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By Harriet Halbig
January was National School Board Recognition Month, and representatives from each school spoke of their appreciation for the board and presented mementoes during the Jan. 24 meeting of the Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education.
In his update, Superintendent KC Somers announced the receipt of two large grants. The Colorado Multi-Tiered System of Supports grant consists of $90,000 over four years. In the first year, grant funds will be used at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School and Bear Creek Elementary School. This grant is used to offer additional help to students who are in need of support.
The second grant is the Emergency Connectivity Award, which provides $520,280 for the purchase of Chromebooks.
The impact of these grants was detailed in the financial update later in the meeting.
Somers also reported that Palmer Ridge senior Diya Suri has been selected for a trip to Washington, D.C. by placing second in the Mountain View Electric Youth Leadership Trip competition.
The Palmer Ridge High School Knowledge Bowl Team was chosen as Region V champions for the fourth year in a row.
Portrait of a Lewis-Palmer Graduate project update
Career and Technical Education Coordinator Jess McAllister introduced student interns Addison Haworth (Lewis-Palmer High School senior) and Olivia Jones (recent Palmer Ridge High School graduate), who reported on progress in developing an image of a Lewis-Palmer graduate.
In earlier stages of the project, it was determined that four characteristics should be emphasized: communicator, problem solver, community member, and empowered individual.
With these characteristics in mind, the interns interviewed students, recent graduates, alumni, parents, teachers, staff, and community members to determine how the district helps students to achieve success in each of these areas.
The interns then created an infographic depicting each of these four characteristics and how they can be developed at each stage during a student’s 12 years of education in the district as expressed in a series of "I can" statements.
Somers and the board presented Haworth and Smith with certificates of appreciation for their efforts.
Financial planning and budget adjustments
Chief Financial Officer Kitte Overton presented a PowerPoint illustrating the state of the district budget at the halfway point in the school year.
Beginning with a discussion of enrollment figures, Overton stressed that a portion of the enrollment increase is due to an increased enrollment at Monument Academy, and that amount of per pupil funding is passed through to them directly.
Board Treasurer Ron Schwarz asked whether this increase in enrollment is sustainable. Overton responded that there is no way to know for certain.
In addition to the grants mentioned above, the district received $1.8 million in federal grants (not including Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief or ESSER funds), $30,000 in local grants, and funding from ESSER II and ESSER III for a total of $5.6 million in relief for the General Fund.
Once these grant funds were allocated as required (for example, ESSER funding must be applied to accelerating learning recovery and addressing the social and emotional well-being of students and staff, and other grants were applied to literacy), the General Fund was increased by $1.2 million.
As a consequence of this increase in the budget, the administration proposed a compensation adjustment in the form of a proposed payment of $1,400 annually on average for certified staff retroactive to August, an adjustment to the salary schedule for classified staff retroactive to July or August depending on the calendar for the employee, and a one-time action of an average of $1,500 for administrative staff to be paid in June 2022.
In response to a question from board President Chris Taylor, Somers said this action would compensate for lost earnings due to last year’s hiring freeze, but would not make the district’s compensation more competitive with surrounding districts.
Somers said this is the best that can be done for now.
During the general discussion of the budget and its allocation, Taylor pointed out that the Capital Reserve Fund has large obligations in support of the Schneider Electric project to achieve greater energy efficiency and the long-term project to repair the geothermal system at Palmer Ridge High School. The ultimate cost of the Palmer Ridge project is unknown, and Taylor suggested it be considered deferred maintenance because it has been underway for several years.
To view the budget in detail and the PowerPoint presented by Overton, see the district website www.lewispalmer.org, board of education, BoardDocs and enter Jan. 24 as the date of the meeting.
The board approved the budget adjustment as presented.
The board approved a second reading of Policy IKF regarding graduation requirements. The policy states that high school credit begins with the first day of ninth grade. Students must demonstrate proficiency in technology and personal financial literacy as part of the graduation requirements. This may be done by taking specific classes or through demonstration.
Technology classes were previously required, but it is now accepted that technology is used throughout a student’s education.
Another aspect addressed in the graduation requirements is credit for correspondence distant learning. These are college-level classes taken through accredited schools and pre-approved by counselors or principals.
Students must also demonstrate proficiency in English and math, according to Colorado Department of Education requirements.
This was the first reading of the policy.
Changes to policies JFBA and JFBB regarding open enrollment were approved by the board. These changes were a matter of clarification with no significant differences from previous wording. Issues addressed include who is eligible to enroll in a school other than their neighborhood school, and whether transportation is provided.
Controversy continues regarding the use of the No Place for Hate program at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Two individuals spoke in favor of the program, stating that it is student-centered and can be customizable to the individual school.
Two others objected to the display of rainbow posters and banners at the school, stating that this could be viewed as a political statement as Democrats favor LGBTQ rights. They felt that their seventh-graders are too young to be exposed to the discussion of gender fluidity and demanded that the banners and posters be taken down.
One individual said that teachers and paraprofessionals are underpaid and underappreciated.
Another individual said that lockdowns and masking are ineffective and that vaccines are dangerous to children.
The Lewis-Palmer D 38 Board of Education usually meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the district learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The February board meeting will be held on Feb. 22, as Feb. 21 is a school holiday.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) meeting on Jan. 18, the board learned of a director resignation, received multiple updates about the unification process amid the ongoing COVID-19 staffing shortages, and heard about the plans to combat wildland urban interface problems.
Chairman Mark Gunderman announced that Joyce Hartung had formally submitted her resignation by letter on Jan. 15, and the resignation from the board was effective immediately. Gunderman said Hartung had served the community in many capacities and she was proud to have served on the DWFPD board since May 26, 2010. Before serving on the Wescott board, Hartung had served on multiple Academy District 20 boards, and he is glad she will now have time for other things, he said.
DWFPD attorney Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor Pascoe PC law firm said a telephone conference was held between Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) attorney Maureen Juran of Widner Juran LLP, Fire Chief Andy Kovacs, Gunderman, and TLMFPD board President John Hildebrandt to discuss the next steps and prepare the full contract-for-services Intergovernmental Agreement. The contract is expected to be brought to the boards in the first quarter of 2022, or shortly thereafter, said Powell. See www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#dwfpd.
Kovacs said DWFPD will utilize the same auditor and contractor for fire prevention services as TLMFPD to streamline the administrative processes, and the audits will begin in May.
Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley said the following:
• The crews of Wescott were blended with TLMFPD on Jan. 11.
• Equipment is moving around from station to station to create more efficiency and provide orientation to all staff on apparatus from both districts.
• Personnel are also moving around within the districts, and with two extra personnel available, the Wescott budget saw savings in overtime expenses.
• The staffing program from each district has been combined, and that has saved Wescott around $3,000.
• Seven spare laptops from TLMFPD are now being used for reporting at Wescott, saving thousands of dollars if they were to be purchased today.
Saving a little here and there will add up significantly in the end, said Bradley.
COVID-19 hit employees hard
Bradley said positive cases of the COVID-19 among TLMFPD staff had been going in waves, just like it had across the country. Throughout 2021 when the national infections spiked, so did the infections among the district staff. The latest wave was significant, and personnel were forced back to cover gaps on shifts, but the burden is lessening now, said Bradley.
Kovacs said the staff had been out sick in ones and twos and someone is sick on any given day, but we have a contingency plan and the district will be adequately covered.
American Medical Response (AMR) departs
Kovacs said that the American Medical Response (AMR) 582 ambulance had a commitment with Wescott until the summer of 2022, but AMR departed from Wescott Station 4 (formerly Station 1, Gleneagle Drive) due to staff retention and recruitment issues. He also said:
• Many AMR employees are now gaining employment at local hospital emergency rooms due to the nursing shortage and likely for the additional $15 per hour, or they moved out of the state, or were hired at fire departments that provide ambulance services.
• TLMFPD and Wescott received more AMR mutual aid requests for service in the first 12 days of 2022 than the whole of 2021.
• The AMR staffing shortage is a national problem, and fire departments nationwide are putting old ambulances back into service because AMR is unable to fill its obligations.
• TLMFPD has two ambulances in service and has moved the reserve ambulance into Station 4, and the districts have verbal commitments from Black Forest, Falcon, Franktown, and Larkspur Fire Departments to provide ambulance service.
Kovacs said the AMR situation caught the district off guard but should a third ambulance be needed for peak hours; two paramedics are available in the district offices. About 400 to 500 additional EMS calls annually would be the "impedance" needed to permanently staff a third ambulance in the combined district, and the needs continue to be monitored, said Kovacs.
Bradley said the EMS calls began rising in December and further escalated in January, but the district is covered and a new ambulance is scheduled for delivery in February. The new ambulance will be front line, and the ambulance brought out of reserve will remain at Station 4 and staffed when needed, said Bradley.
Gunderman said, "The crews must be exhausted with all those busy nights."
Wildland fire updates
Secretary Larry Schwarz requested updates on the mitigation efforts, the pending wildfire town hall meeting, and the Marshall Fire in Boulder County on Dec. 30.
Kovacs said the following:
• The grassland and flat topography that surrounded the Marshall Fire were not the pine trees, scrub oak, forest fuel, and steep terrain that is the majority of the district, but the topography did not really contribute to the Marshall Fire; it was exclusively driven by 100-mile-an-hour winds, and not really a vegetation fire so much as it was a home-to-home conflagration.
• The district has a strong commitment to the wildland urban interface problem, and that is why the district will take delivery of a Type 3 Wildland Engine in 2023.
• The Division Chief of Community Risk/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner has established a robust mitigation effort in neighborhoods and is fielding phone calls from HOAs to secure a date on the calendar for a chipping event. The district also provides individual multi-point home inspections to identify deficiencies and make recommendations to homeowners. See www.tlmfire.org or call 719-484-0911.
• The district will be establishing three pre-plans in time for the 2023 wildland fire season for Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Woodmoor, and Red Rocks Ranch.
• The district anticipates about 12 pre-plans to assist incident commanders and company officers in making informed decisions, in the event of a wildland fire or another major incident. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#tlmfpd.
• The district is planning to repurpose the Wescott volunteers and add some new volunteers to help with chipping days and to establish a seasonal hand crew to assist with wildland mitigation efforts.
• Battalion Chief Scott Ridings is conducting a community risk assessment for the accreditation process and, knowing how significant a risk wildland fire is to the community, the district is doing everything possible to ensure what happened in Boulder County does not happen here.
Schwarz said the following:
• He had been talking to his neighbors about mitigation efforts, and the surrounding scrub oak and juniper under decks, although beautiful now, could be turbulent fuels in the future.
• When the Gleneagle golf course closed, residents were cutting grass beyond their own property, but the HOA told them not to touch the 150 acres between homes, and it is now high grasses and could easily become flash fuels.
• Although Gleneagle has a chipper, the community needs further education now that the open space grass is no longer mowed.
Kovacs said he had looked at drone footage of the Marshall Fire and one neighborhood was completely decimated, and it was surprising to see the homes were surrounded by a golf course that did not act as a fire break, and the high winds cast embers well beyond the golf course.
Kovacs said the district will be increasing public education on the evacuation preparation program Ready Set Go! Homeowners need to be prepared, and if evacuations are requested, they should leave without delay to avoid creating traffic congestion, and that will allow the firefighters to begin attacking the fire.
Note: A wildland town hall meeting to address the residents’ concerns was held the following evening at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. Details and a video link of the meeting can be found in the corresponding article on page 24.
Kovacs said the following:
• The district had an increase of nearly 20% in total call volume for December, and that has been the norm for most fire agencies in comparison to 2020.
• EMS calls are the "lion’s share" of the work for the district and represented 45% of total calls in November and December.
• Multiple agencies including Wescott, TLMFPD, the Colorado Springs Fire Department and the Air Force Academy Fire Department responded to a vehicle and vegetation fire on the I-25 median in November. The fire was held to a couple of acres, and thankfully the wind was not a significant factor that afternoon.
• The district had zero fire losses in November and December.
• A significant amount of training has been taking place "organically" between both districts for several years, and 5,276 hours were recorded for 2021.
• The annual "Santa on Patrol" event was a great success and there was good participation throughout the district neighborhoods.
Resident Mary Gunderman thanked the firefighters on behalf of the residents of Paradise Villas in Gleneagle, Colorado Springs, for their quick response time and for rescuing the residents during the emergency.
Wescott fleet update
Bradley said the following:
• The Wescott ladder truck was out of service as of Dec. 31 with a broken leaf spring, and was returned to its usual location at Station 4 (formally Wescott Station 1, Gleneagle Drive) the second week of January.
• The two Wescott command vehicles are now repurposed in the district.
• Engine 511 is undergoing preventive maintenance in January and will eventually be sold along with Engine 512 to a broker.
• The first priority is to make sure the Wescott Station 4 accommodation and living space conversion is completed, and some of the proceeds from the sale of the engines will go toward accommodation upgrades at Stations 4 and 5.
Kovacs said TLMFPD will also sell an engine and several dated and obsolete vehicles in 2022.
Treasurer Duane Garrett requested an update on the approved Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). See www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#dwfpd.
Bradley said the SCBA had been purchased, but the scheduled March delivery date is subject to change due to supply chain issues. However, the district did receive the extra new SCBA masks, and those are out with the Wescott employees as they are orientating with the TLMFPD crews.
2022 election resolution
Kovacs said two director seats are up for election on May 3, and he will be the designated election official.
Gunderman said that the vacant position left by Hartung in January is up for re-election in May, but by the time the board identifies someone to fill the vacant slot only two meetings would be remaining before the election.
Powell said if the district receives more than two self-nomination forms, an election must be held.
The board accepted 4-0 the resolution calling for a polling place on May 3.
Note: Self-nomination forms and acceptance forms must be submitted no later than close of business on Feb. 25 and are available at the TLMFPD/DWFPD Administration Office, 16055 Old Forest Pointe, Suite 102, Monument, CO 80132.
2022 Board of Directors meeting schedule
Kovacs said the district website will continue to be maintained and the board meeting schedule and physical meeting place will be posted at www.wescottfire.org.
The board approved 4-0 the meeting schedule for 2022.
Meeting access problems
OCN made multiple attempts to join this meeting using the dial-in feature. However, a "code invalid" message was received during every attempt to re-join the meeting. Upon request, a recording was provided electronically by the Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich the following day.
The meeting adjourned at 4:57 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of every month at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. at 7 p.m. Due to COVID-19 distancing protocols, meetings are held virtually for public attendees. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Feb.15 at 4 p.m. For updates, virtual meeting joining instructions, agendas, and archived minutes, visit www.wescottfire.org or call the Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig The District Accountability Advisory Committee had a content-rich meeting on
Jan. 11, including discussions about teacher evaluation and compensation and an
update about Monument Academy’s secondary school. Compensation discussion Superintendent KC Somers and Chief Human Resources Officer Kristen Stueber
reported and led a discussion on staff compensation. Somers said the third priority in the long-term strategic plan is to value
the workforce by offering competitive and sustainable compensation, cultivating
a culture and environment which yields high level performance, and enhancing
programs of employee recognition and appreciation. Somers reported that the district workforce consists of 751 employees, 391 of
whom are licensed professionals, 327 are educational support staff, and 33 are
administrators. The average salary is a little over $50,000, which is less than
that of Districts 11, 12, and Douglas County. The starting salary for a professional in the district is $36,391, one of the
lowest of nearby districts. Somers offered a detailed PowerPoint explaining the district’s numbers
including salaries, Mill Levy Override (MLO) statistics, and various comparisons
with adjoining districts. The base per pupil revenue for the 2021-22 school year is $7,725.45. Add to
this the mill levy override passed in 1999 and the total becomes $8,501.45 per
pupil. Lewis-Palmer has a relatively low risk factor (due to a low number of
students qualifying for free/reduced lunches), which could have added to
state-provided revenue, but has been unable to pass MLO or bond issues since
1999. Explaining the budget in detail, Somers said that 78.48% of the general fund
budget is devoted to salaries and benefits. Somers said that many constituents have suggested that cuts be made in other
parts of the budget to improve compensation rates. His response is that many
other factors, such as food service and transportation, are necessary to the
operation of the district. He said that he hopes in the near future to offer an interactive program on
the website which would enable members of the public to try to shift
expenditures to add to compensation. Results of this input would be available to
administrators. Somers’ main point was that, as the state is unable to provide additional
funding, the district depends on the community to see how worthwhile it is to
invest in the schools. Therefore, efforts are being made to reach out to the
community with information on the district and to conduct a market analysis in
the next few months. When asked how the recent growth of Monument could help with funding, Somers
said that the tax base is growing and property values rising, and additional
students add to per pupil funding, but additional enrollment also requires
hiring additional staff. Teacher evaluation update Assessment Coordinator Michael Brom and Assistant Superintendent Amber
Whetstine reported on the state of teacher evaluations. Whetstine introduced the subject by referring to Colorado SB 10-191, a law
which created a complex method of evaluating teachers 50% on the basis of
professional practices (through observation) and 50% based on measures of
student learning, primarily state-approved assessments. Due to the pandemic, there have not been assessments since 2019. As a result,
it is impossible to measure growth based on test results in consecutive years.
