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By Allison Robenstein
The Monument Board of Trustees met at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church for its Aug. 16 meeting to make space for residents who wished to speak against the Conexus service plan. It was debated late into the night and ultimately denied.
Town Clerk Laura Hogan announced Trustee Jamie Unruh’s vacant seat after she resigned on Aug. 2.
Conexus Commercial Metropolitan District service plan denied
The board heard a request for the Conexus Commercial Metropolitan District service plan after it was continued from the Aug. 2 meeting. Town Hall couldn’t accommodate all the people who wished to speak, so the request was continued to this meeting at the church. Alas, even this space was too small, with many people standing in the back of the church and even outdoors. There were 110 remote users logged on to the Webex meeting services. Several times, Mayor Don Wilson had to ask the audience to follow decorum because they became loud, even swearing at speakers.
The Conexus property is 169 acres along Old Denver Road. The service plan is the financing mechanism used by developers to pay for infrastructure in a new parcel. In this case, a bond of $32 million was being requested. Of that, $22 million would have been requested to cover construction of the sewer, water, and drainage, as well as streets, signage, and landscaping. Then, $10 million would be used for operation and maintenance of the district. This might include attorney fees, document submission to the state, etc.
Those who buy property, whether it be commercially or residentially owned, pay the bond back as mills levied against the property. This service plan includes 33 mills for this project. However, there are other existing districts, such as Triview Metropolitan District. All of these combined would make 137.439 mills levied. The existing mills levied on the property include:
• El Paso County 7.755 mills
• EPC Road & Bridge Share 0.165 mills
• Town of Monument 6.152 mills
• EPC-Monument Road & Bridge Share 0.165 mills
• Lewis-Palmer School No. 38 41.000 mills
• Pikes Peak Library 3.855 mills
• Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection 18.400 mills
• Triview Metropolitan District 27.000 mills
In 1987, the land was zoned Planned Industrial Development as part of Regency Park. In 2018, a preliminary site plan was approved and on Sept. 8, 2020, the board approved a change of zoning to PUD that includes light industrial, commercial, civic, office, and multi-family residential. See www.ocn.me/v18n2.htm#mpc and www.ocn.me/v20n10.htm#mbot0908.
Planning Director Meggan Herrington said this request doesn’t include any "vertical development," just the financing service plan. However, the Preliminary/Final site plan shows warehouse development, which is the reason so many people attended the meeting. Becknell Industries includes Monument in its portfolio of properties, calling the new development Alpine Distribution Center. Many in attendance said the warehouses constitute "heavy industrial" in their neighborhoods.
Russ Dykstra of Spencer Fane LLP said "the district is a financing tool" that will also support reworking Old Denver Road to meet the needs of the new development’s expected traffic.
Water for the development would be supplied by Triview Metropolitan District. Triview board members submitted a letter of support for the development.
A round of cheers went up from the crowd when Trustee Ron Stephens asked how the development could support semi-trucks when Old Denver Highway is posted for no trucks over 6,000 pounds. The bubble of enthusiasm was quickly flattened when he was told the road is considered a main thoroughfare and would be improved to allow for such traffic.
Public comments went on for hours. Most if not all speakers opposed the service plan. Most expressed concerns about the amount of traffic generated by the new development and the potential impact it would have on their neighborhoods. Some noted the service district hasn’t proved its economic value to the town. Still others wondered about the environmental impact of increased runoff into Teachout Creek, the waterway that intersects the property.
Jeremy Bernanta received applause when he said the traffic study associated with the plan falls short of town requirements. He explained the turning radius for tractor trailers exceeds the width of Old Denver Highway. Similarly, others asked the board to consider that trucking is a 24-hour operation.
Sarah Doulton asked how to determine the past performance of the developer in following through on infrastructure buildout in other communities.
Former Monument Planning Commissioner Steve King and other residents lamented that the board would be voting on something without adequate knowledge.
Carrol Binder said the potential use of heavy industrial in this development is "obviously against the will of the people."
During board deliberations, Stephens said that when the sketch plan was originally approved, there was a suggestion that there would be residences included in the development. "I personally find this is a burden to the community" based upon the traffic and safety issues.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott suggested the service plan will cater to more industrial development. Knowing Becknell Industries already has this property named in its portfolio suggests a prior agreement by the developer in creating this service plan. Both she and Stephens encouraged the board to vote against the request.
Trustee Mitch LaKind said he had spent the four days before the meeting reading everything he could and had spoken to numerous groups to educate himself. He blamed an NES Inc. representative for pitching something that hadn’t been intended. He said the board was originally shown "rainbows and puppy dogs," but he added that it is really just pollution, noise, and smog.
Trustee Jim Romanello said, "It is just quite obvious how the community feels and how this does not fit in the direction you wish to go."
The motion made by Stephens to reject the service plan was unanimously approved. The meeting then adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
Caption: Monument residents made their voices heard at the Aug. 16 Board of Trustees meeting. A controversial service plan for the Conexus property was eventually denied by the board after trustees listened to hours of public comments. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be contacted at email@example.com
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board met on Aug. 19 to discuss the implications of a recent notification that its water system exceeds the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) maximum contaminant level (MCL) for radium. The board also heard a financial report, a manager’s report, and an operational report.
Following the meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss water rights offers.
Board strategizes to reduce radium
General Manager Jeff Hodge told the board that on July 23 the district was notified that tests of the district’s water showed an average of 6.7 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of radium over the last year, exceeding the CDPHE’s limit of five pCi/L. The district was required to notify customers of this measurement, Hodge said.
Hodge explained that standards for radium in drinking water varied around the world. In most places the upper limit is about 25 pCi/L, and that is the standard used by the World Health Organization.
The district’s wells will be individually tested for radionuclides so that more water can be pumped from the wells with the least radium, Hodge said. In addition, the staff is looking into a radium removal process using hydrous manganese oxide (HMO), which is already being used by the Triview Metropolitan District, DWSD’s neighbor to the north. Triview’s HMO upgrade cost a couple thousand dollars, according to Hodge, and DWSD staff has already visited Triview to understand the HMO process.
Hodge said the district’s surface water did not exceed the radium limit and would be used to dilute the water from other sources with higher radium levels. More surface water will be purchased in the future to remediate this issue, he said. Donala will engage an engineering firm to evaluate potential process changes to resolve the radium MCL issue.
A handout provided at the board meeting contained additional information about the radium issue, including the following points:
• Radium-226 and radium-228 at five pCi/L do not represent an immediate health threat; it would take many years of consumption to see health effects.
• Donala’s Holbein Water Treatment Plant (HWTP) is the only one of the district’s three water sources that is in violation of the CDPHE standard.
• Run times at HWTP have been reduced. Run times at the Lower Treatment Plant have been increased as have flows from the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Connection.
• Wells that have had higher levels of radium historically have been taken out of service.
• Radionuclides have been increasing in wells across the Front Range.
See the entire document at: www.donalawater.org/images/docs/notices/Radium_Notice_with_EPA_Flyer_2021.pdf.
Additional radium information, including methods to remove radium, can be found on the district’s website at www.donalawater.org.
Radium issues have been discussed in other local water and wastewater districts, including the Town of Monument, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation (WWSD), and the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF), which is equally owned by WWSD, Monument Sanitation District (MSD), and the Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD). To see related articles on radium issues, go to ocn.me and search for "radium."
District finances on track
Hodge reviewed the district’s finances for the board. President Ed Houle asked if district water sales were low, since they were at 49% of what was expected with most of the summer months over. Hodge said there was some delay in when water sales are processed, and other measurements showed sales are not off. Effluent sales were a bit low, Hodge said, but he expected Martin Marietta to make additional effluent purchases soon.
Hodge said he expected to deliver the budget "right where it needs to be."
Manager’s report provides project status
In his report, Hodge said the condition, testing, and operation of the wells were being studied, and each well would be tested separately. Upgrades were planned that would provide additional information about the wells to inform the transition from well water to renewable surface water.
Hodge reviewed progress on two water reusability projects: the CSU Loop project and the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI). The CSU Loop project plans to divert water out of Fountain Creek and convey that water to the CSU Southern Delivery System and then to the Bailey Water Treatment Plant. The NMCI project would collect wastewater from six sanitation districts, eliminate three lift stations, and make more efficient use of the J.D. Phillips Water Resource Reclamation Facility. Each of the projects held meetings in August. The CSU Loop project is in the analysis phase and NMCI is in the design phase, Hodge said.
Hodge also discussed a draft of proposed changes to the rates in DWSD’s long-term water supply contract with CSU. The draft shows the rate CSU charges DWSD to convey, treat, and deliver water will be reduced by $0.0261 per cubic foot. CSU will also charge Donala $1.24 million per year for an 8-inch meter for 25 years. The meter limits Donala to receiving 2,100 gallons per minute, up to 1.2 million gallons per day. Hodge said the new contract was interruptible, and that changed the picture for Donala. Hodge told the board DWSD asked to have fees already paid applied to the new rates and would meet again with CSU to understand the new rates more clearly.
Highlights of operational reports
• A total of 37.4 million gallons of water was used in July, 26 million from aquifers and 10 million of renewable surface water from Willow Springs Ranch delivered by CSU.
• Water meter upgrades are proceeding but are delayed due to limited availability of integrated circuit chips.
The next meeting has been rescheduled to Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month and include online access due to coronavirus restrictions; call (719) 488-3603 or access www.donalawater.org to receive up-to-date meeting information. The district office is located at 15850 Holbein Drive, Colorado Springs. See www.donalawater.org for more information about the district.
By Michael Weinfeld
It’s the smell she still can’t shake.
Twenty years after 9/11, Sharon Williams says, "I still have the smell in my head."
Williams volunteered at Ground Zero for 2½ weeks, surrounded by the smell of death, dust, and destruction.
Williams, a volunteer for Our Community News, has lived in Monument since 1976. We originally discussed her experience during an interview for Monument’s 140th birthday. We recently continued our discussion.
Williams vividly remembers when the twin towers fell. She was in Iowa visiting her family.
She felt she could be of service having had Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training and experience helping firefighters in Colorado. But she also had a unique talent: She knew how to relieve the physical stress of the search dogs that were working around the clock looking for survivors and remains.
Williams got rides from firefighters and members of law enforcement who were also heading East. One ride led to another. She never had to hitchhike.
She reached New York City in three days, arriving while the rubble was still smoldering, a scene she describes as "overwhelmingly jolting." Williams was surprised by how quiet it was. The sounds of the city were missing. There weren’t even any birds.
Williams thought she’d be working with first responders. But after an extensive security check, she was assigned to the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT). Williams had been among the first in the country to be certified in treatment-based canine massage. She had completed a two-year program provided through the Boulder College of Massage Therapy and Colorado State University Veterinary School of Medicine. This was followed by extensive training in FEMA protocol for emergency canine response support services.
But the massage program was so new, the veterinarians at Ground Zero were unfamiliar with it and told Williams, "We don’t need foo-foo massage on these dogs." Williams persuaded them to let her show what she could do. She says once the vets saw how much more relaxed the dogs were and how their stamina increased after being massaged, "I had more dogs than I knew what to do with."
Williams says she was "privileged" to work with FEMA-certified canines, who were trained in disaster response. She calls the partnership between handlers and canines "deep and visceral." She massaged some 30 dogs in all.
Williams worked 12-hour day shifts. Her first night, she slept on a sidewalk propped up against a building. The other nights were spent in a warehouse across New York Harbor.
She’ll never forget the sights and smells. Williams says if you talk with anyone who was at Ground Zero, they all speak of "that smell." Williams recalls that in the early days, the mix of chemicals and burning metals "smelled almost sweet."
She also remembers "the sunlight being blocked by the plumes of ash that just kept floating up in the air." She says "You’d be walking a lot of times in knee-deep ash. It just kept puffing up. The light was pretty dim a lot of the time."
Williams continues, "You could feel grit in your teeth." She wondered what she was ingesting, "It was in my mouth. I was breathing it." Says Williams, "Every instinct told me this is not a safe place to be."
She was right. The experience took its toll. Williams worked for days without a mask. Only first responders got "purples," the color-coded respirator air-filtering masks. When Williams finally was issued a mask, she found it was made out of plain paper. "By that time," she says, "damage had been done."
Williams developed serious health problems. "Almost all of us walked away with some kind of severe respiratory COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)," she says. Williams was diagnosed with asthma. Doctors have told her she breathed in "microscopic slivers of glass" that will keep scarring her lungs until she may develop emphysema.
"The other thing that anybody that worked there came away with," she says, "was the cough." She says she "coughed and coughed for about three or four years."
Because Williams was a volunteer, she wasn’t covered by the government programs set up to pay for the health problems of first responders. For a long time, she says, "all my income went to paying for my lung scans and my medications." Now, Medicare picks up a chunk of her costs.
Williams knows it could’ve been worse. Doctors have told her she’s "really lucky to be alive because most everybody else we’ve been working with is not here."
Williams says she has "a jarring insight of how much this country, its democracy and beliefs have been reshaped" in the last 20 years. She says "We tend to think of disasters like 9/11 and the impacts on people as fixed in time. Yet, its effects continue to resonate just as deeply today in ways we could have never foreseen."
Caption: Sharon Williams Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Michael Weinfeld can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
During the Aug. 2 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees, Trustee Jaime Unruh resigned her seat. During a special meeting Aug. 9, the board voted to put Town Attorney Andrew Richey on administrative leave.
Trustee Laurie Clark was noted absent for the Aug. 2 meeting by Town Clerk Laura Hogan.
Trustee Unruh resigns
Unruh resigned from the board, saying her family is moving to Germany. Mayor Don Wilson thanked her for her service and directed staff to draft a resolution declaring the vacancy.
Attorney put on paid leave
During a special meeting Aug. 9, Richey was put on administrative leave after the board decided charges against him warrant a hearing. Richey is charged with not following town government rules. Richey acts as town prosecutor and has been charged with not obeying court rules. Specifically, he is responsible for meeting with defendants in a room separate from the courtroom. On one occasion, he met with defendants outside this room, allowing those nearby to hear the discussion. Richey is also charged with leaving court documents unattended. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services rules require that all paperwork be always in the custody of the prosecutor.
Trustee Laurie Clark thought the charges "weak." When she moved to dismiss the charge, no one seconded the motion, and the meeting continued.
Joseph Rivera of Murray Dahl Beery & Renaud represented the town during the meeting. Marni Kloster of CIRSA represented the prosecution, and the defendant, Richey, represented himself. The board acted as judge and jury as detailed in C.R.S. § 31-4-307.
Rivera announced that attempts to negotiate a separation agreement with Richey had been unsuccessful.
The six trustees voted unanimously to put Richey on paid administrative leave. Rivera was named interim town attorney. No hearing date has been announced.
Consent agenda: design of new public works facility
The board approved two items on the consent agenda. The first is a change order to the existing contract for the Public Works building expansion. D2C Architects is contracted to provide design and engineering for the new building. After purchasing a building at 259 Beacon Lite Road, Public Works realized the new space will need to be reworked. It asked for $75,000 extra so that D2C Architects could redesign the new space as well.
The board also consented to an exchange for a small piece of land adjacent to the well redrill along Beacon Lite Road. Well 3 had to be redrilled, and by state statute the new well must be within 200 feet of the original. "This created an issue for the town as all the land they own has buried utility lines," according to the board packet. An easement was created with Porchlight Properties, the owner of the property that sits adjacent to the original well.
