Correction: On page 27, in the Snapshots of Our Community section, the printed August OCN incorrectly labels a photograph as "Jackson Creek Chipping Day." It should read, "Jackson Ranch Chipping Day". We sincerely apologize for this error.
This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.
the PDF file. This is a 50 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.
By Allison Robenstein
On July 19, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) decided to ask voters to increase the sales tax from 3% to 3.5%. Residents will also vote to change local governance from a statutory town to a home rule one. Two water related projects were approved on the consent agenda.
Trustees Laurie Clark and Jamie Unruh participated remotely, both choosing to use the one virtual session each trustee is afforded for the rest of this year. During the June 21 meeting, the board approved remote participation. It has provided the chance for meetings to continue throughout the pandemic. Trustees were able to participate even when traveling for business, so it was decided that each member will be allotted one remote session for the rest of this year. Remote participants may not vote on quasi-judicial issues. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#mbot.
Voters will be asked to increase the sales tax in November
Monument voters will be asked to approve a 0.5% sales tax increase in the November election. Town staff estimates $1.65 million in revenue could be generated and will be used to fund the Police Department. The additional revenue would be used to hire and train eight more police officers, update arrest report software and computers, purchase and maintain the police vehicle fleet. Last year, 57.45% of voters rejected a similar request in ballot issue 2E.
The mayor and town manager held numerous town hall-style meetings to educate residents on the need for this tax increase. During one such meeting on June 30 (see photo on this page), Mayor Don Wilson revealed 82% of town residents surveyed feel safe in the town and 64% said they would support sales tax increase if it benefitted the police.
Trustee Ron Stephens didn’t seem convinced voters would approve the 2021 verbiage in the ballot issue if they didn’t approve it last year. Ultimately, he voted against as did Wilson and Clark.
The ordinance was approved 4-3.
Home rule charter commission members to be elected
Town voters will also be asked to elect home rule charter commissioners. The trustees have been considering moving the town from a statutory municipality to home rule. This additional level of governance would allow for local control over some matters, such as zoning, elections, and traffic issues, while still following state laws. The charter commissioners, who are elected by town voters, will have a limited time to create the new commission the town will follow.
During a workshop held May 17, the trustees agreed nine elected commissioners would be best. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#mbot. Town Clerk Laura Hogan said three people have expressed interest in running to be on the commission. Any town residents may self-nominate. Town Manager Mike Foreman said the board would be able to make appointments for any vacancies.
The ordinance passed 6-1 with Clark voting against with no reasons given, although she did suggest more than nine commissioners should be considered.
Newest Monument police officer takes oath
Police Chief Sean Hemingway administered the oath of office to Monument’s newest officer, Travon Perry. Hemingway said Perry is a "man of integrity" who was honorably discharged from the military. In his spare time, Perry is a football coach.
Annexation and zoning of three enclave properties
Planner Debbie Flynn provided specifics on three enclaves that were annexed into the town by unanimous votes. An enclave is any land that is fully encompassed by the town, but currently part of El Paso County. For enclaves to be eligible for annexation, they must be completely surrounded for three years.
Because Clark and Unruh were participating online, neither had voting rights for these ordinances. The three properties include 3 Second St., 251 Front St., and a 0.89-acre property east of Interstate 25 and west of Jackson Creek Parkway.
Planning Director Megan Herrington explained, "it is not optimal to leave enclaves," so her staff found these for annexation.
2020 audit is ready to submit to the state
Town auditor Wade Fisher of Hinkle and Co. said the town’s major funds present fairly in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The board voted 6-0-1 to direct Foreman to file the audit with the state. Clark abstained, but when Wilson asked why, she said, "I’m afraid I can’t state the grounds."
During public comments, Jeremy Harrigan read a prepared statement accusing the board of "deliberately making ordinances that supersede our constitution." He and five others, all attending in person, stepped forward to read the exact same statement while the board members sat quietly at the dais. All demanded the board vote to become a sanctuary city against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resident Ryan LeVier said he is "curious about the intent of these people" and their radical agenda. Then, he cautioned the trustees against following their requests.
Wilson asked those who spoke which ordinances the board passed to take away anyone’s individual rights as they suggested, although he didn’t reference specific ordinances. Clark said the board didn’t deliberately violate individual rights and understood "what the people are trying to say."
LaKind said this barrage of requests for a sanctuary city against any future pandemic rulings "getting to the point of harassment." Planning Director Meggan Herrigan has attended numerous meetings of late to make the same request. "Bring your lawsuit because you have nothing against this board, how dare you accuse us of violating your rights," he said.
The meeting adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Caption: On Aug. 2, the Monument Board of Trustees hosted an overflow of residents interested in the Conexus project. For more information on the project, see the Triview article to the right. OCN has been frequently carrying details on the project since our Jan. 2018 issue. To read those articles, search for "Conexus" at www.ocn.me. Detailed information on the Aug. 2 meeting will be included in the Sep. 4 issue of OCN. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
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 Aug. 16. 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 Jennifer Kaylor
At Triview Metropolitan District’s July 22 Board of Directors’ meeting, Conexus Business Center representative Mike DeGrant presented information on the warehouse complex planned for Conexus’ Phase III property. Directors received the district’s 2020 financial audit summary from Christine Mcleod of Haynie and Co.
All staff, board directors, water attorney Chris Cummins, and general counsel George Rowley attended the meeting either online or in person. Director Anthony Sexton was excused.
The July 22 agenda and board meeting packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Agenda-7-22-21-Triview-Final.pdf and https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Triview-Board-Packet-for-7.22.2021.pdf, respectively.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, parks, and open space maintenance, as well as water, stormwater, and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
Warehouse plans presented
DeGrant explained that I-25 and Old Denver Highway served as the Conexus parcel’s east and west boundaries, and Dirty Woman Creek and Teachout Creek bordered the property’s north and south ends. Although the land was originally zoned in 1987 for heavy industrial use, a 2020 modification changed the zoning to mixed-use commercial, he said.
Conexus was closing the sale of a 92-acre parcel—about one-quarter of the total property from the midsection toward the north end—to a company that plans to build a warehouse complex. DeGrant reported that four of the six warehouse buildings were expected to be completed in 2022, with the remaining two being constructed in late 2022 or early 2023. The warehouse subdivisions would allow accommodations for various types of tenants, such as manufacturing and technology, and would incorporate about 10% office space. Anticipating that the plan would be submitted to the Monument Planning Commission on Aug. 18 and then to the Monument Board of Trustees in September, he estimated a construction start date of sometime in November.
Referring to the aesthetics, DeGrant described the complex as having extensive landscaping that would incorporate trees (about 490), shrubs, flower beds, and native grasses as well as manicured turf. The planned landscaping included a 25-foot setback that would run parallel to the Santa Fe Trail and screening walls at each of the truck dock parking lots. The landscaping would also provide a sound buffer for I-25 traffic, he added.
Current zoning allows three access points within the Conexus parcel, thus turn lanes for entering and exiting the complex from Old Denver highway would be incorporated into the construction plan. DeGrant confirmed that Conexus is collaborating with the Town of Monument and Triview in designing modifications for a revamped Old Denver Highway, but coordination of financing from all three entities would likely postpone the road rehabilitation for another four to five years.
Responding to directors’ questions, DeGrant explained that a service road within the warehouse property could not be built due to drainage issues and the need to avoid the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat. He confirmed that 23½ acres would be deeded to the Town of Monument for the development of trails, open space, and associated amenities, but inclusion of a playground had yet to be determined.
2020 financial audit nears conclusion
Reporting that auditors had substantially completed their field work, Mcleod acknowledged that the audit would not be finalized until Triview’s August meeting. She confirmed that auditors did not find any material weaknesses or inefficiencies, had no disagreements with management, and there were no new or unusual accounting policies. Haynie and Co. planned to issue an unmodified decision on the financial statements, and the 2020 audit report would look similar to the 2019 audit report.
Financial highlights included year-over-year growth in total assets, largely due to acquisition of capital such as the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex. The net cash position was increasing, with similar trends in the revenue and expense statements, which reflects the financial health of the district.
The directors voted to approve the audit.
Water expansion plans advance
Three of District Manager Jim McGrady’s action items related in some way to the district’s long-term water plan to expand and diversify water resources. Adding to the district’s growing number of renewable water rights, he presented a purchase agreement for the Bale Ditch surface water rights on the South Arkansas River.
Cummins explained that the water rights had an expected annual yield of 72 to 102 acre-feet with an estimated cost of $8,500 per acre-foot and added that it was a good value in the field for unchanged water rights of this scope. The Bale Ditch location provides the advantage of water flowing directly into the district’s water storage account with the federal Bureau of Reclamation at the Pueblo Reservoir—once the contract is finalized—without having to meet exchange conditions on the Arkansas River. He explained that when the Bale Ditch rights are "in priority" water is taken in real time and not stored, which makes storage space available for other entities.
Another action item, Resolution 2021-07, provided approval and authorization for the district manager to sign the contract with the Bureau of Reclamation for long-term water storage at the Pueblo Reservoir. Steady progress has been achieved on this storage agreement over the past several months, and McGrady received confirmation that the bureau would likely complete the contract in mid-August. McGrady explained that the mandatory step of an environmental assessment was near completion after which a 45- to 60-day public comment period would ensue. With his original goal of having a storage contract by July or August, the added public comment interval pushes finalization of a water storage agreement to October. The resolution simply ensures that the district will be able to sign the contract and pay the fees as expeditiously as possible.
A third item pertained to a three-year water lease extension with Fontana Enterprises Inc. The operators of World Golf and Sand Creek Golf Club lease Triview’s Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. water to irrigate its south Colorado Springs facilities. McGrady and Cummins concurred that this final lease fit within the district’s goals, but Fontana would need to find another water source after the three-year term.
The board approved all action items.
Additional actions and updates
• Native Sun, the contractor hired by Triview to conduct the bore project under I-25, was unable to find 16-inch PVC pipe that could be available to suit the critical timing of the project. McGrady informed the board that 16-inch ductile iron pipe would be substituted. This section of pipe, called Segment D of the Northern Delivery System, extends from Jackson Creek Parkway under I-25 to just east of the Santa Fe Trail.
• Due to the district’s growth and consequent projects, directors approved Resolution 2021-08 to implement an overtime reimbursement policy for utility inspections.
• Directors approved the purchase of a three-quarter-ton, four-door truck to replace a non-functional truck in its snow fleet. The replacement cost was unbudgeted, but staff and directors considered the $40,000 municipal price to be fair and the new truck would provide more versatility beyond its snow plowing use.
• Parks and Open Space Superintendent Matt Rayno reported that the A-yard building is receiving its final application of stucco and anticipated that personnel would be able to occupy the building in mid- to late-August.
• The presence of a public works mechanic and the addition of a new lawn mower greatly improved landscape crew efficiencies, reported Rayno.
• Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton discussed various maintenance work and upgrades to water plants and wells. Lab testing compliance was strong, and staff anticipated reinstatement of the annual sanitary survey in December.
• McGrady confirmed that he and Cummins planned to attend an Aug. 4 meeting with Colorado Springs Utilities regarding the North Monument Creek Interceptor.
Triview board meetings are generally held on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19. The district office is located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. Check the district’s website, https://triviewmetro.com, or call 488-6868 for meeting updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in person or online/teleconference. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at email@example.com.
By James Howald
This article covers the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s (WWSD) regularly scheduled meetings for June and July. At its June meeting, the WWSD board decided on its approach to refinancing’s the district’s 2011 Water and Wastewater Revenue Bonds and named a bond underwriter. At the meeting in July, the district’s auditor presented the results of the 2020 financial audit. The district’s regulations concerning service line extensions were considered at both meetings.
District Manager Jessie Shaffer made recommendations to the board concerning the discontinuation of COVID-19 restrictions. Operations Superintendent Dan LaFontaine discussed his efforts to understand the district’s measurements of unbilled water. A resignation from the board was announced. Finally, the board heard operational reports at both meetings.
Board chooses 10-year schedule for refinanced bonds
At the June meeting, Jim Manire, director of Hilltop Securities, presented the results of his analysis of the district’s options to refinance its outstanding bonds, which are scheduled to mature in 2036. As the board requested, Manire considered several variables in developing the options he presented: current interest rates, whether to repay the bonds in 10 or in 15 years, whether to use some of the district’s cash reserves to reduce the amount borrowed, and whether to reduce the district’s Renewable Water Investment Fee (RWIF) when refinancing, among others.
Manire said he looked at using cash reserves in $1 million increments to allow the district to sell fewer bonds but saw only a small financial benefit that did not justify the added risk.
Manire told the board shortening the term from 15 years to 10 years had a bigger financial benefit to the district than using cash reserves, as shortening the term would make the district debt-free five years earlier and had the most positive effect on the net present value of the bonds. He added that currently interest rates are extraordinarily low: 1.5% for 15-year bonds and 1% for 10-year bonds.
In his summary of the proposed bond strategy, board President Brian Bush said the new bonds would be sold at a premium, which would provide the funds to pay off the 2011 bonds. Bush estimated about $15 million in new bonds would be issued, and the district would get an additional $3 million in premiums. $Two million would be drawn from the district’s bond reserves, which can only be spent on bond-related expenses, and those three amounts would be used to pay off the district’s current bond debt of just over $20 million.
The debt service on 10-year bonds at the current interest rates would be close to the debt service the district is currently paying. Lowering the RWIF would not be a goal of the refinancing as growth in the community is expected to lower the RWIF. Bush said the exact numbers would not be certain until August when the bonds would be finally priced.
The board voted unanimously to approve the 10-year refinancing plan.
Bond underwriter selected
Bush told the board that four candidates for bond underwriter had been interviewed: Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Northland Securities Inc., Stifel, and Piper Sandler.
Bush and Shaffer both recommended RBC to underwrite the district’s proposed bonds, and the board voted unanimously to approve RBC as underwriter.
2020 audit shows good financial health
At the July meeting John Cutler of John Cutler and Associates gave the board his report on the 2020 financial audit.
Cutler said the audit included an "unmodified report," essentially a clean bill of financial health for the district. The audit found "nothing out of the ordinary," Cutler said, adding that the audit report had been sent to the state.