In addition, there have not been district or school performance frameworks
created to measure goals and improvements since 2019. In response to this problem, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
created a list of value statements which could be used to color how measures of
student learning (MSLs) could be viewed without assessment data. When considered by a survey of teachers, it was determined that the
priorities should be that teachers should use MSLs to gain insight about their
students and inform instruction, growth is more important than achievement, and
MSLs should be easy to understand and communicate with teachers. The proposal for this year is that, rather than giving professional practice
and student growth equal weight, 30% will be based on school-wide goals, 20%
will be based on student data, and 50% would continue to be based on
professional practices. MA secondary school update Representative Cathy Edwards from Monument Academy reported on the evolution
of the academy and its new secondary school. Monument Academy (MA) was founded in 1986 with a total of 180 students. Today
the enrollment has passed 900 with a target population for the secondary school
of 400 to 500. The vision for MA is to provide a character-based education involving classic
core classes (otherwise known as common core) and a daily exposure to such
classes as band, choir, and the arts. MA is the only district school to offer an
orchestra. At this time, grades 6 through 8 are at the east campus with hopes to add
grades 9-12 in the next few years. Earlier grades are housed at the original
campus. A second phase of construction will break ground soon and will open in the
fall of 2024. This building will include a competition-size gym and other
amenities. ********** The Lewis-Palmer D 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five
times a year at various locations. The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on
Tuesday, Feb. 8 at Prairie Winds Elementary School, 790 E. Kings Deer Point,
Monument. Harriet Halbig may be reached at
By Harriet Halbig
The District Accountability Advisory Committee had a content-rich meeting on Jan. 11, including discussions about teacher evaluation and compensation and an update about Monument Academy’s secondary school.
Superintendent KC Somers and Chief Human Resources Officer Kristen Stueber reported and led a discussion on staff compensation.
Somers said the third priority in the long-term strategic plan is to value the workforce by offering competitive and sustainable compensation, cultivating a culture and environment which yields high level performance, and enhancing programs of employee recognition and appreciation.
Somers reported that the district workforce consists of 751 employees, 391 of whom are licensed professionals, 327 are educational support staff, and 33 are administrators. The average salary is a little over $50,000, which is less than that of Districts 11, 12, and Douglas County.
The starting salary for a professional in the district is $36,391, one of the lowest of nearby districts.
Somers offered a detailed PowerPoint explaining the district’s numbers including salaries, Mill Levy Override (MLO) statistics, and various comparisons with adjoining districts.
The base per pupil revenue for the 2021-22 school year is $7,725.45. Add to this the mill levy override passed in 1999 and the total becomes $8,501.45 per pupil.
Lewis-Palmer has a relatively low risk factor (due to a low number of students qualifying for free/reduced lunches), which could have added to state-provided revenue, but has been unable to pass MLO or bond issues since 1999.
Explaining the budget in detail, Somers said that 78.48% of the general fund budget is devoted to salaries and benefits.
Somers said that many constituents have suggested that cuts be made in other parts of the budget to improve compensation rates. His response is that many other factors, such as food service and transportation, are necessary to the operation of the district.
He said that he hopes in the near future to offer an interactive program on the website which would enable members of the public to try to shift expenditures to add to compensation. Results of this input would be available to administrators.
Somers’ main point was that, as the state is unable to provide additional funding, the district depends on the community to see how worthwhile it is to invest in the schools. Therefore, efforts are being made to reach out to the community with information on the district and to conduct a market analysis in the next few months.
When asked how the recent growth of Monument could help with funding, Somers said that the tax base is growing and property values rising, and additional students add to per pupil funding, but additional enrollment also requires hiring additional staff.
Teacher evaluation update
Assessment Coordinator Michael Brom and Assistant Superintendent Amber Whetstine reported on the state of teacher evaluations.
Whetstine introduced the subject by referring to Colorado SB 10-191, a law which created a complex method of evaluating teachers 50% on the basis of professional practices (through observation) and 50% based on measures of student learning, primarily state-approved assessments.
Due to the pandemic, there have not been assessments since 2019. As a result, it is impossible to measure growth based on test results in consecutive years. In addition, there have not been district or school performance frameworks created to measure goals and improvements since 2019.
In response to this problem, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) created a list of value statements which could be used to color how measures of student learning (MSLs) could be viewed without assessment data.
When considered by a survey of teachers, it was determined that the priorities should be that teachers should use MSLs to gain insight about their students and inform instruction, growth is more important than achievement, and MSLs should be easy to understand and communicate with teachers.
The proposal for this year is that, rather than giving professional practice and student growth equal weight, 30% will be based on school-wide goals, 20% will be based on student data, and 50% would continue to be based on professional practices.
MA secondary school update
Representative Cathy Edwards from Monument Academy reported on the evolution of the academy and its new secondary school.
Monument Academy (MA) was founded in 1986 with a total of 180 students. Today the enrollment has passed 900 with a target population for the secondary school of 400 to 500.
The vision for MA is to provide a character-based education involving classic core classes (otherwise known as common core) and a daily exposure to such classes as band, choir, and the arts. MA is the only district school to offer an orchestra.
At this time, grades 6 through 8 are at the east campus with hopes to add grades 9-12 in the next few years. Earlier grades are housed at the original campus.
A second phase of construction will break ground soon and will open in the fall of 2024. This building will include a competition-size gym and other amenities.
The Lewis-Palmer D 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five times a year at various locations. The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at Prairie Winds Elementary School, 790 E. Kings Deer Point, Monument.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held its regular meeting on Jan. 13 followed by a special meeting on Jan. 21. The board heard a request from the Human Resources (HR) committee to increase funding for COO coaching, discussed pricing and plans for modular classrooms at the East Campus, and heard an update from the Highway 105 Committee on the recirculation project.
The newly-formed HR committee reported on its progress interviewing HR consultants to perform a school survey and review MA’s grievance policy. The committee chose Employers Council (EC), an 80-year-old, 200-employee U.S.-based company. Board member Joe Buczkowski said there were two phases and that the initial budget of $10,000 was insufficient.
For phase one, MA has joined EC’s annual membership for $1,500 per year and engaged them to review the grievance policy and perform an anonymous climate assessment survey of both campuses for a total commitment of $4,200. Phase two would include COO coaching for $7,500, staff and faculty team building for $2,250 and an ethics hotline for $50 per month. The total for phase two would be an additional $10,150.
Buczkowski said the grievance policy review was complete with EC recommending eliminating the policy in favor of a problem-solving approach, moving harassment and discrimination outside of this area, and using EC’s third-party ethics hotline. The hotline would be a toll-free phone number employees could call anonymously to report ethics violations, grievances, or other issues. The survey will include a question asking employees if they would like this hotline.
Buczkowski moved to increase the budget for the HR Committee to $15,000 to ensure action could be taken after the surveys are completed. The board unanimously approved the request.
Modulars for East Campus
MA COO Merlin Holmes discussed his efforts in looking for availability and cost to lease used modular classrooms for the East Campus for 2022-23. Costs vary based on condition, how far they must be moved, and whether they include bathrooms, he said. He noted several options and said MA needs a minimum of four classrooms, but that six classrooms would help alleviate staff stress caused by the need to share and switch rooms. Depending on where they are placed, students could access doors near locker rooms for bathroom access.
After much discussion on how grades and classes might be allocated to the main building and modulars, the board unanimously voted to confirm that sixth grade would remain at the East Campus and to direct the COO and chief financial officer (CFO) to find the most effective accommodations. The board also called a special meeting for final approval of the budget for modulars.
At the Jan. 21 meeting, the board heard that a four-classroom modular complex was available in state at a good price from a company called Vesta, with an additional two-classroom modular available from a company called Satellite. The modulars are heated, Holmes said, and MA has determined the best location to be just west of the school, where it would not be near any phase two construction. The board asked about security and fencing, which Holmes said hadn’t yet been discussed at great length. He said that the administration team had considered having all of one grade in the modulars but found it challenging to put science labs there. While no decision has been made, he emphasized, they have also discussed having a single department there such as English or History.
CFO Marc Brocklehurst provided a three-year cost analysis to include delivery, rental, skirting and tear-down of modulars to show the fiscal impact. The four-classroom modular complex would cost $56,000 in the current budget, $48,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 23 and have a FY24 tear-down expense of $15,000. The Satellite two-classroom modular would cost $64,000 in FY23 and $10,000 in FY24 to tear down, he estimated.
Brocklehurst noted that this cost would push MA into reserves for the coming years. While he wasn’t aware of any grants that could offset the costs, he noted that there is a lot of talk at the state level about putting more into schools, and increased enrollment can also help. A parent noted that MA would not likely recoup the cost of the modulars with additional per pupil revenue but the modulars would have a positive impact for the school with space teachers need to spread out.
The board unanimously voted to give authorization to the COO and CFO to make a contract with Vesta and/or Satellite with a budget of up to $225,000 over three fiscal years.
Highway 105 Committee
Holmes, who attended the latest meeting with El Paso County, reported that the group walked the area affected by the recirculation plan to remove MA traffic from Highway 105. The county is committed to the start time, but the finish date is not as clear cut as MA would like, before the August school start date. Due to property lines and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse mitigation, the county had proposed moving 25 feet of the existing turf field from the north end to the south. This presents challenges due to an existing drainage ditch and represents significant costs. MA would prefer the county add more retaining wall to the northeast corner of the field to avoid moving the goalposts and long jump pit.
MA also asked the county to rethink moving the fire truck turnaround from the west to the east of the circle where benches are located and kids exit the building to go to the playground, Holmes said. The current plan would leave only a narrow sidewalk for kids to use, slowing down access to the playground.
Holmes also discussed the timing of a plan submission to the state, setting up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between MA and the county and which approvals would be handled by whom. Applications can sit in a pile for 10 weeks, Holmes said, which is what raises concerns with the project timeline.
The board discussed its desire to bring in a third party to review the county plans before signing an MOU. At the Jan. 21 special meeting, the board discussed the search for a civil engineering firm to look over the recirculation plans, check for conformance with county design standards, perform an onsite review, meet with MA, and provide a memorandum outlining its findings. Several firms were considered with cost estimates of $10,000 to $30,000. Buczkowski asked that the firms be instructed to answer more broadly if this is the right plan and if the cost estimate is correct.
The board discussed the possibility of the cost being reimbursable from the county or the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA). Board President Ryan Graham noted that the county might have a revision to the plan on Feb. 4 and that the board would want to review it quickly. The board unanimously approved the allocation of up to $10,000 to the Highway 105 Committee for further review of civil engineering firms and the authority to engage one for services.
MA spotlighted three staff members: Catherine Edwards, sixth-grade middle school science teacher and, jointly, Sandra Wood and Kim Cavanaugh, reading specialists. Edwards was noted for being caring, genuine, and authentic with a passion for teaching. Wood and Cavanaugh were nominated together as a powerhouse team going above and beyond as reading interventionists who help teachers in a variety of ways.
The following items were highlighted at the board meeting:
• Holmes announced that Angela Duca had been hired as the East Campus middle school assistant principal. Duca was formerly an assistant principal at Vista Ridge High School in Falcon District 49.
• East Campus had to close for a couple of days due to staff being out and a lack of substitute teachers. She noted that parents were reluctant to volunteer. Holmes suggested competitive pay and training were needed and said he had discussed the matter with the finance and administrative committees.
• Graham moved to direct the board to complete the training required for its Colorado Charter School Program grant by Jan. 31 ahead of an expected site visit in February. Modules were assigned to each board member, and board members were asked to report back on what was learned.
• The board unanimously approved a motion to create a Threat Assessment Team in response to a recent school threat that was communicated to East Campus parents and staff. The team will look at weaknesses and lessons learned, develop processes to deal with threats, review policies, and manage communications. The team will leverage resources from D38, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service.
• The board approved the 2022-23 school calendar.
• The board approved the addition of a ¼ Zip Collar Sweatshirt to the uniform policy, to be worn over an approved shirt. This will alleviate delays in jacket orders.
Caption: (L to R) Board President Ryan Graham watches as MA spotlights three staff members from left to right: Catherine Edwards, sixth grade middle school science teacher; and, jointly, Sandra Wood and Kim Cavanaugh, Reading Specialists. Misty McCuen, board member, presents them with certificates of appreciation. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
The next meeting will be on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at the East Campus band room in person only. The MA School Board usually meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Marlene Brown
On Jan. 19, wildfire and preparedness experts from the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), Tri-Lakes Monument/Wescott Fire Protection District, Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, and Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group (TLUMC EPG) talked about the vulnerability of area communities and addressed how we might prevent a wildfire tragedy in El Paso County.
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) hosted the Wildfire Town Hall meeting at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church and on Zoom and Facebook Live. About 150 people attended remotely, staying home and warm on the cold day, while a few showed up in person. They asked questions regarding the Marshall Fire in Boulder County and how homeowners in Northern El Paso County can cooperate with local agencies to make their own property less vulnerable to flying embers and create their own safe evacuation plan if the need arises.
"I think that our homeowners understand that wildfire is a regional threat and that frightens them," said Matthew Nelson, Woodmoor forestry director. He talked with the Tri-Lakes Monument Division chief of Community Risk and the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), and all agreed that a Town Hall should happen quickly before the teachable moment passed.
Dave Root, CSFS forester, emphasized the need for homeowners to realize that wildfires are not just a concern for people who live among the trees. "Grass is one of the most dangerous fuels we have out there," because fire in tall grass spreads quickly and can generate enough heat to ignite your home. He recommends keeping the grass mowed in the 30 feet around your home. Other dangerous landscaping mistakes: flammable juniper bushes or oak bushes near your home, wood mulch or other combustible material against the foundation. "Go ahead and protect yourself, even if your neighbors haven’t started on wildfire risk reduction yet." Ask for advice from local experts to identify risks in your property’s home ignition zone.
Jim Reid, director of Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, spoke of many resources available to residents including Peak Alerts Reverse 911. (http://elspasoteller911.org). He said it’s vital to plan for emergencies and make sure all family members are informed of those plans.
Tri-Lakes Monument/Wescott Fire Protection District Chief Andy Kovacs spoke of the national civilian preparedness program Ready Set Go (RSG) and suggested that you can go to your local fire station for a copy of the RSG brochure or go online to www.wildlandfirersg.org/s/are-you-wildfire-ready. TLM/W FPD provided the "My Personal Wildland Fire Action Guide" distributed at the Wildfire Town Hall.
Tri-Lakes Monument/Wescott Division Chief of Community Risk Jamey Bumgarner reminded everyone that it’s time to schedule a homeowners association slash chipping day to remove ladder fuel from under trees. Call (719) 484-0911 soon since chipping dates are filling up fast for 2022. Fire mitigation is key to saving your home in the event of a wildfire.
André Mouton and Lisa Hatfield of TLUMC EPG introduced a series of free classes, on Zoom starting Feb. 26 and then on Tuesday nights through May 3, on "Wildfire Neighborhood Ambassador" and how to coordinate "neighbors helping neighbors" wildfire risk reduction projects. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to sign up.
Caption: One of the most destructive fires in Colorado history started Dec. 30, 2021. The Marshall Fire spread rapidly due to extreme winds and dry fuel and is estimated to have claimed over 1,000 structures and two lives. These two photos show the same homes before and after the fire. Photos by Bill Gabbert.
Caption: A Wildfire Town Hall meeting was held at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church (TLUMC) on Jan. 19. Woodmoor Improvement Association teamed up with the TLUMC Emergency Preparedness Group to organize speakers from the Colorado State Forest Service, the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, and the Tri-Lakes Monument/Wescott Fire Protection District. About 150 people attended remotely or in person on this icy night, and many more have watched the recorded video since then. Photo by Sam Hastings, Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church.