The owner wishes to have roadway access, but their parcel is landlocked. The well has been completely outfitted. The next step is to install the new pump and motor. The in-kind exchange means no town funds were used for the purchase.
The request was unanimously approved.
Conexus service plan decision continued
The board’s agenda for Aug. 2 included a resolution for the approval of the service plan for Conexus Commercial Metropolitan District. Town Hall was at capacity with residents crowding in to speak during public comments regarding this resolution. Many others had to stand outside with Monument police helping them connect remotely to the meeting so they could watch on their phones.
Mayor Don Wilson said because so many people were not able to come into the room and speak publicly that the plan would be continued to the Aug. 16 meeting despite many residents’ fear that the board would make decisions outside of public guidance. After the announcement, most of the people in attendance left rather than listen to the town government’s ongoing debates and decisions.
As the meeting was coming to an end, Trustee Ron Stephens wondered aloud if the 18-month rezoning and land use development plan that the town just finished should be reworked. "I understand we did a massive review, but these people didn’t take part," he said. The expectations of the community appear to be different than what has been approved by the board, although they had very little public input. If residents don’t make their opinions known, the board cannot guess, he said. Planning Director Meggan Herrington said the land use consultant and her staff put in a lot of work toward the new zoning and couldn’t imagine what a new project might look like.
Monument Junction Metropolitan District 1 and 2 service plan approved
The board heard a request for approval of the Monument Junction service plan that covers what was previously called the Village, an 83.98-acre development that will span the east and west sides of Jackson Creek directly south of Highway 105. The land was rezoned Planned Unit Development in June 2020 and will be a mix of residential and commercial uses.
Herrington reminded the board the service plan is separate from any land use decisions. Wilson said this means that despite what happens in the future for the board and land use approvals, they still need to approve a service plan.
Based upon Title 32 districts, the board must approve a district’s service plan that will be the financing mechanism that developers use to build public infrastructure. Future residents and commercial building owners will be expected to pay the maximum 50 mills that can be requested plus an additional 10 mills for operations and maintenance. The total mills including all the other special districts that cover the property, including the library district, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and Triview Metropolitan District, to name a few, will be 137 mills.
Russ Dykstra of Spencer Fane LLP spoke for the applicant, noting the associated bond is a "low-cost, tax-exempt financing" tool to build infrastructure.
Town Manager Mike Foreman noted that even with the $11.95 million the developer is asking for, the town is still $4 million short of completing the much-needed Jackson Creek Parkway expansion.
Trustee Ron Stephens confirmed that before anyone buys a house in the new development, they will be made fully aware of state Senate Bill 292. As of July 1, all metropolitan districts are required to file specific disclosures and record them against the property.
Trustee Mitch LaKind asked the developer how the infrastructure will be paid for if the service plan financing isn’t enough to cover all costs. He was told the service plan only finances 50% to 55% of costs. Everything else is paid for by the developer, who expects to be reimbursed through future home sales.
LaKind said, "I find 60 mills offensive and quite disgusting." He noted the entire 137 mills is a lot to pay for a homeowner.
Doug Stimple of Classic Homes said it’s a free market. If potential buyers "don’t want to pay the mills, don’t move into the neighborhood," he said. Stimple noted the service plan includes a large monetary donation toward expanding Jackson Creek Parkway via a certified insured bond, noting Classic Homes is taking 100% of the risk.
Both LaKind and Trustee Jim Romanello live within the Village Center development, which was forced to increase the mill levy for residents to 50 mills because the developer left residents after declaring bankruptcy.
During public comments, resident Jennifer Knisly said she had thoroughly reviewed the service plan and began to ask questions of Stimple and Dykstra. Rather than answering her questions professionally, they told her she doesn’t understand the financing plan. When Knisly said she represents several residents who live in the Classic Homes development of Sanctuary Pointe, the mayor asked her to keep her questions specifically to the new service plan that the board is reviewing.
Online resident Wendy Bolyard responded to Stimple’s comment about the free market approach of selling homes, noting, "the rich get richer and the rest of us have to pay taxes." Resident Brynn Cona said millennials like him would be interested in being on the metropolitan board.
The service plan was unanimously approved.
Before taking public comments, Wilson warned anyone who stayed for the meeting that if they make comments about Conexus at this meeting, they will not be heard on the 16th.
Resident Ken Kimple asked the board about items he has requested in the past including a town-wide emergency evacuation plan and scrub oak overgrowth on town property that is a "significant fire issue." Kimple said the access road connecting Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe has no lights, is not well designed and doesn’t follow the town’s requirements for a roadway. Jeremy Herrigan, who is not a town resident, continued his blitz of the board with his requests to become a sanctuary city against any future state or federal laws related to the pandemic.
The meeting adjourned at 8:23 p.m.
Caption: Hundreds of Monument residents showed up to the Aug. 2 Board of Trustees meeting to express their concerns over the Conexus project. The board was to hear a request for the development’s associated service plan, but it was continued to the Aug. 16 meeting by Mayor Don Wilson. Photo by Allison Robenstein.
Allison Robenstein can be contacted at email@example.com
By James Howald
At its August meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board voted on a resolution to refinance the district’s existing debt from bonds issued in 2011, wrapping up an effort that began in May. The board appointed a new member to replace Lee Hanson, who resigned in August, and considered a resolution to provide water and sewer service to Monument Junction Metro Districts 1 and 2. District Manager Jessie Shaffer gave a mid-year budget update. The board awarded a contract to paint two water tanks and heard operational reports.
At the end of the regular meeting, the board went into executive session to receive legal advice on a potential agreement with Lewis-Palmer School District 38 and Colorado Springs Utilities.
"The market is extraordinary"
Jim Manire and Jason Simmons, both representing Hilltop Securities, the company assisting WWSD in its bond refinancing project, explained to the board that the vote on Resolution 21-05 would be the "final step" in its work to refinance the district’s existing debt at the lower interest rates currently available. The resolution would authorize Board President Brian Bush or Shaffer to make final determinations on the new bonds, they said.
"The market is extraordinary," Manire said. The legal structure of the new bonds is identical to that of the 2011 bonds, and in approving the resolution the board is making two commitments to the bond holders: that a reserve equal to 1.25 times the debt service on the new bonds will be maintained and that no additional debt will be approved unless cash flow from existing revenue meets the requirement for coverage equal to 1.25 times the debt service of the additional debt. $1.8 million currently in a reserve for repayment of the 2011 bonds will be used for the 2021 bonds, according to Manire, reducing the total amount the district is borrowing.
Manire told the board the bond refinancing would yield $6.8 million in Present Value savings to the district. Present Value is the current value of a future sum of money or stream of cash flows given a specified rate of return.
The bonds will be sold at a premium, Manire said, and will generate funds beyond their face value to the district. Manire estimated the bonds will require $1.95 million in annual debt service.
The current bonds are rated AA minus, Manire said, but there was a small possibility that rate might be raised in response to a presentation Shaffer gave to Standard and Poor’s.
Manire said he expected the bonds to be sold one week prior to Labor Day.
The board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 21-05.
Daniel Beyley appointed to the board
Daniel Beyley was appointed to the board at the August meeting. Beyley worked for 13 years in the seismic industry and 17 years for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental Water Quality Control Division, where he dealt with water quality issues related to construction, mining, and agriculture on the Western Slope.
Bush administered the oath of office to Beyley, who will serve until May 20, 2022.
Service plans for Monument Junction metro districts considered
Shaffer told the board that Resolution 21-04 gave the district’s consent to have two new metro districts, Monument Junction Districts (MJD) 1 and 2, created within WWSD, which is itself a special district. MJD1 will be south of Highway 105 and east of Jackson Creek Parkway, and MJD 2 will be south of Highway 105 and west of Jackson Creek Parkway, Shaffer said. The metro districts will receive water and sewer service from WWSD, which will bill their residents directly for those services. WWSD will not build the infrastructure required to deliver those services. Classic Homes intends to begin building in MJD1 first, according to Shaffer, and anticipates building a total of 1,100 single-family residences.
Shaffer said the developer would sell bonds to build infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and water and sewer pipes. Homeowners would pay off those bonds via their property taxes, Shaffer said.
District Attorney Erin Smith explained that the developer was required to get WWSD’s consent before it could create the metro districts. She said the resolution put restrictions on the new metro districts to prohibit them from offering their own water and sewer service and to prohibit them from charging for those services, which would be provided by WWSD. She recommended that the board approve the resolution.
Bush pointed out that WWSD would charge homebuilders a tap fee of $33,000 per residence to connect to WWSD’s service lines.
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.
Budget reviewed at mid-year
Shaffer detailed changes in revenues and expenditures in the district budget between its approval in January and the present. Highlights included:
• Estimated lease income rose from $94,500 to $144,500 due to an easement agreement at Woodmoor Ranch with JUWI Solar Inc.
• Estimated interest income dropped from $44,395 to $30,300 due to re-investment of securities at lower interest rates.
• Estimated revenues from supplemental water sales rose from $132,423 to $185,120 due to increased sales.
• Estimated construction of facilities expenditures increased from $7.48 million to $7.62 million due to increased costs at the Lake Pump Station.
• Estimated expenditures for meter replacements increased from $23,250 to $35,000 due to unexpected commercial meter failures.
• Estimated professional fees dropped from $416,000 to $359,000 due to less than expected use of consulting services.
• Expenditures at Woodmoor Ranch dropped due to lower labor costs.
Contract to paint water tank awarded
District Engineer Ariel Hacker told the board she had received six bids on the district’s project to repaint two storage tanks in the northern portion of the WWSD service area. The low bid came from Worldwide Industries Corp. (WIC), which submitted a bid for $259,510, which was about $100,000 lower than the five others due to its superior process for lead abatement. Hacker recommended that the board accept the WIC’s bid.
The board voted unanimously to award the contract to WIC.
Highlights of the operational reports
• Operations Superintendent Dan LaFontaine told the board he had located one of the causes of the district’s unbilled water: a piece of PVC that had lodged in a valve at the South Water Treatment Plant and allowed water to flow through the valve when the system controls believed the valve to be closed. The effort to understand the factors contributing to unbilled water had been underway for the last two years.
• The upgrades at the Central Water Treatment Plant are on schedule.
• A proposed as-yet unnamed development in the upper west corner of the WWSD service area just south of County Line Road and east of I-25 will add 125 residences to the district.
The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 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
At the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts (PPMD) 2 and 3 "special meeting" on Aug. 16, the board approved a well drilling bid and discussed the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) progress and two regional water studies that could supply renewable water.
Secretary James Boulton, vice president/project manager of Classic Homes, was absent.
The minutes of the July 13 board meeting and the agenda were approved by President George Lenz, executive vice president of finance for Classic Homes, and Assistant Secretary Joseph Loidolt, president of Classic Homes. Assistant Secretary and Treasurer Douglas Stimple, chief executive officer of Classic Homes, joined the meeting intermittently, but was not present during the approval of the agenda.
Note: One board member vacancy exists in each of the following boards: FLMD, PPMD 1, 2, and 3.
Denver well update
District Manager Ann Nichols said the district has received two bids for the drilling of the Denver well from JDS Hydro and Layne, a subsidiary of Granite Construction Inc. (currently working on the A1 well). The JDS Hydro bid was the lowest received at $374,385 for the drilling, with a total cost of $753,000 to include the engineering costs. However, Nick Harris of JDS Hydro estimated the total project cost for the well could be 20% over the original estimate and about $859,000 due to the supply chain challenges that everyone is still facing, said Nichols. See www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#flmd.
Nichols requested the board approve the recommended bid from JDS Hydro and authorize the district manager to proceed with the contract.
Stimple said he was not aware the bids had been received, but if Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, is comfortable with the bid, he did not have any comments.
The board approved the district manager’s requests, 3-0.
Background: The NMCI project proposes bypassing smaller, local wastewater treatment facilities and sending the influent to Colorado Springs Utilities’ more efficient JD Philips wastewater reclamation facility in Colorado Springs. The tricky part involves negotiating the complicated maze of discharge points and water rights for multiple water districts and how to bring treated water north again.
Nichols said the board had received the slides from the August NMCI meeting, and the comments made a year ago by all participating water districts are being considered. Funding for the design should be in place by the end of the year and then a bid to engage a consultant will be made. The intent is that by summer 2025 the NMCI would be in service. See www.csu.org/CSUDocuments/NMCIfactsheet.pdf and www.ocn.me/v18n12.htm#msd and www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#msd and www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#tvmd.
Additional water supply project
Stimple said Amy Lathen, general manager of Cherokee Metropolitan District, gave a public presentation to the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 10 on a possible "loop system" that would make renewable water more accessible to eastern and northern El Paso County communities, and that could help keep Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) water rates in check. See BOCC article on page 23.
Nichols said the following:
• The proposed loop system could be a kind of alternative to the CSU return flow pipeline utilizing the Cherokee water pipeline to pump water north to the northern county water districts.
• District Manager Jessie Shaffer of Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District thinks it could be a complementary water source.
• FLMD and the other northern county water districts are not considering it as an alternative to the NMCI wastewater pipeline and the useable water return flows from CSU.
• Regional water rate tariffs are looking more attractive, and customer rates are expected to be more reasonable than previously thought. See www.ocn.me/v21n1.htm#flmd.
Nichols also said that at long last the CSU board has agreed it is in everyone’s best interest to be a regional player, and it is in the district’s best interest to be connected to the CSU system. That system is vast and varied as opposed to being hooked into a single entity, and an administrative decision has been made to not participate in the initial investigation of the loop system.
Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority water reuse study
Nichols said the findings of the PPRWA water reuse study being conducted by Forsgren Associates Inc. will likely suggest the Big Johnson or Calhan reservoirs or a combination of the two for the return flow water storage for the NMCI participants. The next PPRWA water reuse study meeting is scheduled for October. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#wwsd.
Bristlecone Lake update
Nichols said that Blunk closely monitors district water use for the common areas, and watering has been radically reduced since the installation of artificial turf around the playground area, along with the heavy rainfall. The measures have already proven to be a good strategy in water conservation, and residents are being cognizant of the restrictions and exercising caution when watering their lawns, as is All American Landscape Inc. The Bristlecone Lake level in mid-August was 38.6 feet and is not experiencing dramatic loss, and the lake should be in reasonable shape and finish the summer that way, said Nichols.
Stimple said the goal was to reduce the watering of common areas by 50% overall, and the district is well on track for that.
The meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
The meetings of FLMD and PPMD 1, 2, and 3 are usually held quarterly on the first Monday at 4 p.m. For notices, agendas, and minutes, 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 Jackie Burhans and James Howald
At the Monument Sanitation Department (MSD) Aug. 18 meeting, the board heard an update on district service providers, discussed building-related issues, and heard the manager’s report.
Outsourced services review
District Manager Mark Parker reported that all the requests for proposal (RFPs) had gone out and are being reviewed and acted upon. He got responses on the HVAC maintenance proposals and decided to go with Heating & Plumbing Engineers Inc. (HPE) as they came back with the biggest bang for the lowest dollar. He has received one bid for IT services from a new company; the current provider has bowed out due to manpower issues, so MSD will work with the new provider. He also sent bids out for an emergency on-call provider as a backup to the current provider.