Shaffer said the audit showed that the district had anticipated $8.4 million in revenues, and the audited revenues were $8.5 million. On the expense side, the district had budgeted for $11.7 in expenditures and the audited amount was $8.5 million. Shaffer said he expected that difference to be made up in 2021.
Service line extension policy amended
At the June meeting, Shaffer summarized the district’s current policy on extending water and sewer service lines to additional structures on the same property, pointing out that such extensions, or "daisy chains," are prohibited for both commercial and residential properties, and that the policy requires each structure to have permitted taps for sewer and for water service.
Shaffer said a resident had applied for permits to extend his service lines from his house to an existing garage, and that request had led to a reconsideration of the current policy that would provide more leeway on residential properties. Shaffer said he thought the policy should continue to strictly prohibit extensions on commercial properties, because parts of a commercial property might be sold after the permits had been issued. Shaffer questioned whether the stricter commercial rules should apply to residential properties in all cases.
Bush said he had no objection to variances for residential properties but didn’t want a blanket change to the policy because of the wide range of structures that can be built on a residential property. Shaffer said he agreed with a case-by-case process for extensions to residential service lines. Bush suggested amending the policy to add that variances could be granted by the district manager or a board member.
At the July meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 21-02, which prohibits service line extensions unless a variance has been granted by the board.
COVID-19 restrictions relaxed
At the June meeting, Shaffer suggested that the board consider rescinding the operational changes made to protect the district’s staff members from COVID-19. Specifically, he recommended reopening the district offices to the public, holding board meetings in the meeting room at the district offices, and relaxing the requirement for staff to use masks and observe social distancing recommendations.
Bush agreed to the proposed changes but said the board should be prepared to re-institute restrictions if necessary. The board adopted Shaffer’s recommendations.
Unbilled water measurement examined
In previous meetings, the board has discussed the amount of unbilled water appearing on district reports. Unbilled water is water produced that is not sold to customers or not metered, such as water used for firefighting, lost due to service line breaks, flushing water lines and so forth.
At the June meeting, Shaffer told the board operations staff had been auditing production meters to check their accuracy and taking other steps to understand the issue.
At the July meeting, LaFontaine told the board he believed meter inaccuracy was a large factor in the amount of unbilled water reported, said he was focusing first on replacing commercial meters and believed 50 commercial meters would be replaced this year. Shaffer said replacing customer meters was a priority for next year.
LaFontaine also said staff had discovered an uncovered manhole that had become an unplanned drainage point for stormwater, and that this was also a contributing factor to the measurement issues.
Bush pointed out that some of the water was likely unbilled but not lost.
Hanson resigns from board
At the July meeting, Bush announced that Director Lee Hanson was resigning from the board as of July 31. Hanson served as the WWSD representative on the Joint Use Committee, the three-member board that oversees the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility that serves Monument, Palmer Lake, and WWSD. Bush said Hanson was moving to Arizona and WWSD would appoint a new director in August.
Board hears project updates and operational reports
In his manager’s reports at both meetings, Shaffer said the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP) had been offline for most of June and was currently operating with one of three filters. An additional filter would be operational at the plant by August, he said. He added that the schedule for completion of work at the CWTP had been delayed by four to six weeks due to uncertain delivery dates for some materials, and that this impacted the schedule for draining and refilling Lake Woodmoor. Work on the Lake Pump Station was also delayed one month, according to Shaffer.
Shaffer said new residential developments continue to be proposed in the WWSD service area, but he believed the district had sufficient water resources to completely build out the community.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. Meetings have returned to the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
On July 13, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) board met via teleconference to approve the 2020 audits for FLMD and Pinon Pines Metropolitan District (PPMD) 2, and to discuss a change in the current outdoor watering restrictions and residential lake use. On July 19, the resident-only board of PPMD 1 met via teleconference to approve the audit and discuss lake security and neighborhood crime.
Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Douglas Stimple was excused.
District counsel for both meetings was provided by Spencer Fane LLP.
Change in water restrictions
District Manager Ann Nichols requested the board ratify a change in outdoor watering restrictions that would move the district from Stage II B (two days per week watering) to a less restrictive Stage II A (three days a week watering) and said the following:
• The Bristlecone Lake level never actually reached the spillway this year but did reach 40.4 feet.
• The Beaver Creek in-flow is now just under 1 cubic foot per second, and the lake level is expected to come down.
• To meet demand, the residents have been mostly receiving Bristlecone Lake surface water since the beginning of June.
• Monsoon moisture is expected and that should keep the lake in a healthy state.
The board approved the change in water restrictions, 3-0.
2020 audit—FLMD and PPMD 2
Nichols requested the board accept the 2020 audits, and said the following:
• PPMD 2 was exempt an audit until 2020 and does not have much activity except the bond issue.
• The audit was necessary when the bond issue was established in 2020 and the net proceeds transferred to FLMD for the outstanding development from 2003.
• Management and internal controls are standard, and a "clean opinion" was received by Hoelting & Sons on both audits.
The board accepted the audits as presented, 3-0.
Note: PPMD 3 has an audit exemption for 2020.
Pinon Lake recreational use request
Pinon Pines 1 residents Lee and Mary Arnett said they contacted Land Resource Manager Jessica Davis, of Colorado Springs Utilities, to determine who held the authority for deciding future recreational use rules for Pinon Lake, and her response confirmed that FLMD is the managing authority of the lake and that a board decision would be required to change the rules.
Nichols said the board could change the rules if they so desired, but the website clearly states how Pinon Lake is to be used, and it has been a non-recreational lake since 2016.
Mary Arnett asked if FLMD and the board could provide an explanation of why the residents are not allowed to use the lake and said it would allow easy access out of their back door for paddle boarding.
Nichols said although it is clearly a board decision, the following considerations should be taken into account:
• Bristlecone Lake is set up to be used for recreation with the dock and easy access points.
• The board never felt Pinon Lake would be appropriate for recreation use due to the number of surrounding homes and lack of access.
• The Pinon Lake level fluctuates dramatically, and last year it was down to a depth of 10 feet.
• Pinon Lake was intended for aesthetic purposes, and it is not maintained.
• Complaints are received weekly from residents about non-residents using Bristlecone Lake and the security firm and the homeowners association (HOA) are now managing access with an identifiable lanyard system, and the shared cost to monitor the lake is significant.
• The district would incur extra costs should Pinon Lake be open to recreational use.
• The process to change the use would be involved, and there would be liability.
Secretary James Boulton concurred with Nichols’ statements and said he was opposed to opening up the lake, and the residents live much closer to Pinon Lake than any homeowners near Bristlecone Lake.
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, said the following:
• The land the lake exists on belongs to Colorado Springs, and that was part of the reason the lake was not available for recreational use.
• Residents bought property in the development knowing the lake would not be used for recreation purposes.
• Some residents might not be happy with a change of use and seeing their neighbors paddle boarding behind their house.
Lee Arnett said, "That opinion should be confirmed with the residents."
Blunk said, "We have a lot of opportunity for the residents to use Bristlecone Lake without the added expense of managing two separate properties, and I would have to be convinced otherwise and say, we leave it as is, because that was the expectation from the beginning."
Mr. Arnett said he appreciated the comments made by the board.
Water rebate program explored
Nichols said that a number of residents had contacted FLMD regarding a rebate program for efficient water irrigation controllers and rain sensors and noted:
• The homes are new and rebates for efficient appliances, shower heads, and low flush toilets may not be available.
• It is unknown how many homeowners would qualify for rebates.
• Donala Water & Sanitation District provides a $25 rebate on rain sensors and a $35 rebate on water irrigation controllers to their customers.
• It is likely the residents would need to provide a receipt or Donala would need to check the residence to see if it qualifies for a rebate.
Nichols said she would ask Donala if it would be willing to include a rebate program for FLMD customers.
Note: Donala bills Forest Lakes residents for water and wastewater services on behalf of FLMD.
A1 and Denver well progress
Nichols said that the contract for equipping the A1 well (that was drilled 15 years ago) was approved for the Layne Western Co. Inc., and the equipment is on order, but due to supply chain delays it will take longer than initially expected. The permit for the Denver Well has been granted, and JDS Hydro Consultants Inc. will advertise for bids at the end of July. There could be some activity on Baptist Road next to the Dillon Well in September through December, said Nichols.
The FLMD and PPMD 2 & 3 meeting adjourned at 4:34 p.m.
PPMD 1 board meeting
The board approved the minutes from the December 7, 2020 regular board meeting, 4-0.
Director Ashley Franklin has moved out of the district, creating one board vacancy on the PPMD 1 board. See www.ocm.me/v21n1.htm#flmd.
2020 audit—PPMD 1
Nichols said the 2021 audit for PPMD 1 received a "clean opinion" from Hoelting & Sons and requested the board accept the audit to meet the state auditor’s filing date at the end of July.
The board accepted the audit as presented, 4-0.
April financial statement
Nichols said the district accountant is still working on the May financial statement and said the following about the April financial statement:
• The General Fund had collected almost $56,000 out of the budgeted $123,000 in property tax revenue.
• Membership dues of $2,049 were paid to the Special District Association for general liability insurance.
• The General Fund has almost $88,000 in The Academy Bank.
• FLMD has not billed for the operation and management mill levy for the district, but $60,000 will be transferred soon from PPMD 1 to FLMD for the first half of the $120,000 annual payment.
• The Debt Service Fund property tax mill levy has collected $223,494 of the budgeted $348,000.
Nichols said a $130,000 payment was made June 1 on the BBVA Bank loan, and the 2020 audit bill budgeted for $5,500 has also been paid. The June financials will show that all property tax has been received. "Everything is flowing along as one would expect," said Nichols.
The board accepted the financial statement for April as presented, 4-0.
Nichols said she has received a few complaints from residents regarding non-resident use of the recreational amenities, but fewer than in previous years. The security service firm has increased monitoring Bristlecone Lake and the trail system, varying its hours to be unpredictable.
Hitchcock said he has seen some lake users wearing HOA-compliant identification and some without.
Vice President Mike Slavick said he has seen the security firm reports as a member of the HOA board, and the security firm is ensuring compliance.
Secretary Chris Paulene said his neighbor had a car stolen last year from their driveway, and a couple of weeks ago a car window was broken into, and residents are unhappy with the security in the district.
Nichols said that the security firm was hired to enforce the rules of the lake and trails only, and the Sheriff’s Office is the entity responsible for personal property damage and theft.
Slavick said the HOA has set up a neighborhood watch group.
The PPMD 1 meeting adjourned at 4:27 p.m.
Caption: Pinon Lake at the Pinon Pines development in Forest Lakes is pictured on the morning of July 30. Water flow from Bristlecone Lake is manually released into Pinon Lake periodically when the level in the larger reservoir above is sufficient. The residents use Bristlecone Lake for their water source and for recreational purposes. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
The meetings of FLMD and PPMD 1, 2, and 3 are usually held quarterly on the first Monday at 4 p.m. For notices visit: https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact district Manager Ann Nichols, 719-327-5810, email@example.com.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board met on July 15 to hear a report on the district’s finances and a report from General Manager Jeff Hodge that included a review of action items from a previous board workshop. The board heard an update on the district’s new billing system and the status of district operations.
2021 budget on track
Hodge told the board that relative to revenue, the budget was "tracking well" although water sales were slow due to rain that he expected to continue through October. Sewer service revenue was "spot on" at just over 56% of expected revenue collected.
Midyear operating revenue was at 55% of what was anticipated, Hodge said.
Expenditures were also "tracking where we want," Hodge said, adding engineering, legal fees and exploration of water rights were over the budgeted amount, but overall expenditures were at 66% of the expected amount.
The board voted unanimously to accept the financial report.
Manager’s report details workshop action items
Hodge reviewed outstanding action items from a previous workshop, including:
• The water re-use project nicknamed "The Loop," whose goal is to return water flows from Fountain Creek to some of the water districts east and north of Colorado Springs, had initial proposals from consultants on the cost of studies needed for the project. One of the proposals was out of line with the other two. The studies would include proposed routing for the service lines to move the water to the receiving districts. Representatives from Cherokee Metropolitan District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District met with mayors from El Paso County to discuss The Loop and its potential funding.
• DWSD and Triview Metropolitan District have applied for state funds to look at groundwater storage potential, or aquifer storage recharge.
• Meetings with county commissioners, Colorado Springs City Council and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) are ongoing.
New billing system implementation underway
Christina Hawker, the district’s Accounts Payable specialist, told the board that the billing system from Tyler Technologies should be up and running by May 2022.
Hodge said that hardware upgrades for water meters were backordered, and the Tyler billing system required those upgrades to be in place for one billing cycle before it could produce accurate results. A new chart of accounts is being developed as part of the implementation, Hodge said.
Office Manager Tanja Smith commented on the difficulty of using the current billing system in the last billing cycle.
Highlights of operational reports
• DWSD customers used 37.51 million gallons of water in June, with nearly 30 million gallons pumped from wells and 7.626 million sourced from Willows Ranch and delivered to Donala customers by CSU. Of the total use, nearly 26 million gallons were used for outside watering.
• Chief Waste Treatment Plant Operator Mike Boyette reported that summer weather was helping the wastewater treatment plant operate well under permit levels.
• Beginning in August, the district will begin testing its biosolids, the residue remaining after waste processing, for compliance with Colorado’s regulations for Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM). This must be completed by March 2022. If TENORM levels are too high, biosolids could not be applied as fertilizer, and incoming wastewater might need to be treated before it enters the waste treatment plant. Alternately, biosolids might need to be hauled and stored.
• If TENORM levels are too high, the district will try to identify the source of the TENORM.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 1:30 p.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month and include online access due to coronavirus restrictions; call (719) 488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. See https://www.donalawater.org for more information about the district.
By Jackie Burhans and James Howald
At the Monument Sanitation Department’s July 21 meeting, the board approved the 2020 audit and the June 30 financial reports and heard from Manager Mark Parker on a tenant issue and a new request for proposal (RFP) for HVAC and IT Services. The board voted on a request to add holidays to the Joint Use Committee (JUC) calendar and heard a report on legislation pending at the state level.
