake after Beaver Creek snowmelt run-off and spring rainfall on May 27. Pinon Lake was refilled from Bristlecone Lake via the diversion gate, over a period of three days. Stage 2 Level B water restrictions are in place. See https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com/utilities/water/. Photo by Kevin Barszcz.
The meetings of FLMD and PPMD 1, 2, and 3 are usually held quarterly on the first Monday of each month at 4 p.m. Meeting notices are posted on https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact District Manager Ann Nichols, 719-327-5810, email@example.com.
Natalie Barszcz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meeting on April 28, the board received the after-action report from the March snowstorm and a presentation for a wildland engine proposal. The district hosted a special meeting on May 13 with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) to explore unification, and at the May 26 board meeting the board received an update on the unification process and a presentation on hazardous material decontamination policy. Numerous personnel were recognized at both regular board meetings.
Note: OCN was unable to publish a TLMFPD article in the May edition because printing occurred the day of the April 28 meeting. For meeting archive information from the April 28 meeting and the May 13 special meeting, see www.tlmfire.org/board.
Unification of districts explored
The TLMFPD board hosted a joint special meeting with the DWFPD board on May 13 to hear a presentation from attorney Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Law on the process and possible paths to a unification of the districts.
Powell outlined four possible approaches to unification with pros and cons for each. See the DWFPD article on page 21. The options can be viewed at www.tlmfire.org/board.
At the May 26 board meeting, Fire Chief Andy Kovacs said that following board direction from May 13, he and DWFPD Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones had met with Emergency Services Consulting International of Wilsonville, Ore., on May 25 to discuss the scope of work needed to conduct a feasibility study for a potential unification. They also met on May 26 to develop a coordinated PowerPoint presentation for both boards. A forensic deep dive into the finances, salaries, and benefits of both agencies will be conducted, said Kovacs.
Storm after-action report
Battalion Chief Mike Keough presented an after-action report on the March 13-15 snowstorm and said:
• Personnel and supervisors from all agencies represented worked together from the planning stages on March 11 through the after-action reviews to accomplish the incident objectives. See www.ocn.me/v21n4.htm#tlmfpd.
• The level of coordination and cooperation has been mentioned throughout the region and at state levels following the event as a future model for events in other areas.
• Some areas were identified for improvement and coordination, and the district has begun working to improve for future events.
• Battalion Chief Sean Pearson of DWFPD performed the work of three people at the incident command center.
Kovacs also said the following personnel were recognized on April 12 for their exemplary performance during the March 13-15 winter storm with a major incident ribbon: Deputy Chief Randy Trost, Division Chief Jamey Bumgarner, Division Chief Dean Wahl, Battalion Chief Kris Mola, Battalion Chief Mike Keough, Battalion Chief Jonathan Bradley, Lieutenants Kevin Richmond, Chris Keough, Mauricio Ayala, Mike Smith, Janaka Branden, Micah Coyle, and Franz Hankins; Engineers Matthew Edmunds, Braden Stoenner, Jody Thorpe, Aaron Wood, Adam Wakefield, and Morgan Cudney; Firefighter/Paramedics Keith Barker, Jeremy Furman, Dak Damour, and Derek Thorne; Paramedics Greg Lovato and Jonathon Hoeh; and Firefighters Hunter Ortuno, Alexander Armstrong, Rudi Gillette, Robert Horne, Tyler Ruona, Will Vogl, and Tyler Brickell.
Kovacs said he is both proud and honored to bestow the ribbons, and the staff can "Wear it proudly!"
Kovacs said paramedic Stephanie Soll and firefighter Christian Schmidt have been recognized by the Plains to Peaks Emergency Medical and Trauma Service Region with the "Step Up" award for their performance in a childbirth emergency in July 2020. See www.ocn.me/v21n2.htm#tlmfpd.
On April 7, TLMFPD assisted the Larkspur Fire Protection District with an automobile accident involving fire on I-25 at Exit 167. A wrong-way driver was responsible for the accident that resulted in injuries and loss of life. Lt. Micah Coyle, engineer Mike Rauenzahn, and firefighter Hunter Ortuno performed professionally and did an outstanding job with "grace under pressure on a challenging call," said Kovacs.
Wildland engine presentation
Keough also gave a presentation for an additional apparatus proposal and said:
• Every year, wildland fires are breaking records in state and nationally, and each fire is burning stronger with more conflagration.
• The department needs to keep on top of the potential for wildland fires with robust training, mitigation efforts, and good preparation to stay on the front end.
• TLMFPD’s Wildland Committee recommends purchasing a Type 3 engine to increase response and deployment effectiveness to fires in the wildland-urban interface.
• The proposed Type 3 would be the safest engine for a four-person crew to respond with anywhere, and particularly on I-25 during winter weather.
• The district budgeted $160,000 for a Type 6 engine this year, and the Wildland Committee requests the board consider an additional $200,000 for the purchase of a Type 3 engine this year and defer the purchase of a replacement Type 6 engine until 2022.
Kovacs said the number one threat to the Tri-Lakes community is wildland fire, and the addition of a Type 3 engine to the fleet would serve the community well. Finalization of specifications for the tools and equipment for a Type 3 engine have been identified by the firefighters, and the district is awaiting pricing for those items for the 2022 budget year, said Kovacs.
The board will consider the proposal at a future meeting.
Gross decontamination presentation
Battalion Chief of Training Jonathan Bradley explained how decontamination policies crews have adopted limit exposure to hazardous chemicals. He said reports about increased cancer rates throughout the fire service are cause for concern, and he reviewed the district’s current procedures for decontamination from cancer-causing chemicals encountered during incidents. Bradley recognized Lt. Mo Ayala for writing the district policy for the decontamination process.
Chief discusses structure fire
Kovacs said that during an electrical storm accompanied by hail, a Fox Run residential structure caught fire on April 27. He said mutual aid response really captured what it looks like to have a truly collaborative working relationship with all the agencies including DWFPD, BFFRPD and the Colorado Springs Fire Department. He also mentioned:
• Lt. Chris Keough has been approved to act as a shift battalion chief.
• A remarkable amount of training hours occurred during March and April.
• The district is in search of a volunteer chaplain.
• As requested by Battalion Chief Kris Mola, the chief’s report will be shared with line personnel after board meetings in the future.
Caption: Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District’s (TLMFPD) Chief Andy Kovacs and the executive team conducted an external stakeholder workshop on May 8 to get input on whether the district is serving the community in the way people expect. Representatives from the community included homeowners associations, public safety, local business owners, and philanthropy groups. Breakout Group Two was, from left, André Mouton, TLMFPD Division Chief of Community Risk Jamey Bumgarner, Randy Estes, Holly Brandon, and Robert Ginnett. Results of this discussion of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) will be combined with SWOT analyses from within the department and from the 2019 ESCI (Emergency Services Consulting International) Master Plan. The new Strategic Plan will be implemented by January 2022. See www.tlmfire.org/transparency (click Master Plan), www.ocn.me/v19n5.htm#tlmfpd. Photo by Jennifer Martin.
Caption: Fire/Medic Derek Thorpe assists three members of St. Peter Cub Scout Pack 217 (L to R: Clayton Ryals, Stella Keough, and Pierce Ryals) in the assembly of the U.S. flag before the Pledge of Allegiance was held at the beginning of the "ground-breaking" ceremony for the Station 1 remodel on May 29.
Caption: Division Chief of Logistics Capt. Dean Wahl unveils the project announcement board at Station 1. The event was captured by TLMFPD’s drone operated by Lt. Franz Hankins. Visual progress of the remodel will be posted periodically at www.tlmfire.org. Completion of the remodel project is expected in October. Photos by Natalie Barszcz.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce, 166 Second St., downtown Monument. For Zoom meeting instructions, minutes, and agendas, visit www.tlmfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
Residents in the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) may see a merger with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD). The Wescott board met with the TLMFPD board on May 13 to discuss options for a possible unification. On May 17, the board held an executive session to receive the advice of legal counsel, but no decisions were made.
Directors Charlie Fleece and Joyce Hartung were noted absent from the regular meeting on May 18.
During a May 13 meeting of the two district boards, attorney Emily Powell reviewed the possible unification options and the implications of each choice. Several years ago, the two boards began merger discussions, but Wescott board members decided to table it after TLMFPD offered a contract to take over Wescott’s services. See https://www.ocn.me/v19n3.htm#dwfpd.