Parker reported that he has put together a draft RFP for a legal services provider and will share that with the board. He noted that the Special District Association (SDA) website (www.sdaco.org) has legal resources, some of which were created by MSD’s former legal firm Collins, Cockrel & Cole (CCC). He said he would send both CCC and their current firm, Fritsche Law LLC, an RFP and could pick other firms from a list on the SDA site. MSD staff member Jim Kendrick noted that CCC often leads SDA workshops on legal matters and is very clear and concise. It is expensive, he said, but is the best in the business and sets the gold standard for Colorado.
In his manager’s report, Parker reported that a recent walkthrough of the district’s building revealed that only the MSD unit had a smoke detector. All units have now been fitted with new combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The detectors are linked together so every unit gets notified if any unit has an issue and the system can be monitored through an app, so notifications will still happen when everyone is out of the building.
Parker also reported that he has been working with Mike Foreman, Monument town manager, and his assistant for strategic initiatives, Madeline VanDenHoek, on obtaining an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant for energy efficiency and beautification of the district’s building. The ARPA grant requires a 20% match, of which the Town of Monument will cover 10% and the district will supply the other 10%. Parker will focus on completing building insulation, installing double-paned windows at the salon, installing weather-friendly coating for the concrete in front of the building, and improving gutters and downspouts.
Parker reported that a new issue was found with the wastewater system at the district’s building. Water was backing up into the hair salon and the Black Forest Café. A-1 Septic drained the tanks and Alphalete Plumbing snaked and videotaped the lines. A blockage was found in the line from the grease interceptor to the main, and it was removed. Parker has asked Alphalete to help locate the outside service line so that it can be added to the district’s GIS database by GMS Inc.
NMCI update, Parker review
• Board member John Howe reported that the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) welcomed Bill Clewe from the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) as a new director to replace Lee Hanson, who retired to move to Arizona, and that all three districts had rejected adding additional holidays.
• On Aug. 4, Parker and representatives from GMS Inc. attended a North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project update. Colorado Springs Utilities wants to keep water and wastewater separate. Parker feels the northern entities will say no to NMCI and pursue a different solution.
• The board unanimously approved resolution 21-08182021-1 authorizing the memorandum of agreement regarding the Arnold Avenue Bridge permanent and temporary easements for El Paso County and authorizing Parker to execute necessary documents. This document has been reviewed by all owners of TLWWTF, which is located near Arnold Avenue.
• The board went into executive session regarding the 90-day probationary period review of Parker and a review of Operations staff member Kendrick.
Monument Sanitation District meetings are normally held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15 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 Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan District’s Board of Directors received public commentary and conducted a public hearing to amend the 2020 audit at its Aug. 19 board meeting.
All staff, board directors, water attorney Chris Cummins, and general counsel George Rowley attended the meeting either online or in person.
The July 22 agenda and board meeting packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Agenda-8-19-21-Triview.pdf and https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Triview-Board-Packet-for-8.19.2021.pdf, respectively.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, park, and open space maintenance, as well as water, stormwater, and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and commercial areas bordered by Old Denver Road to the west.
Police chief conveys departmental needs
Monument Police Chief Sean Hemingway offered commentary during the public comments segment of the meeting. He addressed Monument’s proposed 0.5% sales tax increase and requested that the full amount be directed to the Police Department. Voters will approve or deny this increase in the November 2021 election. He acknowledged the town’s communication failures with residents and Triview pertaining to the similar 2020 sales tax ballot measure and gave justifications for the 2021 increase.
Priority one was safety. Insufficient on-duty officer support was unacceptable and would eventually lead to someone getting hurt, either an officer or a resident, Hemingway said. The territory covered by the department includes not only Monument but Woodmoor, Palmer Lake, and Triview, and it provides support services into Gleneagle and Colorado Springs. Hemingway deemed the lack of officers, equipment, and training a high liability and an immediate need and cited the ability to investigate crimes, officer burnout, and salary and benefits in connection to officer retention and recruitment.
The second priority was school resource officers. Hemingway attested to the overlap between school truancy and crime in the community as well as the importance of establishing relationships in the schools. It is far better to have local officers respond to incidents at schools than to rely on support from neighboring police departments. Local police have established a rapport and are better equipped to communicate with students and staff.
His third concern was a motor fleet in which some vehicles are simply being "nursed along."
With an estimated total annual revenue of $1.65 million, Hemingway confirmed that about 80% to 90% of the funds would cover salaries and that equipment acquisitions and upgrades would be spread out over five years. Capital improvement and employment would follow once equipment goals were reached. In response to a director’s question, Hemingway confirmed that there is no sunset clause on the additional tax. Any future extra funds would pay for inflation, population growth, and a potential relocation of police headquarters.
Triview directors supported the tax and directing the full amount to public safety but stated that the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between Triview and Monument put them in a quandary. The IGA stipulates that all sales tax is to be split evenly between the two entities. Because Triview and Monument had not developed a legal allowance for the additional sales tax, directors expressed concerns over the legality of the tax and public perception.
Water delivery pipeline taking shape
McGrady reported that plans for a potential surface water delivery system to water districts in the Tri-Lakes region—known as the Northern Delivery System—continued to move forward. Recent communication with the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department’s Executive Director Craig Dossey indicated that the essential step of a 1041 permit may possibly undergo an administrative review and approval instead of a commissioners’ hearing. This would save about 45 days in the permitting process, but it would also expedite the need for Triview to complete a Parks and Land Agreement since the pipeline cuts through Fox Run Park. Due to the number and complexity of the project’s components that must be addressed simultaneously, JDS Hydro, the engineering firm designing the pipeline, dedicated additional staff to better meet deadlines.
A section of the Northern Delivery System that extends from Jackson Creek Parkway and under I-25 to just west of the highway was completed. A separate obligation caused the contractor, Native Sun, to postpone completion of the section known as Segment D for about three weeks, McGrady said. See related Forest Lakes article on page 9 and BOCC article on page 23.
Additional actions and updates
• During public comment, resident Ken Kimple requested that the district promote xeriscaping and fire mitigation in landscape designs. McGrady stated that the district does not benefit from early access to design plans. Kimple praised parks and open space crews for their progress and added that a few drip lines still service patches of barren ground.
• President Mark Melville opened the public hearing for Triview’s 2020 budget amendment. No one from the community commented on the amendment, and the directors unanimously approved the corresponding resolution, 2021-10.
• Directors approved resolution 2021-09, which essentially ratified teleconferencing as a means to conduct public meetings. The resolution also validated past meetings that were conducted online due to the COVID-19 virus.
• The North Monument Creek Interceptor, a planned regional wastewater pipeline intended to deliver wastewater from northern El Paso County entities for treatment by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), continued to advance. McGrady reported from a recent meeting with CSU that a design participation agreement had been initiated with the goal of determining a design engineer by the first quarter of 2022.
• The Environmental Assessment for the Pueblo Reservoir Excess Capacity agreement was completed, and the next phase of the agreement showed promise of a quick conclusion.
Triview board meetings are generally held on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16. The district office is located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. Check the district’s website, https://triviewmetro.com, or call 488-6868 for meeting updates and to confirm if the meeting will be in person or online/teleconference. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met three times in August. Regular board meetings were held on Aug. 12 and Aug. 26. The board also held a workshop on Aug. 26 to continue the discussion of the town’s odor ordinance.
The Aug. 12 meeting ended with an executive session to discuss a water line interconnect and a possible annexation. The Aug. 26 meeting ended with an executive session to discuss a property offer.
At both its meetings, the board heard updates from Bob Radosevich concerning the Living Word property recently deeded to the town. Town staff now refers to this property as the Elephant Rock property, and Radosevich serves as project manager. GMS Inc. explained the background of the High Street drainage study. Trustee Karen Stuth gave an overview of her work on an economic development plan for the town. The board once again took up the issue of noxious odors at both the workshop and the regular meeting on Aug. 26.
The board held a public hearing and voted on a resolution to provide a conditional use permit to Tanglewood Trailers. A new lease agreement with Sportsriders was debated and approved. The board selected new meeting spaces for public meetings beginning in September until the repairs on the Town Hall are complete. Kirk Noll was honored for his years of steadfast service to the Parks Commission. Finally, the board heard staff reports and public comments.
Elephant Rock property in need of many repairs
At its Aug. 12 meeting, the board heard an update from Bob Radosevich, who is managing the Elephant Rock property at 290 S. Highway 105 for the town, detailing many maintenance issues discovered since the town took ownership of the property.
Radosevich reviewed tasks he had worked on, including:
• Plumbing work costing $34,080 that provided hot and cold running water between the main area of one building and the hot water tanks.
• Work required to make the bathrooms functional.
• Asbestos removal scheduled for Aug. 13, costing $3,000.
• Replacement of broken glass, costing $700.
• Mowing the property.
• Rekeying the locks.
• Transferring the utility accounts to the town.
• Hiring a service to clean the meeting space.
• Improving security.
Radosevich said the town had spent $166,000 on renovating the property to date. The property is not insured, he said.
Radosevich said that the buildings had not been properly winterized, resulting in 17 breaks in plumbing. The boilers were 47 years old. Discussions were underway with Orkin Pest Control to abate damage from animals. Town Administrator Dawn Collins pointed out that the focus so far had been only on the meeting space, not on all the buildings on the property.
Radosevich told the board he was meeting with Front Range Commercial LLC, a company that does leasing and property management. He also had plans to meet with a land developer, but the developer had expressed little interest in the property.
After Radosevich’s presentation at the Aug. 12 meeting, Trustee Jessica Farr expressed reservations about additional spending on the project before a plan was in place. Trustee Darin Dawson said Orkin Pest Control should be brought in to stop further damage. Farr and Collins both said the board should ask the community for input on how to use the property.
Discussion of the Elephant Rock property continued at the Aug. 26 meeting. Radosevich said the plumbing repairs were continuing, the heating system was compromised, and an electrician had deemed main building to be safe. Radosevich asked the board to consider donating bunk beds, unused mattresses, toys, and insulation at the site. Trustee Karen Stuth and Farr both were hesitant to donate anything until there was a plan in place for the site. The board expressed a consensus to donate the mattresses and toys only.
Radosevich said he had met with a developer who asked if the town would approve development at the site, and if it could be rezoned to a residential classification. Radosevich suggested the town might want to retain land bordering on Highway 105 to use as a location for a fire or police station. The developer expressed reservations about whether remodeling the buildings could be done profitably, according to Radosevich.
Radosevich proposed winterizing the buildings, discontinuing any further repairs, and getting input from the community. Mayor Bill Bass concurred the buildings could not be used over the winter and the community should participate in the planning. Collins asked that how to pay for proposed uses and improvements should be included in the questions asked of the community. Farr said donating mattresses and toys would be fine but wanted to halt other efforts.
Resident Shana Ball commented that the Public Safety Committee had arranged for the donation of the property to be used for the location of a new fire station. Farr contested this.
The board discussed whether to move a commercial stove from the kitchen at the Elephant Rock property to the Town Hall to replace a stove used to make wassail during the town’s annual Yule Log celebration. The stove at the Town Hall was a safety concern, according to Ball and others.
Following the discussion, the board decided to donate the mattresses and toys and to move the stove from the Elephant Rock property to the Town Hall.
High Street drainage study background
In response to a question from Bass about why High Street was the focus of a drainage study, Dave Frisch of GMS Inc. and Jason Dosch, the town’s Public Works supervisor, presented the history of the issue.
Frisch began by describing a torrential rain in 2018 that dumped four inches of water in an hour, affecting all the town’s neighborhoods. The town contacted GMS to see what could be done to prevent similar damage in the future. GMS and Dosch determined that the High Street Drainage Basin, which consists of several sub-basins each with its own characteristics, had been the hardest hit. GMS approached the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to see if grant money was available. DOLA did have funds, Frisch said, but would require the town to form a stormwater enterprise, which would involve residents paying a tax to fund drainage improvements. That opportunity was not pursued.
Trustee Glant Havenar recalled that the cost for the drainage study was $35,000 and the costs for remediation were estimated to be $1 million. The board felt the funds to remediate were not available.
In 2021 GMS contacted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to see if the town could obtain funding for a study from the state’s Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF). The town scored well enough in CDPHE’s points system to receive $25,300 for a drainage study. However, the costs for the study had gone up since it was originally proposed, and are now estimated to be $43,000, Frisch said.
The town passed a resolution to accept the grant in June, Frisch said, adding that aerial photography of the basin had been done.
Dosch said there were drainage problems everywhere in town, but High Street was a good place to start. He mentioned Milton Street and the Glen as areas of concern that also needed studies.
Bass thanked Frisch and Dosch for their presentation and reiterated his concern for the entire town’s drainage problems.
Previous discussion of the High Street drainage study is at: https://www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#plbot.
Economic development plan takes shape
Stuth gave the board a summary of her work on an economic development plan for the town. Her plan, begun in December 2020, envisions four pillars to support development: outdoor recreation, dining, arts, and history.
Stuth called 161 towns to inquire about their approaches to economic development and found Leadville to be most like Palmer Lake. She met with the town’s mayor and members of the Planning Commission. Leadville’s economic development plan was prompted by a steep decline in the town’s population; the citizens got together and created an Economic Development Corp. (EDC) that manages the town’s visitor center and does marketing around tourism. It also provides stipends to start-up businesses to help with rent and bookkeeping, Stuth said. Leadville limited short-term rentals to ensure employees of local businesses would be able to live in the town.
Stuth said she spoke to businesses in Leadville that liked the support they got from the EDC. The mayor of Leadville advised her to make sure the citizens owned and ran economic development.
Stuth told the board that Palmer Lake had people in place to head three of the four proposed pillars: history, arts, and dining. She said Farr and Havenar were working with those volunteers, but only as advisors not as voting members. Stuth concluded by asking anyone interested in helping with economic development to contact her.
On a different topic, Stuth said work on the town’s comprehensive master plan was almost complete and a Request for Proposal for a master plan consultant was finished.
Odor management debate continues
The board held a workshop Aug. 26 to discuss odors produced by businesses.
One thread that has run through the town’s frequent discussions of odors is whether to include a subjective or an objective standard in the town’s odor ordinance. The subjective approach has been to rely on the sense of smell of the police or code enforcement officers who investigate odor complaints. The objective approach has been to try to find a measuring device that can rate the intensity of a smell. Past discussions of the issue have often focused on the town’s cannabis businesses.
Farr said she believed no business had ever been cited under the odor ordinance. Police Chief Jason Vanderpool confirmed that all odor issues had been resolved within the 24-hour window specified in the ordinance. Two warnings had been issued, he said, and both had been swiftly resolved so there was no citation. Vanderpool said odors from any business, whether cannabis-related or not, would be handled the same way.
The board debated whether odors should be handled in the municipal code related to cannabis businesses, in its own ordinance, or in the business license process.
Brenda Woodward and Dino Salvatore, both owners of cannabis businesses, commented on the town’s handling of complaints at the workshop. Woodward argued for a grace period in cases where the issue could not be resolved immediately. Vanderpool said evidence of a plan to remedy the problem provided within the 24-hour window could be all that was required. Salvatore said he felt his business had been unfairly targeted by some in the town. He argued for an objective standard that could be provided by an olfactometer. He offered to purchase one to monitor his own business. Bass saw a conflict of interest in Salvatore’s suggestion.
At the regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to table the question of how to enforce the odor ordinance.