All board members and the manager attended in person with attorney Joan Fritsche, Wipfli LLC representatives and other members attending online.
Acknowledging potential conflicts of interest, President Dan Hamilton disclosed that he is a part owner of Force Broadband, an internet and phone services provider for MSD. Director and Board Secretary Marylee Reisig disclosed that she is a tenant business owner in the MSD building.
2020 audit approved
Representatives from Wipfli LLC, the district’s auditing firm, reviewed the changes made to the audit report since the previous meeting. These included:
• Adding the Management Discussion and Analysis section.
• Updating cash flows to properly reflect tap fees.
• Updating the 2020 balance of Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Liability.
• Updating Capital Contributions to include Wagons West Infrastructure.
• Adding an explanation that tap fees for the Wakonda development are listed separately because in 2004 the district was encouraging septic users in Wakonda Hills to connect to the district’s sewage collection system
The Management Discussion and Analysis section points out that, since 2019, the district’s net position increased by $1.50 million, or 24.8%, that user fees increased by $57,727, or 8.3%, and total general administrative expenses increased by $85,606, or 23.7%.
The MSD board unanimously approved the 2020 audit and confirmed that Wipfli would file the audit with the state and send four bound copies for retention at the office as well as an electronic version. The audit is available at the MSD offices for the public to view.
Monthly financial report questioned
In response to a comment from Reisig pointing out that the June 30 financial report listed several items that are over budget, Parker said that he was watching the budget closely and that a lift station had not been properly accounted for in the budget as it had been lumped in with other items in the past. Parker said he believed "the bottom line is we are darn close to under budget" overall and that he and district accountants were working to itemize things more accurately in preparation for next year’s budget cycle.
Parker added that costs for GMS Inc., the district’s consulting engineers, are expected to decrease because GMS has been doing utility locates that have now been brought in-house. Legal fees were also unusually high and were also expected to decrease, Parker said, since meeting preparation will revert to the district.
Reisig noted that credit card purchases were much higher. Parker explained that the district was transitioning to Amazon as a supplier because of its free delivery and low prices and moving away from accounts with businesses that invoice the district for purchases.
The board voted unanimously to approve the June financial report.
Tenant issue addressed
In his manager’s report, Parker told the board that on July 19 the Black Forest Foods Café and Delicatessen, a tenant in the district’s office building, had filled its grease interceptor which caused wastewater to back up in the building. He resolved the problem by contacting a septic service to pump out the accumulated grease. Pumping out the interceptor had previously been done on a quarterly basis, Parker said, but had been overlooked during the transition between managers. The task is now on the quarterly schedule and when the tenant’s lease is next negotiated, the board will consider passing the cost onto the tenants.
Board votes down holiday request
Board Treasurer John Howe said the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) had requested three additional holidays, Martin Luther King Day, Juneteenth, and Veterans Day, be added to their calendar. TLWWTF is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD). Presently JUC employees take the same 10 holidays that MSD employees take.
Directors Laura Kronick and Reisig said they were not in favor of the request. Board President Dan Hamilton said he had no strong opinion. Parker pointed out the JUC was trying to stay in line with the calendar of federal holidays. After a brief discussion, Hamilton, Kronick, Reisig and Director Katie Sauceda voted against the request. Howe voted in favor.
Outsourced services reviewed
Parker reported that the district has sent out RFPs for HVAC and IT provider services and is starting to receive responses. Kronick asked for more information on the IT services and Hamilton explained that it was not a managed services contract but a set hourly rate. Parker explained the district is not dissatisfied with the current providers but wants to make sure they are getting the best bang for the buck. Current providers can submit bids.
Kronick suggested the board include an RFP for broadband, and Hamilton noted that he would have to abstain from voting. Reisig asked that RFPs should be sent for both the attorney and accounting.
Parker said that he would do whatever the board wanted but that it is usually done every five years or if the board is not satisfied with a provider. He said his loyalty is to the board and customers of the district.
Updates on pending legislation
The district’s attorney, Joan Fritsche of Fritsche Law, updated the board on bills working their way through the Colorado Legislature, including:
• Senate Bill 21-262, on Special District Transparency will, among other things, change how metro districts call for nominations. Fritsche said these changes will not affect MSD directly but are good policy.
• House Bill 21-1025, on non-substantive emails not being subject to the requirements of the Open Meeting Act.
• House Bill 21-1278, on Special District Meeting Requirements, provides a backdated legal basis for organizations to hold virtual meetings.
• Senate Bill 21-250, which will clarify the legal requirements for recalls.
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 Aug. 18 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 Jackie Burhans
The newly seated Monument Academy (MA) school board met in person on July 15 and voted to reject an optional COVID-19 testing program and to hold future meetings in person only, no longer providing recordings to the public. The board also determined committee assignments and heard from the new MA Chief Operating Officer (COO) Merlin Holmes.
Board member Chris Dole attended online, and member Misty McCuen was absent. MA High School Principal Julie Seymour and board Vice President Megghan St. Aubyn recognized former board President Melanie Strop for her service.
COVID testing program rejected
In the June meeting, former Chief COO Herrera reported on a letter from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) about a free opt-in COVID testing program offered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to all K-12 schools. CDE said it was working on revising quarantine exemptions for schools who participate in the program or have high vaccination rates. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#ma.
Board President Ryan Graham provided a synopsis of the letter and stated that MA will not support weekly testing even with the incentive of looser quarantine restrictions. He added that the state Board of Education had sent a letter to Gov. Polis saying that unrestricted in-person learning is best and that the state should trust local superintendents and school boards to determine what is best. He noted that the letter does not give MA free rein to do as it pleases.
Two regulations that impact MA come from the CDPHE Code of Regulations rule 1009-1. It must report cases and outbreaks, defined as five or more cases from separate households. Positive cases of COVID-19 will have to isolate, and close contacts will have to quarantine. Graham said MA’s intent is to move forward with normal school operations and asked that parents monitor their child and keep them home if they are sick to avoid exacerbating the situation at hand.
Holmes added that MA hopes most students do in-house class instruction but there is an online option. MA will restrict option changes to a quarterly or semester basis to avoid creating an extra burden for teachers.
MA said it will not require vaccinated staff or visitors to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination. MA will follow the quarantine rules expected to be updated sometime in August. It will not require sneeze guards or temperature scanning.
Holmes noted that he was meeting with. Dr. K.C. Somers, superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38, to continue to build that relationship. He reported that the administration was working on hiring teachers due to summer life changes for some staff. He worked with his administration team to brainstorm ideas, get up to speed, and discuss strengths and challenges for MA. He said that the architect and owner’s representative would walk through the East Campus to discuss items that still need to be fixed. Finally, Holmes said he is scheduling preliminary discussions about refinancing the short-term debt on the East Campus and obtaining funds for phase two of the buildout.
Future meetings only in-person, no recordings
Graham noted that because of COVID the board has been livestreaming and recording its meetings. Those recordings have been made available on the MA YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCxXIIS6TPthx7-Btc1goyfQ. He said that per legal advice, MA doesn’t have to do either of those things but only has to put out meeting minutes. Minutes are available at: https://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board/board-meeting-minutes/.
Newly elected board member Joe Buczkowski asked about board members who cannot attend in person. St. Aubyn noted that the bylaws already allow board members to dial in. New member Lindsay Clinton said it was good to provide online access to people who cannot attend, but now that it is safe to do so, MA could revert to meeting in person. As secretary, she promised to take good notes and noted that people can still communicate with the board via email.
St. Aubyn moved that, for the 2021-22 school year, MA board meetings would be held in person with the option for board members to join via videoconferencing or conference call and to discontinue livestreaming and recording board meetings. Graham noted that MA could always resume livestreaming and recording if this becomes problematic. The board unanimously voted to pass this resolution.
After the meeting, the board clarified that they would continue to record its meetings as required by the Colorado Sunshine Law (CRS-24-6-402) for state public bodies but would not post those recordings. See https://bit.ly/crs-sunshine. Such recordings would be subject to Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests per board policy 1512 (https://bit.ly/ma-bp1512).
Determining committee assignments
At the June meeting, the board listed the various committees board members could join, including school accountability and advisory (SAAC), curriculum, facility, finance, governance, and resource development (fundraising). In addition, the Highway 105 committee tracks progress and represents MA’s interest in this county roadwork project. Assignments were tabled until the July meeting.
Board members discussed which committees they wished to join, and Graham made a motion which was unanimously approved for the following assignments:
• Building and Facilities – Buczkowski
• Curriculum – Clinton
• Finance – Dole
• Governance – Graham
• Highway 105 Committee – St. Aubyn and Graham
• SAAC East – McCuen
• SAAC West – St. Aubyn
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• St. Aubyn reported meeting with Mormon Church attorneys out of Salt Lake City and the management team of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints next to MA. The church feels the parking situation is dangerous and wishes to terminate the existing reciprocal parking agreement. MA will work on securing other parking.
• Clinton presented a technology package proposal to improve communication during MA meetings including tabletop microphones, a mixer, and a wireless combo pack with a lavalier mic so speakers can walk around the room. The board unanimously approved up to $2,700 from discretionary board funds to purchase the equipment.
• The board voted unanimously to remove the online Google form to sign up for public comments since future meetings will be held in person. Sign up for comments will be done via a physical piece of paper.
• Dole motioned to amend the MA board bylaws to change the number of voting directors from six to seven for the upcoming school year. Buczkowski moved to postpone the vote until the August meeting, requesting a detailed plan for the wording. The motion passed with only Graham voting no.
• The board agreed to add a "School Spotlight" item to the beginning of the agenda to recognize board members, educators, and/or students. McCuen would gather the information to present and provide a photo opportunity.
• The board unanimously voted to name the COO, elementary and secondary school principals, board president and treasurer as authorized signers on the bank account.
Caption: At the July 15 meeting of MA, Secondary School Principal Julie Seymour recognized former MA Board President Melanie Strop for her years of service on the board. Seated is Merlin Holmes, MA’s COO. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled Thursday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. at the East Campus commons area. The meeting will be in person only. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) board meeting on July 21, the directors discussed staffing, the exclusion process, equipment availability, and how those factors may affect the current budget and the budget for 2022.
Director James Abendschan was excused.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said the district’s hiring practices have proven to be very effective at selecting top performers, and as a result three personnel have been "sniped" by larger, higher-paying organizations such as the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD), the Boulder Fire-Rescue Department, and a department in Dallas, Texas. The district has offered four individuals conditional job offers—two are paramedics—and they are anticipated to join the district on Aug. 9, said Langmaid.
Exclusion process update
Colorado Springs resident Colleen Murphy asked the board and the chief if they had heard anything from the City of Colorado Springs’ legal attorney or the Colorado Springs City Council regarding the exclusion of the properties south of Black Forest between Cowpoke Road and Woodmen Road. The Colorado Springs City Council has been non-responsive to monthly requests for information, and they just say, "there is a plan," said Murphy. See www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#bffrpd.
• He met with CSFD Chief Randy Royal to discuss the exclusion process and develop a plan.
• The district has been waiting 90 days for the city to send the details on the plan.
• The district received a list of properties from the city right before the discussions with the attorneys earlier in the year when there was momentum.
• There will be more pressure in August from the district because the delay will impact the El Paso County assessor and the El Paso County treasurer, and the district will need to know the tax revenue for the 2022 budget.
• The district’s attorney, Linda Glesne of Collins, Cockrel and Cole law firm, Denver, will be contacting Colorado Springs City Council to try to speed up the process.
Murphy thanked the board and the chief for trying to "speed up the process" and said she would ask a few of her neighbors to get involved.
Super Vacuum Industrial (SVI) Trucks/Spartan engine
Langmaid said every possible plan has been explored to rectify the problems with the Spartan engine and we come back to two feasible choices, make it work or sell it to another department. Chairman Rick Nearhoof said he would not want to sell it to another department if it still has problems with a pump engagement issue. Langmaid said SVI Trucks has pledged to write a letter to any future purchaser stating the Spartan engine is fully operational and functional and meets the criteria of what it was designed to do, it just takes a lot longer to work its way through the transfer case, and the letter would remove any liability on the district. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd and www.ocn.me/n21v7.htm#bffrpd.
Financial report, year-to-date June 30
Treasurer Jack Hinton said the following:
• The district has $2.905 million, which includes the Emergency Reserve Fund of $235,812, the Capital Improvement Fund of $249,621, and TABOR of $94,470.
• The district is 38% of the budget year to date. Normally in recent years at this time of year, the district would be at 50% of the budget.
Hinton said there is nothing outstanding for June, but the district has purchased gym equipment, and the 2006 Rosenbauer engine continues to have costly maintenance issues that use up most of the maintenance budget. That engine will be switched out next year when the Pierce engine is received, and "the district has plenty of money," said Hinton. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#bffrpd.
Hinton said that for the next two years, the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) multiplier will be 6.95% instead of 7.15%, and residents are "griping" on http://Nextdoor.com that it is still too high. Although homeowners would like lower taxes, the multiplier directly affects revenue for fire districts. There will be no adjustments, but at least we know what the rate will be for the next two years when calculating the budget, and the district was de-Gallagherized in 2018 and can match to the current multiplier, if necessary, said Hinton. See the DWFPD article on page 17.
Hinton also noted new Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn is very knowledgeable and willing to help with his requests, and district auditor Dawn Schilling of Schilling & Co. Inc. has requested an audit extension with the state for the 2020 audit.
The financial report was accepted as presented, 4-0.
Langmaid said the following:
• Small pockets of firefighters are deploying around the nation to help with wildland firefighting suppression.
• Staff volunteer for deployments to gain the strategic benefits of experience and qualifications.
• The district deployed wildland resources to California and Wyoming, along with the Type 3 engine to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
• Lessons learned will be discussed to assess the feasibility of sustaining a deployment program while ensuring adequate local resources.
• Zero staffing reductions are made due to deployments, but it does not mean that it is painless for the staff that take on the extra shifts.
• The wages for staff coverage/overtime are reimbursed by FEMA.