Caption: Jim Reid, director of Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, encouraged all residents to take responsibility for preparing "go-bags," for themselves and their pets, and making a family plan for evacuation. Resources include www.ready.gov, www.fema.gov/media-collection/emergency-financial-first-aid-kit, and Peak Alerts Reverse 911 notification cell phone registration at http://elpasoteller911.org.
Caption: Andy Kovacs is the fire chief for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, which has now merged with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. His main message was for residents living in wildfire risk zones to prepare today using the Ready, Set, Go! program (RSG!). The program provides residents with an understanding of their wildland fire risk and actions individuals can take to reduce that risk. See www.wildlandfirersg.org/s/are-you-wildfire-ready? or visit your local fire station for a copy of the RSG! brochure.
Caption: After the Marshall Fire burned entire communities, the phone at the Woodmoor Improvement Association started ringing. "Worried residents wanted to know if the same thing could happen here," Woodmoor Forestry Director Matthew Nelson said. Even though Woodmoor has been working to reduce its wildfire hazard for over 20 years, the size and intensity of the Marshall Fire frightened residents. "We began getting requests for a Town Hall meeting to address the wildfire hazard, and as the idea took shape we realized a regional meeting would be better than just one for Woodmoor residents." So, he spearheaded and moderated the town hall and operated the Zoom and Facebook Live connection with the help of Sam Hastings (not pictured) of Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church.
Caption: Are there homes and whole communities in El Paso County that appear invulnerable but are really at risk? The answer from area wildfire experts is yes. "I’ve been doing wildfire mitigation for more than 20 years," said Dave Root, Colorado State Forest Service forester. "The hardest people to reach are those who live outside the trees. It doesn’t occur to them that they are vulnerable or to ask for help." Contact your fire district or homeowners association for a free wildfire risk evaluation of your private property. Photos from Zoom by Lisa Hatfield.
Caption: Building community through reducing wildfire risk is the theme of a "Wildfire Neighborhood Ambassador" class series coming this spring on Zoom brought to you by Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group. Write to André Mouton, shown here, at email@example.com to find out more if you want to learn how to organize your neighbors to work together to reduce the fuels around houses and along egress routes.
To find out more about upcoming wildfire information events, contact your homeowners association or fire district.
Marlene Brown can be reached at MarleneBrown@ocn.me.
At the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) meeting on Jan. 19, the board approved a new director to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Director David Hoffpauir, approved the purchase of a new tender, and heard about the impacts of the neighboring districts’ partial merger.
Board vacancy filled
Chairman Rick Nearhoff said Deborah Hoffpauir had requested she finish the board director term of her late husband David Hoffpauir. Hearing no objection, Nearhoof administered the oath of office to Hoffpauir. The appointment will expire after the May 2022 election, said Nearhoof.
2022 directors’ election update
Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn said the May 22 board director election information will be available on the district website on Jan. 23. The self-nomination paperwork is available for pickup at Station 1, and due by Feb. 25. The district had not received any self-nominations at the time of the January meeting, and the three seats of Directors Nearhoof, Dowden, and Hoffpauir are included in this election, said Dunn. See www.bffire.org or contact Dunn at 719-495-4300.
Tender purchase approved
Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said the district made a needs analysis of the fleet and found the following:
• To avoid the rising cost of apparatus due to inflation, the district needs to keep on top of replacing apparatus that is in poor condition and a detriment to operations.
• The existing two tenders have insufficient pumps: One has an 18-horsepower jockey pump with no gallons per minute rating, and the second 2006 tender has a 500-gpm rating and would move into reserve status once a replacement is received.
• To achieve 1,500 gpm, the tender in service requires three pumps with two engines and large diameter hose.
• The old tender is just a water hauler with no ability to pump, but before the district considers selling it, the district needs to determine if it could be used on wildland deployments.
• The proposed new tender would help the department achieve a goal of reaching half a mile with three 1,500-gpm pumps and 2,800 feet of 4-inch diameter hose.
• The date for delivery of the 2022 tender is unknown due to supply delays but will likely be from 18 to 24 months.
• The district will save about $25,000 by ordering in advance before the price increase at the end of January.
Langmaid requested the board consider approving a new 2,000-gallon Pierce commercial cab tender with a 1,500-gpm pump, with a cash purchase up to $360,000 taken from the Capital Improvements Fund. The tender would be a water delivery vehicle, not a response vehicle, for a cost of $356,000 with up to $4,000 in additional equipment, such as headsets to protect hearing, said Langmaid.
The board approved the purchase 5-0.
Note: The district sold a tender for $130,000 to a broker in October 2021. See www.ocn.me/v21n11.htm#bffrpd.
Resident Linda Smith asked if any negative and positive impacts had resulted from the Jan. 1 merger between Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. See www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#tlmfpd.
Langmaid said the following:
• TLMFPD and DWFPD entered into a partial contract for service "intergovernmental agreement" and are hoping to enter into a full-service agreement halfway through the year and then a full legal merger in 2023.
• The agreement has definitely impacted the district, because before Jan. 1, two ladder trucks were available to the district and now one has been placed in reserve, and the nearest ladder truck is located at Station 1, Highway105 on the Palmer Lake border.
• DWFPD also had two tenders and TLMFPD had none, and now one is in reserve and the other is located in downtown Monument.
• Temporarily, Station 5 (formerly DWFPD Station 2, located at Highway 83 and Stage Coach Road) is closed until the staff has finished an orientation process, and the response model along the Highway 83 corridor will be reassessed when Station 5 reopens. See the DWFPD article on page 1 and the TLMFPD article on page 17.
The district will be evaluating the need for a ladder truck and an increase in tender capabilities due to the decisions made during the relocation and reorganization of TLMFPD.
American Medical Response staff reduction
Langmaid said an increase in call volume throughout El Paso County and American Medical Response staffing issues due to COVID-19 are forcing the district to evaluate and maintain district services without relying on mutual aid, but the district will continue to help neighboring fire districts east and west. The district’s second ambulance is in ready reserve status, said Langmaid.
Treasurer Jack Hinton said the district had the following funds as of Dec. 31, 2021:
• $596,202 in the General Operating Fund.
• $136,000 in the savings account.
• $236,000 in the Emergency Reserve Fund.
• $821,203 in the Capital Improvement Fund.
• $136,896 in the TABOR fund.
• The district has a total of about $1.9 million, with about $700,000 to get the district through the end of the first quarter.
About $300,000 will be taken from the reserves to pay for the May delivery of the two-wheel-drive Pierce Enforcer Pumper engine, said Hinton. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#bffrpd.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 5-0.
Future apparatus replacement
Hinton said the following:
• It is uncertain how the district will fund a ladder truck and where the district would house it.
• The district will need a ladder truck should the district receive an inclusion of property that requires one.
• After the tender purchase, the district will not have the cash funding to even make a reasonable lease payment, but the process could begin for a future purchase.
• Other vehicles will also need replacing, such as the pickup truck with 200,000 miles on the odometer.
Langmaid agreed with Hinton’s statements.
Flying Horse North development
Langmaid said he and Capt. Chris Piepenberg attended a meeting on Jan. 18 with the developer of Flying Horse North to hear about the proposed plan for a development that includes about 8.63 acres designated in the concept for a commercial zone. Langmaid said:
• The proposed site includes a gas station and the potential for a fire station on about 6 acres at the corner of Hodgen and Black Forest Roads.
• A series of three public meetings will be held in January and February at Discovery Canyon Campus. See the Flying Horse North new filings article on page 24.
• The plan does not include a connection to Milam Road into the FHN gated community development.
• Traffic and evacuation studies have already begun. See https://epcdevplanreview.com/Public/ProjectDetails/178485.
• The district has been discussing renovations for the expansion of Station 2 on Hodgen Road for seven months, and it would be a tremendous benefit to the community if the developer were to work on a new fire house. See www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#bffrpd.
Note: See the fire chief’s response to the proposed planned commercial zone at www.bffire.org.
Langmaid gave a report for December and said the following:
• The district responded to 12 fire calls and 47 EMS calls.
• At the request of the state, three personnel deployed with a Type 3 Engine to the Marshall Fire in Boulder County on Dec. 30 with the Colorado Springs, Cimarron Hills, Security, and Manitou Springs Fire Departments. There was a crew swap on Dec. 31 before they all returned that day.
• COVID-19 positive cases continued to create increased staffing challenges in the workforce and throughout the region, and four personnel were out sick. However, overtime was drastically down.
• About 1,027 hours were spent on training, but the district did not push for any large training events due to the holidays, and the district trained alone.
• The district received $6,014 in wildland deployment revenue in December.
• The total tax revenue received by the district in November was $30,988, and $30,562 was received in December.
• Due to the spending moratorium, there were almost no expenses in December, however some training spots (tuition) expenses for 2022 were reserved for $5,400.
• A transfer of $396,439 was made to the Capital Improvement Fund.
• The Type 3 Engine is out of service due to a leaking pump, the Type 6 brush truck is receiving new brakes, and the reserve tender is out of service with a leaking primer pump.
Exclusion of properties update
Langmaid said the municipal parcels of property west of Black Forest Road and south of Research Boulevard have been excluded from the district as of December 2021. The next phase will include the properties east of Black Forest Road. See www.ocn.me/v21n9.htm#bffrpd and www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#bffrpd.
The board also approved resolution 2022-01, notifying the public of postings for meetings and meeting dates, 5-0. See www.bffire.org for a listing of future meetings for 2022.
The meeting adjourned at 7:47 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday of every month at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are open to the public via Zoom until further notice. The next regular meeting is scheduled on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. For joining instructions, updates, agendas, and minutes, visit www.bffire.org or contact Administrative Officer Rachel Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 719-495-4300.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) meeting on Jan. 26, the board heard about a retirement, witnessed two staff promotions, received an update on the unification process with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD), and approved the purchase of a ladder truck.
Treasurer Jason Buckingham and Secretary Mike Smaldino were excused.
After the pledge of allegiance, a moment of silence was held for the three firefighters who died in the line of duty in Baltimore, Md.
Retirement and staff promotions
Fire Chief Andy Kovacs said that Battalion Chief Mike Keough had announced his retirement from the fire service in January, and the district wishes him well in his future endeavors. Kovacs administered the oath of office to Battalion Chief Janaka Branden and Lt. Keith Barker during the meeting and said one of the benefits of a retirement is the opportunity to promote individuals that have already contributed to the department, and these two are going to do an outstanding job for the district for many years to come, said Kovacs.
Wescott unification—discussion of full-service contract
Kovacs said TLMFPD attorney Maureen Juran of Widner Juran LLP is drafting the full-service contract for services agreement and then the DWFPD attorney Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor Pascoe PC law firm will review the contract, and the first draft could be presented at the February board meeting, but no later than March. A lot of great progress has been made in short order, and everyone is "blending and congealing well together," and we are excited for what we have seen in the first weeks, said Kovacs. See the DWFPD article on page 1.
Kovacs also said:
• A DWFPD advisory committee will be formed after the full-service contract is approved. The number of board members on the committee is yet to be determined.
• The advisory committee will represent DWFPD throughout the process and become part of the TLMFPD board meeting agenda.
• It is important that DWFPD still have a voice throughout the process.
• After the full-services contract is approved, he and the committee will work with Powell to develop the ballot language for the full merger by inclusion, and that will include the equalization of the mill levies. See www.ocn.me/v21n6.htm#dwfpd.
• DWFPD will still exist as a tax entity and collect revenue as a special district, but TLMFPD will be the operating district.
Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley said the crews began integrating on Jan. 11, and everyday staff are moving around, with the first goal of building a shared culture for everyone to have a voice in the creation of one department. The second goal was for everyone to become familiarized with the equipment and come up with shared plans for calls. By all accounts, the crews are having fun, and they say, "Don’t worry, we got this!" Bradley said. We were cautiously optimistic that it would go this well, but it is working out better than expected and it is exceeding all expectations. The last day of the orientation process will be May 19, but it could end sooner, and then resources will deploy to the whole district and Station 5 will reopen, said Bradley.
Battalion Chief Mike Dooley said the crews have integrated into the stations and they are working well together. The only thing that is different right now is the uniform, and everyone is "pretty stoked," said Dooley.
Kovacs said the integration is going so well the crews are swapping attire and wearing each other’s department logo ball caps.
New aerial tower ladder for 2023
Division Chief of Community Risk Jamey Bumgarner presented the board with the findings of the Truck Committee and said:
• The Truck Committee began meeting in October to discuss a purchase of an aerial tower ladder in 2023.
• The committee proposed the purchase of a Pierce Mid Mount Tower Ladder for $1.59 million if signed by Jan. 30.
• Pricing is set to increase by 7%, about $110,000 or more at the end of January.
• The 2023 budget approved $1.575 million for a replacement tower truck using a finance agreement, and the district is requesting an additional expenditure of $17,500 from the Capital Improvement Fund.
• Delivery is expected to take 19 to 21 months (August through October 2023) from signing.
• The current district aerial tower ladder truck was built in 2009 and is starting to show its age. It is anticipated to complete 13 years of front-line service and another five years in reserve.
Kovacs said the Truck Committee is all end users: Lieutenants, firefighters, and driver operators, and the participation and input they provided has directed the district to buy the truck to meet their needs and the district’s. They have done a "great job" designing a truck and they stayed close to the budget, said Kovacs.
The board approved an additional $17,000 for the purchase of a new tower ladder truck, 5-0.
The district is having to be more proactive with the slower manufacturing time frame to ensure availability, said Kovacs.
Balance of unfunded expenses
Kovacs said about $300,000 in capital remains unspent from 2021. The district is still coding the final amount, but he recommended the amount be moved to the capital expenditure account for future fleet repairs, noting that expenses had increased far more than an anticipated 2% in 2021, and it would be beneficial to front-load the capital expenditure account for future purchases.
Kovacs introduced Battalion Chief Sean Pearson of DWFPD and said he has taken on the role of EMS coordinator with Paramedic Stephanie Soll.
• He attended a meeting with American Medical Response (AMR) and heard some of its staff are recovering from COVID-19 and will be returning to shift.
• AMR will begin back-to-back new hire academies on Jan. 31, and that will put six to 10 additional staff back into its workforce after each class graduation.
• AMR requested coverage from the district 66 times in December, and it only happened one other time throughout 2021. Reciprocally, they have responded eight times this year, and other districts are also assisting AMR. See the DWFPD article on page 1.
Sale of 2014 ambulance
Hildebrandt requested the board approve the sale of the 2014 ambulance for $30,000 to Cimarron Hills Fire Department. The ambulance was purchased from Castle Rock Fire Department for the sale price three years ago.
The board approved the sale, 5-0.
ISO rating update
Kovacs said the district received an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating of 3/3Y, and it will remain unchanged for the next couple of years. Battalion Chief Scott Ridings is working on the district goal of achieving an accreditation of ideally a 1 or a 2 rating, and Battalion Chief of Training Kris Mola is capturing information with the ISO target solutions software, said Kovacs.
Division Chief of Community Risk/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner said the following:
• The classification range is 1-10 with 1 being the best and 10 the worst. A rating of class 3 is good, and the Y indicates the areas that are not within five road miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant.
• Commercial property will realize the most insurance savings when the district achieves a 1 or 2 rating.
• By the time the 2023 ladder truck is built, the district will be well on its way to achieving a higher ISO rating, and the district may well have two ladder trucks, with one in reserve.
• More commercial properties are being built in the district, and as many as 900 multi-family/individual apartment units are planned throughout it.
• The ISO rating will be evaluated again once the merger is complete, in less than three years.
Pearson said DWFPD was evaluated in 2021 and received an ISO rating of 2/2Y.
Kovacs said the following:
• ISO ratings are conducted on 40,000 stations nationwide every five to seven years, with only 388 receiving an ISO rating of 1.
• Typically, metropolitan fire departments with water supply and more stations receive a rating of 1, and TLMFPD was initially a rural district with a ranking of 10.
• As more municipal and domestic water becomes available, to include the addition of fire hydrants along Highway 105, the rating should drop.
Kovacs said he and Bumgarner recently discussed impact fees with two homebuilders, and they are open to the fees but they would require universally collected impact fees from all homebuilders. The collection of impact fees is currently not required countywide and the conversations need to continue and be discussed with the Home Builders Association, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners, the homebuilders and neighboring fire departments, said Kovacs.