Tanglewood Trailers receives conditional use permit
At the Aug. 26 meeting, Collins opened the public hearing on Tanglewood Trailers’ conditional use permit with a brief history of the issue. She mentioned Tanglewood had been given a conditional use permit that set a limit on the number of vehicles at the business location at Illumination Point. Collins said town staff later issued a letter to Tanglewood removing the limit on the number of vehicles, but staff was not authorized to remove that limit. The conditional use permit would therefore need to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and come back before the board, Collins said.
Mark Thompson, owner of Tanglewood Management LLC, told the board that he had applied for a business license from the town in March 2019 with the intent to operate a service business, and the town granted him a license with the condition that six vehicles could be on the property. In May 2019, Thompson acquired an additional one-acre lot at Illumination Point to expand his business. Before purchasing the property, he asked the town for a conditional use permit to sell trailers, and the town advised him that the permit was not needed. The town gave Thompson a letter to that effect, which he provided to the board. Based on that, he acquired the land. His business license was renewed in March 2020, he said. Later, staff refused to renew his license. He asked the board to honor its original decision, on the basis of which he purchased land, even though the decision was made in error. He pointed out that his businesses generate tax revenue for the town.
Collins said that the Planning Commission had approved Thompson’s new conditional use allowing more vehicles to be present.
Havenar said she wanted the landscaping provisions specified in the original conditional use to be in place within two years. Thompson said the landscaping was already underway.
The board voted unanimously to approve Resolution 37-2-21 that amends Tanglewood Trailers’ original conditional use permit, resolving the issue in Thompson’s favor.
Board signs new lease with Sportsriders
At the Aug. 12 meeting, staff was directed to revise the lease agreement with Sportsriders that gives the club access to land in the north end of Palmer Lake adjacent to County Line Road to use as a dirt bike track. The new lease was to include a monthly fee of $300 for use of the land and a 60-day notice to terminate the agreement.
At the Aug. 26 meeting, the board voted to approve the new lease, with Dawson, Bass and Havenar voting in favor and Stuth and Farr voting no. Trustees Nicole Currier and Sam Padgett were not at the meeting.
Temporary meeting places selected
Since repairs at the Town Hall will prevent meetings from being held there until they are complete, the board decided to use the library at Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) as a temporary space for meetings held in the evening. Meetings held during the day will move to the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Community Meeting House at 300 Highway 105.
The times for evening meetings at the PLES library may be adjusted to allow janitorial staff time to prepare for the next school day, Collins said.
Meetings will be recorded and posted to the town’s website but not livestreamed while they are held in the temporary locations.
Kirk Noll commended for volunteerism
Parks Commission member Kirk Noll received a certificate of appreciation from Bass and Parks Commission member Reid Wiecks in appreciation of his years of service to the town. Noll said he was moving to Alaska but hoped to return to Palmer Lake in a couple years.
Highlights of staff reports
• The library ramp project should be complete by the end of August.
• Work will begin on the Town Hall on Sept. 1. Nearby parking will be limited due to construction vehicles.
• IREA will upgrade the electrical system for the town and will address the excessive brightness of the lights on their poles.
• Elite Cranes has made some progress but is unlikely to meet its Sept. 15 deadline to leave its Palmer Lake site.
• In public comments, Judith Harrington, Jordan Lee, and Linda Elliot alerted the board to possible violations of the town’s light ordinance.
Caption: From left to right Reid Wiecks and Kirk Noll from the Palmer Lake Parks Commission and Palmer Lake Mayor Bill Bass. Noll received a certificate of appreciation from Bass and a testimonial from Parks Commission member Reid Wiecks in appreciation of his years of service to the town. Noll is moving to Alaska. Photo by Jackie Burhans
The Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold three meetings in September, a regular meeting on Sept. 9 and a workshop and regular meeting on Sept. 23. See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times, dates, and locations. While the Town Hall is being repaired, evening meetings will be held at the Palmer Lake Elementary School Library at 115 Upper Glenway and daytime meetings will be held at Tri-Lakes Chamber Community Meeting House at 300 Highway 105. Meeting times may change. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education, Aug. 16: Board receives reports on Energy Performance Project, enrollment
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education learned of progress on Schneider Electric’s Energy Performance Project, received enrollment projections, and recognized several current and former employees at its Aug. 16 meeting.
Schneider Electric Energy Performance Project
Since its proposal was approved at the board’s June meeting, Schneider Electric has completed the construction of security vestibules at Bear Creek Elementary School, Prairie Winds Elementary School, and Lewis-Palmer Elementary School.
These projects prevent outside individuals from easily accessing the classroom areas of the schools. The vestibules at Bear Creek and Prairie Winds were constructed inside the building, taking up part of the reception areas. The vestibule at Lewis-Palmer Elementary is outside the north entrance of the school.
Walls have been added between the reception area and classroom areas at Bear Creek and Prairie Winds to enable the schools to lock down the classroom areas in the event of an emergency.
These projects were completed before the first day of school, Aug. 18.
Future aspects of the project include:
• Replacement of interior and exterior lighting with LED fixtures.
• Converting building automation from pneumatic to digital to allow for energy savings when the buildings are unoccupied.
• Replacing various heating and cooling equipment, including a new boiler at Lewis-Palmer Middle School.
• Converting all bathroom fixtures to low-flow varieties.
It is hoped that the entire project will be completed in 2022.
In addition to the construction aspect, Schneider Electric is planning a promotional program to include signage at the sites where changes are made, a press release for social media, and a video upon completion of the project.
Strategic Plan update
As was the case last year, the board will review its actions in relation to its five-step Strategic Plan over the course of the year.
The first step of the plan is to provide a safe, healthy, and welcoming school environment.
Reporting were Director of Student Services Rick Frampton, who also acts as the district’s COVID coordinator, and Chief of Safety and Security Dennis Coates.
Frampton referred to the Schneider Electric project as an example of action to provide a safe environment through upgrades in security and air quality in the schools. He also mentioned ongoing training for staff in emergency preparedness and response.
There is an increasing emphasis on social and emotional wellness in the district. Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Bridget O’Connor has been active in studying this over the past few years.
Coates reported that the district’s security team has trained FBI and Sheriff’s Office personnel and has hired a new school resource officer for Palmer Ridge High School. He said that sometimes parents request that he and his team intervene in case of suicide and other threats.
Frampton said that staff is trained in suicide prevention.
Frampton also said that, due to the diversity in the school population, cultural differences must be considered when responding to problems in the community. When necessary, the district can refer families to other local resources for help.
Regarding response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Frampton said the district continues to act on the basis of guidelines received from El Paso County Health authorities. These guidelines change frequently. At this time, is it recommended but not required that students wear a mask at school. The district wants students to feel comfortable making their own decision about this.
In the case of positive tests, there will still be a response. Five cases in a class are considered an outbreak, and the district will strive to maintain a 3-foot distance between students in an effort to keep healthy kids in the classroom.
Chief Financial Officer Kitty Overton reported that the enrollment figure at the time of the meeting exceeded last year’s October count by 217. When Monument Academy, preschool and the homeschool and Transitions programs are included, that figure nears 400.
The projected student population is 6,274. Superintendent K C Somers reminded the board that this number could change by Oct. 1, because some families do not notify the district that they have moved. Funding is based on the October count.
Board President Chris Taylor asked whether the increased enrollment has necessitated hiring additional teachers. Somers responded that there will probably be a revenue increase following the October count, which would make it possible to do more hiring.
At this time, all open positions have not been filled. There is an additional section of kindergarten at Bear Creek Elementary. Other than that, there is not a large amount of growth at any specific grade level.
The board recognized former Chief Information Officer Julie Stephen for her many years of service to the district.
Former band director Michael Mozingo was recognized for his induction into the Colorado Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame. One individual per year is so honored. Many of his former students and family were at the meeting to applaud him.
Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Bridget O’Connor was recognized for being named a Rookie Secondary Principal of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives. This award recognizes remarkable leadership during the first three years as a principal.
Caption: Former band director Michael Mozingo was recognized for his induction into the Colorado Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame. From left are Mozingo (aka Mr. Mo), board member Theresa Phillips, and Superintendent KC Somers.
Caption: Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Bridget O’Connor (on the left) was recognized for being named a Rookie Secondary Principal of the Year by the Colorado Association of School Executives. Photos by Jackie Burhans.
The Lewis-Palmer D 38 Board of Education usually meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Sept. 20.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held a special, virtual meeting on Aug. 4 to go into executive session to get legal advice on contract matters. MA also announced the passing of elementary school principal Charlie Richardson.
The board met on Aug. 14 at The Platinum Group Conference Room for its annual retreat to conduct board training. Board President Ryan Graham and member Chris Dole were absent.
MA held its regular meeting on Aug. 19 to discuss the elementary school uniform policy, hear from the chief operating officer (COO), and discuss meetings and board composition.
Charlie Richardson, MA principal, passes unexpectedly
After returning from executive session on Aug. 4, Vice President Megghan St. Aubyn read a statement about the unexpected passing earlier that day of west campus elementary school Principal Charlie Richardson, known informally as "Mr. R." St. Aubyn said that Richardson’s devotion to MA was evident to all who knew him, and MA would always be grateful for the service and dedication he gave. There was a brief ceremony Aug. 13 at the west campus turf field for community members to gather and honor Richardson, and the board held a memorial moment of silence at the start of the regular meeting.
Board allows freedom of shoes for elementary kids
At the Aug. 19 meeting, parents said hoodies are less expensive than the allowed jackets and that some girls in middle school felt more comfortable wearing hoodies as their bodies changed. The board noted that hoodies were a security risk due to their pouches and that having hoods up could obscure kids’ identities and did not set the tone for attentive learning.
Parents also said the requirement for all black or all white athletic shoes made it hard to find affordable options for growing kids. While the board discussed various options for logos and lace colors, the feedback from teachers was to make the policy simple and enforceable. The board unanimously voted to eliminate the restrictions and allow elementary students greater leeway. See www.bit.ly/ma-policies for the uniform policies.
Board retreat covers strategy, legislation, legal issues
On Aug. 14, MA board members gathered to hear from COO Merlin Holmes, state legislators Paul Lundeen and Tim Geitner, and MA lawyer Brad Miller.
Holmes reviewed the plan for the 2021-22 school year, his vision for the secondary school, and his goals and gave an overview of Core Knowledge curriculum. He said that MA should build on its previous success and discussed the need to secure financing for phase 2 of the east campus buildout. He said that MA had enough space now but would quickly outgrow its capacity. Holmes noted that when a district goes for a bond it needs to get people on board or it would not pass but that since MA would be borrowing money and paying from its operating funds, it is not technically taxpayer money but would be paid from per pupil operating funds (PPOR).
Holmes said that MA needs to define and promote the high school, use multiple sources of testing data to measure student progress, and foster an enthusiastic, positive culture of character. He suggested that MA needed to have a "good to great" mentality and that its momentum had been slowed by COVID-19, opening a new campus, and having a smaller than expected high school. His vision for the high school is to have high expectations; use a classical model of education which focuses on grammer, logic, and rhetoric; and prepare students to be successful in college.
Finally, Holmes reviewed the Core Knowledge curriculum and its relationship to a classical education model. Board members agreed that having Curriculum Night events would help explain these concepts to MA parents.
State Sen. Paul Lundeen and Rep. Tim Geitner stopped by to review legislative updates and give their sense of the political climate for charter schools. Lundeen’s mother was a teacher at MA, and its west campus library is named after her. Geitner’s wife founded Mountainview Academy in D49 and is the only legislator who is homeschooling. Both said they were advocates of parent choice and are on the Education Committee in their respective chambers. Both are on the School Finance Review Interim Committee to look at how we finance public education. The committee is bicameral and bipartisan with equal representation from the state Senate and House as well as equal representation by Democrats and Republicans.
Geitner touched on Senate Bill 21-1295 Rebuttable Presumption in Charter School Appeals, which would have changed the way charters can appeal to the state board in case of a dispute with their chartering authority. The bill was killed in the House but, he said, would come back fine-tuned in another legislative session. Geitner spoke of a bill he sponsored to protect students who participate in online instruction, HB21-1059, that was passed unanimously.
Lundeen challenged the MA board to understand its larger role in the charter movement. He spoke of the need to show up at hearings and testify, and the need for additional voices than the Charter School Institute (CSI) and the League of Charter Schools (LCS). Lundeen noted that some states have banned Critical Race Theory (CRT), but in Colorado local districts have the authority. He said the board should be attentive to this issue and listen to all perspectives, and the board cannot know what others have experienced in their lives.
MA lawyer Brad Miller highlighted education-related legislation in the 2021 regular session, including HB1010 Diverse K-12 Educator Workforce Report, HB1055 Compensation for School District Board Members, HB1200 Revise Student Financial Literacy Standards, HB1304 Early Childhood System as well as SB056 Expand Cannabis-based Medicine At Schools, SB067 Strengthening Civics Education, SB013 Reversing COVID Learning Loss, SB116 Prohibit American Indian Mascots and SB151 Literacy Curriculum Transparency. These and other bills related to education can be viewed at bit.ly/co-find-bill.
Miller defined different types of meetings the board might have, including regular and special meetings, and work sessions. Executive sessions should not be used as a place for private or uncomfortable discussions but must be used for specific statutory reasons such as student issues, security, and contract negotiations. The board cannot vote in a work session and minutes are not required.
Miller said MA’s bylaws allowed it to have one board-appointed seat or it could create a new elected seat. The board could appoint someone now and subject them to an election in the future. He said MA would have to amend its bylaws and vote after publishing the redline (the edited, marked-up version) in its board packet or could discuss an issue at one meeting and vote for the changes at the next. He defined the "sunshine list" as a list of media or interested parties who request notification of public meetings involving the board. He advised it was the best practice to consider them evergreen and not require yearly re-commitment.
Regarding open meetings, Miller said the board cannot make public policy in secret. He said that two members could interact but three could not talk about school business outside of public board meetings for which it must provide notice. A public meeting is any kind of engagement including email or conference calls, except for administrative emails on agenda and schedule. Board members can reply directly to emails but should not reply all. Email using BCC would still be subject to a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request and is not recommended. Miller said this year has been unlike any other in terms of community engagement and board/administration conflicts. Holmes said he felt the key to avoid conflict was good communication and building a good relationship.
Miller advised the board to have open, roll-call votes on everything except for choosing board officers. The board should be consistent about where it places meeting notices and must keep minutes, but the secretary should avoid creating characterizations of the dialog. He confirmed there was no mandate for the board to keep its previous livestream meetings on YouTube and that no specific action or vote was required to take them down. Miller also said the board does not represent the parents but, instead, represents the best interest of the whole school. If a parent comes to them with an issue, the board member should redirect them to proper channels.
Miller shared a list of best practices with the board. He said the quintessential role of the board is not CRT, vouchers, masks, and other cultural concerns but that it should focus on helping to find efficiencies and eliminate hurdles for each significant department, finding better ways to use taxpayers’ money and educate kids. He asked the board to collaborate in advance with leadership before taking any positions on controversial subjects. Miller advised the board not to respond to public comment at the meeting but have someone contact the speaker later or add it to a future agenda. He ended by talking about the Education Alliance of Colorado (EAC), a local advocacy association.
Board meeting highlights
The following items were highlighted at the regular board meeting:
• Holmes reported on pre-service training and preparation before the start of the school year.
• Holmes said he has started the process of seeking funding for phase 2 and expects it will take over a year to put a plan together.
• Chief Financial Officer Marc Brocklehurst highlighted that the unaudited net loss in 2020-21 for MA is anticipated to be $540,000, down from the budgeted amount of $695,000.