Of the four approaches to unification that Powell discussed the main obstacles will be Wescott’s dual mill levies for the district and sub-district of 7 and 21, respectively. There was no discussion about Wescott’s volunteers.
Powell said the "Authority" option simply layers a third government on top of the existing two districts, because each district and subdistrict would keep the mill levies the same. This would be the easiest of the four options to complete for Wescott.
The second option, a "Merger-by-Inclusion," would allow TLMFPD to encompass all the Wescott district and subdistrict. Wescott customers would vote to take on the 18.4-mill levy that TLMFPD customers currently pay.
Wescott employees would receive a lateral transfer in order to retain their original hiring date. This is important to the Fire and Police Pension Association in the event they need to file future disability claims. Wescott property owners could petition for exclusion. Wescott Chairman Mark Gunderman said those in the "southern enclave" who pay only 7 mills currently would switch to 18.4 mills overnight if this were approved.
The third option posed by Powell, a "District-to-District Transfer," would be a complicated process for Wescott. Voters in the southern district would vote to increase their mill levy from 7.0 to 21.90 mills, which is currently paid by those living in the northern sub-district. If this is approved, then the lower of the two district’s mill levies would be agreed upon, which is 18.4 mills.
Wescott property owners may petition for exclusion by Wescott. Wescott Secretary Larry Schwarz said the Colorado Springs Fire Department probably wouldn’t cover this area because it doesn’t represent enough revenue. Wescott Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones noted if the enclave were to contract with Colorado Springs, they would need an entity with which to contract, rather than each homeowner signing a contract separately.
Powell called the last of the choices the "Bake a cake" option. Neither mill levy survives, so voters would be asked to approve a new mill levy while also voting on the consolidation approval itself. The majority in each district would have to approve the mill level and the consolidation.
Both boards directed their respective chiefs to contact ESCI, a strategic analytics firm from Wilsonville, Ore., to begin a feasibility study.
For the TLMFPD board’s perspective on unification, see article on page 21.
Interim chief’s report
Jones presented a short-term action plan to the board, noting there is "excellent organizational coordination" between Wescott, TLMFPD, and Black Forest. He said a long-term plan can be developed but would be dependent upon the board’s decision to pursue unification with TLMFPD. The plan, which goes from mid-May to mid-July, includes:
• Promoting someone to the vacant lieutenant position. Testing will occur the week of June 14.
• Realigning shift personnel to meet response needs.
• Aligning vacation practices with the Employee Handbook and Standard Operating Procedures.
• Reducing wildland deployments for the season as compared to last year.
• Improving Station 3 to eliminate the "significant safety hazards."
• Reviewing the 2021 budget and requesting the necessary amendments. Jones said some of the district’s apparatus, although in good working order, are older, have high mileage and are close to the end of their useful lives.
Battalion Chief Scott Ridings said the district saw a 36% increase in call volume for April 2021 as compared to the same time last year. He said all employees have completed their annual physicals.
Resident Steve Simpson said he is glad the district is exploring unification with TLMFPD. He sees the chance for improved emergency services. He also suggested a merger would provide financial stability and more career opportunities for Wescott employees.
The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.
Caption: On May 2, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District honored former board Chairman William "Bo" McAllister by dedicating the newest water tender to him. McAllister served as a volunteer EMT and then led the Board of Directors until his passing in January 2020. Photo courtesy of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.
If the meeting is held in person, it will be at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. For a virtual meeting, the phone number is 669-900-9128, and the meeting code is 980 378 2073. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. The next Donald Wescott fire district meeting is scheduled for June 15 at 4 p.m. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting on May 19, the board was updated on the ongoing staff retention issues and the discussion points raised during a recent meeting with a county commissioner, and heard about the recognition awarded at the first annual awards banquet.
Chairman Richard Nearhoof and Director James Abendschan were excused.
The meeting began at 7:08 p.m. when Treasurer Jack Hinton arrived and a quorum was reached.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said the following:
• Six full-time staff were hired on April 26.
• Even though the district has hired six, in May the department lost another staff member who had been testing for nine years with the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and we are really happy for him.
• Another staff member is currently testing for employment with a fire department in Texas to be close to family.
• The previously hired administrator who was due to start in June had a tremendous resume, but he has been poached by another company that offered a higher salary.
• Many staff members are now commuting from the Denver suburbs due to the lack of affordable accommodations in El Paso County.
• Retention will remain a constant focus because the cost of living has increased.
• Studies show that the pandemic has caused some people to re-evaluate their lives, and that is creating a finicky, unstable workforce nationwide.
Langmaid also said a constant shift in workforce and workplace silos are causing major disruption when people leave, forcing the staff to adapt as leaders and managers. The district is working on the next phase of hiring, but as an extreme priority the district will now engage a certified public accountant to ensure the continuity of financial operations.
County commissioner visits district May 17
El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams requested a meeting with Hinton and Langmaid to discuss the potential needs of BFFRPD, and Hinton said the following:
• The county will be receiving $140 million in federal aid.
• Williams also met with other fire departments within County District 1 to determine their needs.
• The northern end of the district was the major focus during the visit due to the lack of available firefighting water.
• Williams was amazed that there was no water at Flying Horse North (FHN) to fight fires and saw multiple new properties requiring wildland mitigation in the far north of the district.
• Although FHN is a dual service area and receives fire services from Donald Wescott Fire Protection District and BFFRPD, 750 gallons of water is the maximum that any one apparatus can provide at any time to fight a fire, and refilling BFFRPD apparatus takes place at Station 1.
• Among the various topics discussed was the possibility of additional water tanks for the district, and Williams mentioned that a water authority board to control fire-fighting water may be necessary.
• Williams said during the visit that the City of Colorado Springs’ only intent is to annex a possible future hotel in FHN.
• Williams also mentioned the Northern Delivery System, an underground water delivery system that will travel along Highway 83 and provide return flows from Colorado Springs Utilities to northern El Paso County residents. See Triview article on page 18 and FLMD article on page 20.
Note: FHN has a small retention pond on its golf course, and a fire hydrant was recently installed at Allen Ranch Road. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd.
Hinton said regarding annexation, the Master Plan stated all of FHN and a portion of the southern areas could be annexed into the city, and he informed Williams during the meeting that BFFRPD anticipates a 25% loss of revenue per year should the city go through with the annexations. The district would not be able to maintain the required level-of-service with such a loss, he said. See www.ocn.me/v21n4.htm#bocc and https://elpaso.hlplanning.com/pages/draft-plan-outreach.
The El Paso County Planning Commission adopted the Master Plan on May 26. See the Planning Commission Special Meeting article on page 1.
Langmaid said it is clear the county has some energy, and it could help the economy by installing water tanks in strategic locations throughout the district. That would help developers meet code requirements and allow business to expand in the district. Also, investing revenue into the county Sheriff’s Office dispatch service would increase the communications level and help all fire districts.
Langmaid also said that Cherokee Metropolitan District (CMD) has installed fire hydrants 30-40 feet from the road on Swan and Volmer Roads, but BFFRPD trucks cannot reach some of those hydrants. "We can absolutely use them in an emergency, but right now many are without water flow, and some locations are not safe fill areas" and the district needs to discuss future water use with CMD, said Langmaid.
Hinton said that although he was shocked Williams telephoned his home on a Saturday evening to request that he also attend her meeting with Langmaid, he was so glad she did. The three-hour meeting touring the district and visiting both stations was an enlightening learning experience for Williams.
Before the meeting, Williams stated that she would not discuss impacts fees, only the dual taxation areas and the district needs, said Hinton.
First annual awards/recognition
Langmaid said BFFRPD held its first annual recognition banquet on April 28. The following awards and recognitions were presented during the event:
• Firefighter of the year 2019 – Firefighter Cody Poole.
• Firefighter of the year 2020 – Lt. Benjamin Rackl.
• EMS provider of the year 2020 – Fire Medic Brandon Jones.
• Capt. Christopher Piepenburg for achieving the designation of Chief Training Officer from the Center of Public Safety Excellence.
• Donna Arkowski was awarded the title "Honorary Fire Chief" for 45 years of service to the district as a firefighter and secretary to the board.
• Shield 616 was presented with the Community Service Recognition Award for working to secure ballistic vests and helmets for the BFFRPD staff.
• Munson Excavating also received the Community Service Recognition Award for its continued support to BFFRPD during emergency operations.