Kovacs said the following:
• The district participated in a wildland preparedness town hall meeting on Jan. 19, and the level of participation and commitment to wildfire preparedness was impressive. The meeting addressed concerns that were raised after the Marshall Fire on Dec. 30. See "Experts address danger of local wildfires" article on page 13.
• The district is taking homeowners association bookings for the summer chipping program. See the DWFPD article on page 1, visit www.tlmfire.org, or call 719-484-0911.
• The district completed 380 training hours in November and 421 in December, with over 5,600 training hours for the entire year.
• The ladder truck was expected to return from maintenance on Jan. 28.
• Three personnel from TLMFPD and two from Wescott are scheduled to begin training at the Fire Academy at South Metro Fire District, Denver, on Jan. 2.
Designation of election official for 2022 district election
Kovacs said due to the state Legislature changing the election cycle in an effort to offset special district elections to an odd-year cycle, the board of director seats for President John Hildebrandt, Secretary Mike Smaldino, and Director Tom Kelly are up for re-election for three-year terms in May 2022.
Kovacs requested the board approve Resolution 2022-01 calling for the 2022 regular district election and appointing a designated election official.
The board approved the resolution and designated Kovacs as the election official, 5-0.
Note: Self-nomination forms must be completed by close of business on Feb. 25 at the TLMFPD Administration Office, 16055 Old Forest Pointe, Suite 102, Monument, CO 80132.
The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Caption: From left, Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley, Division Chief of Community Risk/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner, Battalion Chief Janaka Branden, Lt. Keith Barker, and Fire Chief Andy Kovacs at the TLMFPD board meeting on Jan. 26. Kovacs administered the oath of office, and spouses pinned on the badges. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For Zoom meeting instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit www.tlmfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allison Robenstein
During the Jan. 3 Monument Board of Trustees regular meeting, two Monument police officers were promoted to commander positions. A remote attendance policy for the board members was put on hold, but a decision was made to continue the town’s radium removal program.
Trustee Ron Stephens attended virtually.
Two new police commanders sworn in
Monument Police Chief Cristian Hemingway said two new commanders will oversee patrol and administration. The extra commander position was made possible after ballot question 2F passed. The expected $1.65 million in sales tax revenues resulting from the issue passing will be used to improve the Police Department.
Commander Tim Johnson, who joined the Monument department in 2019, retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service. Since becoming a Monument officer, he has worked as a training and driving instructor. Johnson teaches community college classes as an adjunct professor.
Commander John Lupton joined the Monument Police Department last year after over 20 years at the Colorado State Patrol. The father of five children, he is a native Coloradan.
Board’s remote participation remains limited
During the June 2021 meeting, the board approved a remote policy for emergent and non-emergent meetings that allows members to attend remotely up to four times per year. The policy specified that if an in-person quorum of trustees were not available, the meeting would have to be rescheduled and the public notified. See www.ocn.me/v21n7.htm#mbot.
Tonight, Town Attorney Joseph Rivera said remote and in-person attendance are the same as long as there is meaningful participation by all parties. If the board and the public all have the same information and can hear and see one another, there is no reason board members cannot participate remotely. Remote participation by this reporter has resulted in spotty microphone audio throughout the pandemic.
Mayor Don Wilson reminded the board there have been allowances for voting in quasi-judicial matters and suggested the Home Rule charter commission could create requirements for in-person board appearances. He added there is no way to enforce the previously created policy. Trustee Jim Romanello asked why the board members couldn’t self-regulate remote participation, suggesting, "If you are elected, you should be here."
Trustee Laurie Clark suggested Gov. Jared Polis has not yet rescinded the emergency COVID-19 authorization, but on July 8, 2021, the governor did just that while also removing many pandemic-related executive orders.
The board tabled any further discussion on remote participation until February.
Radium removal media requires long-term maintenance
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish asked the board to approve $92,300 for a long-term maintenance program to oversee the radium removal process in Wells 3 and 9. This will be an ongoing process to keep the town’s water compliant with the radium enforcement order created by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
The licensed water operators from Water Remediation Technology (WRT) LLC will remove the radium from the town’s drinking water, then exchange the spent media while properly transporting and disposing of it at a licensed facility.
The request was approved unanimously.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at email@example.com.
By Kate Pangelinan
The Monument Planning Commission (MPC) voted on two public hearing items during its Jan. 12 meeting: the QuikTrip Store Final PUD Plan and QuikTrip Subdivision Filing No. 1, as well as the Preliminary/Final Plat for Monument Junction West Filing No. 1. Both items were approved for recommendation to the Board of Trustees (BOT.)
Following nominations, Commissioner Chris Wilhelmi agreed to continue in his role as chairman of the MPC, and Sean White will continue as vice chairman.
The commissioners then conducted another work session discussing industrial use in Monument, still working toward future adjustments to the town code.
The scheduled Special Meeting on Jan. 26 saw only a vote to postpone "an ordinance amending the Town of Monument Land Development Code related to industrial land use, definitions, and design standards," as stated in the meeting agenda. The MPC anticipates holding another Special Meeting to discuss these amendments, likely on Feb. 23. A BOT meeting also intended to consider these amendments will be postponed until March, so that planning staff has more time to refine the proposal.
Some facts about this proposal, according to presentations by Planner II Debbie Flynn and Jessica Glavas, a real estate project manager for QuikTrip, along with the meeting packet available online:
• QuikTrip is a convenience store, gas station, and dining establishment, originally founded in Tulsa, Okla., in 1958. It offers made-to-order food and drinks, including pizza, macaroni and cheese, and sandwiches. Four percent of annual net profits are given to charitable organizations, and they are a registered Safe Place, providing an avenue for youth in crisis to access emergency services.
• This QuikTrip store is expected to be 8,292 square feet, standing 20 feet tall. There will be 107 standard-vehicle parking spaces and 14 spaces intended for trucks and large vehicles. No overnight parking will be allowed.
• The project site is part of Falcon Commerce Center Phase 1 south of Baptist Road and north of Squadron Drive. There will be an on-site water detention facility.
• Before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued, there are requirements involving the intersection of Baptist Road and Terrazzo Drive, including the construction of a traffic signal. Glavas expressed concern about this, stating that while QuikTrip very much supports the traffic signal, the building process is the Colorado Department of Transportation’s responsibility and it cannot control when construction will be finished.
MPC’s discussion points involving this proposal included:
• The possibility of bike lanes. Glavas stated that QuikTrip would be receptive to putting in a bike rack.
• The suggestion of a hydrological survey to determine what will happen with water runoff in case of a lot of snow.
• Questions about how QuikTrip expects to clean up after neighboring dogs.
• Questions about QuikTrip’s lighting, employee payments, and signage plans.
• Questions about the traffic study and how many trips are expected to and from the facility in a day. Another QuikTrip representative addressed these traffic questions.
In the end, this proposal passed 4-1, with Daniel Ours, Martin Trujillo, Sean White, and Sean Zernickow voting for it and Chris Wilhelmi voting against. Wilhelmi stated that he did not believe the project was in line with the Comprehensive Plan, and that it may benefit people traveling through Monument more than the community.
Monument Junction West Filing No. 1 proposal
Some facts about the Monument Junction West Filing No. 1, according to a presentation by Planner II Debbie Flynn and explanations given by CEO of Classic Homes Doug Stimple, along with the meeting packet available online:
• The property is between I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway and was a part of the project formerly known as The Village. This project is now called Monument Junction. It was part of a previously approved Sketch PD Plan.
• The project area is 44.140 acres, including six lots, three tracts, and four streets. As stated in Flynn’s PowerPoint, "lots range in size from 1.511 acres to 10.685 acres." This project is expected to feature single-family and multifamily residential offerings, as well as mixed-use, open space, and a linear park. The Jan. 12 vote only dealt with creating different lots. A Final PUD Plan will be required for each lot before anything is built.
Public Comment points involving this proposal included:
• Longing for a "real" and "decent" park in the area.
• Concern about who will clean up after dogs as more people utilize the trail system.
• Concern about the location of traffic lights on Jackson Creek.
A vote to approve this proposal for recommendation to the BOT passed unanimously.
Points discussed during the MPC’s latest Work Session included:
• How the BOT has requested that planning staff draft an ordinance to amend the town code as it relates to industrial design standards. The original plan was to present this for their consideration at a February meeting, though this has now been postponed until March. This draft will be a "starting point," subject to revision. A meeting with citizens and industrial property owners to gather data was scheduled for Jan. 19. A BOT member was expected to attend, and MPC members were given the option as well. Planning staff will return to looking at building height concerns later.
• Updates on potential adjustments that might be made to the code. MPC members were able to provide suggestions and ask questions. Some examples included removing words such as "usually" to allow for fewer potential loopholes/points of ambiguity, and the possibility of pulling out the definition for "truck stops" because it does not seem more are currently desired.
• A description of what happens when a lot of semi-trucks are left idling during shift changes around distribution facilities. It was suggested that tractor trailers should be of concern. It was also stated that saying no semi-trucks are allowed could prove tricky from a legal perspective, because semis are a usual part of industrial use.
Information and relevant links
• The town’s planning staff posts explanatory packets, agendas, and meeting minutes on this website: www.monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com.
• Many MPC meetings are available to watch in their entirety on the town’s YouTube page, at www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFLo8UcqZfFdkio5jT6GDA. People may find it easier to search for "Town of Monument" or "Monument Planning Commission" in YouTube’s search bar.
• According to the town’s website, planning staff can be contacted by calling 719-481-2954 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next PC meeting is expected to be held on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Monument Town Hall.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Allison Robenstein
During the Jan. 18 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees, the board annexed two enclaves into the town and appointed a Home Rule commissioner. The town manager’s annual report was reviewed as well. During the meeting, microphones were spotty at best. That made it nearly impossible to understand board member discussions.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott was noted absent.
Ordinances to annex two enclaves
Two enclaves were annexed with the goal of assisting with zoning inconsistencies. An enclave is "a property surrounded by land already in the incorporated area of the Town." By statute the town can annex enclaves within its boundaries.
The first enclave to be annexed was 16131 St. Lawrence Way and an associated unaddressed parcel. The enclave includes the Triview Metropolitan District main office and water tank.
The other enclave includes Trinity Lutheran Church at 17750 Knollwood Drive.
Planning Director Meggan Herington said staffers had written the ordinance as most are prepared. Trustee Laurie Clark asked if an attorney was present during the creation of the ordinances. Herington assured her all had been reviewed by the town attorney before bringing them to the public meeting.
Both annexations passed unanimously.
Home Rule charter member appointed by the board
The Home Rule charter commission was created after nine residents were elected to the board. The commission could identify local issues such as identifying election dates, initiative/referendum/recall procedures, procedures for filling board vacancies, the minimum age for elected officials, the creation of districts, adoption of procedures for ordinances/resolutions, establishing meeting procedures, and methods of conducting executive sessions.
Despite the charter, which needs to be voted on in November, the town still must follow state statutes and federal laws.
After one member of the Home Rule charter commission moved, the board was asked to appoint a new member. Four people came forward and gave brief overviews of themselves. These included Wayne Laugesen, Maggie Williamson, Ryan Leviers, and Terri Hayes.
Laugesen said Monument is a family-friendly town that needs the autonomy a charter can provide. Williamson said that although she is not as familiar with the charter commission as others, she wanted to serve the community. Leviers said he came back to Monument where he grew up after retiring from the Army. As president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Hayes said she wanted to represent the town’s businesses in the creation of the charter.
Clark nominated Laugesen, saying his oratory skills and experience could be a great asset. Trustee Mitch LaKind nominated Leviers, and Trustee Jim Romanello nominated Hayes. In the end, Laugesen won the position with a vote of 5-1. LaKind voted against.
Town manager’s report
In Town Manager Mike Foreman’s annual report, he described the following:
• The town increased the Reserve Fund to historic levels of nearly 15%, putting us on track to achieving our five-year goal of 20%.
• Higby Road was annexed into the town.
• 23 new businesses opened "brick and mortar" stores in 2021.
• According to Police Chief Sean Hemingway, because 2F passed, creating a 0.5% sales tax to be spent exclusively by the police, the department formed a new commander position. Commander John Lupton oversees administration and Commander Tim Johnson oversees the patrol division.
• In 2021, there were 57 assaults, 51 thefts from within motor vehicles, 27 burglaries, 21 vehicles stolen, and seven sexual assaults reported within the town boundary.
• The Public Works Department resurfaced the driveway to Monument Lake, and parking at the lake was delineated using large boulders.
• A new Waterwise Demonstration Garden was created adjacent to the Third Street Santa Fe Trailhead.
• Security cameras have been installed at all town facilities after a string of 2021 break-ins.
• The Planning Department’s reviews of land use applications increased 21% from 2020 and 143% from 2019.
• The town plans to hold public information meetings to update residents on the Jackson Creek Parkway expansion.
The meeting adjourned at 7:53 p.m.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 7. Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Allison Robenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees met once in January; the regular board meeting scheduled for Jan. 27 was canceled due to snow.
At the Jan. 13 meeting, Town Administrator Dawn Collins presented a draft of an updated Master Fee Schedule for discussion. The board addressed a request for de-annexation of property in northeastern Palmer Lake. An intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the town and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to repave streets adjacent to Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) was considered. The board voted on a resolution documenting the town’s compliance with state statutes governing stormwater management and a resolution to authorize a residential well permit. Collins reported on progress with the water billing system.
New year brings new fees, increases
Collins opened the discussion of the draft Master Fee Schedule by explaining town staff had reviewed fees in communities such as Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, Monument, Larkspur, and Leadville when updating Palmer Lake’s fees.
The application for a new business license increased to $75 to cover additional work. The new application fee for an owner-occupied short-term rental (STR) is $250; for a non-owner occupied STR the fee is $500. These STR fees are lower than those of surrounding communities, Collins said.
Some fees were increased to cover additional administrative effort required, Collins said, adding a new fee on delivery of liquor would help the town track liquor sales.
The marijuana fees in the new schedule were primarily based on comparable fees in Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Fort Collins, but a survey of marijuana fees the town did in 2016 covering nine cities was also used.
Collins said the special event fees would have additional charges negotiated to reimburse the town for Police or Fire Department overtime, if required for the event. Reservation and rental fees were more detailed in the updated fee schedule, she said, with different fees charged to residents and non-residents for each venue.
Tap fees were increased 3 percent to $21,218 as required by a previous resolution.
Trustee Karen Stuth asked why marijuana fees increased so much more than liquor fees did, saying the disparity felt prejudicial toward marijuana businesses. She pointed out the communities used as comparisons to set marijuana fees were more populous than Palmer Lake and had recreational and medical sales, whereas Palmer Lake had only medical sales. Collins responded that the fee schedule before the board was a draft that could be amended if the board so chose. Stuth asked Collins to put together a spreadsheet documenting, for each fee, the old amount, the new amount, and the percentage difference between the two.
Dino Salvatore and Melissa Woodward, owners of marijuana businesses in Palmer Lake, argued that the proposed increases in marijuana fees were unwarranted. Salvatore said the town needed to do very little to renew the licenses for his business because the state of Colorado’s renewal process was extensive and arduous. He pointed to other towns with fees lower than Palmer Lake was proposing. Medical marijuana businesses like his were less profitable due to increases in recreational marijuana sales, and he said he already contributed to the town through his property taxes. Salvatore singled out the Modification of Premises fee as especially excessive, arguing that simply repositioning a video camera could lead to a $1,500 charge from the town.
Woodward said she believed that comparable communities had lower fees, that Palmer Lake’s proposed fees were punitive "because not everyone likes what we do," and that fees should be based on the amount of administrative work required.
The discussion ended with a request from the board members that Collins put together the more detailed comparison of fees Stuth requested to be considered at a later meeting.
Mayor Bill Bass told the board that the United Congregational Church had asked that its property, an undeveloped 162-acre tract south of County Line Road and north of Cathedral Drive in the northeastern part of the town, be de-annexed from the town and become part of unincorporated El Paso County.
Town Attorney Matthew Krob said de-annexation could be done by passing an ordinance, which he recommended, or by failing to serve the property, which would begin a process ending in a case in district court. Trustee Glant Havenar asked why the church requested de-annexation and Collins explained they did not want to relinquish their water rights to the town.