The cost to the department is the tired staff that remain behind. Morale can be an issue, but the district is always covered during deployments and operates shifts with five personnel, said Langmaid.
Langmaid said the following:
• The district attorney Glesne will be contacting El Paso County to find out how much revenue will be lost with the exclusion properties coming off the books.
• The RAR may need to be adjusted, but we will know more after Aug. 22, when the county assessor releases the projected property tax revenue for 2022.
• The district has begun the preliminary development of the 2022 budget.
• The district has found a way to save money if employees can show proof of alternative primary medical coverage on a year-by-year basis during the open enrollment season or when joining the district. About six employees may opt out of district medical coverage, and that could save about $24,000 per year, beginning in 2022.
• Elizabeth Fire Protection District sent a recruit class to the district training center for a day of live fire training and sent a check for $2,500 to offset costs.
• The recent commercial projects in Black Forest have been moving forward, and the Flying Horse North hydrant has been approved for the temporary Clubhouse.
Supply chain issues
Vice Chairman Nate Dowden asked if any authorized equipment purchases have been held back in the budget. Langmaid said the following:
• The department has made purchases but held back on some due to supply issues.
• The district could not buy gym equipment last year due to supply issues and we are just getting notifications that items are now available.
• Bunker gear could be delayed up to nine months, and an order placed in July would not be delivered until March 2022.
• Some vendors are delivering within days, and the district has purchased and received new boots for wildland firefighting.
• The district has purchased and received 10 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA’s) for $25,000 and is now working on locating additional SCBA bottles.
• Replacement tires will be a separate line item in the 2022 budget, and the district is considering purchasing tires now for 2022 to ensure availability.
• Medical supplies are still in high demand, and the goal is to order well in advance to keep a six-month of operational supplies in stock.
The district will need to choose which items for firefighting and rescue operations need to be prioritized until the amount of medical equipment and supplies needed for the COVID-19 response can be determined, said Langmaid.
Bi-annual equipment inspection
Dowden requested the August agenda include an equipment inspection that has not taken place yet in 2021. See www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#bffrpd.
Langmaid requested the inspection take place the first week of August before the budget process begins. Nearhoof and Hinton confirmed they would perform the inspection together in early August.
The meeting adjourned at 7:46 p.m.
In the BFFRPD article in the July issue of OCN, "Spartan Vacuum Industrial (SVI) Co." should have read "Super Vacuum Industrial (SVI) Co." OCN regrets the error, which occurred during the editorial process.
Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday every month at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. The next regular meeting is rescheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. For updates, agendas, and minutes, visit www.bffire.org or contact the district Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (719)-495-4300.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board met in person and remotely via Zoom on July 20 in an effort to minimize COVID-19 exposure to emergency responders. During the meeting, three staff members were promoted, and the board received a mid-year review of the 2021 budget. The board heard about the potential for a 2021 November Ballot Initiative that would seek to permanently decrease residential and commercial property assessment rates. The board also heard about a request for a cell tower lease agreement.
Treasurer Duane Garrett and Director Joyce Hartung were excused.
2021 mid-year budget review
Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones said that he, Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich, and Battalion Chief Scott Ridings were involved in the 2021 budget mid-year review process with Garrett participating virtually. Jones said the following:
• The district has increased its current revenue by $116,368, mostly from the reimbursement of COVID-19 expenses.
• The negative gap between current revenues and current expenses is 5% of expenditures at $149,388. Not a stable situation, but manageable.
• There are reserves of $152,705 available to help bridge the gap between current revenue and expenditures.
• Reserves in 2021 are adequate to provide for TABOR and the 25% cashflow reserve for 2022.
• Expenditure increases of $305,003 (primarily for salary and legal) is projected to be spent through the end of year.
• The district underbudgeted for overtime last year.
• Staff members have identified about $39,247 that can be saved in the operating budget.
Jones said the district is not in a hole yet, but it has to do something if it keeps spending at the level it is spending now. The projected 2021 end of year balance is $989,970, of which the district is required to reserve $96,000 for TABOR and carry 25% of the 2021 annual revenue (about $740,265) for cash flow for the first quarter of 2022, before property taxes are received again next March, said Jones.
Jones also said he is confident the district could increase revenue with wildland fire deployments and then close the negative spending gap by reducing expenditures with the following:
• Minimizing staff to reduce overtime.
• Reducing or eliminating radio replacement.
• Reducing or eliminating external training.
• Using reserve funds to fill the gaps.
• Using a combination of all the above.
The budget will be out of overtime revenue before the end of the year, and it is unlikely that committed expenses in the 2022 budget will be funded, he said.
Director Charlie Fleece said he trusted Jones to send staff to wildland fire deployments, but he does not like leaving the reserve fund low and is curious to see what will happen next year. He agreed with Chairman Mark Gunderman and Secretary Larry Schwarz on maintaining staff levels and the safety of personnel, which they agreed must be given priority over new equipment, safety measures permitting.
Gunderman said the district should order replacement radios and figure out training, and implement a combination of the measures suggested.
Tax rates set to decrease
Legal Counsel Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe PC law firm in Denver updated the board on future property tax revenues and said the following:
• Even though the district de-Gallagherized in 2020, and the Gallagher Amendment was repealed at the same time, it is not the only legal means of affecting the way property tax is assessed in Colorado. See www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#dwfpd.
• The proposed Ballot Initiative 27 is currently collecting signatures and, if enough are received, the question will be placed on the November election ballot. The Initiative will ask voters to lower the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) of 7.15% to 6.5% and the commercial assessment rate from 29% to 26.4%.
• The initiative will be appealing to homeowners, and it is widely assumed that if placed on the ballot it is likely to pass, but it will have a significant impact on the fire service and schools, and since fire departments rely on property taxes it would be impactful.
• Senate Bill 21-293 passed into law on June 8 and will include different tax rate reductions for different classifications of property and a two-year temporary reduction in RAR’s and Commercial Assessment Rates for assessment years 2022 and 2023.
• The proponents of Ballot Initiative 27 believe that Senate Bill 21-293 thwarts their efforts to reduce taxes, and nobody can predict what will happen next.
• The potential changes will not affect the budget for 2022, but it will require a change for the 2023 budget unless there is a massive change in legislation.
Powell also said that the wording on the ballot when the district de-Gallagherized in 2020 was written very broadly and stated that if there were changes in the method of calculating assessed valuation of one or more property class, including but not limited to changes due to the Gallagher Amendment or for any other reason, such as action by the Legislature, then the mill levy can be adjusted to match and offset the negative effects of any loss in revenue, without additional voter approval.
Jones said any changes will need to be factored into the future revenue projection during the feasibility study for the unification process with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The changes for the 2022 tax year might be a "moot point," because both districts are de-Gallagherized, said Jones. See the TLMFPD article on page 18.
Financial report—June 30
Popovich read the financial report as of June 30 and highlighted the district’s bank balances:
• The Community Bank Fund has $253,592.
• The Wells Fargo Public Trust Fund has $1.226 million.
• The district had a total of $1.480 million as of June 30.
Popovich also said the district received 100% of the requested reimbursement grant for COVID-19-related expenses for a total of $91,809, and the district received $50,000 for the last awarded portion request for $48,000. Additional expenses have been identified and a request for reimbursement is being initiated, bringing a total of $93,000 for COVID-19 expenses from 2020, said Popovich.
Gunderman asked if the recent rescinding of statewide executive orders might affect reimbursements for COVID-19 related expenses.
Powell said the following:
• Gov. Jared Polis rescinded some executive orders relating to COVID-19 on July 8, but he did not rescind the statewide state of emergency, and his July 8 executive order expressly re-activated all of the local government disaster response plans, and nothing has changed with regard to local government.
• Due to the uncertainty swirling around the surging COVID-19 Delta variant, it may be premature to rescind any declaration with schools returning in the fall, unless the statewide state of emergency is rescinded before then.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 3-0.
2022 budget process
Jones requested the board appoint a budget officer and approve the budget calendar for the 2022 process and said the following:
• The district will receive a projected property tax revenue figure for 2022 from the county assessor in August.
• The board must be ready to raise discussion points, and a work session in September should be held to develop the budget.
• The draft budget will be reviewed in October and be available for public review through the November board meeting with final board approval in early December.
The board approved Jones as the chief budget officer, 3-0.
Jones said Emergency Services Consulting International Project Manager Dan Qualman will visit Wescott and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District on Aug. 5-6 and requested the board be available to meet with Qualman.
Cell tower request
Jones said the district received two requests from cell phone companies looking to lease land at Station 2 for the positioning of a commercial cell tower. It may be worthwhile to consider the request to gain about $1,000 per month in additional annual revenue, but the process is long and complicated, said Jones.
Powell said pursuing a contract would depend on how cooperative the cell tower company will be and if acceptable terms can be negotiated, but sometimes terms are not workable and the cell tower company will want uninhibited access to the property 24/7, and easements and licensing will be required. A request for their standard form agreement and asking if they are open to negotiations and revisions to their contract would be the first step, said Powell.
Gunderman said more information will be needed before the board can determine if the proposal is worth pursuing, but it will be time consuming, and the district has many other prior issues going on.
Jones said, "The district has many irons in the fire," and he instructed Powell not to pursue the matter any further.
Station 3 update
Jones said the board will need to make decisions and provide direction on the future of Station 3. Despite costly repairs and the inoperability of the station, the battalion chiefs are accommodated at Station 3 during shifts, but public perception and legal issues may be a factor and an appraisal would be needed, said Jones. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#dwfpd.
Powell recommended Fleece refrain from participating in the conversations regarding Station 3 for the time being.
Gunderman said the discussion should be revisited in August when another board member could join in the discussion.
Note: Fleece owns property that borders Station 3 and recused himself from the board discussion in June.
Jones said the board will continue to conduct meetings in a semi-virtual format until the district COVID-19 Command Team, led by Battalion Chief Sean Pearson, deems it is safe to resume in-person meetings with public attendees at Station 1. In the interim, all information presented at regular and open board meetings is available to the public upon request, said Jones.
Note: OCN used a telephone recording for the purpose of writing this article and was unable to write a complete article due to sound quality issues and participants failing to identify themselves.
Caption: Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones (left) administered the oath to Lt. Matthew Gibbs and paramedics Charles Ragland (right) and Rachael Peters (far right) at the badge-pinning ceremony that took place before the board meeting in the bay at Station 1, with family and friends and the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board members on July 20. Board Chairman Mark Gunderman also administered the oath to all three staff members at the beginning of the regular board meeting. Photo courtesy of Stacey Popovich.
The meeting adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of the month at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., at 7 p.m. Due to COVID-19 distancing protocols, meetings are held virtually for public attendees. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. For updated virtual meeting joining instructions and agendas, visit: www.wescottfire.org or call Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) board meeting on July 28 held in-person and via Zoom, the board received a "clean opinion" on the 2020 audit and updates on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) unification process, the Station 1 remodeling project, and the future training center.
Director Tom Tharnish was excused.
2020 audit presentation
Mitch Downs and Amber Stoops of Osborne, Parsons & Rosacker LLP, CPA, presented the draft 2020 audit to the board. Downs said the following:
• The district underspent by $1 million in 2020, it’s not uncommon for districts to spend less revenue and be conservative when developing annual budgets.
• There were no significant difficulties completing the audit and unrestricted access was available to records and personnel while conducting the audit.
• There were no significant deficiencies with internal controls.
Downs recommended that the district maintain good controls over electronic check payments moving forward, because it is anticipated that paper checks will eventually go away.
The board accepted the 2020 audit as presented, 6-0.
Vice President Roger Lance said the district staff is doing an "excellent job," and he thanked the auditors on behalf of the board and the district.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said that Chief Andy Kovacs and Interim Chief Warren Jones of DWFPD have scheduled Emergency Services International Consultants to meet in person with board members and staff Aug. 4-5 to discuss the unification process as part of the approved feasibility study. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm, www.tlmfpd.org/dwfpd, www.ocn.me/21n7.htm, www.tlmfpd.org/dwfpd and the DWFPD article on page 17.
Station 1 remodel
Trost said the following:
• The Station 1 remodel has been moving along quickly since it began on June 9 with the demolition of the existing living quarters, the excavation completed, and the additional footings framed.
• The rough-in mechanicals in the remodel section of the existing building has begun and framing is about to begin.
• Some crew members are finding the trailers a little inconvenient, but the air conditioning is working well and the district is keeping employees updated weekly and ensuring needs are met.
The project is exciting and moving along as planned, with completion expected on Oct. 11, said Trost. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#tlmfpd.
A thank you
The district thanked Capt. Dean Wahl, division chief of Logistics, for his contributions to the fire district. Wahl retired from a long career in the fire service at the end of May. He was the project manager for the Station 1 remodel in his last year of service. See www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#tlmfpd.
Station 1 training center update
Trost said the following:
• A cross-section of all ranks from each shift, new and senior employees, and staff members completed a survey to help establish the priorities and components that could be included in the proposed training center at Station 1.
• The next step will be to evaluate the survey results and score the priorities for the design of the training center, and then get everyone together to generate dialogue and discuss the potential design features and individual opinions.
• The design planning priorities discussion will be completed in time to plan the funding for the 2022 budget planning phase.
Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley said the district has been conducting structure training using a vacant house provided by Darlene Johnson and Randy Estes at 231 Front St., Monument, and added:
• The property has been used for two months of training so far, and "it is an incredibly generous donation and a really nice resource to have."
• The building will be used for a few more weeks and is the second property the couple have temporarily donated for training purposes.
• The building is being used for in-service training for the new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, firefighter rescue training, hose training drills, and some destructive drills that will be carried out before the building is demolished in late August, but no burning will be involved.
• DWFPD has also used the vacant building for training every week and has been helpful running National Fire Protection Association 1410 drills for both districts last week.
TLMFPD completed 707 hours of training hours that included EMS training in June, but the majority took place in the vacant property, said Bradley.
Northwest Passage Exercise
Trost said the Northwest Passage Exercise is scheduled to take place on Oct. 2, and the district is organizing the fire response and participating in the planning meetings with regional partners and the lead organization of the event, the Office of Emergency Management.
