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By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board held its regular meeting on July 14 and special meetings on July 22 and 25. The board discussed arming staff and teachers, modifying its dress policy, and the results of an eighth-grade survey. It also held executive sessions to discuss personnel matters related to Chief Operating Officer (COO) Merlin Holmes and details of security arrangements.
Board votes to arm staff
At the July 14 regular meeting, Ryan Graham, board president, noted that he had been able to bring in the organization Able Shepherd (AS) to meet with administration, teachers, and staff. The board voted unanimously to call a special meeting on July 25 to bring AS founder Jimmy Graham (no relation) to hold a Town Hall-style Q&A forum on safety and security.
At the special meeting on July 25, Jimmy Graham spoke about his background in the military, work as a trainer, and role as a father and husband. He talked about the AS training modules using the acronym DEFEND for Defense, Evacuate, Fortify, Emergency Medical Aid, Notify, and Dial 911.
Parents asked if the school had conducted a building vulnerability assessment. They expressed concerns about teachers’ reactions under live fire, teachers leaving their rooms, the legal implications and consequences if a teacher were to kill another teacher or student, and how to alleviate kids’ anxiety about concealed carry in the school. Other parents expressed support based on seeing security in a school Jimmy Graham had worked with and felt this was an important option for the school to have and applauded the work of AS saying someone needed to be the sheepdog and the school needed to do everything possible to ensure students are safe.
Ryan Graham said previous boards had done building assessments and identified vulnerabilities which he would not detail but said the board would address those issues. Brad Miller, MA’s legal counsel, noted that the 2015 Claire Davis School Safety Act obligated schools to take reasonable care to protect students and said there is an established insurance protocol for schools that engage armed staff members. Ryan Graham also noted that students should not know who carries a concealed weapon. The financial reality, he said, is that the AS program is fiscally conservative and costs much less than hiring another school resource officer.
The board adjourned to executive session to discuss specialized security arrangements, returning nearly an hour and a half later. It voted unanimously on a resolution to commence vulnerability assessments and start vetting staff (excluding teachers at this time) to train with AS and ensure MA has armed security personnel at each campus. The full resolution is at: https://www.monumentacademy.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MA-Ratified-Resolution-Regarding-School-Safety-and-Security.pdf.
Uniform policy modified along gender lines
The board reviewed suggested changes to the middle school uniform policy 1501MS and the high school dress code 1501HS. Changes included specifying that only girls could wear skirts and makeup while only boys could wear ties. The middle school policy added that it applies at school and for school-sponsored activities and that "students must comply with the dress code for their gender." The middle school policy also now prohibits multi-colored hair, radical hairstyles, and partially shaved hair. The high school policy added the same gender distinctions and a rule banning "cross-dressing." While acknowledging Colorado’s CROWN Act (HB20-1048) and saying its expectations do not restrict ethnic or religious expression, the high school policy also prohibits dreadlocks.
In teacher comments, Karl Brown, a science teacher, said his goal is to develop lifelong learners by accepting students for who, where, and what they are but not allowing unacceptable behavior. He said he was disappointed in gender-specific rules that do not accept students for who they are, saying he loses that opportunity. Cristin Patterson, a music teacher, noted that the policies do not specify whether it applies to gender at birth versus gender identity and that language like radical, excessive, and modesty are open to interpretation by each teacher.
Parent Heather Yuen said these were "shocking changes" that should not be enacted if they did not directly impact learning. MA should teach kids to be accepting and loving of everyone and should focus its energy on staff shortages and financial issues, she said. She felt the policies were walking a fine legal line and said charter schools are still subject to all state and federal laws against discrimination. The goal should be to give kids the best education, but MA was starting to feel more like a military academy, not a public school of choice.
Student Calvin Yuen also said he supported having some order in school where kids are supposed to learn. He said he agreed with the rules on hair color and offensive shirts, though that could be hard to define, but not allowing boys to paint their nails seemed stupid. He did not feel that boys painting their nails was distracting, nor girls wearing suits and ties as they have at school dances and thought prohibiting boys from wearing skirts might be illegal. What was distracting to his learning environment, he said, was vulgar acts like kids doing the Nazi salute after learning about World War II or kids in assemblies chanting "Let’s Go Brandon."