A motion to set a public hearing for the issue on Jan. 27 passed unanimously, but that meeting was later cancelled due to snow. A new date for the hearing has not been set as of this writing.
Streets near PLES to be repaved
Public Works Supervisor Jason Dosch told the board that a project to repave Upper Glenway and Pie Corner, as well as upgrade the water main, address storm runoff, install solar-powered school zone lights, install a crosswalk, make sidewalks ADA-compliant and install a ramp for student drop off and pick up at PLES had been approved by CDOT. The project would cost $1.2 million, with the town required to pay just over 17% of that, Dosch said.
Matching funds are available in the town’s budget for 2022, according to Dosch. Design work would begin in July.
The board voted unanimously in favor of Resolution 3-2022, which authorizes an IGA between the town and CDOT.
Franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy
The board voted unanimously to pass Ordinance 15-2021, which grants Black Hills Energy a franchise to deliver natural gas to the town.
Details about the franchise can be found in the Jan.1, 2022 OCN issue here: https://www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#pltc
Town complies with stormwater requirements
Dosch asked the board to approve Resolution 4-2022, which authorizes the submission of a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Annual Report documenting the town’s compliance with state regulations concerning stormwater to the state of Colorado.
Dosch said consultant John Chavez had prepared the report.
Details of the town’s years-long effort to reach compliance can be found in the July 6 OCN issue here: https://www.ocn.me/v20n7.htm#plbot
Residential well permit approved
The board voted to approve Resolution 5-2022, which authorizes a residential well permit for Randy Brenneman’s recently rezoned property.
Details of Brenneman’s rezoning request can be found in the Jan. 1 OCN issue here: https://www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#pltc.
Improved water billing system provides insights
Collins told the board that the recently installed AMCOBI water billing system has enabled staff to get a clearer picture of the town’s water sales by identifying unmetered or improperly metered accounts and vacant structures. She said it allowed the staff to be proactive and recover revenues that previously had gone uncollected. In a supporting memo in the board packet, Collins mentioned the new system has improved the accuracy and accessibility of water usage data, improved customer service, and saved staff time.
Collins thanked Deputy Town Clerk Julia Stambaugh and staff members Christi Birkeland, Tish Torweihe, and Toni Vega for their work implementing the new water billing system.
Stuth commented on the amount of the charge for online payment, which she felt was high. Collins explained the charge was in fact less than under the previous system but was more visible to customers. Other board members mentioned payments by check had been processed too slowly, leading to service charges. Collins asked anyone having that problem to send her the details.
The meeting ended with an executive session so the board could receive legal advice about use of an undeveloped right of way. No action was taken after the executive session.
See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times, dates and locations of board meetings and workshops. 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 typically held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) met on Jan. 11 to review the monthly discharge monitoring report and facility operations.
TLWWTF is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (MSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD).
The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: PLSD board member Reid Wiecks, JUC president; MSD board Treasurer John Howe, JUC vice president, who was excused from this meeting; and WWSD board Secretary/Treasurer William Clewe, JUC secretary/treasurer.
Facility Manager Bill Burks said that in 2021, expenses came in at 92% of the budgeted amount, mostly due to reductions in chemical analysis and operator expenses.
The JUC revisited past discussions about radium in the facility’s biosolids when Burks said starting in July, TLWWTF will have to monitor the levels of radium in both its influent and discharged effluent in addition to testing for radium in the facility’s liquid sludge lagoon. Denali Water Solutions (www.denaliwater.com) is the company that removes the biosolids and presses out the liquid before removal and application to agricultural fields. Denali advised Burks that if Denali’s future removed solid sludge test results exceed 20 picocuries/gram, Denali will no longer be able to haul away TLWWTF sludge lagoon biosolids.
Burks also said that TLWWTF plans to remove 315 dry tons of sludge lagoon biosolids in 2022, but Burks may have to cut that amount back to 295 tons to stay within the 2022 budget due to an unexpected price increase for 2022 from Denali.
The consensus of the JUC was to include radium in the long-range TLWWTF plan being prepared by Tetra Tech, since the groundwater levels of radium are rising in the Denver Basin. In some cases, the drinking water treatment to make radium less than 5 picocuries/liter for consumers sends removed radium into the wastewater treatment stream, which could eventually impact TLWWTF and require expensive solutions, especially for worker safety protocols.
Next, Burks said it’s a "feather in our cap" that Dmitriy Zinchenko, wastewater process technical lead at HDR, wants to do a presentation about TLWWTF to the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association "to show off how we got the phosphorus removal analyzer installed without the help of any engineers."
Burks summarized the Jan. 4 Arkansas River/Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AFCURE) meeting. Topics included nutrient sampling locations, wastewater sampling to verify the faster spread of COVID-19 Omicron variant, discontinuation of further periphyton sampling within AFCURE in 2022, and the retirement of City of Pueblo Director of Wastewater Nancy Keller, who has been a mentor and source of expertise for many in the industry.
MSD Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick talked about the Dec. 8 Colorado Wastewater Utility Council meeting. Topics included Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE)’s new clean water program manager and new enforcement manager, Water Quality Control Division (WQCD)’s chemical evaluation procedures, and a Water Quality Forum permit-related Temperature Implementation Workgroup starting in January.
The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 8 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public from all three owner-districts. For information on virtual meeting access, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald
The January meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board began with a presentation on the district’s projected water supply and demand, focused on planning the construction of a new well beginning in 2022. The board voted on three administrative resolutions. Finally, the board heard operational reports.
New well needed soon
District Manager Jessie Shaffer introduced Daniel O. Niemela, a certified professional geologist at BBA Water Consultants Inc. (BBA), the company WWSD works with on long-range planning, water resources, and water rights issues. BBA was instrumental in WWSD’s acquisition of water rights at Woodmoor Ranch, Shaffer said.
Niemela began with a high-level picture of the district’s water demand, focusing on short-term planning issues. Currently WWSD has about 4,000 residences that require a total of 1,500 acre-feet of water per year. Niemela projected that in 10 years, the district would have about 6,000 residences and would require 2,000 acre-feet annually. Three months—June, July, and August—account for about 40% of the district’s annual usage, and those high-demand months drive the planning for capital improvement projects. Niemela said Lake Woodmoor could hold up to 750 acre-feet of water.
Niemela projected "pretty rapid growth" over the next couple years. He anticipated 250 new residences per year over the short term, leading to 33 acre-feet per year of increased water demand.
In terms of ground water supply, Niemela said WWSD has nine wells that draw from the Arapahoe aquifer, three from the Dawson aquifer and two from the Denver aquifer. The district does not use the Fox Hills aquifer, which has lesser water quality and is expensive to tap. The Arapahoe aquifer is the most reliable source, according to Niemela.
WWSD draws surface water from Monument Creek and Dirty Woman Creek, Niemela said. Surface water availability depends on weather conditions and averages about 500 acre-feet per year, varying between 240 acre-feet in a dry year to 700 acre-feet in a wet one. Surface water is stored in Lake Woodmoor.
Niemela summed up the water supply with a chart showing 60% coming from the Arapahoe aquifer, 30% coming from the creeks, and the remaining 10% from Dawson and Denver wells. During dry years, the district depends heavily on the Arapahoe wells, Niemela said.
Groundwater supplies are not renewable and are diminishing, Niemela pointed out, with the Arapahoe aquifer falling by 16 feet per year, the Dawson by 5 feet per year, and the Denver by 3.5 feet per year. As aquifers deplete, the water they provide becomes more costly to produce, he said.
Niemela also listed water balance risks that need to be factored into plans: on the demand side greater than expected growth and high dry-year demand, and on the supply side aquifer depletion, drought that reduces surface water supply, and well failure.
Niemela projected a water deficit of 16 acre-feet during the three-month peak demand period in 2022 due to depletion of aquifers and other factors. A new well able to produce 61 acre-feet during the peak demand period would eliminate this deficit in 2022 and reduce it in 2023, he said. Long-range planning would address the deficit beyond 2023, Niemela told the board.
Shaffer told the board his staff was fast-tracking a new well and hoping to complete it by July of 2023. "It will be tight, but I think we can do it," he said.
Niemela said a renewable water supply is critical to avoid escalating well drilling costs.
The board voted to approve three technical and administrative resolutions that need to be considered annually.
Resolution 22-01 defines technical aspects of and sets standards for hardware components, such as fire hydrants and service line saddles, that are used throughout WWSD’s service area. The resolution was updated for 2022 by District Engineer Ariel Hacker. The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
Resolution 22-02 addresses administrative issues such as where legal notices and meeting announcements will be posted and how the district’s financial audits and budgets will be filed with the state of Colorado. The resolution was approved unanimously.
Resolution 22-03 governs the regular district election to be held this year. The seats held by Directors Daniel Beley, William Clewe, and Thomas Roddam expire after their successors are elected on May 3. The three can run again for their seats. The polling place will be The Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument, CO 80132. Self-nomination forms are available through the Designated Election Official Mandi Kirk at 600 17th St., Ste. 2150S, Denver, CO 80202. Forms can be requested by email at MKirk@NortonSmithLaw.com. Interested candidates must file their form by 4 p.m. on February 25, 2022.
Board President Brian Bush pointed out that if there were only three candidates for the three available seats, the election would be cancelled.
The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.
Highlights of operational reports
• Bush presented the last financial report of 2021 and commented that revenues were higher than expected and expenses were lower than expected, but bills were still coming in. Unspent funds for construction were carried forward to 2022, and the district "did pretty well financially."
• In his Manager’s Report, Shaffer said two water re-use efforts were continuing and both projects have requested funding from El Paso County. WWSD’s long-range planning would include a "go it alone" plan in case the re-use projects, which are joint efforts with other water districts, should fail to advance.
• Operations Manager Dan La Fontaine said that sewer cleaning had used 1.2 million gallons of water, temporarily elevating the district’s unbilled water statistic.
• LaFontaine reported that Lake Woodmoor is being refilled and had 15 acre-feet of water currently. Shaffer commented that Stanek Constructors Inc. had done a good job meeting the deadlines for the Lake Pump Station, allowing the refilling of the lake to proceed in preparation for the peak demand in the summer months.
• The Central Water Treatment Plant will return to processing groundwater in April and will process surface water by June.
• Hacker told the board a new residential development in the northwest corner of the WWSD service area was expected to build 514 residences on 40 acres in a multi-family format. The property could be annexed by the Town of Monument, Hacker said. Shaffer said developers were focusing less on single-family development and more on multi-family designs such as duplexes and apartments.
The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 1 p.m. at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive; please see www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Triview Metropolitan Board of Directors met for a work session on Jan. 20 where water attorney Chris Cummins briefed the board on the specifics of three separate water lease agreements. District staffers reported on their respective activities and progress. A separate Jan. 24 special meeting served as a time for directors to vote on the agreements.
Triview staff, all board directors, and legal representatives attended the meeting either online or in person.
The Jan. 20 work session agenda and packet may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Triview-Board-Packet-for-1.20.2022.pdf. The Jan. 24 special meeting may be accessed via https://triviewmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Agenda-1-24-22-Special-Meeting.pdf.
Triview is a Title 32 special district in Monument that provides road, park, and open space maintenance, as well as water, stormwater, and wastewater services to Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and several commercial areas.
Revenue for excess water ensured
Cummins explained that the three agreements presented for review and consideration were the means of ensuring revenue for excess water supply that Triview acquired but couldn’t currently add to its municipal system until permitting and infrastructure to transport water from the Arkansas River were complete.
Cummins described the first agreement as an addendum to a long-term lease between Triview and the Arkansas Groundwater and Reservoir Association (AGRA)—formerly the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association (AGUA). The addendum updated pricing to match more closely some of Triview’s other leases and to expand the amount of reusable wastewater effluent available for AGRA’s use. The former lease limited AGRA to 240 annual acre-feet, and the addendum raised the limit to 365 annual acre-feet.
The new agreement included a cultivation premium in which Triview would charge higher fees to coincide with the higher fees that AGRA would charge its marijuana augmentation customers. Cummins confirmed that the agreement was an addendum to an existing lease that continues through the year 2030 and is interruptible for Triview’s purposes when the stipulated notice is given.
The remaining two agreements pertained to lease renewals. Instead of treated wastewater effluent, the first lease renewal provided water from Triview’s Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. (FMIC) portfolio to AGRA for a total of 773 shares. Two other entities lease FMIC water from Triview: Fountain Valley Power Facility at 244 shares and World of Golf and Sand Creek Golf Course at 40 shares. The three FMIC leases comprise all of Triview’s 1,057 FMIC shares. Pricing in the AGRA lease was adjusted to $150 per share with an additional $95 per share to pay assessments. A perk built into the lease is AGRA’s option to use Triview’s stored FMIC water in the Big Johnson Reservoir as well as water storage space in the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex.
Having recently gained a seat on the FMIC Board of Directors, District Manager Jim McGrady expressed confidence that additional avenues for maximizing the FMIC system would be explored.
The final agreement pertained to an annual lease to AGRA from Triview’s 1,341 water shares in the Excelsior Ditch which, again, includes storage entitlements in the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex of which Triview has majority ownership share, about 40%, in the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Co. In this agreement, AGRA pays Triview’s assessments plus 10% above and including the market value of what AGRA will charge its own customers.
Cummins characterized the lease terms as somewhat peculiar due to the historical agreements established with neighboring farming operations by previous owners but fair to all parties.
The board met Jan. 24 and authorized McGrady to sign all three agreements.
NDS steadily gains ground
In his district manager’s report, McGrady informed directors that discussions with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) regarding the Northern Delivery System (NDS), a potential regional pipeline for delivering renewable water to northern El Paso County water districts, continued. He confirmed CSU’s commitment to complete contracts for the use of its system in the next few weeks.
Discussions have begun to consider a pump station location, the quantity of water expected to be pumped, and necessary off-site improvements, said McGrady. Responding to a director’s question, McGrady mentioned the possibility of creating a water partnership depending on the number of entities that ultimately participate in the NDS.
McGrady also noted that the district’s Jan. 18 public meeting about the NDS provided significant feedback from neighbors. He stated that several individuals have begun corresponding regularly with him and others are engaging the district’s website (https://triviewmetro.com) to learn more about the NDS and the district. McGrady added that the originally favored "route A" for the pipeline’s construction was not likely to materialize. Instead, a water pipeline route along Roller Coaster Road showed promise due to the possibility of combining a county road rehabilitation project with the construction of the NDS. See related snapshot on page 28.
Loan funds to provide financial buffer
The district was awaiting approval of a low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The $7 million, 30-year, 2.05% interest loan, intended to resupply Triview’s cash reserves after funding construction at the South Reservoir, would not accrue interest until the reservoir is complete and, if the district chose to pay ahead, would not carry prepayment penalties.
Additional topics of interest
• In his operations report, Water Superintendent Shawn Sexton confirmed that the Colorado Bureau of Reclamation approved Triview’s 10-week hydrated manganese oxide (HMO) study. The process of combining potassium permanganate or sodium permanganate with manganous sulfate in groundwater before it is filtered and clarified causes radium to adhere to the HMO and provides a more effective means of removing the contaminant to a level well below maximum limits. See https://www.ocn.me/v21n10.htm#tvmd for more information about the HMO study.
• Parks and Open Space Superintendent Matt Rayno announced that a certificate of occupancy had been issued for the A-Yard building. Rayno expressed appreciation for the building’s protection from the elements for equipment repair and maintenance. Security at the facility continued to progress as well.
• The district passed a milestone in its count of single-family residences by tipping over the 2,000 mark. McGrady reported that as of the meeting, 2,002 homes comprised the district. Director James Otis emphasized that residential growth benefited the community because the relatively small expense incurred by the district compared to the revenue gained from additional property taxes made it possible for the district to potentially collect fewer mills in the future.
• McGrady announced that construction at the South Reservoir of the Stonewall Springs Reservoir Complex had completed installation of the inlet pipe and pump station. He anticipated that the current work of grading the reservoir would yield increased storage capacity.
• Due to the tier one water rate adjustment—the tier one upper limit is 8,000 gallons per month instead of 6,000 gallons per month—McGrady calculated that 92.7% of residents would maintain water usage within this first tier during the winter months.