Financial report for June
Treasurer Jason Buckingham said that June represents the halfway mark of the budget year and added the following:
• The district has received about $6.177 million of the projected property taxes representing about 67% of the project revenue of $9.2 million.
• Special Ownership Taxes received were $526,516 and are 8.5% higher than expected year to date, with a projected annual revenue of $900,000.
• Ambulance fees received were $387,142 and are 3% under year to date of the projected annual revenue of $825,000.
• Impact fees have met projections for the year at $126,998, 101.6% of the predicted $125,000 for the 2021 budget year.
Overall revenue year to date is $7.2 million, which represents about 63.2% of the projected 2021 income budget expected to be $11.4 million, said Buckingham.
Director of Administration Jennifer Martin said the district is experiencing a big increase in senior transports, and Medicaid insurance coverage for residents over 65 could explain the current decline in ambulance fees.
Buckingham said that overall expenses are almost $4.5 million year to date of the projected 2021 expense budget that is set at $9.1 million, and the mid-year budget expenses are slightly under projections. Fifteen electronic transactions above $2,500 were reviewed, and he noted:
• $19,067 for the Heart and Cancer Trusts.
• $7,120 for the Station 1 remodel.
• $25,000 for the closing costs for the sale of Suite 103.
Buckingham said the Heart and Cancer Trusts work a little better than workers compensation and provide an additional protection for employees.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 6-0.
The meeting adjourned at 7:27 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 25 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 James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met three times in July. Regular board meetings were held on July 8 and July 22. The board also held a workshop on July 22 to begin work on managing short-term rental (STR) properties.
At its July 8 meeting, the board asked for more information on the issue of STR’s. The board voted on its amended noise ordinance and continued its long-running efforts to update the town’s marijuana odor control ordinance to balance the interests of cannabis growers and nearby residents who are affected by smells they allege come from cannabis cultivation. The board heard updates on Elite Crane’s move to another location in Monument and on the effort to assess the status of The Living Word Church property. A vote was taken on a resolution to use grant funds to do a drainage study on High Street.
Cynthia Kuchinsky was recognized for her work on the Festival on the Fourth, and the board discussed whether to continue leasing town property to Sportriders for use as a dirt bike track. A special event permit for the third annual TryAthlon was granted, and two new businesses were introduced. Finally, Trustee Karen Stuth asked all residents to sign up for the town’s newsletter.
Short-term rental policy begins to take shape
Mayor Bill Bass opened the July 8 workshop by requesting a summary of the STR discussion at the Planning Commission meeting held the previous night and any suggestions town staff had on the issue.
Town Administrator Dawn Collins said the Planning Commission had asked the board to define an STR as a rental for less than 30 days and to limit STRs to properties that were owner-occupied and were the owner’s principal residence for at least nine months of the year. The Planning Commission also recommended that all STRs have a minimum of one permanent parking space and provide insurance. The town currently does not have an ordinance that addresses STRs, Collins said.
STR owners present at the workshop expressed reservations about the Planning Commission’s recommendations. One owner pointed out that Palmer Lake had no hotels that might lose business to STRs. Another said she owned more than one STR and would lose income if owner residency was a requirement. She suggested that the town limit STRs to 25% of the town’s residences. A third owner said she had owned an STR for two years with few problems. In response to a question from Trustee Karen Stuth, four of the owners said their STR was inside their homes, and one said her STR was in a separate building.
Amy Hutson, who sits on the Planning Commission, said its intent was to limit short-term visitors to the town, to prevent big corporations from dominating the STR business in the town, and to retain Palmer Lake’s small-town atmosphere.
Trustee Darin Dawson said he thought the residency requirements suggested by the Planning Commission "would be a point of contention," especially for owners with more than one STR. He also expressed his concern that businesses might buy up residences leading to higher housing prices. An understanding of how many STRs currently exist in Palmer Lake would be valuable, Dawson said, and added that he thought the town needed an ordinance addressing the issue.
Dawson said he did not want to create an investment opportunity in an already overheated housing market. He recommended assessing a bed tax on STRs and requiring them to have a business license. He said he thought it would not be legal to say "who can buy what" in the town. He proposed making the bed tax a percentage of the daily rental fee so that the tax would move with the market.
Trustee Jessica Farr also argued in favor of licensing and taxing STRs.
Trustee Nicole Currier said that Colorado Springs requires a license for each STR, and the sales tax is based on the daily rental cost.
Stuth pointed out that STRs are important to economic development.
Toward the end of the workshop, Collins reminded the STR owners that the staff was looking only for direction and that a draft resolution hadn’t yet been written. She also pointed out that another approach she had seen was to focus on resident-owned STRs and not on owner-occupied STRs in any proposed ordinance.
At the regular board meeting following the workshop, Bass said he did not support making owner-occupancy a requirement. Attorney Stephen Krob, who was attending the meeting in place of Town Attorney Mathew Krob, recommended making any limitations on STRs a gradual process, and told the board to use fees, which are roughly proportional to the cost of the service, rather than taxes. Fees would allow the board to give preferential treatment to residents, who would already be paying other taxes to the town.
The discussion in the regular board meeting ended with the board asking Collins to research how other communities are approaching the issues of owner occupancy, owner residency, and limits on the number of STRs.
Noise ordinance gets final vote
At the July 8 meeting, the board briefly reviewed the last round of changes made to Ordinance 8-2021 that specified 70 decibels measured with a decibel meter at the source of the complaint as the definition of excessive noise. Bass mentioned that a decibel meter is on order for use by the Palmer Lake Police Department. The board voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance.
Marijuana odor ordinance remains a point of contention
Continuing a long-running debate the board has had concerning the town’s marijuana odor control ordinance, at the July 8 meeting the board returned to its consideration of how to address ongoing complaints from nearby residents about noticeable odors coming from the town’s two cannabis cultivation businesses.
Stuth said she thought the ordinance needed to be rethought because it covered topics other than odor, such as the floor plans and storage plans for cannabis cultivation businesses.
The board packet for the meeting included an amended version of Ordinance 08-2020, updated with language that specifies:
• Cannabis businesses must ensure no odor is detectable by a person with a normal sense of smell outside of the business.
• The code enforcement officer is considered to have a normal sense of smell.
• When a complaint is made, a code enforcement officer or police officer will investigate and will follow up within 24 hours to ensure the problem is resolved.
Town Attorney Matthew Krob compared the odor ordinance to the noise ordinance in that a subjective measure such as a "normal sense of smell" was not desirable. Stuth agreed an objective measure was needed to prevent harassment of business owners.
Palmer Lake Police Chief Jason Vanderpool told the board that his department has issued one citation for odor, and the problem was fixed in six hours. He said sometimes the smell prompting the complaint was not from cannabis.
Resident Matt Stephens told the board he had reviewed Ordinance 15-2017 and he believed it prohibited all businesses from producing odors detectable outside their premises and required them to have a documented mitigation plan. Stephens said Palmer Lake Wellness had never complied with this ordinance. Krob answered that the ordinance Stephens cited had been amended.
Bass said he wanted to review the mitigation plans in place at the cannabis businesses and asked the staff to research tools to measure odors, state standards, and enforcement methods used elsewhere.
Elite Cranes receives another extension to move schedule
Bruno Furrer, on behalf of Elite Cranes, told the board that while progress had been made, the business would not meet its deadline to leave the property at 773 Highway 105 by the end of July. The town had originally given Furrer a deadline of October 2020 to move his business to another location. That deadline was extended until July 2021.
Furrer blamed issues at his new location on Synthes Avenue in Monument for the delay.
Stuth and Trustee Nicole Currier said they did not want to grant another extension and proposed fining Elite Cranes $1,000 a day beginning Aug. 1.
Bass and Dawson argued Furrer was making progress and was not responsible for delays. Dawson moved to extend the deadline until Sept. 15, 2021. Bass, Dawson, Trustee Jessica Farr, and Trustee Samantha Padgett voted yes; Stuth and Currier voted no. Trustee Glant Havenar was excused from the meeting and did not vote.
Living Word Church property presents challenges
Bob Radosevich, who is managing the town’s project to rehabilitate the recently acquired Living Word Church property at 290 Highway 105, detailed for the board work needed to make the buildings usable. The state of the plumbing was yet to be determined, he said at the July 8 meeting. He had a quote for four broken windows, had contacted three cleaning companies, and was having the buildings re-keyed, he said. The usability of the audio equipment at the site was being assessed and any serviceable office equipment was being scavenged, he told the board.
At the July 22 meeting, Radosevich said plumbing repairs were underway. The property had not been winterized, Radosevich said, and asbestos, which requires careful removal, had been found on some of the pipes. Radosevich said that in the interest of transparency he wanted the board to know Greg Collins, husband of Town Administrator Dawn Collins, had done some mowing on the property since Radosevich had not been able to find anyone else to do the work. Radosevich mentioned vandalism was a problem and security measures were in place. He said he was talking to property management companies who might help to maintain the property.
Stuth proposed writing a Request for Proposal for a land use planner to help the town develop a design for the property.
Deputy Town Clerk Julia Stambaugh told the board that the deed to the property had been recorded that day.
High Street drainage to be studied
At the July 22 meeting, Collins told the board that after a drainage study of the town had been completed last year, staff had applied for and received a $43,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs to focus on the drainage issues on High Street.
Staff had prepared Resolution 35-2021, Collins said, which authorizes a professional services agreement with GMS Engineering Inc. to study the drainage on High Street in more detail. The budget contained other funds for correcting drainage problems, Collins said.
Bass questioned why High Street was the focus and said he would like to see the scope broadened. Collins said she would invite Dave Frisch of GMS to answer any questions about why High Street was selected. Dawson said he would like staff to put together a ranked assessment of drainage issues.
The resolution passed with a unanimous vote.
Kuchinsky honored for festival work
Bass presented Cynthia Kuchinsky with a Certificate of Appreciation from the town for her outstanding work on the Festival on the Fourth. Kuchinsky in turn thanked the volunteers who had made the event a success.
Monthly lease with Sportriders for track re-examined
Collins asked the board for direction on the town’s agreement allowing Sportriders to use town land as a dirt bike track. Sportriders had asked to continue the month-to-month agreement they currently have with the town, Collins said.
Currier said she wanted any new agreement to specify that the land can’t be altered or new tracks built. She also objected to the idea that the land could be used by Sportriders for any other purpose and wanted proof that 30% of the Sportriders members are Palmer Lake residents.
Attorney Stephen Krob pointed out that because Sportriders’ lease had expired it was unlikely they had liability insurance, and the town might be exposed to risk.
Radosevich told the board Sportriders had used the land for 30 years, and they had paid as little as $100 a year in the past.
Collins said she would talk to Sportriders to ensure they know all use of the track should cease immediately and would question them about their membership.
Third annual TryAthlon scheduled
April Fullman came before the board at the July 8 meeting to request a special event permit for the third annual TryAthlon fundraiser for Awake the Lake. Last year the event had been held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, Fullman said, but this year it would be held in person on Aug. 7 at 10:30 a.m. As in previous years, the event would consist of a swim across the lake using a tube, a run to the flagpole, and then a tricycle ride to the gate and would be capped at 120 participants. Athletes would get a T-shirt, Fullman said.
The board voted unanimously to grant the permit.
New businesses introduced
Collins introduced two new businesses planning to open in Palmer Lake: WAKE—A Center for Healing, run by Lindsay Hodges and The Bus Recreational Rentals LLC, owned by A. Maguire, that will rent bikes for the Santa Fe trail, among other things.
Town newsletter offers information and link to master plan survey
Stuth asked all residents to use the town’s web page to sign up for Town News Weekly, an email newsletter providing information about town events and issues. The URL to subscribe is: https://www.townofpalmerlake.com/newsletter/subscriptions. Signing up for the newsletter would facilitate the town’s master plan survey and help the board reach everyone in the community in its planning effort.
Stuth said it was easy to unsubscribe to the newsletter at the same URL and said anyone with questions could contact her at KStuth@palmer-lake.org.
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold three meetings in August, a regular meeting on Aug. 12 and a workshop and regular meeting on Aug. 26. 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 Helen Walklett
At its July 15 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission heard an application for a business event center in Black Forest, a request relating to the Cloverleaf development, and a minor subdivision application for a property off Highway 83.
Black Forest business event center proposed
The Planning Commission heard an application from Deborah and Edward Ritchy for a variance of use to allow a business event center to operate on their 20-acre property north of the intersection of Goshawk Road and Hodgen Road. Access would be from Goshawk Road.
Deborah Ritchy told the commissioners that they planned to hold events from June through September or October and anticipated one per weekend, so about 20 events per year.
John Green, planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, said the proposed Black Forest Meadows center would be used primarily for weddings and small family gatherings with a maximum of 75 guests. He said there were currently several agricultural buildings on the property as well as the main residence and that the applicants proposed adding one new building. He continued, "Additionally, one unique aspect the applicant has proposed with this use with regards to traffic is only having members of the wedding party themselves be allowed to park on site. Instead, to mitigate concerns about traffic, they would have other members of the wedding be shuttled to and from the site from individual locations."
Green said eight adjacent property owners had been notified, and the county had received three letters of support. No one had written in opposition.
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the application for approval. Commissioner Brian Risley said, "I’ll simply comment that, having grown up in the Black Forest, I am always interested in projects that are sensitive to the contextual surrounding of the forest but are also ways of creating some economic activity in the Black Forest as well so, from my perspective, just my opinion, it looks like a very well-balanced project and I wish you success."
The application is now scheduled to be heard at the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on Aug. 10.
Also at its July 15 meeting, the commission unanimously recommended for approval a replat application by PT Cloverleaf LLC for two parcels of its Cloverleaf development to create three single-family lots. The request was approved as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion.
The parcels in question are not part of the land that was rezoned from RS 20000 (residential suburban) to RS 5000 (residential suburban) by the BOCC in April but are the isolated parcels zoned RS 20000 and totaling 1.5 acres that will be developed as lots 142, 143, and 144. Two of the lots are located off Bowstring Road and one off Leggins Way. These three lots will form part of Cloverleaf Filing No. 1. The remaining 37.22-acre portion of the development will be considered under a separate final plat application.