Finally, representative to MA’s Sources of Strength program and Student Council member Lindsay Yuen wrote a letter to the board and COO saying she felt the dress code changes would only make things worse at the school. She felt that a transgender student who thought MA was the best choice academically would not benefit from being told they could not wear skirts, makeup, or ties based on their gender assigned at birth. Yuen said genderfluid students might find it helpful to wear different clothing styles to match their identity on a given day. She said one of the reasons for a dress code is to keep MA students safe, but reminding transgender students that they are in the wrong body is not safe or advisable and can contribute to suicide rates.
Yuen said she stands up for what’s right and fights for students’ safety and comfort and would not like to support a school that doesn’t support its students due to close-minded and prejudiced beliefs and values. Finally, referencing the Colorado Department of Education’s page on gender and sexual orientation which links to House Bill 21-1108 and the Civil Rights Commission rule 3 CCR 708-1 prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression, she said enforcing the policy could be considered gender-based harassment.
Board member Joe Buczkowski expressed concern about voting without a legal review of the policy. High school Principal David Kennington said that legal counsel had reviewed the policy and provided feedback. Responding to public comments, Kennington noted the dress code’s purposes and design are addressed in the front of the policy and have to do with respect, character, and citizenship. The policy, he said, does not address how the school supports students based on their gender identity, nor does it address facility use.
Asked how the school would enforce the policy if a student whose gender identity is different than their assigned gender violates the policy, Kennington said he was not in a position to answer that. The origin of the dress code shows that MA prefers very general guidelines that establish what it wants its culture and climate to become, he said, noting that this approach calls students to broad ideas consistent with a classical education.
After noting that Miller had reviewed the policy, the board unanimously voted to accept the changes as proposed. The uniform and dress code policies can be found, along with other policies, at https://bit.ly/ma-bd-policies.
Eighth-grade exit survey results
Kennington presented the results of a June 15 survey sent out to every family who indicated an intent to attend high school elsewhere. The survey, which was open for about a month, got 55 responses to its five questions. Students going into ninth grade represented the majority of respondents, with 5% going into 10th grade.
Kennington said responses indicated students were staying in D38 but leaving MA because of a limited curriculum, too few courses, high teacher turnover and absenteeism, few opportunities for sports and extracurricular clubs, not feeling like a high school experience, instability, small size, and lack of rigor. Kennington said the district’s Project Lead the Way class and a full slate of Advanced Placement (AP) courses were specifically mentioned.
Respondents also said they still believe in and love MA and hope that there will be greater years ahead with consistent leadership and faculty. They suggested MA should work on building a community of teachers and staff again by encouraging and appreciating them, and respondents provided positive comments for teachers by name.
Graham expressed his appreciation for the report, saying this would fall back into MA’s Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis, and expressed his support for continuing this survey on an annual basis.
Board meeting highlights include:
• The board swore in the three new board members, Emily Belisle, Craig Carle, and Danny O’Brien, of whom only Carle was physically present.
• The board held a special meeting on July 22 to go into an executive session to discuss COO performance. Several hours later, they came out and voted to create a committee consisting of Buczkowski and Carle to investigate contracts and operations, reporting back by Aug. 5.
• Graham reported that the Highway 105-related re-circulation plan went back out to bid but still received no responses, so the project will not likely be done this coming school year and may be delayed until next summer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints next door has graciously said it will extend MA’s use agreement through the 2022-23 school year.
• Buczkowski reported for the Finance Committee that the school has financial challenges for the upcoming year because the debt service for the East Campus building will increase by $1.4 million, which will lead to a $700,000 deficit unless MA raises funds or uses its reserves. MA hopes to close that gap by increasing enrollment, fundraising, and other efforts.
• Parent Emily Davis said she had kids both at MA and D38 schools and noted common ground regarding snow day schedules, band concerts, and a safety grant. She said MA couldn’t exist without D38, and D38 can’t serve all students without MA. Noting that D38 is considering a mill levy override (MLO), Davis said that MA could gain up to $1.1 million to increase teacher pay and that it would be foolish not to support an effort that draws from the whole community. She urged the board to work cooperatively with D38 on this issue.