• In answer to a director’s question, McGrady clarified that the regional reuse study, which is sponsored by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, is examining how to maximize the use of wastewater return flows within El Paso County and potentially avoid the necessity of obtaining a 1041 permit from Pueblo County.
The work session adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
Triview board meetings are generally held on the third Thursday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17. The district office is located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. Check the district’s website, https://triviewmetro.com, or call 488-6868 for meeting updates. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jennifer Kaylor can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans and James Howald
At its January meeting, the Monument Sanitation Department (MSD) board heard an update on the Willow Springs Ranch development, reviewed engagement letters with two companies, and discussed its upcoming election and lease agreements with two tenants in the district’s headquarters building. A tap violation was discussed. The board heard financial and operational reports. The meeting ended with an executive session.
Framing to begin in Willow Springs Ranch
District Manager Mark Parker told the board that MSD had sold 20 taps to builders and that he saw no end in sight. Framing of new houses was expected to begin the last week of January, he said, adding he expected about half of the 452 planned residences to be built in 2022.
In his manager’s report, covered below, Parker said a lift station for Willow Springs Ranch was under construction and expected to be completed by April. Homes in the development can’t be sold until the lift station is complete, he said.
Engagement letters approved
Parker asked the board for direction on two engagement letters: the first with Haynie & Co., a CPA firm used by the district for financial matters, and the second with GMS Inc. Consulting Engineers, which provides consulting and engineering services to the district. Parker said the engagement letters for 2022 had no changes from the letters signed with the companies in 2021. Parker said he would send the board members copies of the letters by email and, if they approved by individual replies to Parker, then Parker would meet with board President Dan Hamilton so that Hamilton could sign them.
Upcoming board election discussed
The terms of Directors John Howe and Katie Sauceda expire in May, and an election to fill those seats is scheduled for May 3. Candidates for the two seats must complete a self-nomination form, available in the district office at 130 Second St. in Monument, by Feb. 17.
Director Laura Kronick requested that the self-nomination forms be available on the district website. The board members agreed with her suggestion and Parker said he would have Accounts Administrator Cheran Allsup add them to the website when she returns from leave.
Lease agreements renewed
Parker said the annual leases for two tenant businesses in the district’s headquarters building were due to be renewed. The new leases—for Santa Fe Trail Jewelry and the Second Street Hair Studio—had no changes and no rent increases, Parker said. He told the board that Hamilton would need to sign the leases, if there were no objections, and that Parker and district staff were looking at nearby rents to determine if a future increase is warranted.
Santa Fe Trail Jewelry is owned by MSD Director Marylee Reisig.
Tap violation resolved
Parker told the board that he had uncovered a tap violation resulting from a pair of motor homes connecting to existing taps on a residential property. He had written to the property owners who told him they were given permission to connect the motor homes by previous MSD staff. Joan Fritsche, the district’s lawyer, is drafting a settlement agreement, Parker said.
Highlights of financial and operational reports
• The financial and cash-flow reports were approved after a brief discussion. Kronick asked that the year-to-date column be removed from the cash-flow report as it was confusing. The directors agreed, and Parker said he would make the change in next month’s report.
• In his manager’s report, Parker said that lift station 1 needed service because it was clogged with flushable wipes. Flushable wipes do not dissolve when flushed, as most people believe, Parker said, and cause many outages.
• Parker told the board the district’s storage locker had been broken into but, since the locker contained only paper records, nothing had been stolen. He upgraded the locks to a more tamper-resistant design.
Executive session held
The meeting ended with an executive session to discuss one of the district’s outstanding Requests for Proposal (RFP). Following the executive session, the board voted to request clarification from one of the RFP’s respondents.
Caption: Since 2007, the Willow Springs area west of I-25 and north of Baptist Road has been a possible development, but it was not until 2019 that it was annexed into the Town of Monument. The Board of Trustees approved a development that will include attached and detached homes, five acres for a school, five acres for a park, a well site, 104 acres of open space containing a flood plain and protected mouse habitat, and eventually a road connection between Synthes Avenue and Forest Lakes Drive. See www.ocn.me/v19n6.htm#mbot. Trinity Demolition and Excavation is doing land and site development, excavating, grading, and providing underground utilities and concrete flatwork with D. R. Horton Home Builders. See www.trinityxd.com. Photo by Joshua Mendoza of Trinity Excavation and Demolition.
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 Feb. 16 at 9 a.m. See https://colorado.gov/msd. For a district service map, see https://colorado.gov/pacific/msd/district-map-0. Information: 719-481-4886.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
At its January meeting, the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board approved a resolution expressing appreciation for the district’s staff in 2021. The board heard updates on the district’s Holbein water treatment plant (HWTP), wells, radium reduction efforts, water re-use projects, and finances. A schedule of board meetings for 2022 was approved, and the meeting ended with an executive session concerning real property negotiations.
Staff meets challenges of extraordinary year
General Manager Jeff Hodge presented Resolution 22-01 to the board, acknowledging the exceptional performance of the DWSD staff during a challenging year. The resolution mentions each member of the DWSD staff by name. Hodge said the entire DWSD staff went "above and beyond without even being asked." Every board member signed the resolution and President Edward Houle asked that every staff member get a copy of the resolution.
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution.
Holbein treatment plant upgraded
Hodge told the board that when the upgrades underway are completed, the HWTP would be "totally rebuilt," and would provide the district another 20 to 25 years of service.
The filter media, clarifier glass beads, and internal piping were being replaced and final bids were being sought to sand blast and repaint the tanks, Hodge said. The plant’s electrical service and its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software are also being upgraded.
Status of wells reviewed
Hodge gave the board an overview of the district’s wells. Five wells are being rehabilitated. When work on those five is complete, they are expected to produce almost 1.6 million gallons per day, bringing the district’s total daily production to 3.5 million gallons per day. Hodge added the water court filing for a new well was done on Dec. 1, 2021, causing a month’s delay in drilling the well.
Well 2A has been cleaned and inspected using video to ensure the cleaning did not damage the well. A new pump, motor and epoxy-coated column pipe will be installed. Hodge said he expected the work to be done by the beginning of February.
Well 2D, which has been out of production for two years, has been cleaned and inspected. The bottom 5 to 20 feet will be capped with cement to stabilize material that has fallen to the bottom of the well. A new pump, motor, and piping will be installed in February. If the maintenance restores the well to its previous production of 125 gallons per minute (GPM), the well would provide the district with 180,000 gallons of water daily.
Well 3D will be cleaned with additional steps taken to remove scaling along the casing walls, and a new pump and motor will be installed. The work should be complete by March. This well was producing 201,600 gallons per day before becoming plugged.
Well 8A, which produces 648,000 gallons per day, will be cleaned and returned to service by May.
Well 12A will be cleaned and have a new pump and motor installed by May. It is expected to supply 532,800 gallons per day.
Houle commented that the district was making up for a few years when other issues took precedence over well maintenance.
Radium removal efforts proceed
Hodge said that radium levels at the HWTP could not be measured while the plant was being upgraded, but he expected testing to proceed in May when the plant returns to production.
Houle asked Accounts Payable staff member Christina Hawker what kind of feedback she was getting from customers based on the latest newsletter update on radium. Hawker said most calls were seeking clarification, often concerning the recommendation in the district’s letter to customers to purchase bottled water. Houle said the recommendation was required by the Environmental Protection Agency in all situations where radium levels were exceeded. Hodge pointed out bottled water is a food product and was regulated to a much lower standard than tap water.
Water re-use projects advance
Hodge provided updates on two water re-use projects in which DWSD is considering participation. Both projects would divert water from Fountain Creek at the southern end of El Paso County and convey it to consumers to the north. The first, led by Colorado Springs Utilities and known as the "CSU Loop," is studying how to route pipelines and whether to store water in the Big Johnson Reservoir or in the Calhan Reservoir. This project plans to use the Southern Delivery System to convey water to the north.
The second, which is led by a group of water districts mostly in the northern half of El Paso County and is known as the "County Loop," is working on a Memorandum of Understanding between participating water districts and on attaining funding.
Financial reports show no concerns
Hodge said water sales for 2021 were very close to the anticipated amount, just 5.6% under budget. Expenditures for engineering services were high, he said, but some of those costs would be capitalized. For the moment, finances were "pretty stable," he said.
Hodge pointed out that electricity costs were rising. The electric bill for testing Well 14A was about $4,000. Director Wayne Vanderschuere said he believed inflation will substantially increase the district’s energy bills going forward.
The board voted unanimously to approve the financial report as presented.
Schedule for board meetings finalized
The DWSD board will continue to meet at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district office at 15850 Holbein Drive. The meetings scheduled for Sept. 22, Oct. 13, and Dec. 8 are exceptions to the usual schedule. A workshop meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on April 21. Board meetings can be confirmed on the district’s web page at https://www.donalawater.org.
Meeting ends with executive session
The board meeting concluded with an executive session to hear legal advice about real property negotiations and about Cases 2021CW3044 and 2021CW3058. No votes were taken after the executive session.
The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 1:30 p.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month and include online access; 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.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
At its Feb. 1 land use meeting, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a replat request for the Cloverleaf development to allow for the creation of 131 single-family lots. During January, the BOCC voted to approve a minor subdivision request which will see a Black Forest property split into three lots. The commissioners also voted to re-elect their incumbent chair and vice chair.
Cloverleaf development advances
The Cloverleaf development north of Higby Road and east of Jackson Creek Parkway moved forward at the beginning of February when the commissioners approved a replat of the 37.28-acre property into 131 single-family residential homes. This represents a reduction of 10 lots from the 141 sanctioned in the main part of the development with the June 2021 BOCC approval of the preliminary plan.
This is the second filing for the development. The BOCC approved a final plat for Cloverleaf Filing No. 1 in July 2021 to create three single-family lots on two parcels of land separate from the main development.
The application was heard by the El Paso County Planning Commission as a consent item at its Jan. 20 meeting where the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend it for approval.
Note: This development is adjacent to nearly 100 acres of space now called South Woodmoor Preserve that will remain open in perpetuity with developer ProTerra’s support. In turn, the Walters Open Space Committee agreed to support the Monument land development company’s plan to build single-family homes in its Cloverleaf development. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#epbocc.
Black Forest minor subdivision
At the Jan. 4 BOCC land use meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a request by Ramses II Properties LLC for approval of a minor subdivision application to create three single-family residential lots on a 19.5-acre property in Black Forest. The property is on the south side of Burgess Road, about three-quarters of a mile west of Vollmer Road. The subdivision will be known as Skyfall.
Two of the lots will have direct access onto Burgess Road; the third lot will have access to Burgess via an access easement. This required the commissioners to approve a waiver to allow for a lot to be created without having access and 30 feet of frontage along a public road. An existing dwelling will remain on what will become Lot 1.
The application was considered as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion. It was heard at the Planning Commission meeting on Dec.16 where the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend it for approval
Chair and vice chair reappointed
At the Jan. 11 BOCC meeting, the commissioners voted 4-0 to reappoint Commissioner Stan VanderWerf as chair and Commissioner Cami Bremer as vice chair. Commissioner Carrie Geitner abstained.
Ahead of the vote, Geitner said, "Over the last year, I too have spent a considerable amount of time considering the implications of the leadership of this board, and there are several things I have concerns about. I do think what is important is that most members of this board do serve with the same purposes in mind and I do think that is important and so, in the spirit of that, of course I believe that we will continue to cooperate as long as we are able to keep those things in mind. But I do think that I have some concerns and I hope that the outcome of this vote and the future leadership will take those things into concern and truly take a look at the practices over the last year and the things that can be improved."
Responding, VanderWerf said, "Commissioner Geitner, to your comments, going forward as the chair for this coming year in 2022 and also for Commissioner Bremer as our vice chair, we really look forward to talking with you about those challenges and concerns, listening to them carefully, and seeing if we can make any changes, and we have had some of those conversations previously and I appreciate those comments but I want it to be stated on the record and publicly that it is our intention to continue to work with every member of this board to make sure that we continue to go forward in the manner in which we see appropriate and I look forward to some specific meetings with you, commissioner, regarding those points."
Fox Run Regional Park play area improvements project
At their regular meeting on Jan. 4, the commissioners approved the award of a contract to Ridgeline Construction Inc., dba Performance Recreation, for playground and accessibility improvements at Fox Run Regional Park’s Pine Meadows playground for a total cost not-to-exceed $326,359.
New crossing for the New Santa Fe Trail
At their Jan. 11 meeting, the commissioners voted to approve a license agreement with Triview Metropolitan District for the installation of a crossing of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail to provide access to the Connexus Development from Old Denver Road. The county operates and maintains the trail within county property between Baptist Road and the Town of Monument. The metropolitan district will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the new crossing.
• Feb. 1—The commissioners approved the partial release of a letter of credit for $889,205 following the completion and satisfactory inspection of 80% of the required subdivision improvements at the Winsome Filing 1 subdivision. The development is at the intersection of Hodgen Road and Meridian Road.
• Feb. 1—Approved the final release of a letter of credit for $62,526 for subdivision improvements for the Academy Gateway Filing No. 1 subdivision at the corner of Struthers Road and North Gate Boulevard.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Marlene Brown
Residents from Cathedral Pines and surrounding neighborhoods met at Discovery Canyon Campus on Jan. 20 with the project team from HR Green and Craig Dossey, executive director of El Paso County Planning and Community Development. Phil Stuepfert, senior project manager of HR Green, presented a proposal regarding the 1,495 acres that was the Shamrock Ranch, just north of Flying Horse North Filing 1. Maps and a presentation are available at www.flyinghorsenorthliving.com.
Stuepfert and Dossey fielded questions from the audience as to how a subdivision that large with high-density housing on over 75 percent of the lots fits into the new county masterplan. They were quick to say they are only in the talking, neighborhood meetings, and sketch-planning stage and that proposals have not been submitted to the El Paso County Planning Commission or the Board of County Commissioners.
The developers have been talking to Cherokee Metropolitan District officials and have initial commitments for water and sewer, which is one of the reasons developers can look at smaller lots rather than the 2½-acre lots that were initially planned with wells and septic for individual lots. Stagecoach Road would be built as the east/west main road corridor to connect to Highway 83 and Black Forest Road.
The larger 2½-acre lots would be offered along the south border of the proposed project and smaller lots will be built-out as filings are submitted and approved. There is a proposed 225-room luxury hotel in the southwest area along with a golf course and other amenities. See map below.
The original owners of the Shamrock Ranch attended the meeting and voiced their disappointment in the land developers that had promised they would build out the 1,495 acres as 2½-acre lots, which is now down to over 1,200 1-acre and smaller lots within the large parcel. They would have to go through the Planning Commission to start any legal process.
Colorado Springs could be looking to annex the project to bring in the utilities. See the annexation map at www.flyinghorsenorthliving.com regarding possible areas to be annexed in the northeast part of the county near Black Forest. There will be continued meetings and discussions with HR Green, the county Planning Commission, and neighboring residents.
Marlene Brown can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Marlene Brown
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) met Jan. 29 at The Barn on Woodmoor Drive. The bi-monthly meeting serves as a vehicle for homeowners associations (HOAs) in the area to meet and discuss economic and social programs that promote the high quality of life in northern El Paso County. NEPCO has 47 HOA members, which includes over 10,000 homes and 20,000 registered voters. Each HOA can send representatives to attend the meeting.
New board members introduced
Board elections were held at the last meeting in November 2021. Newly elected board President Mike Aspenson was out of town and new Vice President Bob Swedenburg officiated the meeting. He honored the memory of past President Dave Powell, who served as president from 2011 to 2014 and passed away Dec. 15. New Treasurer Jim Keefe gave his report as did newly elected Member-at-Large Community Outreach Committee Chairman Dave Betzler, who outlined goals for NEPCO to communicate its mission, values, and milestones to the HOAs and outlining areas. The secretary board position is open.
Wildfire Preparedness Committee report
Matthew Nelson, chairman of the Wildfire Preparedness Committee, was absent. Swedenburg outlined the goals for the committee this year, one being more wildfire education for an HOA to become a Firewise Community. (See the Wildfire Townhall meeting article on page 13.) They are working to develop emergency preparedness, a plan for evacuations, and expansion of relationships with local fire departments and first responders. Nelson is looking for new members for the committee to help with education and work with the HOAs and their members.