The Cloverleaf development is located northeast of the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road and will involve the construction of 144 single-family homes. This development is adjacent to nearly 100 acres of space now called South Woodmoor Preserve that will remain open in perpetuity with the developer’s support.
The application will now be heard at the BOCC meeting on Aug. 10.
Johnson minor subdivision
The commissioners unanimously recommended for approval a minor subdivision application by Delroy and Janet Johnson to create four single-family residential lots on their 28.62-acre property. The property is zoned RR-5 (residential rural) and is located on the west side of Highway 83, a half mile north of its intersection with Old North Gate Road.
The proposed lots will range in size from five to 13 acres. The one home currently on the property would remain on the proposed lot 1.
The application follows the November 2020 BOCC approval of waiver requests to allow the construction of a private road not required to meet county standards which would enable the creation of three lots without frontage onto the highway. See https://www.ocn.me/v20n12.htm#epbocc.
The application was heard as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion, and is now scheduled to be heard by the BOCC at its Aug. 10 meeting.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
During July, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the creation of a new special district for the Cloverleaf development. The district will see the tax rate almost double on the planned homes.
Cloverleaf special district
At its July 6 meeting, the BOCC unanimously approved an application by PT Cloverleaf LLC to create a new special district for the Cloverleaf development, northeast of the Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road intersection. The 144 single-home development includes the redevelopment part of the sale of the "Walters Open Space" land, which was rezoned from RS 20000 (residential suburban) to RS 5000 (residential suburban) by the BOCC in April. The new Cloverleaf Metropolitan District will only serve the 141 homes being built on the rezoned land. Three homes are being built on land separate from this where there is existing infrastructure.
The new district proposes issuing $8 million in debt over 30 years to construct the infrastructure needed to serve the development. This will be financed through a mill levy of 65 mills per home. Kari Parsons, planner III, Planning and Community Development Department, told the commissioners that the existing mill levy on a $650,000 property in the area was 71.34, making the current tax rate $3,315. She said the additional 65 mills would result in a tax rate on a $650,000 property in the development of $6,336, an increase of 91%. Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. said he wanted to make sure that people understood the tax rate in the new district would be close to double.
Gonzalez Jr. asked if the county was fully satisfied that no existing district could take on the development. Parsons said that a letter had been received from the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District stating it did not have the financing nor the available funding needed to serve the development. The inability of another district to serve a new development is a valid reason to establish a new one for that purpose.
Commissioner Stan VanderWerf commented, "While the tax is high, we need the houses. We need them badly. I think even though it’ll be at that level, they’ll sell."
Appointments to the county Planning Commission
At their July 6 meeting, the commissioners approved the appointments of Brandy Merriam and Bryce Schuettpelz to the Planning Commission as associate members. Their terms run until July 2022.
At the July 15 meeting, the appointment of Eric Moraes as a regular member of the commission for a three-year period was approved. Moraes has served as an associate member since November 2019. The vacancy arose following the resignation of Commissioner Thomas Greer.
On July 20, the commissioners approved the issuance of three ambulance permits to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The permits are effective Aug. 1 for a one-year period.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) met on June 30 and July 28. The June meeting occurred after the OCN deadline and is being covered in this article.
In June, the board heard from the Woodmoor Open Space Committee (WOSC) about its requests on easements and agreed to reopen WIA offices to the public. In July, the board heard concerns from residents and nearby communities and discussed fire danger.
WOSC presses board on easements
Tish Norman, director of WOSC LLC, spoke to the board on behalf of the homeowners who purchased additional land behind their homes as part of an effort to preserve the "Walters’ Open Space" land originally slated to be a golf course in South Woodmoor. About 118 of the more than 300 homeowners whose property is adjacent to the former Walters property opted to purchase additional land to extend their property and now some are interested in adding fences to encompass the new property boundaries.
However, doing so would violate Article 5, Section 5 of the Woodmoor covenants which state, in part: "No buildings, fences or structures of any type shall be built over, across, on the line of, or in such a manner as to include such easements within the Lot or tract, but such easements shall remain open and readily accessible for service and maintenance of utility and drainage facilities and other purposes." The homes around the open space, now called the South Woodmoor Preserve, have a 16-foot occupied utility easement that encompasses 8 feet on either side of the original property line that now runs through their property.
Norman had two questions for the board. First, would it be a violation if owners built a common fence on their property lines on the sides of their lots? President Brian Bush noted that where there are no easements on the sides of the lots, it would not violate Article 5, Section 5. However, he cautioned that whoever built the fence might want to put it inside their property line to avoid problems later.
Secondly, Norman described a new proposal that homeowners wanted the board to consider where they would build a separate fence for the new portion of their land but have two pairs of 8-foot gates on either side of the utility easement. These gates could then be opened when the homeowner wished to "connect" their old and new property on a temporary basis. When the gates were closed, utility companies could access the existing water and sewer lines within the easement. Bush indicated he understood the request and would take it to WIA’s legal counsel for review.
Norman noted that WOSC was hoping to avoid litigation on the matter and that, separately, it still intended to donate the remaining 64 acres of open space to WIA. She said WOSC hoped to have that in place by the end of summer.
For more information on the replatting of the former Walters’ Open Space, including final plat drawings, see https://epcdevplanreview.com/Public/ProjectDetails/152377.
For more information on WOSC LLC, see https://www.ocn.me/v20n6.htm#wosc
Resident and community concerns
A resident asked how to handle renters’ covenant violations and when signs will be put up indicating that the east side of Lake Woodmoor is private property. He also asked about the status of draining Lake Woodmoor. Bush replied that WIA enforces covenants and rules and regulations against property owners, and owners are told to share that information with renters. He urged residents to bring complaints to the attention of WIA, which will then take action. He noted that, as president of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation (WWSD) board, he could answer the other questions.
Bush said WWSD has ordered the signs, which are expected soon. He also explained that the lake was being drained so that construction could start around the end of September on a $5 million project to upgrade the Lake Pump Station to send water to the Central Water Treatment Plant. See www.ocn.me/v21n4.htm#wwsd. The lake will be refilled starting in January so the water can be available during the summer’s peak demand period.
Matt Brunk, vice president of the Santa Fe Trails homeowners’ association, spoke to the board about the upcoming Conexus Phase 3 project to build large warehouses on the land south of Highway 105 and west of I-25. Brunk said the proposed 3.1 million-square-foot industrial park will have 60-foot-tall buildings and cross the Santa Fe Trail multiple times. There are no plans to expand Old Denver Highway to accommodate additional traffic.
Brunk wanted the WIA board to be aware of the project and noted that there is an item on the Aug. 2 Monument Board of Trustees agenda to approve a metro district to service this commercial area. The Monument Planning Commission (MPC) and Board of Trustees (MBOT) meetings on the development have been postponed indefinitely to allow the developer to update the proposal. Information on this project and the relevant MPC and MBOT meetings can be found at http://www.townofmonument.org. Bush recommended Brunk check with the Northern El Paso Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) to see its response. He said that WIA would do its due diligence on the project, which it recently learned about from Nextdoor.
Fire danger concerns
Board Director Brad Gleason noted that the recent wet weather has increased vegetation, which will dry and constitute a fire danger. Gleason urges residents to mow their property to the edge of the pavement or roadway. He also asked that residents, and their visitors, not park anywhere on the lot other than approved areas on a surface other than vegetation. Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) will check every lot for tall grasses and send a reminder letter that it is a fire hazard and a covenant violation.
Gleason noted that WPS had additional staffing for firework patrols over the July 4 weekend to enforce the fireworks ban. Six fireworks complaints were received, of which five were fined. Gleason clarified that any firework that must be lit is banned and noted that WIA rules supersede any rules set by the county. Fines start at $5,000 for fireworks, campfires, and illegal burning of slash.
Ed Miller, WIA forestry director, said there has been high tree mortality due to environmental distress and beetles. Dead trees are a fire hazard. WIA sent an email blast asking residents to remove dead trees and offering free evaluations for struggling trees.
• In July, the board recognized Roman Smith for his volunteer work on landscaping around The Barn.
• WIA selected five scholarship recipients from 11 applicants and notified them by letter.
• The board unanimously approved reopening WIA offices to the public as of July 1 with the proviso that the HOA administrator or board have the authority to impose restrictions should restrictions by the county or state warrant it. The Barn, which has been available for rental, is now at its full capacity of 100 people.
• Residents participating in the fire mitigation grant have received almost $8,000 in reimbursements. A second letter will go out to eligible residents on Woodmoor Drive, which is the focus to create a defensible evacuation corridor, to be followed up by email, etc. to improve the response rate.
• The final chipping day will be on Saturday, Aug. 7 at Lewis-Palmer High School at no cost to Woodmoor residents. More chippers and workers have been added to reduce resident waiting times.
• A National Night Out event will be hosted at The Barn on Tuesday, Aug. 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. More information at http://natw.org.
Caption: This map of the proposed South Woodmoor Preserve filing shows a portion of the proposed replat of the former Walters’ Open Space. The yellow indicates the original property lines, the pink shows the property extensions for those homeowners who opted to buy additional land, and the green area shows the remaining open space. The inset is the vicinity map showing the location of the proposed Walters’ Open Space replat near Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road, behind Lewis-Palmer High School. Maps provided in Final Plat Drawings on the El Paso County Electronic Development Application Review Program (EDARP) website at https://epcdevplanreview.com/Public/ProjectDetails/152377. Color added by Jackie Burhans to highlight the requested changes.
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, Aug. 25.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
Overall, it was a relatively uneventful July with temperatures right about normal but precipitation below normal. Interestingly, there wasn’t a single day that was more than 10 degrees above or below normal and no significant severe weather.
The first four days of the month started off with active weather conditions, as thunderstorms and rain showers dropped around an inch of rainfall during the period. Temperatures were held in check during that time, with low to mid-70s on the 1st and 2nd, then low 80s on the 3rd and 4th. Generally quiet conditions with normal temperatures took hold for the remainder of the first week before some warmer conditions developed on the 8th and 9th.
Highs jumped into the upper 80s to low 90s on the 8th and 9th. But a cooler, dry air mass moved in over the next few days, with no rainfall occurring from the 9th through the 13th. There were no thunderstorms during this period, which is highly unusual during early July. Temperatures were stuck in the upper 70s to low 80s during the period partially because each day saw a thin pale of smoke covering the region. The smoke was the result of the numerous wildfires affecting much of the western U.S., where a significant drought was ongoing.
Thunderstorms returned over the next few days, but for the most part dry air in the lower levels of the atmosphere resulted in only light amounts of rainfall from the 14th through the 17th. Temperatures were generally below normal during this period, which is normally one of our warmest weeks of the year.
The effects of the North American Monsoon began to be felt across much of Colorado during the 3rd week of the month. This resulted in some areas of thunderstorms for us from the 21st through the 25th. Most of that activity was confined to the mountains and western Colorado. This was good news because it brought much needed moisture to that region and helped to control the numerous fires but also resulted in several rounds of flash flooding.
There were generally dry conditions and above-average temperatures from the 26th through the 30th. Highs peaked in the low 90s on the 28th, even setting some daily record highs at some Front Range locations. However, the month ended with plenty of clouds, areas of rain, and cool temperatures, hopefully a sign of more moisture headed our way in August.
A look ahead
August is the last true "summer" month for the region. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant mornings that turn into afternoon and early evening thunderstorms. Highs during the month range from the mid-80s at the beginning of the month to mid-70s at the end. Temperatures at night get more comfortable as well, often dipping into the 40s.
July 2021 Weather Statistics
Average High 81.6° (-0.9°)
100-year return frequency value max 87.6° min 75.3°
Average Low 52.5° (+1.5°)
100-year return frequency value max 56.2° min 46.9°
Highest Temperature 91°F on the 28th
Lowest Temperature 47°F on the 15th
Monthly Precipitation 2.72" (-0.65" 33% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.03" min 0.98"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 2.27" (-0.65" 33% below normal)
Heating Degree Days 12 (-10)
Cooling Degree Days 75 (+5)
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.
Concerned about warehouse project
I have been a Monument resident for 26 years and I am concerned about the direction our town is headed. The six proposed warehouses between Old Denver Road and I-25 in particular. Parking for just under 1,000 cars, 200 parking spots for trailers, 221 dock sites and 24-7 operations. Not to mention the size of the warehouses. This will affect far more than just the residents along Old Denver Road. Residents east of I-25 will have a view of a gigantic industrial hub in front of the Front Range, light pollution at night and perhaps even noise from a 24-7 operating hub. Residents from Larkspur and Palmer Lake that utilize Highway 105 through Monument will experience the increase in traffic. The buildings are multiple stories in height. The view from I-25 isn’t going to be something very attractive to visitors to exit for shopping or dining.
Neighbors, friends, and community members, please consider attending meetings regarding this issue. The last meeting only had about 10 folks from the community. Please visit the Town of Monument website frequently for meeting updates and cancellations of scheduled meetings on this topic. You can also visit SaveMonument.com for updated information. We need to show we care about keeping Monument as an attractive small town. I don’t think a lot of us moved here from most likely urban areas to escape the traffic, crime, noise, poor air quality to have it come to Monument. Let’s show the Town of Monument and developers that we do care about the quality of life in Monument. If the deal goes through, construction is set to begin in October.
Back to school
I was excited to receive an email from the Monument Academy school board and administration stating that they have made and finalized their back-to-school plans for this upcoming school year. I just wanted to express my gratitude to MA for working together with parents to open both of their campuses with the least restrictive environments (a return to normal learning) and for declining to receive financial supports or incentives for kids to participate in COVID testing. Thank you again for putting students first!
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that
Step back in time to learn how Colorado came to be.
Places & People of the Pikes Peak Region: Exploring 14 Signature Sites
By Tanja Britton (Western Meadowlark Press) $24.95
Local author Tanja Britton illuminates the history of iconic sites in the Pikes Peak Region. She introduces the sites, their connection to the area, individuals for whom they are named, and includes a variety of photos both historical and current. Britton travels a historical arc from the past to the present, all in a storytelling approach that is a delight to read. You will learn interesting history for 14 sites including Ute Pass, Pikes Peak, Helen Hunt Falls, Penrose House, and Barr Trail. A perfect read for Colorado Springs’ Sesquicentennial.