The MA School Board meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The next regular board meeting will be on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. on the East Campus. See more information at see https://bit.ly/ma-boe.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
At its July 21 meeting, the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board discussed the implications of a letter it received from two neighboring districts that co-own the Upper Monument Creek Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant (UMCRWWTF) with DWSD notifying the district that they may discontinue use of the facility. Board President Ed Houle resigned from the board due to plans to move outside the district. The board heard updates on the status of three of its wells.
The meeting ended with an executive session.
Forest Lakes and Triview may abandon treatment facility
On July 5, Ann Nichols, district manager of Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and James McGrady, district manager of Triview Metropolitan District (TMD), sent the DWSD board a certified letter announcing they were considering participating in the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project and discontinuing their use of the treatment plant they co-own with DWSD. The letter points out that DWSD "will have to assume all costs of operation, administration, maintenance, upgrade and replacement" for the plant—costs that are currently shared by the three districts. DWSD would also be solely responsible for funding any future expansions or compliance upgrades.
The letter also points out that, even after FLMD and TMD are no longer using the plant, they will retain their voting rights and DWSD will need to obtain one or both of their votes to undertake any "actions or expenditures related to the plant." The letter ends with an invitation to DWSD to purchase their rights and interests in the facility.
DWSD District Manager Jeff Hodge explained DWSD’s reasons for not participating in NMCI and recapped a recent meeting with Nichols and McGrady. NMCI was not in the best interest of DWSD consumers, he said, because the anticipated operating costs of the project were too high, and it did not provide any way to re-use DWSD’s treated wastewater. Hodge said based on the meeting, he was not surprised at the contents of the letter.
Later in the meeting, Hodge said he had attended a meeting of the Joint Use Committee, which oversees operations of the Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) used by the Monument Sanitation District, the Palmer Laker Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District to explore the possibility of DWSD using that facility. Details of that discussion are reported in the article on the Monument Sanitation District on page 7.
Further discussion of the issue was deferred until the executive session.
July meeting was Houle’s last; new officers elected
Board President Ed Houle told the board his family was moving outside the district, so he would be required to resign from the board. The board elected Wayne Vanderscheure president of the board and Bill George vice president; Kevin Deardorff remains as treasurer.
New well proves successful
In his manager’s report, Hodge told the board that the newly drilled Well 16A is expected to provide 700 gallons per minute for a daily total of 550,000 gallons.
The meeting ended with an executive session to consider contract negotiations for a long-term contract with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) allowing DWSD to use CSU’s infrastructure to convey water owned by DWSD and to consider contract negotiations concerning the UMCRWWTF.
Caption: On July 7, the Donala Water and Sanitation District well drilling project continued at the Gleneagle Maintenance Facility on Pauma Valley Drive. The drilling was completed one week later. Photo by David Futey.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18 at 9 a.m. Generally, board meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. 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 Jackie Burhans and James Howald
In July, the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board addressed issues raised by the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project. NMCI, led by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), proposed that sanitation districts in the northern part of El Paso County send their wastewater to a treatment facility in Colorado Springs that has excess capacity rather than treating it themselves, allowing districts that chose to participate to reduce processing costs.
In July CSU asked districts to document whether they would participate. MSD, after months of debate, elected not to do so, and made that official with a resolution passed at the July 20 meeting. Neighboring Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) also opted out and requested that it be allowed to use the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF), which is jointly owned by Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) and MSD and managed by the Joint Use Committee (JUC), which has equal representation from all three owners. MSD Director Laura Kronick currently serves as the president of the JUC.
MSD says no to NMCI
The board discussed Resolution 07192022-1, which says MSD will not participate in NMCI because the project does not give the district adequate control over costs and does not provide a means for MSD to recapture and reuse treated wastewater.
District Manager Mark Parker said that WWSD, PLSD and DWSD have all officially said no to NMCI. Triview Metropolitan District (TMD) and Forest Lakes Metro District (FLMD) will participate, he said. Parker added that CSU has never addressed questions about how radium and Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) will be handled.