Transportation and Land Use Committee report
John Lewis, chairman of the Transportation and Land Use Committee, explained how he is building a latitude/longitude database of each of the HOAs in NEPCO area. He requested a central address from each HOA and then input them in a spreadsheet that has formulas so that the addresses can be converted to latitude/longitude. He can then input data from a newly proposed land development and can determine any HOAs within a mile of the new land development. Should there be an HOA within a mile, NEPCO will email them with the new information to assimilate for a neighborhood meeting.
Kari Parsons, El Paso County planner, who happened to be at the meeting, explained how a new land development receives acceptance and what the procedures are to go through the county Planning Commission. She said any new subdivision would have to go through the regulated procedures of the Planning Commission and that there were no shortcuts. To view any land development records, anyone can go to EDARP (Electronic Development Application Review Program) https://epcdevplanreview.com, log on and review projects that are going through the process. Lewis will continue to develop procedures for NEPCO’s review process will explain more at the next meeting.
Code enforcement officer
Joe Letke, code enforcement officer, explained how the code enforcement process works. It starts from a complaint being made, to a letter being sent, to code enforcement sending an officer to litigation, mitigation and finally the completed abatement of the infraction. Letke said most complaints are not litigated or necessarily go through the process. With over 1,000 complaints a year, usually only 15 or so will need to go to abatement where the county will have to come in and clean up the property and the property owner will have to reimburse the county for the cleanup costs. Most people take care of the problems and work with the county to show they have resolved the issue.
Proposed pipeline could bring renewable water to northern El Paso County
Jim McGrady, director of Triview Metropolitan District, explained the Northern Delivery System with Christine Lowenberg, NES planner. McGrady has been holding neighborhood meetings regarding the pipeline from Old Northgate Road and Highway 83 to a designated holding tank on Baptist Road. Residents from the affected properties along the pipeline have voiced their disapproval of the proposed route, so much so that McGrady has been working on a new route and new bids on the Roller Coaster Road to Baptist Road and west option.
He explained that they have had meetings with neighborhoods and HOAs and realized that people want to keep the pipeline out of Fox Run Regional Park. McGrady said they were listening and will try to accommodate residents and show that there is room for compromise, as well as bringing renewable water source to the area. See http://trivewmetro.com and look under the Water Recourses tab for more detailed information.
Swedenburg closed the meeting at noon and officials continued to discuss options with the HOA representatives in the room.
The next NEPCO meeting will be on March 19, with guest speakers from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. For more information on upcoming meeting schedules and committee updates for NEPCO, go to http://nepco.org.
Marlene Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
The first month of 2022 finally brought a return to normal conditions. After several months of warm and dry weather, we managed to squeeze out above-normal precipitation and snowfall for the month, not by a lot but enough to provide a nice reminder that winter is still in charge. Temperatures were a little above normal for the month, mainly because we didn’t have any extended or severe cold periods.
Our pattern was dominated by a northwesterly flow for most of the month. This meant several quick shots of cold air and light snow, but no slow-moving, organized storm systems. This northwest flow was set up as high pressure dominated the West Coast, and a cold low dominated the upper Midwest regions. We were caught in between these two features with each shot of cold air bringing light snowfall at times but quick warmups between systems.
The new year started off cold, with low temperatures below zero and highs only reaching the upper single digits to low teens. The cold air was accompanied by some light snow as well, as an inch or two accumulated through early afternoon. Temperatures started off below zero again the next morning before warmer air began to move in. This allowed temperatures to rebound into the upper 30s on low 40s on the afternoon of the 2nd.
After a couple days of quiet and mild weather, the next quick-moving but cold system moved through with a cold front during the afternoon of the 5th. This dropped 2-6 inches of snowfall across the area and temperatures tumbled to zero and slightly below by that evening. Daytime highs only reached the mid-20s on the 6th, but mild air began to work in with our high temperature reached at midnight. The mild conditions stuck around for the next couple of days, with our warmest day of the month occurring on the 7th as highs touched 60 degrees.
Again, the temperature swings were quick with another fast but weak system sliding by during the evening of the 8th. This brought a quick shot of snow and wind but barely enough to even measure. Temperatures held in the mid-30s on the 9th, but quickly rebounded to above-normal levels again from the 10th through the 13th.
The next cold front arrived during the morning of the 14th, with widespread snow and wind developing. This storm had a little more moisture associated with it, producing 4-10 inches throughout the area. However, it was another quick mover, with clear skies returning by the next afternoon. Highs rebounded again in the 40s on the 15th to the 50s from the 16th through the 18th.
Another cold front moved into the region during the morning of the 19th, with fog and low clouds filling in and temperatures holding in the mid- to upper 20s that afternoon. Light snow, flurries, and fog developed that morning and continued off and on through the morning of the 22nd. A couple of inches of new snow accumulated during the period, with high temperatures in the 30s each afternoon. The rollercoaster ride continued with a brief quiet period on the 23rd and 24th before the final waves of cooler air and light snowfall moved in from the morning of the 25th through the afternoon of the 27th. Two waves of energy moved through during this period, producing 2-4 inches of snow on the 25th and another 3-6 inches on the 27th. Temperatures were held in the mid-20s on the 25th with help from the clouds and snow, then jumped to the upper 30s on the 26th and then back in the low 20s on the 27th.
After this last shot of snow, quiet conditions returned to end the month with mainly clear skies and mild temperatures. Highs reached the low 40s on the 28th and the low 50s from the 29th through 31st.
A look ahead
February is often a dry and cold month for the region as we move toward the snowy and unsettled conditions of March and April. Precipitation averages less than an inch, with average high temperatures in the 30s. It can get very cold in February with arctic air making brief pushes into the region. However, days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some nice, sunny days, and the snow that does fall begins to melt faster.
January 2022 Weather Statistics
Average High 42.8° (+2.7°)
100-year return frequency value max 48.4° min 30.8°
Average Low 14.2° (+0.8°)
100-year return frequency value max 26.6° min 6.6°
Highest Temperature 60° on the 7th
Lowest Temperature -6° on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 0.87" (+0.16" 22% above normal)
100-year return frequency value max 1.56" min 0.01"
Monthly Snowfall 17.5" (+4.2", 10% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 23.9" (-28.9", 55% below normal)
Season to Date Precip. 2.09" (-2.03", 50% below normal)
Heating Degree Days 1132 (+35)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Caption: The first big snowstorm of 2022 hit the Monument area on Jan. 14. The flakes covered Mt. Herman and Monument Lake, which had just partially thawed out after a few days of warm weather. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer.
The great reckoning
Fauci, Walensky, health officials, politicians, and even our own doctors lied to us. They told us that the lockdowns were necessary to slow the spread. Masks reduced transmissions. There were no prophylactics, no treatments. We could only vaccinate our way out of the pandemic. The vaccines were 100% safe and effective. Now the truth is coming out. There will be a great reckoning.
After two years, we have the data. The conclusions from the data are irrefutable. (See openvaers.com) The lockdowns were destructive. The mask did not slow spread. The vaccines are not effective or safe. The safe and effective prophylactics and treatments were restricted, banned, and ridiculed.
If this was not heinous enough, our leaders pleaded and mandated that we sacrifice our children by injecting them with untested and toxic vaccines to protect the adults. An FDA doctor said, "We’re never gonna learn about how safe the vaccine is until we start giving it." The COVID vaccines have maimed, poisoned, and even killed many children. Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have skyrocketed. What are the long-term damages from the vaccines—strokes, heart attacks, cancers and sterilizations? All for what? COVID was never a threat to children.
We will hold those responsible for suspending our freedoms, violating our rights, poisoning bodies, sacrificing our children, killing the aged and the infirm, tearing up the Constitution, and bringing tyranny to our land—to the entire world. They will pay for their crimes against humanity.
There is hope that may arise up from the ashes of this catastrophe. Let us not take our freedoms for granted anymore. Let us remake our government to where its sole mission is to protect our rights and never take them away. Because when mankind is free, then he can truly be safe.
Editor’s Note: Official COVID-19 information is posted at https://covid19.colorado.gov.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors—it’s how you combine them that sets you apart."—Wolfgang Puck
Continue that strong start to the new year with some inspiring cookbooks.
Stirring Up Memories: Meals and Treats from Fox Run Bed & Breakfast
By Heidi Wigand-Nicely (Heidi Wigand-Nicely) $27.95
Don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen but wish to have wonderful breakfast dishes that your family and friends will love? This book is for you. Local author and former owner of Fox Run Bed & Breakfast offers you delicious, reliable recipes that turn out every time. The dishes are made with readily available ingredients and are simple to prepare. Along with the recipes you’ll enjoy anecdotes from Fox Run Bed & Breakfast throughout.
Prep, Cook, Freeze: A Paleo Meal Planning Cookbook
By Caroline Fausel (Page Street Publishing) $24.99
Local author Caroline Fausel makes it easy to get a nutritious dinner on the table with 12 weeks of Paleo recipes your whole family will love. Her innovative method combines the best aspects of meal planning, batch cooking, and freezer meals so you can pull together mouthwatering meals on even the busiest weeknights. This comprehensive plan includes helpful items from clear instructions to detailed grocery lists.
High Altitude Breakfast: Sweet and Savory Baking at 5,000 Feet and Above
By Nicole Hampton (West Margin Press) $24.99
The book begins with a section on essential tools and ingredients for the home baker plus a primer on adjusting recipes to be successful at high altitude. Six recipe chapters offer more than 80 classic and modern recipes including breads, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles, sandwiches, layered toasts, breakfast casseroles, and more.
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
By Melissa Hartwig Urban and Dallas Hartwig (Mariner Books) $30
Since 2009, Melissa Hartwig Urban’s critically acclaimed Whole30 program has quietly led hundreds of thousands of people to effortless weight loss and better health, along with improvements in sleep quality, energy levels, mood, and self-esteem. Now The Whole30 offers a stand-alone, step-by-step plan to break unhealthy habits, reduce cravings, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system. It teaches the meal preparation and cooking skills needed to succeed. It also contains detailed elimination and reintroduction guidelines and more than 100 recipes using familiar ingredients, from simple one-pot meals to complete dinner party menus.
The Milk Street Cookbook: The Definitive Guide to the New Home Cooking
By Christopher Kimball (Little Brown and Company) $45
Milk Street cookbooks give home cooks a simpler, bolder, and healthier way to eat and cook. Now featuring over 400 tried-and-true recipes, this book is the ultimate guide to high-quality, low-effort cooking and the perfect kitchen companion for cooks of all skill levels. There are no long lists of hard-to-find ingredients, strange cookware, or all-day methods. Instead, every recipe has been adapted and tested for home cooks. Organized by type of dish, this book will introduce you to extraordinary new flavors and ingenious techniques.
The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes
By Sam Sifton (Ten Speed Press), $28
Sam Sifton, founding editor of New York Times Cooking, makes improvisational cooking easier than you think. In this handy book of ideas, Sifton delivers more than 100 no-recipe recipes to make with the ingredients you have on hand or could pick up on a quick trip to a store. You’ll see how to make these meals as big or as small as you like, substituting ingredients as you go. Welcome home to freestyle, relaxed cooking that is absolutely yours.
Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love
By Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi (Clarkson Potter) $32
Led by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad, the team of chefs at the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen gives everyday home cooks the accessible yet innovative Middle Eastern-inspired recipes to put dinner on the table with less stress and less fuss. With fit-for-real-life chapters like "The Freezer Is Your Friend," "That One Shelf in the Back of Your Pantry," and "Who Does the Dishes?" you will learn how to flex with fewer ingredients, get creative with your pantry staples, and add playful twists to familiar classics.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at the Covered Treasures can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The Monument Library will be offering off-site story times at Reynolds House on the grounds of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Road. The story times will be offered each Thursday at 10:30. Registration is encouraged. See our website (www.ppld.org) under programs or call 719-488-2370.
The new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramp at the Palmer Lake Library has been completed (see photo). We are awaiting town approval to use the building. Once approved, some work will be done inside, including adding to the collection and reorganizing the floor space.
Having trouble with math? Free tutoring is available every Monday from 3:30 to 6:30 at the Monument Library. Help is offered at all levels. Retired teachers volunteer to offer this service, which is available every Monday that the library and schools are open. No appointment is required.
The Winter Adult Reading Program began on Feb. 1 and will continue through March 31. See the website for further information.
We hope to see you soon at the library.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
Caption: The new ADA-compliant ramp at the Palmer Lake Library is now complete. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
By Janet Sellers
"I don’t like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains—not ‘hike’! Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre’, ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so, they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them."—John Muir
Most of us moved to our area to enjoy the green of the forest clime, the mountain air, and being able to just walk out our door and saunter in nature. The forest clime naturally has its own ecosystem to protect itself, but our homes and landscapes have impacted that, and nature needs us to keep protecting her consciously in many ways all year.
Mulch protects our local high desert landscapes from drought
American gardener and arborist Paul Gautschi is famous nationwide for using and promoting the "back to Eden" method of no-till gardening, using a variety of mulch materials at hand and even using rocks, which hold moisture and offer minerals. "Basically, we always want to cover the ground; the ground should never be exposed. When we lift up a rock and look under it, we find moisture and worms."
How mulch works
Mulch is the skin of the garden, protecting the moisture and life underneath it. It’s a free soil conditioner, water saver, and enricher aka the earth-friendly fertilizer. Mulch is the miracle worker we need in our high desert clime. Mulch keeps in the desired moisture and keeps out the weeds and unwanteds. Christmas trees, leaves, etc. create mulch and soil, too. Neighbors will gladly give you their bagged leaves!
Leaves are safer than grass clippings (possible toxic loads of chemicals on grass clippings; trees are relatively chemical free). Pound for pound, leaves have more minerals than manure! But you do have to add nitrogen, so the breakdown occurs in a timely way: 5 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. Nitrogen can come from coffee grounds and safe, local manure from medicine-free vegetarian creatures like alpacas, chickens, etc. Sadly, horse manure often has a lot of medicines in it as well as not breaking down as easily as chicken, alpaca, or mushroom.
Drought alert: Protect your plants and lawns now, long before summer
Plants may appear perfectly normal and resume growth in the spring using stored food energy but may be weak and all or parts may die in late spring or summer when temperatures rise. The result of long, dry periods during fall and winter is injury or death to parts of plant root systems. Weakened plants also may be subject to insect and disease problems.
• Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover.
• Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.
• Established large trees have a root spread equal to or greater than the height of the tree. Apply water to the most critical part of the root zone within the dripline.
• If recent snow has moistened the soil deeply, you can wait several weeks to water.
• For details on how to save your lawn and your landscaping, contact the Colorado State Extension via its website https://extension.colostate.edu.
Janet Sellers is an avid "lazy gardener" by using nature’s back-to-Eden methods to save water and protect the garden. Send gardening tips to JanetSellers@ocn.me
By Janet Sellers
"I think one of the most primitive innate needs of humans is to understand the world around us, and then share that understanding."—David Featherstone, professor of Biology and Neuroscience, University of Illinois, Chicago.
Art and science are quite closely related; their 19th-century separation into different cultures is historically recent. In 1202, Fibonacci’s eponymous sequence of numbers has since been widely found in art and music composition, photography, and even dentistry. Featherstone insisted that both science and art are human efforts to acknowledge and understand the world around us. We think of them as having different audiences, but do they?
Instinctively we feel that art reaches us at an intuitive level as well as a cognitive level. Is art-making meditative? What part of the art maker is engaged while considering, preparing, and making the art? It would be interesting to see how art affects us at a neurobiological level. The National Library of Medicine reports a number of meditation studies, and one at the University of Kassel has shown that while the chest area of an average person emits only 20 photons of light per second, someone who meditates on their heart center and sends love and light to others emits an amazing 100,000 photons per second.
The report continues, explaining, "Numerous studies have also shown that when these photons are infused with a loving and healing intent, their frequency and vibration increases to the point where they can literally change matter, heal disease, and transform negative events."
We need to share, to reach out, because we are social creatures. Art allows us to do that, to share ideas, feelings and other non-verbal communications about ourselves, our successes, our failures, our lives, and make meaning from these. Also, art outcomes have a powerful effect on individuals and society.
Art as transformational awareness and consciousness
When we think about the value of art, we see that art and art inquiry have affected all parts of human life for ages. Most recently, we know that art movements influence and change society. Dada artists responded to the horrors of World War I, thought then to be the last great war, with silliness and ridiculousness for art and life. They sought to heal through play in the vehicle and lens of art.