Vice Chair Nate Dowden said the department received a note from Black Forest by Wedgewood Weddings, thanking the department for choosing them as the venue for the BFFRPD’s first annual recognition banquet on April 28.
Hinton reviewed the month’s financial statements, which he had received from Langmaid the day before the meeting. OCN continues to request copies of the month’s financials. After the meeting, and upon OCN’s request, a year-to-date profit and loss sheet, a balance sheet, and the budget vs. actuals year-to-date were obtained.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 3-0.
Langmaid said Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) had a significant structure fire, and BFFRPD provided mutual aid on April 27. He said:
• The consistent standardized training and operational efforts of the three departments crews and staff, incorporating the same strategies, tactics, communications, and language throughout each agency, are a real credit.
• You do not see that kind of alignment in the fire service very often and if it were not for the different names on the trucks, no one would know that the response included three different fire departments.
• DWFPD and TLMFPD are publicly discussing a possible unification and that is a major positive step in the right direction for the region. See related DWFPD and TLMFPD articles on page 21.
Langmaid also said:
• The department began issuing standard operating guidelines (SOG’s) on April 16 and have already completed 13 for the teams to start working with. There is a need and goal for about 35-40 SOG’s.
• A targeted response plan has been created for Edith Wolford Elementary School, and all rigs are equipped with a copy.
• Station 2 was closed for 12 hours on April 26 and it was immediately reopened on his return to duty. The only reason Station 2 will close is for major staffing or a facility issue. During the flood in early April the dedicated Station 2 staff insisted on remaining operational throughout, even though a move to Station 1 was suggested.
• Shore lines (electrical plug-ins for apparatus) were installed at Station 1 and a garage door reconfiguration was completed at Station 2.
• The district is still waiting on the City of Colorado Springs for updates on the exclusion process.
• Another property owner north of Hodgen Road deposited their fee for inclusion into BFFRPD on May 19.
Hinton asked Langmaid to notify him immediately when the expected delivery date for the new Pierce engine is realized, allowing for a current favorable rate lock-in with the bank. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd.
Langmaid said that major infrastructure will need to be defendable, standardized, predictable, and very objective. The district is now using an "alternative means and methods" approach to ensure life safety requirements are met by commercial occupancies. Two National Fire Protection Association International Fire Code guidance documents allow for the use of a rural water supply and fire sprinklers, and developers of commercial properties will now be required to hire a Colorado licensed fire protection engineer and then present a stamped letter of approval stating how the two requirements are going to be met.
Note: BFFRPD does not have a dedicated fire marshal.
Langmaid said the following:
• Significant recognition goes to Capt. Chris Piepenburg for successfully holding the first professional 50 hours per week, three-week long, mini-fire academy.
• The six new firefighter/EMT staff arrived with prior lateral experience and varying tenure from other departments, but they really got a sense for the culture at BFFRPD and are now a familiarized and a close-working team.
• Piepenburg and the on-duty crews provided a unique learning experience for the newly hired personnel.
• The department hires for character and trains to competency, and the next fire academy may be different.
Black Forest resident Linda Smith asked if the department was planning an open house in July to showcase the new training facility to the public.
Langmaid said an open house would be at a cost to the district, and the board would need to approve the funding. He would not force overtime, and the department would be relying on staff to volunteer their time. An open house is on the department’s radar, and he estimated staff would need to volunteer six to eight hours.
The meeting adjourned at 8:01 p.m.
Caption: Newly hired firefighter/EMTs: top left Andrew Hladik, top right Marina Fine, middle left John Singsheim, middle right Lana Trezza, bottom left Luke Marrone, and bottom right Michael Alvarado practice hose skills in April. The six new hires began a three-week mini-firefighter training academy at BFFRPD on April 26 before beginning their first shifts. The academy focused on a rigorous training program that included physical training, firefighting skills, and daily testing to familiarize them with the department protocols. Photo courtesy of BFFRPD.
Meetings are usually held at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at BFFRPD Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for June 16 at 7 p.m. For updates, agendas and minutes, visit www.bffire.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held several meetings in May, culminating in the selection of a new chief operating officer (COO).
In a special meeting on May 3, El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) employees discussed masks and quarantines. In the regular meeting, the board passed updates to several polices and announced the sole finalist for the COO position. A community meeting was held with the finalist on May 17, and the board met to confirm him in the position.
New COO selected
At the May 13 meeting, board member Megghan St. Aubyn reported that the COO selection committee had selected Merlin Holmes as the sole finalist. The committee consisted of parents, board members, and administrators. Holmes thanked the committee and briefly described his background with charter schools including The Classical Academy (TCA). He said he’d been involved with seven building projects and was well-versed in expanding schools. St. Aubyn said the process included a 14-day waiting period, a community forum, and a final board vote.
On May 17, MA held a hybrid in-person/remote community forum so that Holmes could answer questions submitted by parents. Board member Ryan Graham read the questions aloud from 3-by-5 cards, giving Holmes time to respond. Holmes started by introducing his wife, Zoanne, and saying that in the first 90 days of his transition he planned to listen and not make a lot of changes until he learns more about the organization, its personality, and programs. He said that Good to Great is his favorite business book and informs his philosophy.
Questions included his involvement with the Monument community, plans for creating community, receptivity to parental input, support for concerns about COVID mandates, and his termination from former positions. Holmes noted that he has lived in Monument since 2003 but worked outside the community so had not been able to participate in many local efforts. He had worked at both SkyView Academy and Aspen View Academy in Douglas County but was terminated in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He noted that both of those charter schools were unique in that they had founders who were also on the school board. He said the founders were reluctant to let go and let the board and principal do their job. He noted that the average tenure for charter administrators is not very long but said that both schools are very successful and that he had learned to be a better administrator.
Asked about the reason for his departure from TCA, he noted that a new person was brought in who wanted his own people to run the school and that he was asked to leave. He noted that his wife continued to work there for nine years and that he maintained good connections with the school. Asked how he would help teachers implement engaging lesson plans rather than be focused on discipline, he mentioned a program called Capturing Kids Hearts to give teachers effective tools to manage without harshness.
After the Q&A, parents in attendance had a chance to meet and talk with Holmes directly. The full community forum discussion can be viewed at https://youtu.be/6r9bro0z4TE.
At the May 28 special meeting, the board met to go into executive session; they emerged to vote unanimously to offer a one-year contract to Holmes for the position of COO of MA. Board President Melanie Strop noted that the caliber of the decision was not taken lightly and that while the board originally intended to wait, she felt that Holmes’ application was timely.
Masks and mandates
At the May 3 special meeting, about 15 parents spoke out against continued mask use, citing concerns about mental health, the availability of vaccines, and skepticism about mask effectiveness among other issues. They also expressed concern about mass quarantines and MA’s policies going beyond the required mandates. Some parents asked that masks be made optional for all. Strop expressed that the board agreed with parents and felt the same frustration. Outgoing COO Christianna Herrera thanked parents for speaking, saying that MA had worked to keep in-person learning in place and worked with EPCPH to avoid quarantines as much as possible.
EPCPH staff who attended include Susan Wheelan, director of EPCPH; DeeAnn Ryberg, deputy director and emergency coordinator for COVID response; Dr. Robin Johnson, medical director of EPCPH; Haley Zachary, program manager; and Diana May, El Paso County attorney who provides legal advice to EPCPH.
May noted that what is sometimes called guidance is really a requirement from the state and said the rules for schools are different than non-schools. She noted that El Paso County had not added any additional requirements. Wheelan said the county had to follow state requirements and has no authority to lessen them. May said that schools needed to work with their lawyer for questions on legally required accommodations.
Johnson talked about a layered approach using masks, washing, and distance and confirmed that masks do reduce virus-laden droplets She noted that the most powerful thing people can do to truly put the pandemic behind them is to get vaccinated.
Board member Chris Dole asked if the school is required to report a positive case to EPCPH or vice-versa. Zachary said labs and doctors are required reporters and EPCPH maintains proactive communication with schools. May said the new guidance requires schools to cooperate with public health. Dole said there was difficulty that fifth grade includes kids who are 10 through 12 years old. Graham asked how it would be perceived if the school eliminated the mask requirement for fifth grade. May replied that MA would not technically be following the law but that if it were reported, EPCPH would dialog with the school. Dole then asked if the conversation might take place on May 28 (after the end of the school year.) May jokingly replied it might take place on June 2. Graham asked how a parent might request a medical exemption and May directed the board to discuss it with its lawyer, Brad Miller.