Director John Howe pointed out that TMD and FLMD would be responsible for much higher NMCI costs due to the non-participation of four districts.
Director Laura Kronick said that participating would be financially irresponsible because of uncertainty around costs.
The board voted unanimously for the resolution, pending a review by the district’s lawyer.
DWSD asks to use TLWWTF
Parker told the board that DWSD General Manager Jeff Hodge had attended the last JUC meeting and had requested that DWSD be allowed to send its wastewater to TLWWTF, the treatment facility shared by MSD, PLSD and WWSD. Currently, DWSD treats its wastewater at a facility it shares with TMD and FLMD. Since both TMD and FLMD have elected to participate in NMCI, they will no longer need the treatment facility they share with DWSD, leaving DWSD to pay the entire cost of operating that facility.
Parker said there were two approaches to giving DWSD access to the TLWWTF: DWSD could become a fourth partner in the JUC or DWSD could become a customer of MSD and access the treatment facility through MSD’s infrastructure.
Parker said he favored the second approach because having four partners raises the issue of tied votes that would slow decision making. He added that the partner approach would mean the JUC would have two large partners, WWSD and DWSD, and two much smaller partners, MSD and PLSD.
Parker also pointed out that adding DWSD as a user of the TLWWTF would advance the cause of water reuse since treated wastewater would remain local and could perhaps be recycled though Monument Creek.
Parker said that the TLWWTF had the capacity to handle DWSD’s wastewater, and minimal infrastructure would have to be built by DWSD, primarily a small number of lift stations. Parker said DWSD’s participation would likely be three to five years in the future.
The consensus of the board was that bringing DWSD on as a customer was the best approach and that any final decisions would be made later.
Monument Sanitation District meetings are normally held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 17. 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
On July 18, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met to hear the results of its 2020-21 financial audit. The board considered increasing the amount of contingency costs its district manager can authorize. It also addressed a clerical error in the deed for a recent land purchase. The board heard a request from the County Club at Woodmoor to provide water and sewer service for two restrooms. Staff presented operational reports.
The meeting ended with an executive session.
District finances receive clean audit
John Cutler of John Cutler & Associates told the board that his audit of the district’s finances resulted in an "unmodified opinion," indicating there were no issues with the audit process and no concerns with the district’s finances. Cutler noted some corrections were made related to depreciation. Jessie Shaffer, WWSD’s general manager, explained that some money had been spent on construction projects that were not completed within the fiscal year covered by the audit.
Cutler’s report shows the district’s operating revenues exceeded operating expenses in the year audited. Water and sewer fees met expectations while operating expenditures fell short of the amount budgeted. Actual revenues indicated that customer usage patterns and hydrological patterns were predicted correctly.
In 2021, the district budgeted $7.48 million for construction projects including South Water Treatment Plant improvements, well pump replacements, Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP) surface water conversion, construction of a new Lake Pump Station (LPS), and water tank repainting.
In 2021 the district also refinanced bonds from 2011, taking advantage of lower interest rates and reducing the maximum annual debt service by $23,450 per year.
The board voted unanimously to approve the audit report and file it with the state.
District manager gets higher authorization limit
At the beginning of the construction projects undertaken by the district in 2021, the board authorized Shaffer to approve change orders for contingencies up to $350,000 without waiting for a vote at a board meeting. The board voted unanimously to increase that amount by $30,000.
Board president authorized to correct deed
As part of the CWTP conversion to allow the plant to treat surface water in addition to ground water, the district purchased a small parcel of land in the northwest corner of the Lewis-Palmer Middle School campus from the school district. Due to a clerical error on the part of the title company, the land purchased from the school district was not correctly defined, giving WWSD ownership of more land than they in fact purchased. The board voted to authorize the board president to sign a corrected deed.
Country Club at Woodmoor requests additional service
Earlier in the year, The Country Club at Woodmoor received approval from the district to build two "perma-potties" on its golf course. These would not have been connected to water and sewer lines and would have required occasional draining like Porta-Potties. This plan did not meet requirements of El Paso County, however, and Armen Suny, one of the owners of the club, requested water and sewer service from the district for a more traditional design. The board agreed to consider his request and vote on it at a later meeting.