• Board member Chris Dole recapped the discussion on adding a board member and recommended opening a seventh seat, making a one-word change in the bylaws, voting on it at the next meeting, and leaving the vacancy unfilled until the April 2022 election. Some elections will elect three board members while others elect two.
• Holmes reported that he plans to hire a second assistant principal at the west campus rather than try to replace Richardson. The two assistant principals would divide duties where Laura Barret would cover K-2 while the new hire would cover grades 3-5. This will be an interim solution for this year since the hiring season is past.
• St. Aubyn reminded parents not to park in the church parking lot and asked that parents have patience during the carline assuring them that things would calm down in a couple of weeks.
• The board unanimously agreed to make the sunshine list be provided to the board president and secretary for communicating about meetings.
• St. Aubyn clarified that the board would continue to record its board meetings as required by law. It may still hold some special meetings virtually which would be open to the public.
Caption: Charlie Richardson, Monument Academy west campus principal, passed away on Aug. 4. He was known as "Mr. R" and was beloved by students, staff, and board members. A moment of silence was held during the regular MA board meeting on Aug. 19. Photo provided by Monument Academy.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled Thursday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at the west campus library. 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 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board meeting held Aug. 17, the board received an update on the unification process with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) and discussed an extension to the interim fire chief contract. The board also discussed 2021 budget savings measures and the planning process for the 2022 budget.
Director Joyce Hartung was excused.
Unification process update
Interim Fire Chief Warren Jones said the following:
• Emergency Services Consultants International (ESCI) visited the district in early August and interviewed staff and personnel, and toured and took pictures and gathered information, records, statistics, and financial data for the feasibility study. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#dwfpd.
• The district is expecting feedback in October, and a work session will need to be scheduled for late October.
• ESCI also talked to TLMFPD, some of its board members, and DWFPD board Chairman Mark Gunderman.
• ESCI noticed that both districts have "a lot of wind behind their sails right now," and suggested making the unification happen earlier while momentum is high to avoid future setbacks.
• An authority could be in place on July 1, 2022, with the unification completed as soon as Jan. 1, 2023.
• The consultants also noted DWFPD has some fleet issues, and the district should expect some sticker shock when it needs replacing. That is not new information, but ESCI is able to provide some solutions to resolve the issue with or without unification.
• Both district chiefs will meet with their attorneys to help move the unification along quicker over the next few weeks.
• As we get closer to receiving the ESCI feasibility study report in October, anticipation and anxiety will be high.
Interim fire chief extension
Jones said the six-month interim fire chief contract is set to expire the day after the October meeting and that he would be willing to extend it through the end of the year. Jones requested the board consider an extension to the contract at the next board meeting.
District Attorney Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe PC law firm in Denver said she would make a short amendment to the existing contract for the extension in time for the September meeting.
Assistance to Firefighters Grant
Jones said that almost all the Assistance to Firefighters Grant funds requested by Battalion Chiefs Sean Pearson and Shannon Balvanz will be received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a total of $47,619, and the district will be about 80% of the way toward purchasing all 10 of the new radios approved in the 2021 budget. The chiefs did good work applying for the grant, Jones said. "A successful grant is a great thing."
2021 budget mid-year review and follow-up
Jones said there were no subsequent changes to the 2021 budget after July 31, and he noted the following:
• Eight radios have been ordered, although the district had budgeted for 10.
• The district has also pulled back on some projects, including the annual awards banquet that would normally cost about $5,000 to $6,000 and will now cost about $3,000.
• The district will be tracking and watching overtime and the spare legal costs as the next two to three months unfold to find out how much revenue will be needed for costs and salaries.
• The district would prefer to use as little as possible of the $150,000 held in reserve. See www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#dwfpd .
2022 budget planning
Jones said the internal process has begun for the 2022 budget and he noted the following:
• A pay plan does not appear anywhere in the budget, and it is important to build it into the front of the budget rather than the back.
• The district receives about $3 million in revenue annually, and 84% is dedicated to salaries and benefits.
• The pay plan, cost-of-living allowance, health insurance, and reserve funding will be the focus during the planning process.
• The district program managers responsible for purchases and maintaining stock and equipment will be looking at the 2021 budget and focusing on new purchases for the 2022 budget rather than old line items.
• The county assessed property values for the district and the sub-district were expected by the end of August.
• The district does not expect to be impacted by any constitutional amendment or ballot decrease to the property tax multiplier for the 2022 budget.
• Even though DWFPD hopes the unification with TLMFPD happens, the district needs a 2022 budget for the transition phase.
Gunderman said, "Last year, the board did things differently, and we gave the former chief the pay increase amount to distribute to the [lieutenants] and below for equity adjustments." Gunderman asked Jones about the fire industry standard for pay plans. See www.ocn.me/v21n1.htm#dwfpd.
Jones said there are various systems, some based on performance and others include tenure, experience, special training, and many variations.
Chief Jones has "hit the nail on the head," and "I like the idea of a pay plan and making some salary comparisons with TLMFPD, but we cannot compete with South Metro Denver and Colorado Springs Fire Department salaries," said Gunderman.
Treasurer Duane Garrett asked how the district is addressing the fleet and equipment issues.
Jones said, "We need to deal with our fleet issues, but the numbers are so big and it is close to the end of the year, and without knowing the numbers, I am not sure we can resolve the issues."
"It is like a big sun coming over the horizon with fire trucks coming at us," and "it would take $300,000 per year to make it happen," said Jones.
Secretary Larry Schwarz said he could not read the presentation board that Jones was using during the discussion and he would just listen and wait until the work session to provide his comments, but all the discussion points are "on the right track."
A work session for the proposed 2022 budget will be scheduled for the first week of September.
Financial report—July 31
Jones read the financial report as of July 31 as follows:
• The Community Banks of Colorado Fund has $244,426.
• The Wells Fargo Public Trust Fund has $1.78 million.
• The district has a total of $2.02 million.
Gunderman asked what could have contributed to the increase of $549,000 in the Wells Fargo Public Trust Fund. See www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#dwfpd.
Jones said he would request information about the increase from Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.
July activity report
Battalion Chief Scott Ridings said there were 79 requests for service calls in July and none were significant, but it was a 27% increase in calls compared to July 2020. The district has accomplished a lot of mutual aid and good multi-company training with TLMFPD and Black Forest Fire Protection District and in particular within a pre-demolition donated building in downtown Monument. "A lot of good training is going on, and we are getting together about every other week for training, and it is very positive," said Ridings.
Ridings said the couple of crews that were out on 28-day wildland deployment have been switched out now and a couple are deployed as mixed crews of two with one additional member from Cimarron Hills Fire Department and Security Fire Department, but all equipment is back in service within in the district. "Great feedback has been received from the first crew that deployed," said Ridings.
Station 3 update
Jones said that he and Gunderman had been contacted by Gary Nelson, president of the El Paso County Emergency Incident Support (EIS) volunteer group, about the Station 3 property, but he recommended the board wait until every board member could review the information received from EIS, and maybe waiting until after the unification study is complete. See https://epceis.com.
Gunderman said the following:
• The board has no specific agenda for Station 3.
• He had met and discussed the information EIS provided with the group’s president over the past weekend, and he found that EIS has a lot of equipment including a large food truck.
• There is a lot of information "to kick around" with regard to Station 3, and all board members have received a copy for review.
Gunderman recommended the board wait until the September board meeting to make any decision.
All board members in attendance agreed with the decision to defer the discussion.
Cell tower at Station 2
Jones said that the district attorney is reviewing the cell tower documents the district received regarding the placement of a commercial cell tower at Station 2. See www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#dwfpd.
Powell said both documents from the two cell tower companies interested in renting space at Station 2 for the positioning of a cell tower are lengthy at 16 and 30 pages and very involved. The review of the documents will be a full-day project and that would be costly to the district. Alternately, a high-level review of costs, access, and indemnity to identify the typical problem areas would be the best starting point.
Gunderman said board members are all "lukewarm" to the cell tower at Station 2, but the high-level approach would be best right now. The district already has so many "irons in the fire" with the unification process and knowing whether to do a deeper dive in the future or just say "no thanks" to the cell tower companies would be helpful.
Powell said she would keep the review as efficient as possible.
Retirement "Thank you"
Jones thanked the firefighters and duty staff for organizing a successful retirement event for former Fire Chief Vinny Burns in recognition of his 40-plus years of fire service to the district. "It is a long time, and it was a nice event," said Jones. See www.ocn.me/v21n2.htm#dwfpd.
No public comments were heard during the regular meeting, but a few members of the public dialed into the Zoom meeting via telephone and despite their attempts to use the un-mute feature, they were unheard during the meeting. The un-mute feature *6 was explained to attendees at the beginning of the meeting and at both scheduled public comment points during the meeting, but an unanticipated delayed response was occurring during those times.
A minute after the meeting had finished, resident Steve Simpson did reach the board.
The meeting adjourned at 5:01 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, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. For updates, virtual meeting joining instructions, agendas, and minutes, 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 Aug. 25, the new division chief of operations was sworn in, four staff members received the "chief’s coin," and the board received updates on the unification process and several ongoing projects.
Director Terri Hayes was excused.
New division chief of operations
Fire Chief Andy Kovacs administered the oath of office to newly promoted Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley during the board meeting, and Division Chief of Logistics Randy Trost pinned on the badge of office during the swearing-in ceremony.
Vacant positions to fill
Kovacs said the goal now will be to hire two firefighters, promote a lieutenant internally, and fill the battalion chief of training position that Bradley vacated. In 2022, the EMS coordinator position will become full-time. After extensive advertising on multiple social media sites and flier distributions at local hospitals, the district has already received 15 applications for the firefighter positions, said Kovacs.
Chief’s coin presentation
Kovacs read a letter from another agency commending one crew for its action during a difficult medical emergency incident at a local restaurant. The letter stated, "The Tri-Lakes crew got ahead of the power curve and crushed it, I haven’t run with Tri-Lakes before, but now, I’m excited to run in the area." Chief Kovacs stated that the crew "represents the very best TLMFPD offers."
Kovacs said the following:
• Three consultants from Emergency Services Consultants International spent three days meeting with staff and board members at TLMFPD and at Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) in early August, and the feasibility study is on schedule.
• The consultants are busy gathering information, and they describe it as putting all the pieces together like a "jigsaw puzzle."
• A recent meeting at DWFPD’s Station 2 revealed the firefighters are excited and anxious, and they want the process to move forward.
• Over the next two months, everything will start to come together and a clearer picture of what the unification process will look like will develop.
Station 1 Training Center update
Trost said the following:
• The training center committee is working on prioritizing the foundation for the site, the top priority props that could be used right away before all the phases are complete, and the design of the facility and its water needs.
• Committee members are researching designs at the Castle Rock Fire/Rescue Department, the Aurora Fire Department, and the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
• The budget for the training center has yet to be determined for 2022, and a design consultant will be required.
Secretary Mike Smaldino said, "I would rather the district spend money upfront and get it done right and the training center will still be there long after we have all gone, even if it is a 12-step phased-in approach, it will be worth it."
Station 1 remodel update
Trost said the Station 1 remodel is "moving along well" and work is progressing to the planned schedule. The anticipated completion date is Oct. 11.
Kovacs said the following:
• A new monthly chief’s meeting to enhance communications between the entire administrative staff and the line staff have begun at Station 3 with all on-duty crews on the first shift of each month.
• Frequent medical calls to a local assisted living facility have lessened since early July, after a meeting with the staff at that facility.
• The final touches are being made to the five-year strategic plan for 2022-26.
• The district has completed multiple community chipping events, and new requests will be added to the 2022 calendar.
• The district is planning to budget 13 pre-fire plans for Red Rocks Ranch and other areas with a third-party consultant beginning in 2022. These plans will address evacuation issues for the wildland urban interface areas within the district.
Kovacs said the following:
• American Medical Response (AMR) is looking to establish a fire contract with the fire transport agencies of four area fire districts.
• The district will meet with some of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) supervisors from AMR quarterly to find out what can be done to assist them.
• EMS Coordinator Stephanie Soll will gather stats on the number of times AMR transports occur within the district and the number of times TLMFPD is called to transport on behalf of AMR and all other out-of-district agencies.
• AMR is willing to pay $500 per out-of-district call for TLMFPD assistance.
• The district will ensure that priority is given to the residents of the district.
• The board will receive an update before any decision is made.
Vice President Roger Lance asked if AMR will request that TLMFPD ambulances respond to calls in Colorado Springs and said, "the district experienced problems in the past when AMR requested TLMFPD respond to multiple AMR calls while out of district, and our ambulances were gone half the day."
"It is cheaper for AMR to pay $500 for out-of-district assistance and avoid fines when they cannot respond, but responding to a cardiac arrest in Colorado Springs from here is ridiculous; EMS mutual aid is intended for large incidents that tax resources," said Smaldino.
Kovacs said he was grateful for the board feedback and the district will set the boundary limitations of how far TLMFPD will travel and only assist with high acuity/Delta Echo/immediate attention calls. The discussions are preliminary to discover how frequently TLMFPD provides mutual aid out-of-district to all agencies, and how many AMR calls are coming into the district, said Kovacs.
Northwest El Paso County Evacuation drill
Division Chief of Community Risk Jamey Bumgarner said the Northwest El Paso County Evacuation drill involving multiple agencies is scheduled to take place on Oct. 2. Meetings with many participating agencies continue, and the event is being coordinated by the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management. About 40-100 residents are expected to take part in the drill and they will be the only residents to receive reverse 911 calls and door knocks during the exercise, said Bumgarner.
Note: Residents from Palmer Lake, Lake of the Rockies, Red Rocks Ranch, and Colorado Estates are eligible to participate and are encouraged to sign up at a Pre-Drill Community Meeting on Sept. 15 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Palmer Lake Elementary School, 115 Upper Glenway, Palmer Lake. The deadline to register for the drill is Sept. 22. Registration will close when the limited capacity is reached. For more information, visit: www.elpasoco.com.
Caption: Fire Chief Andy Kovacs (left) administers the oath of office to the newly promoted Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley at the TLMFPD board meeting, Aug. 25. Photo by Jamey Bumgarner.
Caption: Fire Chief Andy Kovacs presents Lt. Micah Coyle, Engineer Jody Thorpe, and Firefighter/Medic Steve Peters with the "chief’s coin" for their actions during a medical emergency. Firefighter/Medic Keith Barker (not present) was also recognized during the board meeting. Photos by Jamey Bumgarner.
The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce, 166 Second St., downtown Monument. For Zoom meeting instructions, agendas, and minutes, 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 Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) meeting on Aug. 25, the board heard the exclusion process had been delayed again and approved the hiring of three additional line staff. It also approved some of the many repairs and renovations needed at both stations and the sale of a tender.
Director James Abendschan was excused.
Exclusion process stalls
Background: Sometime before 2006, the City of Colorado Springs annexed certain parcels of property at the southern end of BFFRPD. That created a dual taxation zone, with residents paying both the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) and BFFRPD. At that time the city could not provide fire protection and emergency medical services to those properties until August 2013 when Station 21 on Dublin Boulevard opened. In July 2018, the BFFRPD board began the process of excluding the annexed area from the district, but the process has been slow. About 2,200 properties in total are included in the exclusion process, and the first 392 properties were excluded in late December 2020. See www.ocn.me/v20n8.htm#bffrpd, www.ocn.me/v20n9.htm#bffrpd, www.ocn.me/v21n2.htm#bffrpd, www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd, www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#bffrpd, and www.bffire.org.