The board unanimously voted to direct the COO to ensure the administration would follow the least restrictive restrictions through consultation with EPCPH. Communication was later sent to parents rescinding all mask requirements at the elementary school.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Herrera reported that MA had been given a medical release form from the state that required a doctor’s signature. After hearing parental feedback and concerns, MA determined it could accept a written statement from parents that they would bring in and sign in front of a witness. The board unanimously approved this plan.
• Herrera also discussed extracurricular resumption plans, including parent and student input on what clubs they would like to see.
• Herrera discussed a proposed 2021-22 Learning Plan that would include purchased online offerings for the elementary and secondary levels that did not require in-person teachers to handle online. This would cover the small number of families who preferred online work and be available in case any quarantines were required. The board unanimously approved the proposal.
• The board discussed and unanimously approved MA bylaws as well as the following board policies: 1519 Advertising in School Publications; 1521 Student Fees; 1522 Donating to MA; 1523 Class Size; and 1528 Homebound Instruction. Policy 1520 Public Comment to the Board was postponed until the June meeting. MA board policies can be found at http://bit.ly/ma-bd-policies.
• The board agreed to wait until August to resume in-person meetings and discussed having their annual board retreat in June and moving the June board meeting due to scheduling conflicts.
Caption: Merlin Holmes, former superintendent of the McClave School District in McClave, Colo., has been retained as chief executive officer of Monument Academy. Photo courtesy MA.
The next meeting has been moved to Monday, June 14 at 6 p.m. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Meetings may be held in-person and/or via Zoom, which will be streamed to the MA YouTube channel. For more information on how to join the meeting in person or virtually or to submit a public comment, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
Please note that the regular April meeting of the Board of Education was held after the copy deadline for the May issue of OCN. Reports on the energy audit and the Grace Best Master Plan were delivered at all meetings and therefore will be combined in this article.
Schneider Electric energy audit
The board contracted with Schneider Electric early this year to prepare an independent grade audit of the district’s energy use. This audit complies with the district’s strategic plan by providing a safe environment for students, exhibiting fiscal responsibility, and fostering communication with the stakeholders.
Schneider proposes to improve health and safety by upgrading air circulation systems, replacing lighting with LEDs, and adding security vestibules at Prairie Winds Elementary, Lewis-Palmer Elementary, and Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
Some funding may come from federal emergency funds and from state Build Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants.
Schneider estimates that the work performed will pay for itself through energy savings over the 20-year span of financing. The company guarantees that this will be the case or the district will be reimbursed for the difference.
The district must provide $1.8 million before work begins and will decide on financing later. It is hoped the security vestibules can be constructed during this summer.
Board President Chris Taylor commented that the addition of security features will not result in savings, but that the energy savings will help to fund the security upgrades.
For further information about the energy audit, please see the district website, www.lewispalmer.org.
Grace Best Facility Master Plan
Work on the Grace Best Facility Master Plan has been ongoing since December 2020. A steering committee of 42 members, including district staff and community members, has met several times. Over 550 community members responded to a survey on the subject, and the contractors involved, Anser Advisory and Cooperative Strategies, presented five alternatives as the next steps in the process. Phase One of the process will be completed when the board approves which alternative to pursue.
This project was undertaken to maximize use of district facilities. Looking at demographic figures provided by Western Demographics, it was determined that the enrollment in the district is not growing at the pace forecast when the last mill levy override was offered. It is now believed that all district schools will not exceed 100 per cent capacity until at least 2025. The only school approaching full capacity at this time is Palmer Ridge High School.
In response to this, it is proposed that the district will remove the modular classrooms installed in 2018. These classrooms are at Bear Creek Elementary, Kilmer Elementary, and Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Removing them would result in increased safety for the students and cost savings in rent. If the modulars are needed in the future, the infrastructure will be maintained to reduce the cost of reinstallation.
Meetings of the steering committee for the Grace Best Facility Master Plan began with the stipulation that those programs currently housed in the building (Home School Enrichment Academy, Transitions, Bearbotics) would continue to be housed there.
Grace Best was built in three sections. The first was completed in 1959, the second in 1979, the third in 1988. The oldest portion is on the west side of the property and constitutes about half of the total square footage of the facility.
At its May 5 meeting, the members of the steering committee were asked to vote for their first and second choice preference for the next steps in the process:
The five options offered were:
1 Demolish the entire building for $1.475 million
2 Upgrade to code compliance the entire building for $12.1-$12.7 million
3 Full remodel (new systems, new finishes) for $17.1-$17.7 million
4 Demolish 32,000 square feet and fully remodel remaining 30,000 square feet for $9.1-$9.33 million
5 Full building replacement for $26.4-$28.4 million
All estimates include $750,000 for removal of asbestos-containing materials.
Estimates were sought from several local general contractors.
The steering committee voted a strong preference for option 4, to demolish the oldest part of the building and remodel the rest.
Regarding proposed use of the space, it was agreed that the facility remain an educational facility, offering career and technical training as well as housing the current users. Flexible spaces will be included to offer classroom use or community use.
During the May 17 meeting, the board had a lengthy discussion about the project. Treasurer Ron Schwarz asked whether the district had considered selling the building as is.
Secretary Tiffiney Upchurch said that the community considers Grace Best to be an asset which should be used. The district’s property along Jefferson Street continues from the corner of Second Street south past the bus barn. Grace Best is in the center.
Director Matthew Clawson said that the district does not need the extra capacity at this time and does not have the funds to complete the project. He recommended approaching the project in a series of steps.
Regarding cost estimates, Superintendent KC Somers said he hoped an estimate could be obtained by the end of summer. He commented that a bond is not the only option for financing.
A resolution will be drafted for the board’s June 1 special meeting, and the issue would come to a vote on June 14.
For detailed information on the project, please see www.lewispalmer.org/gracebestplan.
Preliminary budget discussions
Chief Financial Officer Shana Seelye reported to the board at each of the past meetings regarding the budget for the 2021-22 school year.
Following a process that allows the board to adjust the budget throughout the year, Seelye said she began by compiling budgets based on a per pupil operating revenue (PPOR) of $7,500, $8,000, and $8,500.
The budget proposed at the May 17 meeting is based on PPOR of $8,429 and projected enrollment of 6,378, a decline of 139 from this year.
Some notable proposed expenditures include replacement of the chiller at Lewis-Palmer High School, continued work on the geothermal system at Palmer Ridge High School, $1.1 million for security vestibules mentioned above as part of the energy audit, and a new boiler for Lewis-Palmer Middle School (hopefully offset by a BEST grant, now in progress).
The funding of the geothermal project is offset in part by a settlement with the manufacturer, and $63,000 from Woodmoor Water and Sanitation for purchase of an easement.
Taylor said that cash in lieu of property from local developers should not be used for this purpose but should be retained in the building fund for future use.
In response to a public comment earlier in the meeting, Upchurch commented that funds should be dedicated to improving drainage of the Palmer Ridge baseball field and increased compensation for staff.
Somers responded that the proposed increase in compensation is as much as the district can afford. Compensation is a recurring expense. The issue will be revisited after the October count determines the district’s revenue.
Upchurch requested a delay in voting on salary schedules in the consent agenda until the public could comment. Somers responded that contracts could not be signed without a salary schedule and reminded her that the district works on a flexible schedule in budgeting.
During public comments, a number of individuals spoke of what they said was the physical and psychological harm caused by requiring masks for children. Some also protested the district’s recommendation to vaccinate children, saying they don’t think the COVID vaccine is properly approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. June 14 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Seating is limited due to COVID 19 regulations. All meetings are livestreamed and accessible through the district website, www.lewispalmer.org, Board of Education, Meetings.
Harriet Halbig can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) met on April 28 and May 26. The April meeting occurred after the OCN deadline and is being covered in this article.
The board addressed an inquiry about providing trash service, expressed support for traffic calming on Furrow Road, and appointed a new board member to fill a vacancy.
Traffic calming on Furrow Road extension
Board member Rick DePaiva reported that WIA has been participating with other homeowners associations (HOAs) south of Furrow Road to support traffic-calming measures for the proposed extension of Furrow Road south to Higby Road. WIA signed on to a letter created by the HOAs that are primarily affected to express its support for measures such as striping, stop signs, traffic circles, offset roads, and crosswalks. WIA doesn’t support speed bumps because they cause problems for snow plowing.