The 1968 revolutionary events in Paris exposed the great divisions of contemporary life via art, consumers, and production. "Viva la Huelga," the cry of the agricultural strikes of the 1960s, and the art of the Chicano mural movement became a form of politicized art that helped form identity among that population, creating awareness to educators and leading to ethnic studies.
Here in our community, we have public art murals and sculptures that venerate our local history. When we know where and how to look, we also find our First Peoples had a spectacular knowledge of forestry, engineering, astronomy, and navigation that they embodied aesthetically in the culturally modified trees, rock forms, and sacred sites that we still have here in our landscape.
Caption: Ute elder-confirmed culturally modified trees in Fox Run Regional Park and Monument Preserve show how our local First Peoples understood forest culture, arbor science, and stewardship including navigation and technological skill. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, speaker, and researcher. She exhibits her public art sculptures and murals in Colorado and California cities and teaches art locally. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Palmer Lake Outdoor Classic pits HS teams
Caption: The boys’ varsity hockey teams from Lewis-Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain high schools competed in the first annual Palmer Lake Outdoor Classic on Jan. 4. Fans sat in newly-constructed bleachers to watch the teams skate on frozen Palmer Lake. Cheyenne Mountain won the exhibition 4-1. Lewis-Palmer senior Eliot Bauer said, "It was actually really exciting. Not a lot of kids can skate on an outdoor pond. We are pretty grateful for the opportunity." Proceeds from ticket sales supported the Lewis-Palmer team. Caption by Michael Weinfeld and Creighton Smith. Photo by Creighton Smith.
View from Mt. Herman, Dec. 28
Caption: Monument resident Britt Jones took this photo of the Palmer Lake star from Mt. Herman on Dec. 28. Jones says he and Randy Phillips climb Mt. Herman two or three times a week. He thought shooting the star from just below the summit near the hang glider launch point would give it a "storybook look." Photo by J. Britt Jones - www.globalreality.biz.
TLWC gardening event, Jan. 12
Caption: On Jan. 12, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) Garden Club had a "cloche with plastic bottles" workshop to make cloches for beginning early gardening. Cloches are coverings to protect plants from cold weather, traditionally made of glass, while modern cloches are often made of plastic. The TLWC garden group meets on the second Wednesday of every month. Photos courtesy of Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.
CDOT: Traffic deaths are up 50%
Caption: Colorado law enforcement officials held a virtual press conference on Jan. 18 to alert drivers about a significant rise in traffic deaths in the past year. They are Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol (shown here), John Lorme, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) director of Maintenance and Operations, and Vincent Niski, Colorado Springs police chief. When the pandemic began, there was a noted increase in risky driving behavior, including speeding, reckless and aggressive driving, and distracted and impaired driving. Those dangerous driving habits have continued as vehicle traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels, causing a marked increase in road fatalities. In 2021, Colorado recorded the most traffic deaths since 2002, and traffic deaths are now 50% higher than 10 years ago. The three officials communicated the urgent message to Colorado drivers about this crisis in human behavior on our roads. The press conference was an urgent call for safe driving to Coloradans. Agencies will share future enforcement plans. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Lions honor Strong, Jan. 6
Caption: Tri-Lakes Lions Club President Jim Naylor, right, presented the Robert J. Uplinger Award to Robert Strong, left, on Jan. 6. The award honors outstanding Lions who perform exemplary service to a club, district, or community. Strong’s involvement in the Lions Club started in 1958 when he joined the chapter in Wolcott, N.Y. There, he was treasurer for years and supported Lions International activities around the world. Strong moved to the Tri-Lakes area in December to be with his family. Photo courtesy of Tri-Lakes Lions Club.
Blood drive, Jan. 15
Caption: For the first time in history, the Red Cross declared a national blood shortage on Jan. 11. Coincidentally, St. Peter Catholic Church in Monument, in coordination with Vitalant, held a previously scheduled blood drive on Jan. 15. The main room of the church was packed with people who came out in the snow to donate blood. One of them was OCN’s Michael Weinfeld (pictured above). If you missed the blood drive, you can schedule a blood donation any time at the many Vitalant sites throughout the area. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.
A vanishing scene, Jan. 20
Caption: This "vanishing" scene of a herd of pronghorn resting was captured on Jan. 20 next to an area being developed. Photo by Dave DiVesta.
NDS pipeline update, Jan. 18
Caption: Concerned citizens attended the Triview Metropolitan District Open House at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 18 to learn how they may be impacted by the Northern Delivery System drinking water pipeline. This was the third of a series of presentations to explain the purpose and the scope of the project. Jim McGrady, Triview district manager, presented three options of the route the pipeline could possibly take. McGrady explained that Option A, taking the pipeline through Timberedge Lane and Sun Hills properties and then through Fox Run Regional Park, probably would not be an option they would go with, and Option B, going north on Roller Coaster Road to Baptist Road and then west to an existing water tank on the northside of Baptist is the strongest possibility. Officials said they will continue to pursue data for the most cost-effective route when making their final decision. Maps, handouts, and the full PowerPoint presentation are available at https://triviewmetro.com. Photo by Julie Haverluk.
TLWC wine tasting, Jan. 21
Caption:The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) held the first monthly meeting of its newest interest group focused on learning the art of wine tasting on Jan. 21. The organizer of "Wine, Sip and Share," Kelly Trop (front center), has an extensive background in the wine industry. She earned a Viticulture and Enology degree from Surry Community College in North Carolina, and then worked in wine-tasting rooms in California and Washington. Kelly will be coordinating with Dirk Stamp of Monument’s Wine Seller to select a variety of wines to showcase each month. TLWC has donated over $1 million in grants since 1973. The grant application for 2022 is available through March 15 on the club’s website, www.tlwc.net. Photo by Byron Trop.
Furay at TLCA, Jan. 29
Caption: On Jan. 29, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Richie Furay opened the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) 2022 concert year. Furay stated, "I am glad to still make music and happy for people to come out and see us." Accompanied by his daughter, vocalist Jesse Lynch, and Dan Skarsa on guitar and vocals, Furay delighted the sold-out concert with a mix of songs from his days with Buffalo Springfield, including Go and Say Goodbye, Poco’s Pick Up the Pieces, and his solo ventures. Between songs, he enthralled the audience with stories covering his musical journey of 50-plus years. Furay now performs with a powerful nine-piece band and with an intimate, acoustic group as on this evening, which highlights vocals and lyrics. Regarding the TLCA, he said "It’s kinda like playing in the living room; we are family." The audience this evening felt that intimacy. Photo by David Futey.
Red Kettles collect more than $32K
Caption: Once again, the Tri-Lakes community has manifested its generous nature in donations amounting to $32,109 for the Annual Holiday Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. Attending the check presentation to the Salvation Army on Jan. 21 are, back row from left: Sam Gilmore, Salvation Army intern; Rich Hicks, Monument Hill Kiwanis Club president; Capt. Hanson of the Salvation Army; Ron Mangiarelli, Monument Hill Kiwanis bell ringing coordinator; Rick Couch. Front row from left: Cindy Geley and Billie Healy, co-presidents of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club. Many volunteer hours of bell ringing at Tri-Lakes businesses were coordinated by the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Individuals and members of the community who provided time at the Red Kettles included the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club; Cub Scouts with parents; Bear Creek Elementary School K-Kids Club with parents; Lewis-Palmer Middle School Builders Club; Boy Scout Troop 17; Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High School Key Clubs; and the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Since 1997, over $829,000 has been distributed to the Salvation Army through the Monument Hill Kiwanis’ bell ringing efforts. Photo by Warren Gerig; caption by Sharon Williams.
Caption: As of Jan. 30, the Santa Fe Open Space was still not open to the public. The website, https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/parks-and-recreation/santa-fe-open-space/, still shows a tentative opening of late summer/early fall 2021. At last check, El Paso County Parks was awaiting completion of signs and an information center. This photo was taken 0.67 miles south of the east Palmer Lake parking lot. Photo by Steve Pate.
Quilt raffle in progress
Caption: Seventeen St. Peter quilters pooled their talents and created a handmade quilt to be used to raise funds to fulfill the needs of the parish and St. Peter Catholic School (SPCS). Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20. They’re available for purchase after all weekend Masses until March 6 or in the parish office during business hours. The drawing will be on Monday, March 7. Proceeds from previous quilt raffles were used by the Women’s Guild to buy items for the Parish Ministry Center, create scholarships for SPCS, purchase tickets for the priests and staff for the SPCS Gala, and more. Photo provided by St. Peter Church.
Our Community News is an all-volunteer organization. For the past 20 years, our volunteers have provided unbiased reporting on important local issues, including real estate development, fire departments, school districts, and water availability. We have provided a very favorable platform for advertising local businesses. We have published letters to the editor to allow you to express your opinions on events in the Tri-Lakes area.
Now we find that we have more tasks than we have volunteers. Some vital jobs where we could use your help:
• Reporters. Reporting on local meetings, what they talked about and what they decided.
• Mailing assistants. Counting and lifting tubs of papers to take the monthly mailing to the post offices and stacks of papers to local businesses, loading and unloading mailing tubs from a truck at two locations, preparing post office paperwork, tub labels, subscription labels, etc.
• Drivers. Driving a rental truck to various post offices once a month.
• Ad sales assistants. We need volunteers who love OCN to contact local businesses and encourage them to advertise in OCN.
The time and skills involved vary greatly from job to job. OCN will provide whatever equipment and training you need.
Please join us today! Meet a group of interesting and committed people. Learn new skills—use your enthusiasm and creativity to benefit our community and celebrate unfiltered information.
Please call Publisher John Heiser at (719) 488-3455, or email email@example.com to see how you can contribute. Contact John today! He is waiting to hear from you. Together we can ensure that OCN continues to provide a vital service to our wonderful Tri-Lakes community.
By Janet Sellers
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the information number for that event. Please notify us if your event listing needs to be updated.
Volunteers needed for El Paso County zoning and development
The Board of El Paso County Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Board of Adjustment. Applications for the open position are due by Feb. 22. The Board of Adjustment is currently seeking one Regular member and one Associate member. The Board of Adjustment hears and decides on issues of physical variances related to the county zoning code. Variance requests may include changes to dimensions, structural location, bulk limitations, or other development requirements. Board meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 9 am at the Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed at: https://bocc.elpasoco.com/volunteer
Seniors Driver’s License Electronic Renewal
With the implementation of the Driver’s License Electronic Renewal By Seniors Act (HB21-1139), Colorado seniors now have the permanent ability to renew their driver license or identification card online, but there are new laws to understand. Information is online via www.mycolorado.state.us. Some restrictions apply to drivers aged 21-80, and drivers over 80 need a special doctor’s statement. Coloradans who are concerned about an elder family member’s ability to drive should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DMV online and kiosks
Clerk & Recorder’s Office provides motor vehicle and driver’s license services. 30+ services at www.mydmv.colorado.gov. Renew registration online or at a kiosk. Make appointments. check in for appointments and wait where it’s convenient for you. The DMV encourages Coloradans to skip the trip and use its online services whenever possible. So before your next trip to the DMV, remember to save time, go online. Visit www.DMV.Colorado.gov/Save-time for more information. See www.epcdrives.com.
CO 21 (Powers Blvd.) & Research Pkwy. construction
Work will be completed in fall 2022 and will consist of replacing the current at-grade intersection with an innovative Diverging Diamond Interchange by constructing an overpass for Powers Boulevard/Colorado Highway 21 traffic to move continuously through the intersection over Research Parkway. For many more details and rendering of final configuration, including a video showing new traffic flow, see https://cccpi.net/cdot-powers-research.pdf.
I-25 and CO 21 (Powers Blvd) Interchange now open
A new interchange and a ¾-mile stub of state highway CO 21 (Powers Blvd.) connecting I-25 to Voyager Pkwy opened Oct. 29. 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/.
Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)
If a disaster happened today, could you easily find your crucial household, financial, and medical documents to recover quickly? Use the checklists in the free Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) to ensure nothing is missing. Get the EFFAK at: https://go.usa.gov/xHC2m
MVEA board of directors election
Are you interested in being an MVEA board of directors candidate? You must reside in the district where there is a vacancy. For more information, see the ad on page 18 and visit MVEA’s annual meeting web page at www.mvea.coop/annual-meeting.
MVEA planning broadband service
Mountain View Electric Association is planning to provide reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband service to all its 51,000 members in the next six years. MVEA and Conexon Connect teams are now designing and mapping the network. For more information about MVEA and Conexon Connect’s fiber-to-the-home project, visit www.mvea.coop/broadband.
MVEA offers rebates
For information on MVEA’s energy efficiency rebates, visit www.mvea.coop/save-energy-money/rebates/, or call 800-388-9881. "
It pays to use MVEA’s bill paying options
MVEA offers credits for using making auto-pay and on-line payments. See ad on page 12.
Palmer Lake Arts District forming
The newly forming Palmer Lake Arts District is looking for working artists interested in participating in an artist cooperative located in Palmer Lake, working artists and persons to organize and manage the coop. For inquiries contact email@example.com.
Palmer Lake Vaile Museum to reopen
Plans to reopen soon with several new exhibits upon completion of the improved handicap accessible ramp. We are in great need of volunteers to carry on the work of the society. Visit www.PalmerDivideHistory.org or call 719-559-0837.
Area code required for local (719) and (970) calls
Colorado customers with numbers in the 719 and 970 area codes should dial 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. They will still count as local calls. Check your safety and security alert devices to be sure they are programmed with 10-digit dialing. You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services) and other local three-digit services including 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 are currently available in your community, dial these codes with just three digits.
Openings on Monument boards
The Town of Monument has openings on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. For more information, visit and to download an application, go to http://townofmonument.org/261/Available-Board-Openings.
Openings on Palmer Lake boards
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 opportunities 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
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.
LEAP—help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1-April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
WMMI seeks volunteers
WMMI has positions for docents/tour guides, front desk, landscaping, and building and maintenance. For more details, contact Loretta, 719-488-0880, or email Volunteer@wmmi.org.
Free services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and handyman services to Tri-Lakes seniors. Private transportation to medical appointments or a grocery store is now provided by Envida, 719-633-4677. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Monday through Friday at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center and senior-friendly library programs. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
Foot Care Clinic
A registered nurse examines your feet and provides foot care advice, toenail trimming. Silver Alliance Senior Center across the street from the Tri-Lakes YMCA, on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. By appointment only, 303-698-9496. $40 charge unless insured through Kaiser. Info: Nurse Association, 719-577-4448.
MCSS needs driver volunteers
Mountain Community Senior Services is in desperate need of drivers to drive senior citizens to appointments. For information on how to help, call 719-488-0076, and leave a message or visit www.coloradoseniorhelp.com.
El Paso County services to veterans
If you or someone you know needs food, housing, transportation, behavioral health counseling, or employment support, Mt. Carmel continues to be a beacon of support for those who served. Please call 719-772-7000 or email 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).
I-25 MyWay commuting options website
In another effort to improve traveler and worker safety along the 18-mile-long construction zone of Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock, rush-hour travelers now can take advantage of I-25 MyWay, a new partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Denver Regional Council of Governments. I-25 MyWay is offering transit, vanpool and carpool incentives to commuters willing to try a new mode of transportation between Colorado Springs and Denver. Taking more single-occupant vehicles off the road helps reduce congestion and enhances the environment. Commuters can learn more about eligibility and types of incentives at www.i25MyWay.org. The site will run through the end of construction in 2022.
Sign up for "Reverse 9-1-1"
The Emergency Notification System (powered by Everbridge), commonly referred to as Reverse 9-1-1, is a tool that can make rapid notifications to specific geographic areas to alert you to emergency situations including manmade disasters, evacuations, hazardous materials incidents, missing persons, and more. Reverse 9-1-1 is not the same as Amber Alerts, which are generated by a different system. You must register to receive emergency notifications on any phone other than your landline. You can list up to five locations and up to eight points of contact. Sign up at www.elpasoteller911.org.
El Paso County Hazardous Materials & Recycling Collection Facility
https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/environmental-division/ Appointments required. 719-520-7878.
Reading tutor volunteers needed
Children’s Literacy Center provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level! Tutoring is at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and our Summer Session will run through Aug. 14. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or email Christine Jeffson at Christine@childrensliteracycenter.org.
By Janet Sellers
Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the 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 February 02, 2022. 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 February 02, 2022. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.