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said the following:
• The district hoped to have a resolution to the exclusion process, but unfortunately it received a list of bad addresses from the city.
• The Colorado Springs City Council sent a list of properties that are east of Black Forest Road with one little street to the west, and that would have created a potentially dangerous checkerboard effect.
• The properties the district agreed to are west of Black Forest Road and south of Research Parkway that are within the municipality of Colorado Springs, and there are a couple that are not in the municipality.
• The district received multiple emails with lots of capital letters and exclamation marks regarding the city’s error, and hopefully it will be rectified next month.
Request for staff
Langmaid said the following:
• Three new hires began training at a fire academy at Station 1 on Aug. 9; they are expected to join the department at the beginning of September.
• The 2021 budget included an increase of daily staffing from six to seven.
• The preliminary numbers for the 2022 budget indicate the department could sustain an increase from seven to eight, even with cost-of-living adjustments.
• Eventually, eight line staff would provide the community with two three-person engine companies and one two-person tender for structure and wildland fires, a fairly effective firefighting force for a small fire district.
Langmaid requested the board consider hiring the three budgeted firefighters before 2022 considering the persistent turnover, the costs associated with running the fire academies, and the training required for entry level hiring.
Treasurer Jack Hinton said the key to that will be taking on the additional salaries through the end of March when the next property tax revenue is received.
Langmaid said staffing is back to six, but the district is not at seven a day, and just because staff get hired does not mean they will stay. One staff member will deploy to Kuwait for 15 months beginning in October.
The board approved hiring three additional staff by the end of the year, 4-0.
Annual board inspection report
Treasurer Jack Hinton said the board inspection of property and equipment went well and said:
• The radio situation is being resolved and the district has purchased 10 1-year-old radios from the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) for $500 each instead of paying the list price of $5,000 each for brand new radios.
• Seven programable radios have been purchased.
• The district has ordered two more Mobile Data Communication Systems and seven sets of bunker gear.
• The district is working with CSFD to install a donated extraction machine for Station 1 for the decontamination of bunker gear, and the existing smaller machine will move to Station 2.
• When the extraction machine is received, some demolition work and repairs will be required at Station 1, and that will entail caulking and the resetting of the thresholds.
• The workout equipment will need to be moved into the bay at Station 1.
Hinton thanked the chief and the staff and said, "You have done a pretty amazing job, and the training center has turned out well and now everyone is using it."
Station 2—repairs and upgrades
Hinton said that he did not realize Station 2 was in such bad shape, and many serious issues need to be addressed. He noted:
• A 2-inch crack has developed in the driveway.
• A concrete retaining wall is needed beside the entryway steps.
• A cattle grate could help with the drainage issue at the end of the driveway.
• The building was never intended to house staff on a permanent basis and was built for four volunteers.
• The kitchen requires remodeling.
• The leach field is in the worst spot, and he has never seen one like it.
• The basement could be used to house additional personnel, but the existing showers are currently installed below the main floor and each shower is cracking along the wall. Water will be in the basement soon.
• The repairs are critical, and funding should be drawn from Capital Reserves.
Hinton said the addition of two or three more bedrooms in the basement and extra showers would tie into the leach field with the additional sanitation requirements, and a study to determine the cost would be needed.
Vice Chairman Nate Dowden said a phased approach would be ideal, prioritizing what needs to done now and what is required to expand the building.
The board decided to spend money on concrete and drainage issues, to include a wall and showers, a drain at the end of the driveway, and repairs to the sidewalk to allow water to drain away from the building.
The board approved funding from the Capital Reserve Fund for the repairs to Station 2, 4-0.
Station 2—expansion project
Hinton said the following:
• Additional bedrooms will be required to accommodate extra shift staff.
• The project will require an architect to discover a way to house six to eight people and re-design the kitchen.
• It is a study that needs to happen soon.
Dowden said it will be critical to know what we want an architect to do.
The board instructed the fire chief to determine the scope of work for a study on the expansion of the accommodations at Station 2 and the creation of a sample request for proposal for a future design firm for the next meeting.
Tender sale request
Langmaid requested the board consider selling the 2013 tender for about $125,000 to $150,000 to a department in Minnesota where it would be better suited, and he said the following:
• The 2013 tender is useable, but not all of the time because of its size. There are cab safety issues and the district does not use it often.
• For the interim, two tenders will remain in the district until the board can decide how to replace the 2013 tender.
• Custom cabs with airbags are the reason for the cost increase for tenders.
• The district could request a grant and use the sale of the 2013 tender for future capital improvements.
• The district does not currently take a tender to a fire and is reliant on Donald Wescott Fire Protection District and Falcon Fire Protection District to supply water.
• Revenue from deployments could also help fund a new tender in the future.
The board approved the sale of the tender, 4-0.
Langmaid said the following:
• District Auditor Dawn Schilling was unable to complete the 2020 audit in August. Schilling intends to present the audit in September. A routine extension was filed last month with the state.
• Tactical thermal gear, bunker gear, and hose adapters were purchased. The hose adapters will allow the district to connect to varying hose diameters during mutual aid calls.
• The second story of the training center is under construction.
• High fire danger is a constant threat, and the district will go to Stage 2 when the county decides to move to Stage 1.
Hinton said the following:
• The district has $2.694 million, but without the reserves or the receivables, that amount is $2.114 million.
• The budget is 14% under projected spending year to date, but that will not last long.
• There is nothing out of the ordinary in the July financial report, which will be broken out more next month.
• The district has received 97% of the property tax revenue for 2021, and in September $3,000 will be reflected in the August financial statement. Then 100% will be received and anything trickling in after that "will be gravy," and there always is a little bit of revenue trickling in.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.
Langmaid said the following:
• The district received the official property tax revenue assessment from the El Paso County assessor for 2022 on the day of the meeting, but preliminary figures had already been obtained by Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn.
• The impact of the pending exclusions will not impact the 2022 budget but will need to be considered in the long-term planning for capital and increased personnel.
• The two-year temporary change in the residential assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.95% the state Legislature passed into law in 2021, or a greater reduction to 6.5% anticipated if Ballot Initiative 27 passes in November, will not affect the 2022 budget. See www.ocn.me/v21n8.htm#dwfpd.
Wildland fire pre-plans
Langmaid said the district staff had previously discussed establishing wildland fire pre-plans for the whole district in the spring. In the event of a wildland fire, the pre-plans will establish GPS points for fill sites, helicopter dip sites, evacuation routes, and water resources. A consultant would map the whole district and provide tactical worksheets with QR codes for incident commanders. The project is estimated to cost about $40,000.
Chairman Rick Nearhoof said that in 2013 one-third of Black Forest burned, and there is still enough fuel for the other two-thirds to burn in the future.
Langmaid said the following:
• The district has partnered with a premier leadership company that the district provides with staff for medical deployments. In exchange, the deployed staff gain leadership training for free.
• The district staff deploy with medical equipment, but not an ambulance, and fly to each location.
• Leadership is the most critical aspect in a fire rescue, and if you have good leadership, you have good outcomes. Leadership is a constant perishable skill, and the staff are getting leadership training all the time.
Wildland FEMA deployments
Langmaid said the district is receiving ongoing requests from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for staff to administer COVID-19 vaccinations and numerous requests for wildland firefighting assistance, but no heavy burden will be placed on our firefighters with deployments that create the need for backfill.
The district will likely send individuals with other departments to gain experience, but it will not bring additional revenue, only reimbursements for expenditures. Dunn will probably deploy again because she is a huge commodity for Type 2 teams across the region, said Langmaid.
Note: Dunn joined the district at the beginning of June and has recently returned from a wildland deployment commitment made before accepting the administrative officer position.
"Thank you" received
Nearhoof said the district received a note from Woodmen Valley Chapel thanking the chief and the staff for allowing church members to make a short film at Station 1 to help deliver a message about preparation. The note read: "The video reached thousands of people with a message of hope and compassion and the department’s hard work, courage and vigilant care for the people in the community inspires us all.
The meeting adjourned at 8:46 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday every month at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. The next regular meeting, preceded by a pension board meeting, is scheduled for Sept. 15 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 Helen Walklett
At its Aug. 19 meeting, the El Paso County Planning Commission heard an application for approval of a minor subdivision request for a Black Forest property. The commissioners also confirmed changes to the time and location of future meetings.
Black Forest minor subdivision
The Planning Commission heard an application from the Andres Daniel B Trust for approval of a minor subdivision to divide a 14.87-acre property into three residential lots. It is located on the west side of Goshawk Road, about half a mile to the north of Hodgen Road and is zoned RR-5 (rural residential).
Each proposed lot would be just under 5 acres. The Board of Adjustment approved a variance to allow the lots to be less than the 5-acre zoning designation in May 2020. An existing house on the property is expected to remain on Lot 1. Two of the lots would have direct access onto Goshawk Road; the third would have access to Goshawk via an easement.
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the application, known as Circle A Filing No.1, for approval. It was heard as a consent item.
The application was scheduled to be heard at the El Paso Board of County Commissioners on Aug. 24. See BOCC article below.
Meeting location and time changes
Planning Commission meetings will return to the Pikes Peak Regional Development Center (RDC) in September and will revert to the earlier time of 9 a.m. The meetings were moved to Centennial Hall on South Cascade Avenue at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic because this location has a live stream capability. The RDC is now also able to live stream meetings.
Meetings are held the first and third Thursday of the month (if required). The first meeting at the RDC will be on Sept. 2 at 9 a.m., 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs. Meetings are live streamed on the El Paso County News & Information Channel at www.elpasoco.com/news-information-channel.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
During August, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) received a presentation on a proposed renewable water system for the county. The commissioners also made decisions on a number of planned developments.
The Loop renewable water project
At a water workshop held Aug. 10, the commissioners heard a proposal from local water representatives for a regional renewable water system for the county which would enable water providers to access their distant renewable surface water supplies. The Loop Project would use its members’ water rights to divert renewable water from Fountain Creek via the Chilcott Ditch to Calhan Reservoir where it would be treated to near-potable water standards and then pumped north via several pump stations.
This would replace a significant amount of water currently being drawn from the non-renewable Denver Basin wells. Water would be delivered to users along the pipeline, and it would receive a final treatment to ensure it met all standards before delivery to customers. Recycled water would then be carried back through the loop system. It is estimated it could serve up to 29% of the county’s population with the possibility of this rising to 58% if providers in the southern part of the county were to join.
Kevin Brown, water resource engineer, Cherokee Metropolitan District, told the commissioners that the Denver Basin water has been tapped into for 30 or 40 years and that the yield has declined over time. He said, "We are not in a crisis today and there is still a massive amount of water underground. The problem is it costs more and more money to extract the same volume of water." He continued, "It’s an economic question of how much money are you willing to sink into drilling well after well after well to get the same amount of water you had in the past."
Jessie Shaffer, district manager, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, said, "We don’t have a water supply issue in El Paso County. We’ve got an extraction problem." He continued, "The costs are going to surmount to such high levels in the future with the rate of extraction and the growth that we’re seeing and the demand for water up and down the Front Range that, quite honestly, even as staggering as the numbers may be to convert over to a renewable water supply, that’s really going to be the only answer in terms of long-term sustainability in the region,"
Although the project would use some existing infrastructure, a capital investment estimated at $134 million would be needed to construct the pipeline running north, associated pumping stations, and an extension to Calhan Reservoir. The commissioners heard that raising the funds for the project through its participants alone would result in large rate increases.
Amy Lathen, general manager, Cherokee Metropolitan District, told the commissioners, "We know that there is federal money in El Paso County. We know that you are looking at a lot of significant resources that have come into the county." She continued, "We are not going to stand here and say would you please provide this much funding to complete the loop. What we are asking you to do is look at the big picture. Look at the number of people, human beings, that could be served with renewable sources and take the pressure off the Denver Basin and maintain sustainability in their faucets and homes in perpetuity with this kind of a system." Annual costs to treat the water at the reservoir and before delivery to customers would be about $6 million.
Mike Foreman, Monument town manager, said, "We are here to ask you to join us as partners. We’ve all joined together; we’re all working together to make sure that we try to save our customers as much money as possible and we know that’s what you’re elected to do. That’s why you sit in those seats, is you’re trying to save your customers as much money as possible. You try to provide them as many services as possible for the right cost and that’s what we’re here asking you to do today."
Commissioner Holly Williams said she was "just really excited about the project" and referred to the $140 million of federal funding coming for water, sewer, and infrastructure. She said, "This [project] not only benefits unincorporated El Paso County but I think it provides relief to our municipal water systems." BOCC Chair Stan VanderWerf said, "I think water reuse is not a question of if, it’s a question of when."
The group is currently carrying out a cost study and will continue to look for regional and governmental partners to share the upfront project costs while developing a final list of founding members.
At the Aug. 10 meeting, the BOCC approved 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 totalling 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 northeast of the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road and will see 144 single-family homes constructed. 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.
Black Forest business event center approved
On Aug. 10, the BOCC approved 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 will be from Goshawk Road.
The proposed Black Forest Meadows center would be used primarily for weddings and small family gatherings with a maximum of 75 guests. To mitigate traffic concerns, only members of the wedding party themselves will park onsite; other members of the wedding will be shuttled to and from the site from individual locations.
The Ritchys plan to hold events from June through September or October and anticipate about 20 events per year.
The El Paso County Planning Commission recommended the application for approval at its July 15 meeting.
Johnson minor subdivision
The commissioners unanimously approved a minor subdivision application by Delroy and Janet Johnson to create four single-family residential lots on their 28.62-acre property at their Aug. 10 meeting. The property, zoned RR-5 (residential rural), is located on the west side of Highway 83, half a mile north of its intersection with Old North Gate Road. The Planning Commission recommended the application for approval at its July 15 meeting.
The lots will range from 5 to 13 acres. The one home currently on the property will remain on lot 1.
Black Forest minor subdivision approved
At their Aug. 24 meeting, the commissioners approved an application from the Andres Daniel B Trust for approval of a minor subdivision to divide a 14.87-acre property into three residential lots. Located on the west side of Goshawk Road, about half a mile to the north of Hodgen Road, the development is to be known as Circle A Filing No.1.
Each lot will be just under 5 acres. The Board of Adjustment approved a variance to allow the lots to be less than the 5-acre zoning designation in May 2020. The Planning Commission recommended the application for approval at its Aug. 19 hearing.
Approval for a nine-lot residential development in Black Forest
At its July 27 meeting, the BOCC approved a rezoning request and a preliminary plan for nine single-family residential lots at a 44-acre property on the north side of Shoup Road, about half a mile south of Herring Road. The development will be known as Eagle Forest.
The commissioners approved the request as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion. The approval with a finding for water sufficiency authorizes the executive director, Department of Planning and Community Development, to administratively approve future final plat applications.
Grandwood Ranch, school resource officers, and open space
• Aug. 10—the commissioners approved the final release of a letter of credit for $377,709 following the completion of subdivision improvements at the Grandwood Ranch development northeast of the Baptist Road and Roller Coaster Road intersection. Also at this meeting, the commissioners approved a non-exclusive permanent easement associated with the extension of Furrow Road related to Grandwood Ranch.