The Granite Attraction: Stories of the Pikes Peak Highway and Summit
By Eric Swab (Rhyolite Press) $29.95
This book begins in 1888, with the first efforts to get wheeled vehicles and their passengers to the summit of Pikes Peak. Fifteen years earlier, the U.S. Army established a weather station at the top of the mountain and manned it all year round with human observers. The summit has been the site of experiments in meteorology, aircraft engine design, and human physiology. It has been the source of stories of hardship, failure, and tall tales. Included are 13 maps and 123 images, most of them vintage photographs, many never published before.
Colorado and the Silver Crash: The Panic of 1893
By John F. Steinle (History Press) $21.99
A catastrophic depression engulfed Colorado in 1893. The government’s decision to adopt the gold standard and stop buying silver hit the mining industry like a cave-in. By 1898, the country had begun to recover, but silver mining was never the same. Using firsthand commentary and more than 100 historic photographs, Steinle commemorates the story of Coloradans trapped in the unprecedented social, economic, and political conflict of America’s first great depression.
Through the Years at Monument, Colorado, 5th edition
By Lucille Lavelett (Palmer Lake Historical Society) $13.95
This guide to the history of the town of Monument includes more than 130 photographs and illustrations covering the first 100 years, a timeline, and an index. Lucille Lavelett lived in Monument all her life. Always interested in local history, she did extensive research, and everyone around her encouraged her to put it in a book. The first publication was in 1975.
A Colorado History, 10th Edition
By Carl Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson, Duane A. Smith (West Winds Press) $29.99
Experience Colorado with this new, expanded edition of how the state has changed and how it has stayed the same. It begins with the prehistoric cliff dwellers of Mesa Verde and proceeds chronologically with accounts of Colorado’s role as a frontier territory, continuing to present day political, economic, cultural, and environmental issues.
Forgotten Colorado: The Eastern Plains
By Heath A. Gay (America Through Time) $23.99
Known as the agricultural center of Colorado, this region was once a thriving area for farmers, ranchers, and railroad workers. Today, history and relics from those early glory years can be found all over the region if you know where to look. This guide brings to light and exposes historic schools where class is out forever; the largest track of dinosaur footprints in North America; the site of one of the worst air show disasters in U.S. history; an entire railroad ghost town; and much more.
Rocky Mountain Train Robberies: True Stories of Notorious Bandits and Infamous Escapades
By W.C. Jameson (Twodot) $16.95
One of the most colorful parts of American history is the time of train robberies and the daring outlaws who undertook them in the period from just after the Civil War to 1924. To the cast of train robber-related characters can be added the relentless investigations and pursuit by individuals associated with the Pinkerton detectives, Texas Rangers, Wells Fargo detectives, railroad company detectives, as well as local and area law enforcement authorities. There are numerous tales of bravery that took place during train robberies involving heroic express car messengers, conductors, engineers, brakemen, and passengers.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at the Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
Some regular programs are being reinstated at the Monument Library, including in-person story times twice a month. Outdoor programs will be offered in Limbach Park, weather permitting.
Because El Paso County has been identified as a high transmission area for COVID-19, especially the Delta variant, staff and volunteers will resume wearing masks in the library. For others, masks are optional, but those over 11 years of age and those who are unvaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks.
Summer Adventure ends on Aug. 14. Come in to receive your end-of-program prizes at the library!
To check on programs in August, please see the website, www.ppld.org, and look under programs by location. Any changes will be current there.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Sharon Williams
On Saturday, July 17, the Palmer Lake Historical Society sponsored the first of its 2021 monthly meetings with a field trip composed of a walking tour of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Pike Forest Monument Preserve. This area is just west of Monument and accessed off a trailhead parking area at Mount Herman and Nursery Roads.
This informative hike was facilitated by Bill Normile with a historical overview of the USFS land. Normile has worked as a USFS volunteer member and as past president and current vice president of the Friends of the Monument Preserve (FOMP). FOMP members act as stewards for sustainability of the 1,000-acre area of the Preserve, which also encompasses the USFS Monument Fire Center complex.
During the early 1900s, the Bureau of Forestry, later to become the USFS, attempted an unsuccessful tree nursery on Pikes Peak. As a result, the current Monument Preserve area became the new site for the Monument Tree Nursery initiated in 1903. This nursery was to become one of the first of its kind to provide seedlings for reforestation areas that had been clear-cut by loggers and damaged by wildfires. The Mount Herman area was completely devoid of trees during that period and provided good prospects for tree growth. Water was supplied from a spring-sourced well system near the northwest edge of the Preserve.
Nurseries were consolidated from other locations in 1933 with the implementation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Sixty CCC "enlistees" went through boot camp and training similar to military discipline and later became leaders and skilled service men in 1942 when the United States entered WWII. At its height of production, the CCC harvested pine seeds, planted, transplanted, and shipped over 25 million conifers including ponderosa pine, white fir, blue spruce, Engelmann spruce, Douglas fir, and juniper. The nursery was abandoned in 1965, but the Preserve is still part of the surrounding Pike National Forest.
Vestiges of CCC concrete tent platforms, remains of structural foundations, and stone irrigation canals and bridges are easily accessed along trailways.
The Memorial Grove, located in the southern portion of the Preserve, was dedicated originally to CCC personnel who lost their lives during WWI/II. A memorial service is held each year in early May with a tree planting except this year, when the commemoration will be conducted on Sept. 11.
Caption: Thirty blue spruce trees were planted by the men who worked in the nursery at Memorial Grove in Monument Preserve during the early 1900s to honor those who were killed in WWI. Each year, usually in May, a memorial service is held at the grove and additional tree(s) are planted to honor Civilian Conservation Corps members who have died. The memorial service will be on Sept. 11 this year. Photo by Steve Pate.
Sharon Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
A hundred years of good life
Many people garden because they enjoy it, but it could become a medical prescription for all ages. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports, "One group of holistic therapies that aim to treat the whole person and has been well researched through surveys and randomized trials is so-called green care, or therapy by exposure to plants and gardening."
Among cultures worldwide, there’s a common activity with people who routinely live past 100, and research shows that almost all of them grow vegetables. Being around green space and exposure to plants, particularly to gardening, is beneficial to mental and physical health. NIH says this could reduce the pressure on NHS services, and that "health professionals should encourage their patients to make use of green space and work in gardens and should pressure local authorities to increase open spaces and trees, also counteracting air pollution and climate change."
Our hot summer means vigilant mulch protection and prudent watering. Since our area is basically high desert and naturally quite dry, generous mulch cover is vital, and our forests do that for themselves with pine needles. The online blog at Gardening Know How reports that most garden flowers in the growing season need 1 inch (2.5 cm.) of water every seven to 10 days and recommends setting out open canisters to get proper timings to measure for that perfect inch of water without waste.
Disney’s many worlds are organic and mosquito-free
Disney World’s natural, effective practices include water features with fountains and currents and no standing water, so there’s almost no place mosquitoes can oviposit on the 25,000 marshy acres of their park and its adjacent conservation land. Disney hired engineer Gen. Joe Potter, former Panama Canal governor, to implement these natural practices for a mosquito-free "happiest place on earth."
Besides natural pest control from the feral cats that live in Sleeping Beauty’s castle and the thousands of hidden chickens throughout the park, humanly imperceptible airborne puffs of garlic repel mosquitoes, too.
Here at home, we can pop fresh, viable, organic garlic into pots for growing near doors and windows and enjoy being virtually mosquito free. We can sauté or pickle the stems (called scapes) or just enjoy the spectacular globe flowers.
Caption: In August, our Central Flyway will see the return of the rufous hummingbird migration back from Canada to warmer climes. Colorado is a summer home to only four hummingbirds: the calliope, black-chinned, broadtail, and rufous hummingbirds. The annual Hummingbird Festival on Aug. 13 will include hummingbird-themed educational talks and activities, art, crafts, farmer’s booths, and more. Hosted by Southwinds Fine Art gallery, 16575 Roller Coaster Rd. Photo by Brandon Thrift.
Janet Sellers is an avid ethno ecologist and an optimistic lazy gardener. She helps manage the Monument Community Garden to demonstrate local growing methods. Send your handy tips to JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
There are many more things, between heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in
your philosophy, Horatio.
When in imagination’s flow we feel free and creative, releasing stress; we self-balance. Stereotypes portray artists as decadent and moody, but most I know are just attentively if not intensely focused on their work. There is a way to have the art flow, joy, and happy results. I’ll share that magic with you.
The World Health Organization defines holistic health: viewing man in his totality within a wide ecological spectrum, and … emphasizing the view that ill health or disease is brought about by an imbalance, or disequilibrium, of man in his total ecological system and not only by the causative agent and pathogenic evolution. "This important perspective is echoed in the organization’s 1946 preamble, wherein health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being rather than merely the absence of disease or infirmity,’’ wrote Dr. Heather L. Stuckey, DEd, and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH in The connection between art, healing and public health in the American Journal of Public Health.
These studies relate to art as a pastime but include the arduous efforts by serious amateurs and professionals. Traditionally, artists develop a painting or sculpture with sketches and endless planning, testing ideas first in drawings or watercolor studies. A simpler way to enjoy art and nature in a profound healing combination is to paint en plein air (French for "outdoors") alla prima (Italian for "first attempt’’) directly applying paint—even wet on wet—completing works in a single session.
Our current screen lifestyles offer us passive, contemporary weaknesses for instant yet canned visual tools and videos, but making art requires us to generate the works and not be complacent. Alla prima methods allow us to express deep feelings in the moment, also at an instant, yet without our own practice and expertise, or an apt mentor guiding us, paintings can fail, muddy and unsatisfying.
Many artists exclusively use oils with alla prima painting. I prefer acrylics on panels (including panel-clipped canvases), because there’s no surface shifting while I’m painting or in later years (as with stretched canvases), no issues with stability. I often mix right on the panel. It’s accurate and speedy, not needing to go palette to canvas and back for color corrections.
Happily, acrylics work fast, drying quickly. Acrylic in alla prima and studio painting also offers a wide array of tactile surface expression, including thick impasto techniques, without the oil painting tragedies of muddy colors or eventual surface cracking. Some will argue oils are more sensual to use; I’ve no argument there. But overall, the acrylic (I wish it had a snazzier name) alla prima experience is felicitous, engaging and fun, and enjoying a subsequent art show is fortunate for all of us.
Caption: Jefferson Gallery owner Daryl Muncey exhibits his own fine art paintings and woodcraft, shown here at the studio gallery showcase, and those of guest artists. Muncey’s art showcase is near the Chapala Center on the alley, lovingly restored, and is currently open to the public only during Art Hop. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and speaker, sharing art and visual thinking in human expression. Janetsellers@ocn.me.
Fox Run Park Concert Series
Caption: The free Concert Series presented by El Paso County Parks at Fox Run Regional Park continued July 29 with Dotsero playing their jazzy arrangements of original melodies and classic rock. The crowd was delighted by the perfect evening weather and the saxophone sensations of Steve Watts. The Concert Series continues every Thursday night at the Fox Run Park Gazebo through Sep. 2. For a complete schedule of the bands to play see Facebook—Fox Run Regional Park Concert Series. Photo Marlene Brown.
Lodge honors five
Caption: The Masonic Lodge in Monument recognized five individuals for their outstanding service to our community on June 26. From left, Lt. Jon Githara of the Colorado Springs Fire Department, a lifelong resident of Monument, was selected as the 2021 Firefighter of the Year. He received $200. Haile Stegall, a graduate of Air Academy High School this year, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for Colorado State University. Jill Lucas, a first-grade teacher at Explorer Elementary in District 20, got $200 for being named the 2021 Teacher of the Year. She has accepted a position to teach at Chinook Elementary this fall. Officer Ryan Sebastian of the Monument Police Department was selected as the 2021 Police Officer of the Year and received $200. Not pictured is Bricen Sites, a graduate of Liberty High School. He was awarded a $500 scholarship for the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Photo by Michael Moore.
Sertoma places flags
Caption: On a dreary and drizzly morning July 2, Gleneagle Sertoma members including Harvey LeCato, Ron Luebben, and Jim Taylor placed American flags along Gleneagle Drive. LeCato said over 300 flags would be placed as part of the annual tradition performed by the Sertoma for the Fourth of July holiday. Photo by David Futey.
Independence Day Festivities, July 3 - Photos by David Futey
Caption: The 39th annual Palmer Lake Fun Run took place on a sunny July 3 morning. This year’s 4-mile race was both in-person, for those running the traditional route from Palmer Lake to Monument, and virtual, where runners could submit a 4-mile time. A combined 550 runners were expected. Kelsey Belsher, race coordinator and Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) PTO member, said the race was a 100% volunteer effort to organize. She was thankful for the community and sponsor support and "extremely proud of the race being part of the small-town tradition for the Fourth of July." The race proceeds will be used for PLES classroom technology and field trips. The top in-person finishers were (M) Awet Beraki (19:07) of Monument and (F) Marissa Kuik (25:02) of Colorado Springs.
Caption: On the morning of July 3, the Knights of Columbus (Council 11514) hosted its Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast on the St. Peter Church walkway in Monument. Pancake Breakfast Coordinator Richard Peters said they prepared for 1,000 attendees to consume scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausages, orange juice, and coffee. Peters said, "We were not sure how many would attend this year, but we are thrilled with the turnout and support from the community." He stated that proceeds from the breakfast go to local nonprofits such as Tri-Lakes Cares and various church ministries.
Caption: Cade and Reagan Christian are set to ride in the Monument Hill Kiwanis Children’s Parade.
Caption: The start of the main Monument Hill Kiwanis Fourth of July Parade.
Caption: A couple of festive Monument Hill Kiwanis Children’s Parade attendees used their hoverboards to make their way on the parade route.
Caption: Kiwanians of the Year Kathy Strom (2019) and Rich Strom (2020) participate in the main parade.
Caption: Children from the Reser, Petricich, and Spaulding families have various modes of transportation ready to ride in the Monument Hill Kiwanis Children’s Parade.