The goal is to prevent Furrow Road from becoming a speedway. They noted there was a public hearing on May 6 and that there was a petition with about 270 signatures sponsored by El Paso Safe Streets Alliance (EPSSA). The website by EPSSA with information about the extension and its impacts, which is part of the recently approved Grandwood Ranch project, can be found at https://ceds.org/epssa.
An owner who attended the meeting asked if WIA had ever considered offering trash service, saying that it might be able to negotiate a good deal and cut down on the number of companies coming in the neighborhood. The board noted that they had looked into this several years back but found that the companies want the HOA to bill residents and pay whether or not the residents pay their dues. President Brian Bush also noted that the current dues are $267 per year and that if dues go above $600 to $650 per year, the HOA would be subject to CCIOA regulations, which are costly and take a lot of time and energy. He also noted that not all of the 3,070 owners pay their dues and that sometimes companies get sold and customers may not be happy with the new owners.
Bush announced that Bert Jean, director of Common Areas, had stepped down because he has taken a new job in Denver and will be moving there. The board appointed Steve Cutler to serve out the remaining term. Cutler and his wife have lived in Woodmoor for 18 years, and he retired three years ago as sales manager for a snack company in Denver.
• Residents are encouraged to sign up for emails and Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) emails by scrolling to the bottom of http://woodmoor.org and entering their email address.
• Open fires and fireworks are not allowed in Woodmoor, and residents can be fined $5,000.
• WIA is looking for tenants interested in renting office space in The Barn now that the pandemic is easing up.
• Bush wrote a letter to state Rep. Terri Carver and state Sen. Paul Lundeen expressing WIA’s objection to HB21-1229, which would make HOA management more complicated. More information on the Home Owners’ Associations Governance Funding Record Keeping is at https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb21-1229.
• A survey of Woodmoor found 63 recreational vehicle (RV) trailers or boats parked in resident driveways, which is contrary to the covenants. Residents have been notified via letter, and those who do not comply will receive hearing notices.
• Mitigation on the east-west Woodmoor Drive corridor is going well. About 25% of the fire hazard has been improved with a goal of 50% by the end of the year. Woodmoor Drive residents who have not yet signed up will be contacted by mail and email.
• WPS reports an increase in car burglaries in the Tri-Lakes area along with one garage burglary. The cars were left parked unlocked in the driveway, and the garage door was left open, enabling these crimes of opportunity.
• In April, the board approved the expenditure of $8,750 for noxious weed removal in open spaces. This expense was about $2,200 over the approved, budgeted amount due to the contractor acquiring new equipment and hiring an additional worker.
• Chipping days and slash drop-off will be scheduled for the first Saturday in June, the second Saturday in July and the first Saturday in August at Lewis-Palmer High School.
• Bush commended staff member Bob Pearsall for saving substantial money on landscaping costs through negotiations and handling some projects in-house.
• For this year, 33 homes are still outstanding on their HOA dues; letters have been sent and WIA will put liens on the properties.
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 is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
Plentiful moisture returned during May, in some cases a little too much, but this was very beneficial overall and great timing as we head into the growing season. As usual around the Tri-Lakes region, Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind jumping from winter to spring to summer every other day at times, but by the end of the month winter was finally over.
For the month overall, temperatures were slightly below normal, and precipitation was well above normal. In fact, the abundant precipitation during the month helped move us several categories to the positive side from a drought perspective, as we went from severe drought at the beginning of March to no drought by the end of May. This was the case for most of the Front Range and portions of the eastern plains. Unfortunately, most of Colorado west of the Continental Divide did not receive significant moisture and are stuck in severe drought conditions.
The warmest day of the month actually occurred on the 1st when highs reached the upper 70s to low 80s. However, this warmth was helped along by westerly winds that were kicked up ahead of an approaching storm system. This, of course, meant we got one day of summer-type weather before winter made a quick return.
The first signs of change occurred on the 2nd when thunderstorms developed by early afternoon and produced some large hail at times. Cooler air, clouds and rain showers continued to work in that evening with temperatures reaching the upper 30s by midnight. Upper 30s was as high as we could get on the 3rd as rain showers turned to snow around 3 a.m. Heavy, wet snow continued through 9:30 a.m. before turning to snow showers and fog the rest of the day. Amounts varied quiet a lot around the region, with many of us receiving 3-6 inches of snowfall on the 3rd.
Cold and unsettled conditions continued the next day as well with snow showers turning to drizzle and fog through the mid-morning of the 4th and a repeat of flurries, sprinkles, and even some graupel the afternoon of the 5th. Temperatures from the 3rd through the 6th remained below normal as well. Finally, some warmer weather returned by the 7th, with highs jumping back to the upper 70s. Mild and dry weather stuck around through the 8th before our next taste a winter returned on the 9th.
Cold air filtered in late on the 8th with low clouds and a few rain showers and flurries developing during the morning of the 9th. Colder air and more moisture continued to move into the region, and by the 10th areas of fog, flurries, snow showers, drizzle, and even some ice pellets occurred. The cold, unsettled conditions continued into the next day with more snow at times. Overall, from the 10th through the 11th, another 4-8 inches of snow accumulated. Of course, as drier and warmer conditions returned over the next few days, the snow quicky melted under the strong May sunshine.
Quiet conditions were prevalent from the 12th through the 16th, with just some areas of morning fog and a few afternoon thunderstorms and showers. More organized areas of rain showers and some thunderstorms developed on the 17th and 18th, producing around a half inch of precipitation.
Seasonal conditions returned from the 19th through the 28th, with high temperatures in the 60s and 70s during that period. There were a few days of thunderstorms, but they generally produced only light rain showers from the 20th through the 23rd. Of course, just when you thought summer was here to stay, a final period of cold, unsettled weather moved in during the Memorial Day weekend. This started with some strong to severe thunderstorms on the 29th that brought areas of heavy rain and hail. Clouds, thunderstorms, and rain continued on the 30th, with cool temperatures and gusty winds at times. Not to be outdone, Memorial Day was generally cloudy with rain showers at times. Although not the best barbecue weather, at least we did get an abundance of much-needed moisture.
A look ahead
By June we can usually say goodbye to our chance of snowfall but hello to frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Most of the time we can expect warm, sunny days with afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
May 2021 Weather Statistics
Average High 62.0° (-3.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 75.7° min 57.9°
Average Low 37.4° (-1.5°)
100-year return frequency value max 43.2° min 32.5°
Highest Temperature 79° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature 28° on the 10th, 11th
Monthly Precipitation 4.28" (+1.64" 39% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.94"min 0.15"
Monthly Snowfall 10.4" (+4.7" 46% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 131.8" (+9.4" 7% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 13.84" (+4.77" 35% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 474 (+156)
Cooling Degree Days 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. The letters this month are arranged in alphabetical order based on the letter-writer’s last name.
Stay the course on COVID-19
In the last four months, the United States has made great progress in defeating COVID-19. On Jan. 20, 2021, the country saw 185,000 new cases and 4,380 deaths, according to the New York Times. By May 26, those numbers had plummeted to 23,162 new cases and 522 deaths.
That progress is due in large part to the Biden administration’s decision to approach the pandemic as a public heath challenge, not as another front in the never-ending culture wars. The Biden administration began by communicating the importance of masking, hand hygiene, and social distancing. They built an infrastructure to inventory vaccine doses and to deliver those doses to American citizens. That had to be done almost from scratch, as the previous administration dropped the ball immediately after the first vaccine was developed. Our progress is also due to 165.1 million Americans stepping up by taking precautions in public despite the inconvenience and getting themselves and their families vaccinated.
We achieved this in the face of a constant stream of disinformation attempting to undercut the effectiveness of masks and every other proposed public health measure and to scare people away from the vaccine. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the goal was to distract us from the failure of the previous administration to deal with the pandemic in a responsible way and from the effectiveness of applying real public health principles to the pandemic.
Polio, smallpox, measles, tetanus, rubella, whooping cough, and diphtheria were all reduced to near zero levels in the United States not through a do-nothing approach and hopes and prayers for herd immunity, but through vaccination.
We’ve seen that what we’re doing is working. Let’s stay the course.