• Aug. 10—approved intergovernmental agreements with Monument Charter Academy, Lewis-Palmer School District 38, and Academy School District 20 to retain school resource officers provided by the county Sheriff’s Office for the period from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
• Aug. 24—approved the award of a contract and purchase order to Ridgeline Construction Inc. dba Performance Recreation for the Santa Fe Open Space Construction Project at a total cost not to exceed $186,580. The project includes the flagging and construction of soft surface trails at the new 60-acre Santa Fe Open Space along the New Santa Fe Regional Trail southeast of Palmer Lake on the southern slopes of Ben Lomond Mountain.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) met on Aug. 25 to hear board reports, discuss tall grass fire danger, and encourage residents to sign up for emails to improve communication.
Tall grass presents a fire danger
Director of Covenant Control Director Ed Miller reported that 368 notices have been sent to residents regarding tall grass. All but 75 have complied with the request to mow tall grass which, when it dries, presents a fire danger. He said the 75 second notices had been sent out. President Brian Bush said that WIA appreciates that the vast majority of responses were positive. He asked that the community as a whole practice good fire mitigation by getting rid of tall grass on their property which, he said, also improved the look of the community.
Residents urged to sign up for WIA emails
Bush noted that it is difficult to communicate with residents if they have not signed up for WIA email blasts. He asks that everyone get signed up by scrolling to the bottom of www.woodmoor.org and entering their email to subscribe to WIA Email Updates. Residents will receive monthly newsletters and occasional notices with important information. Newsletters are also available on the WIA website. Bush emphasized that resident emails will not be sold or misused.
At the same time, residents can enter their email address to subscribe to Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Monthly Reports to get information on local safety issues. Public safety information can also be found at www.woodmoor.org/woodmoor-public-safety/.
• WIA will be reviewing and updating its schedule of fines and welcomes resident input.
The current schedule is at www.woodmoor.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Fine-Schedule-Revised-2017.pdf. The contact form is located at www.woodmoor.org/wia-staff-contact-form/.
• Due to increased reports of bear activity, WPS reminds residents to only put trash out on pickup day and to return it to a secure place as soon as possible.
• WPS will be doing lot checks for non-approved off-drive parking and requests that residents take care about parking on top of vegetation due to fire hazards.
• A second reimbursement package was submitted for mitigation grant reimbursement, and a second recruitment letter has been sent out focusing on the Woodmoor Drive corridor.
• The final chipping day Aug. 7 processed 141 loads totaling 90 cubic yards of material. Bush commended board members Tom Smith and Ed Miller and WIA staff for their significant physical and monetary effort on fire mitigation.
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, Sept. 22.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
Very dry conditions took hold of the region during August after a wet end to July. Precipitation for the month was well below normal, with less than an inch of total rainfall occurring. In fact, this amount of rainfall is rarer than a 1 in 100-year recurrence interval. In other words, in any given year there is a less than a 1% chance of August being this dry. Temperatures were above normal for the month as more of the sun’s energy was able to heat the atmosphere versus evaporating moisture.
Smoke was present on several days from wildfires throughout the Pacific Northwest and California. With the extremely dry conditions experienced during the month, it is likely there will be increased fire activity as we head into fall.
The month started with a couple days of cooler temperatures and wet weather. Highs were in the upper 60s to upper 70s from the 1st through the 4th. Accumulating rainfall occurred on the 1st and 3rd, but this only amounted to about a quarter of an inch.
Dry and relatively warm conditions moved in from the 5th through the 11th, with no measurable rainfall occurring and temperatures generally in the mid- to upper 80s. Although skies were generally clear, with limited cumulus cloud development, there were several days of smoke. The smoky conditions made for some hazy days, with difficult breathing conditions for some.
From the 12th through the 15th, some monsoonal moisture was able to move into the region. This allowed the more typical afternoon and evening thunderstorms to form in the area. These produced light rainfall total, with again less than a quarter inch accumulating during the period.
Another extended period of dry and generally warm conditions returned for the entire second half of the month. Temperatures were consistently in the mid- to upper 80’s except for a couple of days. Cooler air moved in on the 20th and 21st, with highs in the low 80s on the 20th and low 70s on the 21st and on the 29th. A few brief rain showers occurred during the afternoon of the 26th and afternoon and evening of the 28th. Unfortunately, these only produced barely measurable amounts of rain, certainly not enough to bring beneficial moisture to the region.
A look ahead
September is a transitional month for the region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change by the end of the month as well, and a little snow can happen. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later in the month. Our first sub-freezing low temperatures usually occur during the third week of the month, so prepare those tender plants.
August 2021 Weather Statistics
Average High 84.6° (+3.1)
100-year return frequency value max 83.9° min 72.9°
Average Low 52.3° (+2.9)
100-year return frequency value max 55.2° min 46.8°
Monthly Precipitation 0.45" (-2.45"), 85% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.94"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Highest Temperature 88° on numerous days
Lowest Temperature 45° on the 8th
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 2.72" (-3.55", 57% below normal) (the precip season is from October 1 to September 30)
Heating Degree Days 16 (-46)
Cooling Degree Days 88 (+45)
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.
A call for School District 38 transparency
We are grateful for the efforts of the district and the staff of D38 for the hard work last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, we are currently seeing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases locally. As a physician, I reviewed the current guidance for schools and corresponded with the superintendent about the district plans to implement them for the upcoming year. The responses have clarified that the district has decided not to follow the recommendations of the county and state health departments (and CDC and the American Association of Pediatricians) that are targeted at communities experiencing high rates of transmission and vaccination rates less than 70 percent, as is the current situation for El Paso County.
I recognize there may be reasons for not following these recommendations at a local district level. Given the importance of this issue for the safety of our children, particularly those under 12 years of age who are not eligible for vaccination, it is incumbent upon the superintendent and the district to be forthcoming about the reasons for not following clear recommendations for higher precautionary measures recommended by these guidance documents.
I encourage you all to review the relevant guidance and request that the district be transparent about their decision process. None of us wish to see a repeat of the last year, and we all consider the safety of our children of paramount importance. It is only through a clear understanding of the current situation, recommendations, and school policy that we can all make decisions about the upcoming school year that fit our individual families. Regardless of your position on COVID-19 precautions, the lack of transparency from the school district should be very concerning to all D38 families and staff.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Foolish people are never harmless. Stupidity accounts for as many crimes as anger and greed."—Louise Penny
Fall is a perfect time to dive into some great mysteries. Here’s a sampling.
Striking Range: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
By Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane Books) $27.99
A deadly secret is buried in the Colorado high country. He was suspect number one—the man who tried to kill Deputy Mattie Cobb and may have killed her father 30 years earlier. But before Mattie and cold case detective Jim Hauck get to interview him, he’s found dead in his cell. As Mattie and Robo pursue this case, they are called to help investigate the death of a young woman and a missing infant. The killer has a cold-blooded plan that threatens them all. Although this is the seventh book in Mizushima’s K-9 dog series, it works as a standalone. (Available Sept. 7.)
Canyonlands Carnage: A National Parks Mystery
By Scott Graham (Torrey House Press) $16.95
When suspicious deaths befall a whitewater rafting expedition through Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park, archaeologist Chuck Bender and his family recognize evil intent lies behind the tragedies. They must risk their lives and act before the murderer makes an already deadly journey even deadlier. This is Colorado author Scott Graham’s seventh book in the National Park Mystery series and can serve as a standalone. (Sept. 14)
By T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press) $28
Former flight attendant T.J. Newman’s debut runaway bestseller is nonstop suspense. You just boarded a plane for a long flight with 143 other passengers. What you don’t know is that 30 minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped. For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane. Enjoy the flight.
The Madness of Crowds: Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #17
By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books) $28.99
Chief Inspector Gamache returns to Three Pines in Penny’s latest spellbinding novel. Gamache is asked to provide security for a visiting professor who will be lecturing at the nearby university. Gamache looks into Professor Abigail Robinson’s background and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture. They refuse. Before long, truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it’s nearly impossible to tell them apart. When a murder is committed, it falls to Gamache and his team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary delusion.
Daughter of the Morning Star: A Longmire Mystery
By Craig Johnson (Viking) $28
Tribal Police Chief Long’s niece, Jaya, begins receiving death threats. Jaya’s older sister disappeared a year previously, a victim of the scourge of missing Native women in American Indian country. Chief Long calls on Sheriff Walt Longmire, along with Henry Standing Bear, in hopes that having Longmire involved might draw some public attention to the girl’s plight. But she also inadvertently places the good sheriff in a one-on-one with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced, in both this world and the next. (Sept. 21.)
By Peter Heller (Knopf Publishing Group) $27
Best-selling Colorado author Peter Heller returns with a heart-racing thriller about a young man who is hired by an elite fishing lodge in Colorado, where he uncovers a plot of shocking menace amid the natural beauty of sun-drenched streams and forests. When Jack is assigned to guide a well-known singer, events transpire that lead Jack to realize that this idyllic fishing lodge may be merely a cover for a sinister operation.
By Quinn Kayser-Cochran (Western Edge Books) $20
This is Colorado author Quinn Kayser-Cochran’s first in a planned series following army veteran Shepard Sunday through America’s pre-Depression West. Shepard takes work as a detective for the Eastern Nevada Mine Owners’ Association. When a series of extraordinary gold and silver discoveries pull Nevada out of a 25-year depression, the mining camps are flooded with rootless, violent men determined to grab their share. The association’s corrupt president pits the organization against the local miners’ union, and workers begin to disappear. It’s thoroughly researched, rich with historical and fictional characters, and suspenseful from start to finish.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at the Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The meeting room in the Monument Library is now available for reservations three days ahead of time. The room was closed because of the pandemic. Those wishing to reserve the room are responsible for arranging and putting away any furniture used by them. Call 488-2370 or go to the website www.ppld.org under services to make your reservation.
The new, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp at the Palmer Lake Library is under construction. There is still work to be done inside, but we hope to have an opening by the end of the year.
Patrons over age 12 and those who are unvaccinated are still encouraged to wear masks in the library. All staff and volunteers are masked.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library facilities will be closed on Labor Day, Sept. 6.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
Caption: On Aug. 2, construction of a new entrance ramp for the Palmer Lake Library and Lucretia Vaile Museum was well underway. Structural deterioration necessitated replacement of the ramp to meet safety codes. COVID-19 work restrictions and supply chain delays for construction materials curtailed progress of this project until recently. As a split-level design, this is a specialized ramp, customized to meet code requirements for entrances to two separate public facilities. This new entrance ramp is scheduled for use later this fall. At that time, the library and museum will resume operations. Photo by Sharon Williams.
By Janet Sellers
September will bring us some cooler days and enjoyable walks in the forest and around town. Our hummingbirds and migrating birds of our Colorado central flyway will likely be on their way to warm, tropical areas of Mexico and Central America by mid-September. Birds we enjoy seeing spring, summer, and fall include mountain bluebirds, bald eagles, wild turkeys, and peregrine falcons.
Monument Lake has a pair of bald eagles, and the mountain bluebirds are usually all over our meadows. I’ve seen peregrine falcons at Monument Rock and often see a family parade of wild turkeys along Roller Coaster Road near Baptist Road when I am at the Southwinds art gallery. The Hummingbird Festival there in August had its endless show of hummingbird flight and feeder displays for human visitors. I didn’t see any rufous hummingbirds on their way back from Canada in August, but there were plenty of broadtails all summer.
Our abundant spring rain brought us a spectacular wildflower show—and lots of grass to mow. Many local gardeners had prolific summer crops, while some reported fewer veggies compared to last year due to excessive summer heat. Our fall weather is warm enough that our flower and food gardens can continue through October and November if protected from frost.
I let some of my crops (and wildflowers at home) go to seed because the seeds are so valuable for next year, and they are acclimated to our area. Last year’s snow peas dropped enough seeds for spring that they started on their own along the fence! Tomatoes need three to four months here, so I rarely get fully ripened tomatoes without the help of frost cloth and just enjoy recipes for green tomatoes, but friends with greenhouses report lots of ripe tomatoes all season.
Sometimes we get snow in September, but quick crops like microgreens, snow peas, greens, and radishes have a chance, especially with frost cloth protection stretching the season, letting in sunshine and keeping warmth on the soil and around the plants. Some gardeners get three and nearly four seasons using the frost cloth with hoops. I’ve even been able to throw the frost cloth over my plants protecting from an early fall frost and they were just fine for weeks afterward.
Janet Sellers, an avid nature lover, lets local nature and weather lead the way for gardening in the forest climes of the Rockies. JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
"It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time. Give yourself
permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a
chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one."—Julia Cameron,
I met Julia Cameron in Taos at a seminar based on her book The Artist’s Way. We learned in our time together that being a willing beginner creates our eventual betterment and success as artists and creatives.
When artists start out, they aren’t adept. Like any human skill, practice (and perseverance) makes perfect. The interesting thing about art is both the artist and the viewer benefit from art experiences. As an artist and teacher, I’ve noticed that making and viewing art offers specific eye movements engaging creative cognitive mobility for both artist and viewer.
A lot goes on in our brains and bodies when we draw or doodle, even if it’s not "art." Visual creative expression does this. From pasting colors on a page to doodles to cake decorating, clay work or poetry, "Anything that engages your creative mind—the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate—is good for you," says Girija Kaimal, professor at Drexel University and a researcher in art therapy.
Kaimal says that making art helps us navigate solutions to current and future problems in an article for the Journal of the Art Therapy Association. The adaptive response theory (ART) is based on human responses to threats to well-being (bio-physiological and psycho-social-spiritual), and art making as an imaginative process aligns with concepts of the brain as a predictive machine.
Since humanity’s earliest times, we have recorded our mindful ideas on cave walls, in marble or bronze, on buildings as wall murals, on wood or paper. Eventually, we comprehend these records as our rich history of thoughts and ideas.
Art practice helps with predicting what to do next in visual expression and problem solving, which helps us in many areas of life. The great thing about artworks is that they are visible, tangible expressions that can be shared with others who also benefit from viewing, experiencing, and pondering the art. We find the art piece we like and can acquire it for ourselves and can keep this optimization going.
Art walks in Monument
Locals and visitors alike savor the art ambience and friendly evenings around town in Monument. Just to name a few, we can enjoy the art venues, sculpture walks along the Santa Fe trail, the art park on Second Street, and the Art Hops with live music offered every third Thursday, through Sept. 16.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, speaker, and teacher. She makes monumental public art murals, sculptures, and indoor small works. JanetSellers@ocn.me.
That’s a lot of plants!
Caption: Gro-Pro nursery staff and employees of Monument’s Walmart Garden Center are pleased to announce it reached a huge milestone of over $1 million in plant sales this season. The local store ranks sixth among U.S. Walmart stores in plant sales. From left, first row, Jennifer Jones, Charlotte Fraser. Middle row, Derek Rhodes, Matt Bailey, Zacchea Underwood, Nina Minke, Olivia Shuh, Jack Jones, Savannah Howard, Coleen Abeyta, Michelle Jorgensen, Charles Walker III, Lane Carlton, Dillon Wilkisin. Back row, Hayden McCay, Afton King, Carl Valenta. Photo courtesy of OCN volunteer Coleen Abeyta.