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club float in the main parade honored first responders.
Above (L to R): Madyson Buhring of Calhan, 2021 El Paso County Fair queen. OCN volunteer Audrey Burkart jumps rope while on a unicycle. Beverley Moore, Ms. Colorado 2020 Black America Pageant from Monument. Donald Wescott Fire Department’s ladder truck.
Monument Street Fair, July 3
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and Visitor Center held a Fourth of July Street Fair and Beer Garden on Saturday, July 3 after a year of cancellations and suspended events. Many attended after the Monument Kiwanis Parade, and with the help of volunteers and a crowd close to 20,000 coming back to downtown Monument, the fair was bustling with energy. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Jackson Ranch Chipping Day, July 10
Caption: With guidance from Neighborhood Ambassador Program Leadership Training, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and the neighborhood Homeowners Association at Jackson Ranch, the July 10 Chipping Day was an achievement for all involved. With the leadership training, the board members were able to organize a safe and efficient event. The Fire Department sent the chipper and two firefighters to run it, and the homeowners participated in a brigade to bring the slash and branches to the chipper, and then the firefighters threw the debris into the chipper. For more information about Chipping Day and Leadership Training for neighborhoods, contact the Emergency Preparedness Group at email@example.com. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Adams at TLCA, July 17
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), closed for 18 months due to the pandemic, reopened to concerts July 17 once John Adams sang the opening verse to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High. Adams, who first performed at the TLCA in 2009, and his John Denver tribute band played familiar Denver songs including Leaving on a Jet Plane and the unfamiliar Shanghai Breezes. The audience sang along to many of the songs. TLCA Executive Director Michael Maddox said, "We are thrilled the TLCA is reopened as many have told us how they have missed the venue and concerts." Maddox, debi Maddox, and TLCA volunteers were busy during the downtime performing numerous renovations inside and out including refinishing the floors, upgrading the stage and green room, and information is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
TL Cruisers’ cars at JCSL, July 25
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Cruisers showed off some of their antique cars for the enjoyment of Jackson Creek Senior Living residents on July 25. Cruisers Secretary Steve Gutman says the event was aimed at brightening the day for the seniors. Photo courtesy of Steve Gutman.
Palmer Lake Festival, July 4
Caption: After a year of on-again off-again and months of planning, the Palmer Lake Festival and Fireworks was a go on the Fourth of July. With the help of many volunteers and many man-hours working and helping the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee, the festival was a success. Festivities included a bouncy castle, a climbing wall, food trucks and grilled hot dogs and brats, 12 bands, and a beer garden. The festival went on all day and in the afternoon the rains came, which prompted the fireworks display ban to be lifted and all the festival-goers got to see what they came for. For information about volunteering and fundraising for 2022, contact https://trilakes360.com/contact-us.php. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Art Hop, July 15
Caption: Shawn Ho exhibits his oil paintings at Bella Art and Frame Gallery for the July 15 Art Hop in Monument. His subjects include local scenes in Colorado and scenes from childhood memories in his native Taiwan. The next Art Hop in Downtown Monument is Aug. 19, 5-8 p.m. Photo by Janet Sellers.
PLAG Show at TLCA, July 16
Caption: On July 16, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) launched a grand reopening with a happy crowd after a long COVID-19 closure with Palmer Lake Art Group’s "Color Splash" show in the main gallery and "Visions of Color and Light" in the Lucy Owens Gallery. Ribbon place winners were awarded, and honors and scholarships went to recent local high school graduates. Show runs through Aug. 13 at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Rosie’s car show, July 25
Caption: On July 25, dozens of classic cars and trucks filled parking lots surrounding Rosie’s in Monument. Enthusiasts began arriving at 9 a.m. and continued until the closing at 1 p.m. as they enjoyed the variety of vehicles at the annual show. Jesse Cooper in his "dapper" outfit stands beside his Model A Ford. Photo by John Howe.
First Responder Kits
Caption: We rise tallest when we bend to serve others, and so children’s "Rise Week" happened the week of July 26 at the Church at Woodmoor. The kids made "First Responder Kits" to be used by either the responders of Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District or the people they are serving in an emergency. The kits included bottled water, gum, cheese crackers, granola bars, mints, and antibacterial wipes. The little girl with the helmet is Poppy Prickett. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Harlin.
New playground opened, July 26
Caption: The Church at Woodmoor held a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony July 26 to open its new community playground. The playground was made possible with donations in honor of Marie Panzer, Frank Matthews, and Clifford and Laura Vliet. The Church at Woodmoor considers community outreach as part of their mission and hopes to see children from around our community enjoying the playground. The dedication was made by Pastor Michele Richardson. In attendance were the family members of the honorees, representatives from the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, members of Tri-Lakes Cares, and members of the church. Front row, from left, Ruby Taylor, Larry Vliet, Don Panzer, Cameron Steele. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Harlin.
Caption: On June 22, while hiking in Pike National Forest Monument Preserve, Jeff Haeffele photographed a particularly cooperative cicada. This is our very own Colorado cicada, among 29 species in the state. Young cicadas burrow and develop underground, feeding on fluids from roots of grasses, shrubs, and trees. These cicadas do little if any injury to the plant. They range from 1 to 2 inches long. The Colorado male cicadas "sing" to attract females, producing a synchronized, "white-noise ticking" sound. Adult cicadas emerge 3 to 5 years after eggs hatch. Periodical cicadas, commonly heard and seen in the Midwest and Eastern U.S., emerge every 17 or 13 years and do not live in Colorado. The Eastern cicada species produces a distinctive, often shrill, buzzing and clacking noise. Caption by Sharon Williams. Photo by Jeff Haeffele.
Keep them coming! Send your best "Life in Tri-Lakes" photo to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Aug. 20. Please don’t send more than two photos. Include names of any people in the photo, date taken, a description of the activity or location, and the name of the photographer. Call Lisa at 719-339-7831 with questions.
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.
Red Flag Warning!
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/.
Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site
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: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; and Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays 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.
Area code required soon for local (719) and (970) calls
Colorado customers with numbers in the 719 and 970 area codes should start dialing 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. They will still count as local calls. Beginning Oct. 24, 10 digits 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.
D38 Board candidates sought
The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District No. 38 calls for nomination of candidates for school directors to be placed on the ballot for the regular biennial school election to be held on Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Petitions due Aug. 27. Information about qualifications and petitions can be found on ad on page 6.
Monument Charter Commission candidates sought
Candidates for the Town of Monument Charter Commission must be registered electors of the town. Nomination petition forms can be picked up from the town clerk at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Petitions and statements must be filed with the town clerk by Monday, Aug. 23. See www.TownofMonument.org for details.
Openings on Monument boards
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit http://townofmonument.org/261/Available-Board-Openings.
I-25 and CO 21 (Powers Blvd) Interchange updates
The new northbound I-25 exit ramp to Northgate Blvd. is now open. A new interchange and a ¾-mile stub of state highway CO 21 (Powers Blvd.) will soon connect I-25 to Voyager Pkwy. This $65 million project is the first part of a two-part plan. Funding has not yet been secured to connect CO 21 from its current terminus at CO 83 & Interquest Pkwy. to Voyager Pkwy. For map of new interchange and connection from I-25 to Voyager Pkwy, see https://i25powers.com.
CO 21 (Powers Blvd) and Research Parkway Construction Schedule
Work will be completed in fall 2022 and will consist of replacing the current at-grade intersection with an innovative Diverging Diamond Interchange by constructing an overpass for Powers Boulevard/ Colorado Highway 21 traffic to move continuously through the intersection over Research Parkway. For many more details and rendering of final configuration, including a video showing new traffic flow, see https://cccpi.net/cdot-powers-research.pdf.
MVEA Scholarships and Trips
Mountain View Electric Association’s Youth Leadership Trip Contest offers a chance to wind a trip to Washington D.C. or be invited to Colorado Electric Education Institute’s Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs. Deadline Nov. 11. MVEA’s college scholarship program deadline is January 17. See ad on page 16.
Volunteer for Tri-Lakes Cares
There are many areas within Tri-Lakes Cares that you can help serve. Volunteers interact with clients, stock the food pantry, distribute grocery orders, process donations, pack Snack Packs for local youths, and contribute in many other ways to the success of Tri-Lakes Cares. Becoming a volunteer is easy and fun. For details, contact Volunteer Coordinator Nichole Pettigrew, 719-481-4864 x113, VolunteerCoordinator@Tri-LakesCares.org; or visit https://tri-lakescares.org/volunteer/.
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us now more than ever
Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization located in and serving northern El Paso County through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. The community-based, volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. The best way to help support Tri-Lakes Cares is to make a financial donation. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Nicole Pettigrew, director of Volunteers and Community Partnership, at 719-481-4864 Ext. 111; firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.tri-lakescares.org.
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.
CDOT: stories of distracted driving victims
Distracted driving continues to be a dangerous issue on Colorado roads. An average of 42 crashes a day involve distracted drivers, 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 www.ppymca.org/poolpass. See ad on page 6.
WMMI seeks volunteers
WMMI has positions for docents/tour guides, front desk, landscaping, and building and maintenance. For more details, contact Loretta, 719-488-0880, or email Volunteer@wmmi.org. See ad on page 14
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 highlights 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/.
Sisters’ Thrift & Boutique is open
The Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery have a shop full of gently used treasures, including clothing and accessories, household items, and small furniture at 8674 N. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs. Store hours are Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 719-282-0316. The shop welcomes donations and volunteers. For more information about Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery, visit www.benethillmonastery.org.
Energy Star appliance and light bulb rebates
Mountain View Electric offers rebates to encourage energy efficiency. Save on your monthly electric bill by replacing incandescent and halogen light bulbs and old appliances with Energy Star certified equipment. Find more information and a Rebate Product Guide at www.mvea.coop/rebates.
MVEA rebates for outdoor power equipment
Outdoor power equipment rebates from Mountain View Electric Association if you switch from gas to electric powered mower, snow blower, leaf blower, electric bicycle, chainsaw, power washer, pruner, trimmer. Learn more at www.mvea.coop/rebates or 800-388-9881.
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.
Free transportation and handyman services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. Private transportation to medical appointments or a grocery store is now provided by Envida, 719-633-4677. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
MCSS needs driver volunteers to help seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services is in desperate need of drivers to drive senior citizens to appointments. For information on how to help, call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
El Paso County services to veterans
If you or someone you know needs food, housing, transportation, behavioral health counseling, or employment support, Mt. Carmel continues to be a beacon of support for those who served. Please call 719-772-7000 or email email@example.com to be connected to a member of the Mt. Carmel team. For more information, visit www.veteranscenter.org.
Can you volunteer today?
Links to local organizations with an immediate need for volunteers are listed on the county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/volunteering-and-donations, for groups like Care and Share, Crossfire Ministries, blood donations, Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity), foster an animal, Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, Salvation Army, Silver Key, and United Way (ongoing opportunities).
MVEA tree-trimming services
Tree trimming helps prevent storm-related power outages. For more information, call 800-388-9881 or 719-495-2283, or visit www.mvea.coop/tree-trimming.
I-25 MyWay commuting options website
In another effort to improve traveler and worker safety along the 18-mile-long construction zone of Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock, rush-hour travelers now can take advantage of I-25 MyWay, a new partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Denver Regional Council of Governments. I-25 MyWay is offering transit, vanpool and carpool incentives to commuters willing to try a new mode of transportation between Colorado Springs and Denver. Taking more single-occupant vehicles off the road helps reduce congestion and enhances the environment. Commuters can learn more about eligibility and types of incentives at www.i25MyWay.org. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1" emergency notifications to your cell phones
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
Residence vacation check
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office can conduct vacation checks of homes of county residents multiple days. Either a deputy or trained volunteer will visit your home while you’re away and check it periodically. Checks can only be scheduled for a maximum of one month. To add your home to their schedule, visit www.epcsheriffsoffice.com. Info: 520-7151.
Solar Power co-op forming
Solar United Neighbors is a nonprofit 501C3 forming a group in the area. It will help residents and businesses learn about solar energy. The co-op is free to join; for more information see www.solarunitedneighbors.org/ColoradoSprings.
Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, a voluntary organization of 16 counties and municipalities, offers several programs that may be of interest to our readers. One example: PPLD Partnership Medicare Series. Info: www.ppacg.org, (719) 471-7080.
Tri-Lakes Cares 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, we want to connect with them! Systems Development Internship & Website Development Internship. See https://tri-lakescares.org/about-tlc/employment/.
El Paso County vehicle registration online or kiosks
Foot Care Clinic
A registered nurse examines your feet and provides foot care advice, toenail trimming. Silver Alliance Senior Center across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. By appointment only, 303-698-9496. $40 charge unless insured through Kaiser. Info: Nurse Association, 719-577-4448.
El Paso County Hazardous Materials & Recycling Collection Facility
https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/environmental-division/. Appointments required. 719-520-7878.
Lucretia Vaile Museum
Closed for now, 66 Lower Glenway St., Palmer Lake. Free. The museum houses items of local historical significance. Special displays rotate every 4-6 months. Info: 719-559-0837, https://palmerdividehistory.org/.
Reading tutor volunteers needed
Children’s Literacy Center provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level! Tutoring is at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and our Summer Session will run through Aug. 14. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or email Christine Jeffson at Christine@childrensliteracycenter.org.
MVEA planning broadband for rural Colorado
Mountain View Electric Association is planning to provide reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband service to all its 51,000 members in the next six years. MVEA and Conexon Connect teams are now designing and mapping the network. It hasn’t been determined what areas and neighborhoods will be included in the first phase, but members will be updated as those decisions are made. For more information about MVEA and Conexon Connect’s fiber-to-the-home project, visit www.mvea.coop/broadband.
MVEA rebates for outdoor power equipment
Outdoor power equipment rebates from Mountain View Electric Association if you switch from gas to electric powered mower, snow blower, leaf blower, electric bicycle, chainsaw, power washer, pruner, trimmer. Learn more at www.mvea.coop/rebates or 800-388-9881. See ad on page 16.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com with changes and additions.
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.