Wait before you COVID vaccinate your children
Despite what the media says, please wait before you get your children COVID-19 vaccinated. The FDA has not approved these COVID-19 vaccines but instead given an Emergency Use Authorization. Already over 3,000 people have died after being vaccinated.
Under the age of 20, the survivability rate for COVID-19 is 99.995 percent. Why would we subject our children to this unproven vaccine for a disease that is no more dangerous than the flu? Common vaccines like polio, hepatitis B, and tetanus have proven track records of safety and efficacy. COVID vaccines do not. These are experimental vaccines. If you or your children are harmed by these vaccines, you have no legal recourse. The federal government has given the pharmaceutical companies immunity from all liability. Administering experimental drugs without informed consent, no liability, and no legal recourse for the injured is how inhumane totalitarian governments practice medicine.
We are not lab rats, but the medical community is treating us as though we are. Do not subject your children to this irresponsible and criminal experiment. Our doctors have effective and safe prophylactics and therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Let us pause the vaccinations to see how those 126 million fully vaccinated people do. This is the responsible and wise path to take.
Stop ignoring the natural immunity of the COVID-recovered
How much misinformation do we have to see coming from government officials before the public realizes their experts cannot be trusted? Policymakers continue to rattle off privileges that will be allotted only to people who get vaccinated for COVID-19. Because, they say, the vaccinated are immune, so they don’t pose a threat to others. You know who else is immune? People who’ve recovered from COVID.
This obsessive preference for vaccines over naturally acquired immunity is completely absurd, and it doesn’t take a scientist to see it. Vaccines mimic infection. They do so to trigger the same immunity-generating response that actual infection triggers. When people insist that vaccines "work," what they’re really referring to is not vaccines, but the body’s natural immunity-generating response. Because that’s the thing that works. Everyone knows this, but a frightening number of people have abandoned common sense for fealty to the experts.
D38 recently jumped the experts’ shark with its decision to require proof of vaccination for students to ditch their masks the last week of school—a requirement not even included in the governor’s latest orders.
They probably caved to pressure from aggressive local activists who continue to deny that naturally acquired immunity—which thousands of students now have—works too.
They’re ignoring other experts who fully acknowledge it, as seen in:
• Germany’s acceptance of proof that one has recovered from COVID to enter its borders.
• National Institutes of Health’s confirmation in January that people who recover from COVID acquire robust antibodies, T-cells, and B cells to fight new exposures, citing research that shows "natural infection induced a strong immunity response" and that "the responses last."
It’s time to admit that natural immunity has done what vaccines aspired to.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity."—John Muir
Lockdowns and closures during the past year led many of us outside. We have discovered it can be healing. Here are some guidebooks to help you explore the great outdoors of Colorado.
Woman in the Wild: The Everywoman’s Guide to Hiking, Camping, and Backcountry Travel
By Susan Joy Paul (Falcon Press) $24.95
Few experiences rival a grand outdoor adventure. This guide is the perfect companion for any woman looking to get into the backcountry lifestyle or level up her current active outdoor life. Adventurer and guidebook author Susan Joy Paul provides real instruction for women of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to intermediate hikers and experienced mountaineers. She shares everything a woman needs to know to be safe, independent, and self-reliant at camp and on the trail.
Easy Hikes to the Hidden Past: Pikes Peak Region Edition
By Rocky Shockley and T. Duren Jones (Rocky Shockley) $14.99
This unique guide combines well-researched trail explorations with an educational "treasure hunt" for relics of times gone by that should not be forgotten. The Pikes Peak Region Edition covers Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Cripple Creek, Canon City, Monument, and Palmer Lake. There are a broad range of explorations offering something for everyone, with varied physical abilities. Some discoveries can be seen from the car window as you drive through history, some can be accessed by walking or on a bike, still others by trail hiking, all of which would be classified as easy to moderate difficulty level. Trail maps, trivia, historical photos, humor, and insights are included.
Best Hikes Colorado Springs: The Greatest Views, Wildlife, and Forest Strolls (Second Edition)
By Stewart M. Green (Falcon Press) $22.95
Discover the most epic hikes close to town. Within this information-packed guide, readers have everything they need for the adventure they seek, from an easy nature walk to a multi-day backpack trip. Complete with maps and full-color photos, hike descriptions provide everything you need to know before hitting the trail: location, length, hiking time, level of difficulty, and canine compatibility.
Best Outdoor Adventures Colorado Front Range: A Guide to the Region’s Greatest Hiking, Climbing, Cycling, and Paddling
By Chris Meehan (Falcon Press) $24.95
This guide details the best hikes, paddles, climbs, and mountain biking routes within a few hours’ drive of the Denver metro area, perfect for the urban dweller and suburbanite who may be hard-pressed to find great outdoor activities close to home. This guide also includes rock climbing and zip-lining.
Hiking with Kids Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families
By Jamie Siebrase (Falcon Press) $24.95
This guide is specifically geared to provide parents with the information they need to know to hit the 52 best trails in the state with their kids. Detailed hike descriptions, color photos, maps, and information on restrooms, stroller compatibility, and trail users will help parents plan a smooth day hike. Tips on cool scavenger hunt ideas, animal identification, bird calls, and fun facts will keep young hikers engaged every step of the way.
Grandparents Colorado Style: Places to Go & Wisdom to Share
By Mike Link and Kate Crowley (Adventure Publications) $14.95
Take an active role in your grandchildren’s lives. Show them the best of Colorado and teach them valuable lessons you’ve learned throughout your years. Mike Link and Kate Crowley are active grandparents. They spotlight more than 65 Colorado attractions and activities for grandparents and grandchildren, age 2 and up. It offers tips on making each stop a bonding experience and is filled with insights and advice to help you along the way.
Family Camping: Everything You Need to Know for a Night Outdoors with Loved Ones
By Charlie and Cheryl Ess (Falcon Press) $24.95
Part inspiration, part practical knowledge, this book is the camping handbook whether you’re with family or friends, camping or in your backyard. You’ll find food and drink recipes, family activities, nature hacks, and more for a memorable weekend.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at the Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
June 1 marks the beginning of Summer Adventure, the Pikes Peak Library District’s summer reading and activity program for ages up to 18.
As in last year’s program, children will receive credit for imaginative and physical activities as well as for reading. This year, credit will be based on the number of days when children read or participated in other ways rather than on the number of minutes spent.
Children will receive a prize on registration and another on completion of 45 days of activities.
Due to the pandemic, there will not be a large party at the end of the program in August. There will be three programs in Limbach Park in Monument with advance registration required.
Patrons can pick up a game card at the library or print one from the website, www.ppld.org. You may also wish to pick up a copy of the new Discover magazine with details on the program as well as puzzles and games.
The meeting rooms remain unavailable for private use at this time, but additional furniture has been returned to the public areas and all computers are available for use without a reservation.
In keeping with federal and state requirements, masks are now optional for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Children over age 11 and those who are not vaccinated are otherwise encouraged to continue to wear masks.
We look forward to seeing you at the library this summer.
Harriet Halbig can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
Let’s get to planting this month! We have a short growing season with many natural helpers, and if we understand them, they’ll aid us in gardening and vital nature conservation efforts.
Bugs and weeds are important soil indicators
Chou gras—fat cabbage in French, aka lambs quarters—are loaded with tasty nutrients eaten young right out of the garden like microgreens for salads. It shows fertile, well-drained soil and screams, "Plant your garden here!" Dandelions, being the first flowers for pollinators including hummingbirds, have deep taproots pumping nutrients to shallow-rooted plants.
Yellow jackets, paper wasps, ants, and aphids
Nowadays, along with our butterflies, bees, and helpful birds, we’ll see "garden pests." According to Arizona Cooperative Extension Director Jeff Schalau, wasps and yellow jackets are beneficial insects, feeding their young on insects that otherwise damage crops and ornamental plants in gardens, also feeding on house fly and blow fly larva. He relates, "They become aggressive when their nests are approached or disturbed but should be respected and tolerated under most conditions." Deter stinging pests with diatomaceous earth (or bottle traps), sparing good guys. It’s an effective, targeted tool against yellow jacket nests and other pests like ants. It’s commonly used on farms mixed in feed for goats, cows, dogs, and cats against worms.
Aphids reveal there’s too much nitrogen in soil, sucking plant nutrients away, but ruin plants in the process. Last year, aphids were over all my plants in just one vegetable bed. As it turned out, the manure I had used had a lot of fresh (nitrogen-rich) pee in it. For use in the garden, it takes time for it to sort itself out with the microbiological growth, and it’s good to stir in leaves to get fluffy soil.