Black Forest Festival, Aug. 7
Caption: Beneath smoky skies from western wildfires on a toasty day, the crowds turned out in droves for the Black Forest Festival on Aug. 7. They came bright and early for the annual event and the ever-popular pancake breakfast provided by R&R Café and served up by Boy Scout Troop 70. Throughout the day, live music, hay and pony rides, multiple demonstrations, a booth fair with vendors and volunteer organizations, food truck fare, and a family beer garden were all available to enjoy in and around the backyard of the Black Forest Community Club. The parade began a little later than scheduled after spectators had lined the route to hear Stars and Stripes in the distance, and the parade was led by an El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard followed by an array of participants making their way north along Black Forest Road. The parade included Fountain High School Air Force JROTC, Pine Creek High School Marching Band, Keepers of the Keys, Kit Carson Riding Club, old and new car clubs, and many more. Heritage families (those residing in Black Forest for over 25 years) and local businesses scattered candy to excited children from their varied modes of transport. The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office were also well-represented throughout the festival. The 2020 festival was scaled back to a drive-by-only parade for spectators to observe from their vehicles while observing COVID-19 distancing protocols. Due to a lack of entries this year, the historic Outhouse Race did not take place after the parade—maybe it will next year! Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Dion Pride at TLCA, Aug. 7
Caption: Dion Pride brought the essence of his late father, legendary country-western singer Charlie Pride, to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) stage with a tribute concert on Aug. 7. Opening with A Whole Lotta Things to Sing About, the younger Pride performed many of his father’s hits including Louisiana Man, Crystal Chandeliers, and Kiss an Angel Good Morning during the two-hour performance. Pride interspersed stories about his father and the humbleness he instilled in him, summing it up by saying, "I never had to go past my front door for a role model." He added, "I like these intimate settings as they allow me to connect with the audience." One axiom from his father was "Take care of the fans," which Pride did throughout the evening with his engaging personality and encouraging audience participation. Information on upcoming TLCA events is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
National Nightout, Aug. 3
Caption: On Aug. 3, the Woodmoor neighborhood participated in the National Night Out event that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. The event, sponsored by Woodmoor Neighborhood Watch place at The Barn community center and featured games, a dessert truck from Lorilynn’s Cookies & Cream., and vehicles from Woodmoor Public Safety, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and TriLakes Monument Fire Department. Inside, there was barbeque, a ham radio display, and a thank you card for first responders. Neighbors enjoyed the games, the food, and the interaction with each other and with officers and firefighters. For more information see www.natw.org. Photo by Jackie Burhans
Students present band show, Aug. 6
Caption: On Aug. 6, local D38 students put together Summer Band 2021 and put on a show at the Ascent Church. The event showcased the talented musicians of D38 and helped raise money for Tri-Lakes Cares, a community-based, volunteer-supported resource center. Students gathered, practiced, wrote original pieces, conducted, and performed for an audience of about 100. The students even produced the event program. The lead organizers were Bella D’Ambra, Anita Gichuki, Jack Shimon, and Niko Skorick, who also composed the original music and arranged some of the pieces. Caroline D’Ambra conducted the band performance, which featured a trumpet ensemble, woodwind duet, and summer winds. Lewis-Palmer High School band director Thomas Chapman performed in the trumpet ensemble. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Palmer Lake Try-athlon, Aug. 7
Caption: About 120 people showed up to "compete" in this year’s Palmer Lake Try-athlon on Aug. 7. The "competition" consisted of "swimming" (with the help of an inflated donut or life jacket) across Palmer Lake, then "running" around the west side of the lake to retrieve a bike, trike, or other wheeled, human-powered device and "race" to the finish line. This annual fundraiser helps maintain and improve Palmer Lake parks and recreational areas. Photo by Steve Pate.
WMMI Family Day, Aug. 7
Caption: On Aug. 7, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted a Family Day focused on history. The day included performances by the Legendary Ladies, portraying unconventional women of the West, a "gunfight" by the Gold Canyon Gunfighters, along with an encampment by World War II re-enactors from the 10th Mountain Division Foundation. The museum also operated its Yellow Jacket Stamp Mill, Osgood Steam Shovel, and H.K. Porter Trammer, and presented blacksmith demonstrations. Visitors could also tour the newly renovated Reynolds Ranch House, now containing period furnishings. Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmi.org . Photo by David Futey.
Community Garden, Aug. 7
Caption: The raised bed in the Monument Community Garden had a lush Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans, and squash. That bed and the garden sunflowers were started in April, but crops started from seed in June required all summer to begin to thrive. Careful planting and watering well with an eye to green mulching (as plant foliage cover helps keep water in the soil) was key for this successful garden bed. Deer deterrents included chili pepper powder sprinkled on top of the plants. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Hummingbird festival, Aug. 13
Caption: Since ancient times, it’s been said that hummingbirds bring messages of joy, love, and good luck. On Aug. 13, Colorado broad-tailed hummingbirds showed off their moves amid a constant flow of enthusiasts at the third annual Hummingbird Festival on the Southwinds Fine Art Gallery grounds The festival hosted the hummingbirds, bird lovers, baby alpacas, and booths of interest and gifts, with hummingbird informational talks on the hour all day. Hailing from the Southwest and Mexico, the four Colorado hummingbirds are broad-tailed, rufous, calliope, and black-chinned. The best time to see all four in Colorado is in late summer, but we find the broad-tailed here all season. The calliope is the smallest long-distance migrant in the world (they travel around 5,000 miles each year from breeding to wintering grounds), traveling through the Colorado Front Range on its way back from its breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and parts of Colorado. During its breeding season, the spirited calliope has been seen chasing off other birds, even red-tailed hawks. The feisty rufous stops at our feeders as they migrate back to Mexico from nesting in the Pacific Northwest and Canada via Colorado’s Central Flyway in late summer. The black-chinned nests in western Colorado, returning to Mexico in mid-September, and are the longest lived at up to 8 years old. Caption by Janet Sellers. Photo by John Gair.
Chamber awards, Aug. 20
Caption: The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce finally got to give out its annual awards on Aug. 20, four months after the original awards dinner was cancelled because of COVID-19. Arlene Padilla, owner of Arlene’s Beans, was named Businessperson of the Year 2020. Non-Profit of the Year 2020 went to The Ascent Church. There was a tie for Volunteer of the Year between Mike Hinkle, coach of the Bearbotics team, and Dan Willemyns for his support of Tri-Lakes Cares. Ambassador of the Year 2020 was won by Dawn Kruger of Peak Surveys. From left are Jeanette Breton accepting for Mike Hinkle, Greg Phillips, director of aviation with the Colorado Springs Airport, and Dan Willemyns. Photo by Charlie Searle.
Monumental Impact, Aug. 13
Caption: Monumental Impact hosted its first monthly network event in the East Room of Grace Best on Aug. 13. The event is for students, community members and representatives from organizations interested in enabling student experiences in technology, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Among those who attended were four members of the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command’s Spark Cell. Their website says, "The Spark Cell provides 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools and services to help airmen foster a culture of innovation and solve larger problems." Shown in photo, clockwise from top left are four USAFA Spark team members (not identified), Amber Wright, Bailey Gargasz, Luke Gargasz, Cameron Hinkle, "Doc" Pounds, Jeanette Breton, and Jessica McAllister. Lauren Fellers is not pictured. Photo by Mike Hinkle.
Chasqui at TLCA, Aug. 14
Caption: On Aug. 14, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) welcomed the Chasqui String Quartet. The quartet is composed of Sarah Cranor, Alejandro Gómez Guillén, Amy Huzjak, and Han Dewan. Huzjak, who grew up just a few miles from the TLCA in Douglas County, said it is a "privilege to play in my hometown." The quartet opened with Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in g minor, Opus 20, No. 3, composed in 1772. Haydn is believed to have developed the modern form of the string quartet. Chasqui then contrasted Haydn with a contemporary piece by Gabriela Lena Frank titled Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout (2001), demonstrating the innovative depth that a string quartet can explore. They concluded their program with compositions by Amy Beach, Jessie Montgomery, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
Benet Hill installs new prioress
Caption: Sister Marie Therese "MT" Summers, OSB was installed as the new prioress by the sisters of Benet Hill Monastery on Aug. 15 at a service of vespers. Bishop James R. Golka, Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen, and Father John Costanzo attended and joined with the Benedictine Sisters, Oblates, friends, and relatives in warmly congratulating Sister MT. In gratitude, Sister MT said, "When I entered this community at age 19, you my sisters continued the task of growing me into the woman I have become through the conduit of community life, forgiveness, struggles, accountability, love, and holy zeal. All is gift. Thank you and blessings to each of you who transformed me with love." From left are Golka and Sister MT Summers, OSB, prioress. Photo by Sister Mary Colleen Schwarz, OSB.
Art Hop, Aug. 19
Caption: The monthly Art Hop venues present local art and artists, with guest artists showcased at each event. The Art Hop, 5 to 8 p.m., runs all summer, ending Sept. 16 for 2021. Pictured (L to R): For the Aug. 19 Art Hop, Mary Lou Pape displayed her artworks at Bella Art and Frame and Janet Sellers exhibited her paintings at the Jefferson Studios gallery. Photo by Daryl Muncey.
SEW Year of the Story, Aug. 22
Caption: On Aug. 22, the Social Emotional Wellness (SEW) Coalition of the Tri-Lakes Area hosted a community event called Year of the Story. The event promoted and celebrated conversations, connections, and differences featuring mental health resources, music, food trucks, a scavenger hunt, prizes, and stories of resilience in partnership with Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention and Lewis-Palmer School District 38. Featured speakers included current and past D38 alumni; Dr. KC Somers, D38 superintendent; David Galvan, local suicide prevention speaker; and Kirk Woundy, associate executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Colorado Springs. Resources included booths from Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention, D38, Peak View Behavioral Health, Inside Out Youth, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lewis-Palmer High School Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) organization. More information and online stories can be found at www.sewcoalition.org/year-of-the-story. If you or someone you know are having a mental health or substance use crisis, call Colorado Crisis Support 1-844-493-8255 or Text TALK to 38255. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Ms. T gets garden plaque, Aug. 26
Above (L to R): Terri Hayes, president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and Tia M. Mayer of Monument sit in front of Mayer’s newly installed plaque at "Ms. T’s Garden" on Aug. 26. Hayes thanked Mayer for her many hours of hard work, deep weeding and planting in front of the chamber’s Community Meeting House. Caption by John Howe. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
WWII veterans recognized, Aug. 27
Caption: Four WWII veterans at Jackson Creek Senior Living were invited to ride in a World War II vintage biplane. Jim Swanson, who did choose to go up, was thrilled to be in the open-air two- seater as they circled above Colorado Springs. The veterans gave a brief talk about their entry into WWII. From left are Nellie McCool, Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP); Jim Swanson, Navy; Dr. Ed Kerkorian, USMC; and Norman Mohr, Army. Photo by John Howe.
On page 27 of our August 7, 2021 issue, the headline that read "Jackson Creek Chipping Day" should have read "Jackson Ranch Chipping Day." OCN regrets the error.
By the OCN calendar team
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.
CO 21 (Powers Blvd.) & Research Pkwy. construction
Work will be completed in fall 2022 and will consist of replacing the current at-grade intersection with an innovative Diverging Diamond Interchange by constructing
an overpass for Powers Boulevard/Colorado Highway 21 traffic to move continuously through the intersection over Research Parkway. For many more details and rendering of final configuration, including a video showing new traffic flow, see https://cccpi.net/cdot-powers-research.pdf.
I-25 and CO 21 (Powers Blvd) 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 a map of the new interchange and connection from I-25 to Voyager Pkwy., see https://i25powers.com.
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.
MVEA scholarships and summer trips
Mountain View Electric Association’s Youth Leadership Trip Contest offers a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., or be invited to Colorado Electric Education Institute’s Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs. Deadline Nov. 11. MVEA’s college scholarship program deadline is Jan. 17.
Palmer Lake seeks residents to serve the community
The Town of Palmer Lake continues to seek volunteer residents to serve on upcoming potential seats for the Planning Commission, the Parks Commission, and the Board of Adjustments. The Planning Commission meets once a month on the third Wednesday. The Parks Commission meets a minimum of once a month but also has opportunity to be involved in Work Groups for various Park areas. The Board of Adjustments meets up to once a month on the first Tuesday, as needed. To qualify, you must be a resident of the Town of Palmer Lake for a minimum of 12 consecutive months and be at least 18 years of age. See www.townofpalmerlake.com.
Photos of past Palmer Lake festivities needed
If you have photos to share from past Palmer Lake winter festivities (Winterfest, Yule Log, Star Lighting, etc.), please share them to the town website firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of the timeframe and festivities. The Parks Commission will be gathering memorabilia to assemble an exhibit.
Neighborhood Art Project, apply by Sept. 17
The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR) is accepting applications until Sept. 17 for neighborhood art projects to be complete in October. The chosen project will be announced on National Good Neighbors Day on Sept. 28 as part of Arts Month. The award-winning neighborhood will receive a $500 stipend to help with supplies and permits. See www.cscono.org/neighborhood-art-project.
Work around Palmer Lake Town Hall
The ramp reconstruction work on the town museum and library is well underway. Also, Town Hall roof restoration will continue into December. Thus, staff is alerting residents that typically stroll through the town green area to be cautious and respectful of the construction equipment and process in the weeks and months ahead. Furthermore, due to construction crew parking in the area lots, it may be limited parking. Please feel free to contact the office to assist with business that can be conducted by phone or email for your convenience. Phone: 719-481-2953, Email: email@example.com. Unfortunately, the Town Hall will not be available to rent for events through this time. Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to celebrating both projects getting completed!
Palmer Lake Vaile Museum to reopen
Plans to reopen in late Sept. with several new exhibits upon completion of the improved handicap accessible ramp. We are in great need of volunteers to carry on the work of the society. Visit www.PalmerDivideHistory.org or call 719-559-0837. See ad on page 32.
Noxious weed removal is our responsibility
As a private property owner, you are responsible for the removal of noxious weeds on your land to keep them from spreading. We often see plants we think are pretty that are really noxious. To see photos to help you identify local noxious weeds and get tips on removal and control, see https://assets-communityservices.elpasoco.com/wp-content/uploads/Environmental-Division-Picture/Noxious-Weeds/Noxious-Weed-Control-Book.pdf.
Slash-Mulch through Sept. 12
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.
Openings on Monument boards
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit http://townofmonument.org/261/Available-Board-Openings.
Volunteer for Tri-Lakes Cares
There are many areas within Tri-Lakes Cares that you can help serve. Volunteers interact with clients, stock the food pantry, distribute grocery orders, process donations, pack Snack Packs for local youths, and contribute in many other ways to the success of Tri-Lakes Cares. Becoming a volunteer is easy and fun. For details, contact Volunteer Coordinator Nichole Pettigrew, 719-481-4864 x113, VolunteerCoordinator@Tri-LakesCares.org; or visit https://tri-lakescares.org/volunteer/.
Tri-Lakes Cares needs us
Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization located in and serving northern El Paso County through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs. The community-based, volunteer-supported center is a critical resource for our neighbors in need. The best way to help support Tri-Lakes Cares is to make a financial donation. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Nicole Pettigrew, director of Volunteers and Community Partnership, at 719-481-4864 Ext. 111; firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.tri-lakescares.org.
YMCA FREE One-Day Pass
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
Free services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. Private transportation to medical appointments or a grocery store is now provided by Envida, 719-633-4677. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
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 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.
By the OCN calendar team
We miss Judy Barnes’ expert work on the calendar and notices.
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with changes and additions.
WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to email@example.com or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 26, 2021. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on September 26, 2021. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.