Ants tell an important story, too. Carpenter ants excavate where there already is fungus damage in structures or in foam insulations. Other ants mine sand from deep in the soil to the surface, loosening up the soil like worms do. Shallow anthill cones indicate no rain for 12 hours—ants keenly feel pressure systems.
From March to June, we have thistle rosette bolting. Controlling Canada thistle is not easy, and timing is key. However, safe, effective methods will not harm ourselves, children, pets, or other desirable plants and critters. Ecology experts recommend, "Find the base of the Canada thistle plant and simply snip it off at the base. Do not pull Canada thistle out, as this can split the root, which causes two Canada thistles to grow back. Check the location weekly and snip off any new growth that you may see."
30-day crops for June
Tasty vegetables to eat from seedlings: 1. microgreens 2. pea and sunflower shoots 3. baby lettuce 4. baby root crops.
Janet Sellers is an avid ecologist and gardener. Send handy gardening tips to: JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
"You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending."—C. S. Lewis
Our local arts scene includes art galleries, artists and outdoor art making, and beautiful walks for art in public places, and it’s a great way to enjoy our gorgeous scenery from Palmer Lake through Monument by visiting our art venues and our outdoor art exhibitions with friends and family.
The Art Hop returns for the 2021 season
The local Downtown Monument art season restarted May 20 with Art Hop. Art Hop runs the third Thursday of the month from May through September, and is a popular, family-friendly celebration of local art and artists, and art lovers from all over. Artists I spoke with at the 2021 premiere Art Hop included Ermi Knoth, Ethan Ahlstrom, Bill Dahl, and other artists as well as friends and art lovers during the Art Hop festivities at Bella Art and Frame Gallery. I spoke with many members of Palmer Lake Art Group when I dropped in to Bliss Gallery—complete with live music—in downtown Monument. Everybody was happy to enjoy the sunny evening and get back to a lively, fun social event again.
Tri-Lakes art in public places
Tri-Lakes Views is a local nonprofit that has supported art in public places for our area since 2003 and supports many of the beautiful art works installed for viewing pleasure along the Santa Fe Trail from Palmer Lake through Monument, as well as the park-like areas of our School District 38 grounds at Jefferson and Second Streets and more. Throughout the installation area, there are works in the permanent collection as well as the exhibition of works on loan by various local and national artists. These artworks in public places make for a delightful art walk or hike and we can enjoy the artworks over picnics at tables along the Santa Fe Trail.
Palmer Lake Art Group June call for artists
The Palmer Lake Art Group has an open call for artists for its annual Color Splash art show. The entry deadline is June 30. To enter, visit www.PalmerLakeArtGroup.com for details and the online application. The show will be held at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, the opening reception is set for July 16, and the show runs through Aug. 13. More events and details for Palmer Lake Art Group can also be found on its website.
Here’s looking forward to everybody enjoying this summer’s dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) with our artists and art lovers for a summer of creativity and conviviality here in our community.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer and speaker who enjoys dolce far niente on any given day and shares visual culture every day. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Downtown Monument Art Hop is back!
Caption: Monument Art Hop started up again May 20. At Bliss Studios, the music of Leo and the Lark (Kiera Lynn and Michael Edmiston) rocked the studio gallery courtyard. For more info, see www.leoandthelark.com. Art Hop is held the third Thursdays, May though Sep. The next Art Hop is Thu., June 17, 5 - 8 p.m. See www.downtownmonument.org. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Gravestone cleaning, Apr. 6
Caption: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jackson Creek, Colorado North Ward participated in a service project of cleaning the headstones at Monument Cemetery on April 6. They came equipped with buckets of water, cleaning agents, big brushes, little brushes, even toothbrushes to clean those hard-to-reach areas. Pictured are members of Danielle Hansen’s family. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Higby Road cleanup, Apr. 25
Caption: On April 25, an extensive roadside cleanup along Higby Road, from Jackson Creek Parkway east, was accomplished by members of the Palmer Ridge High School Kiwanis Key Club (PRHSKC). The idea for this community service project was sparked by Zoe Johnson, president of PRHSKC, as she was driving to and from school observing the growing, large amount of trash collecting in various sections of this particular traffic route. This event was coordinated in conjunction with Earth Day Great American Cleanup Week. From left are Mike Luginbuhl, Monument Hill Kiwanis Palmer Ridge advisor; Amber Wright, PRHSKC member; and Johnson. Photo by Sharon Williams.
Black Forest Spring Show returns
Caption: Potential customers browse the aisles on a Friday afternoon at the 57th Annual Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild (BFACG) Spring Show that took place April 29 to May 2 at the Black Forest Community Center. Although a small venue, the room was brimming with handcrafted locally-made arts and crafts, homemade baked goods, jams and jellies, and many other items and gifts. Attendance was as high over the four days as at previous shows. Guild member Della Clark said the Black Forest crafters were glad to finally bring the Spring Show back for 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Arts & Crafts Spring and Fall shows. The BFACG is a nonprofit organization that continues to raise funds for its Scholarship Fund which benefits local high school seniors. The guild also accepts non-perishable food donations at every show for the Black Forest Cares food pantry. For more information about future events and membership information, visit: www.BFACG.org. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Wildfire mitigation demo, May 15
Caption: On May 15, chainsaws buzzed as Tri-Lakes Monument fire personnel thinned pines to create fire-mitigated property on the north side of Lewis-Palmer Elementary School. It was selected as a public demonstration of how to create good wildfire defensible space. The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) created a Tri-Lakes’ custom version of its Ready, Set, Go! brochures and provided grant money for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to do mitigation work. Pikes Peak Regional Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) handed out information on general preparedness, and Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group gave advice to residents about why and how to reduce fuels around their homes in the "ignition zone." See www.tlmfire.org. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Arbor Day in Monument, Apr. 30
Caption: A Town of Monument Public Works crew planted a Rocky Mountain juniper April 30 in honor of Arbor Day. Town Gardener Cassie Olgren gave a waterwise and tree planting class in the new Waterwise Demonstration Garden at Second and Adams Streets. Olgren said growing plants in our high desert environment means "being wise about water use." She recommends mulching to prevent water loss. Shredded cedar is good for windy areas, or head to the Black Forest Slash and Mulch at 12375 Herring Road. Go to Black Forest Slash Mulch - SAMCOM (bfslash.org) for more information, pricing, and hours. The demonstration garden will include four zones: native plants, raised-bed rock garden, primary colors, and pastel colors to show design alternatives. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
PL firefighters honored, May 4
Caption: Members of Palmer Lake Fire and Rescue were honored on National Firefighters’ Day May 4. The event was catered by Arlene’s Beans. From left are probationary firefighter Parker Davis, Assistant Chief John Vincent, Lt. William Berry, Arlene’s Beans owner Arlene Padilla, Chief Chris McCarthy, Capt. Chris Evans, firefighter Max Herte, probationary firefighter Fernando Hernandez, firefighter Kyle Farquhar, and Capt. Dan Snelling. Photo by Samantha Holmes.
"HollyDay" at Fox Run Park, May 15
Caption: On May 15, District 1 County Commissioner Holly Williams joined the Friends of Fox Run for a hike through the park and a discussion on its present and future. As the group hiked, park information and its history were discussed. Williams announced the park will be the site for a northern nature center. Fundraising will begin in the near future, and the gazebo and other facilities need repairs. North District Park Supervisor Nathan Robinson said the park is designed for a daily maximum of 600 vehicles. During a two-day period this past year over 2,300 cars entered the park. This high level of use and, in some cases, misuse has created significant wear on the park and its facilities. Robinson said a new master plan is being developed to address signage, trails, the nature center, water access, roads, and other park features. Julie Haverluk, Janet Sellers, and John Anderson described various aspects about the park’s history. Haverluk described the raising of silver foxes that occurred in and around the present park during the 1930s to 1946. Sellers and Anderson told the group about the significance of the culturally modified trees (CMT) that are throughout the park. This is the largest concentration of CMTs in the southern Rockies, with some trees 500-600 years old. Photo by David Futey.
Volunteers improve the PL parks
Caption: On May 22, Reid Wiecks and the Palmer Lake Parks Committee held a service day to clean up and improve areas around the lake and Glen Park. Over 45 volunteers met Saturday morning and split into two teams; one team picked up trash and debris around the lake and installed new equipment on the east side of the lake; the other team went to Glen Park to improve trails and spread mulch around the playground area. In three hours, the volunteers made huge improvements in preparing for summer. Photo by Steve Pate.
Memorial Day ceremony, May 31
Caption: Rain held off long enough to allow the Monument Memorial Day ceremony to proceed at Monument Cemetery on May 31. A crowd of about 200 people showed up. Mayor Don Wilson introduced honored speaker Hospital Corpsman, Fleet Marine Force Redmond Ramos. The Knights of Columbus-St. Peter Church and Boy Scout Troop 17-St. Peter Church prepared to present the American and POW/MIA flags. Photo by John Howe.
LPMS concert, May 12
Caption: On May 12, Lewis-Palmer Middle School performed its spring concerts featuring the Seventh Grade Concert Band and Eighth Grade Symphonic Band. The concerts were held in the Palmer Ridge High School auditorium under the direction of Lisa Smith. Shown is the Seventh Grade Concert Band, which performed music from The Hunger Games. Photo by Steve Pate.
Caption: My neighbors in Pleasant View Estates thought foxes were wiped out by disease years ago. But this spring, many of them have been spotted, including kits. I saw this fox in the yard adjacent to ours on March 30. I’ve seen him sleeping in that yard many times. Photo by Bethany Bracht.
By the OCN calendar team
If you are interested in helping OCN compile the monthly calendar and notices, please write to email@example.com. We would love to have your help!
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.
County bans fireworks
Despite the recent rains, locally dry conditions leave El Paso County vulnerable to wildfire and compound the danger of using fireworks. Effective June 1, Sheriff Bill Elder made the sale, use, or possession of fireworks of any kind illegal within unincorporated El Paso County. Violators may be punished by a fine of up to $750, and/or imprisonment for up to six months. Illegal fireworks in El Paso County include: Bottle rockets, firecrackers of any type, mortars, roman candles, fountains, ground spinners, smoke bombs, and sparklers. Call the El Paso County Sheriff non-emergency number (719) 390-5555 if you see anyone selling or using fireworks. Reserve calling 911 for emergencies. For more information, see www.epcsheriffsoffice.com/news-releases/fireworks-information-for-unincorporated-el-paso-county.
Red Flag Warning means be careful!
A Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidity, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it. Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread. See www.elpasoco.com/fireworks-burn-ban-information/.
Volunteer to help with parade on July 3
Monument Hill Kiwanis Club Independence Day Parade is July 3. Traditional community celebration events planned. See www.MHKiwanis.org. Want to volunteer to help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. See ad on page 3.
2021 Black Forest Slash-Mulch Schedule
Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a Wildfire Mitigation and Recycling Program. It accepts slash (trees, limbs, and brush debris only, maximum length 6 feet, maximum diameter 8 inches) (no stumps, roots, weeds, grass, lumber, or trash). Cost to drop off slash is $2 per load. Mulch loader fee $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. Co-sponsored by the El Paso County Environmental Division, Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners. Hours: Sat., 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m.; Tue. & Thu., 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Sat. only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. on specified days. See www.bfslash.org for a form to bring with you, or phone the county Environmental Division, 520-7878. Southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in Black Forest.
Donate live trees
Black Forest Together needs your help! BFT is hoping to launch the fourth year of our Trees 4 Tomorrow program, which has transplanted just under 4,000 trees into the burn scar. We need new tree donor sites in order to launch the program. As always, all tree donations are tax-deductible. Donating your trees is a great way to help mitigate your property and help your burn-victim neighbors restore theirs. To help keep overhead and costs down: site must be 25 acres or larger, have easy access for a truck and trailer, have at least 100 trees to donate. Trees need to be 3 to 8 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 2½ to 4 inches. Doghair (thickets of seedlings) will not be removed. If you are interested in donating to our program or know someone who is, please contact us at Resourcecenter@blackforesttogether.org or call 719-368-0500.
El Paso County Road Safety Plan
Tell us your thoughts on road safety issues in El Paso County, and where you have experienced safety concerns. The county Road Safety Plan Project Team will incorporate this feedback into the plan including, but not limited to, identifying emphasis areas, selecting proven countermeasures, and in developing an implementation list. See website to enter comments on the interactive map. www.epcsaferroads.com/leave-comments.
Stories of distracted driving victims
Distracted Driving continues to be a dangerous issue on Colorado roads. An average of 42 crashes a day involve a distracted driver, and the consequences can be truly life-changing. Please rethink your distracted driving behaviors and consider the reactions of those around you. "Every time I see a distracted driver, my first thought is to get as far away from them as possible," said Susan Dane, founder of Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving (CORD). "My second thought is to ask: is it worth it? I lost two friends to a distracted driver, there’s no reason for more lives to be lost due to distracted driving." Hear from the victims themselves at https://www.codot.gov/safety/distracteddriving/victims.
YMCA Outdoor Season Pool Pass
Monument Valley Pool, Prospect Lake Beach & Wilson Ranch Pool. Daily, monthly & season passes available. Find out more at ppymca.org/poolpass. See ad on page 6.
Mining Heritage of Colorado Springs
WMMI is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Colorado Springs with "The Mining Heritage of Colorado Springs," through August. The exhibit will highlight the operations of the coal industry, the gold ore processing mills that stood west of the city, the railroads that serviced the coal and mining industries, Winfield Scott Stratton and his legacy, the El Pomar story, Cripple Creek railroad millionaires and their Colorado Springs mansions. 225 North Gate Blvd., Colorado Springs 80921, 719-488-0880. For additional information, https://wmmi.org.
Silver Key Senior Citizen Luncheons
Connections Café sites will have "grab and go" (prepared meals). every Mon.-Fri., noon-12:30 p.m., Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake. A $2.25 donation is requested. Please call 719-884-2300 to reserve your meal. See the menu for the month in the Senior Beat newsletter. Meals on Wheels and Home Delivered Meals will deliver frozen meals for the week to Monument on Wednesdays. Food Pantry offers a "pick up only" model for clients."
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).
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
El Paso County Safe Streets Alliance
El Paso is one of the most rapidly growing of Colorado counties. With this growth comes increasing traffic volume and the potential for commuters to use our neighborhood streets to bypass congestion. El Paso County does not currently benefit from a program to use speed tables, chicanes, roundabouts and other calming measures to slow traffic speed and volume on neighborhood streets.
There’s a county proposal to extend Furrow Road South to Higby Road. Once this connection is made, the current traffic volume is forecasted to significantly increase. Three HOAs that border Furrow have formed an initial group to deal with the issues of this extension with the county. The group has created a working document and an El Paso Safe Streets Alliance petition at https://ceds.org/epssa/. The petition urges the county commissioners to expand traffic calming measures county-wide.
TLC youth internship opportunities
Do you know a youth who wants to improve their technical skills and contribute to our local community in a meaningful way? If so, Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) wants to connect with them! Systems Development Internship & Website Development Internship. See https://tri-lakescares.org/about-tlc/employment/.
Area code required for local (719) and (970) calls coming in October
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 will be 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.
Plague in El Paso County
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recently (May 2021) confirmed a squirrel tested positive for plague in El Paso County. Plague exists in Colorado year-round, but simple precautions can keep the risk of transmission very low to humans.
Plague is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected flea, but it can also be transmitted by infected animals. Plague symptoms include sudden fever, headache, chills, weakness and tender, painful lymph nodes. If caught early, both people and pets can be treated with antibiotics. Precautions for people and their pets include not handling wildlife, keeping pets away from wildlife, treating pets for fleas, not feeding wildlife and reporting sudden die-offs of rodents and rabbits in the community.
The disease was found in animals in areas of Adams and Broomfield counties in 2020, as well as two cases of human plague infection that year. Both people had exposure to sick animals and survived.
By the OCN calendar team
We miss Judy Barnes’ expert work on the calendar and notices.
If you are interested in helping OCN compile the monthly calendar and notices, please write to email@example.com.
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.
The unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation presents scheduling challenges to area governance entities and other organizations. Because OCN is a monthly publication, readers should assume that information published in this issue is subject to change and event information should be confirmed a day or two before the event by calling the information number or checking the organization’s website.
Many entries show dates even though the event has been canceled or suspended. The date indicates when the event was planned to be held or when it would normally have been held.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on January 24, 2023. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on January 24, 2023. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2023 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.