Highlights of operational reports
• Lake Woodmoor Drive will be closed from Aug. 1 to 15 for concrete replacement.
• The district is having difficulty hiring temporary staff to work in its service area and at Woodmoor Ranch.
• The amount of unaccounted water in the last month was 2%, the lowest measure in years. The district has been working to avoid water loss and to ensure accurate metering throughout the delivery system.
• The CWTP has been tuned to address taste and odor issues reported by customers with the surface water stored in Lake Woodmoor.
• Drilling for Well 22, a new well south of County Line Road and east of I-25, has been completed.
• Due to supply chain issues, a large door rated for high winds for the Lake Pump Station has been back ordered to March 2023; the district is considering other options.
• A developer proposing to build apartments on Monument Hill Road north of Deer Creek Road and south of Lewis-Palmer High School has inquired about water service. They want to build about 20 two- to four-story multi-family buildings with 300 to 350 units serving over 800 residents on 15 acres.
The meeting ended with an executive session for discussions on buying or selling real property and on potential agreements with the Town of Monument, Donala Water and Sanitation District, Cherokee Metropolitan District, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and JV Ranches LLC.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 8 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 719-488-2525 to verify meeting times and locations.
James Howald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts 1, 2, and 3, July 11 and 28:Residents rely on lake water; new trail approved
By Natalie Barszcz
On July 11, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District (FLMD) and Pinon Pines Metropolitan Districts (PPMD) 1, 2, and 3 held a joint "special meeting" via teleconference. The combined boards heard about the water supply outlook and well issues and approved an agreement for a new trail and a new contract for landscape and maintenance services. The board also accepted the 2021 audits, discussed board vacancies, and held an executive session. FLMD also held a second special meeting on July 28 to approve a notice of award for a well.
FLMD and PPMD’s 2 and 3 board meeting
Treasurer Douglas Stimple did not attend the meetings.
Dillon Well offline
FLMD District Manager Ann Nichols said the following:
• The Dillon Well has been offline since late May, and the district and residents are relying solely on water from Bristlecone Lake.
• There is sufficient capacity in the lake and at the surface water treatment plant, but the district will need to get the Dillon Well back online.
• Lane Engineering Inc. is assessing the condition of the well and has pulled out the pump and motor, but it is likely the pump failed and holes are present in the casings, and that is a problem.
• A quote from Lane Engineering to rehabilitate the well is a sizable amount of money to rectify all the issues, and the district is seeking additional quotes.
• Since the last time the district installed well equipment prices have risen from $40,000 to $140,000, and although additional quotes had been received, they are all much more than expected, but close and all valid.
• Over the next few months, the Dillon Well will be rehabilitated. The district had a pump and motor on hand, ready to be installed.
Tom Blunk of CP Real Estate Capital, representing Forest Lakes LLC and Forest Lakes Residential Development, said it was a wise decision by the board many years ago to have a pump and motor on hand, and it would be a smart move to consider having replacement equipment as an insurance policy for the future.
Nichols said it could have taken many months to obtain a pump and motor with the current supply line issues.
Water supply outlook
Nichols said that the Bristlecone Lake level rose to almost 39 acre-feet in the spring, but it did not reach the spillway, and it was about 35 acre-feet in early July. If the monsoon weather continues and the three-day watering week remains in place, the district will be OK, but the 90-day outlook predicts a hot and dry climate until winter. The residents are doing a good job conserving water and we are in relatively good shape, said Nichols.
Arapahoe (A1) Well
PPMD 1 board Vice Chairman Mike Slavic requested an update on the Arapahoe Well.
Nichols said the A1 Well was in use for a short time and was blended with the surface water of Bristlecone Lake, but because it is a different source of water the district was having a problem with setting the chemical feeds appropriately, and residents were experiencing yellow water. The district has backed off blending the A1 well water with the surface water, but it was an aesthetic and not toxic to the residents, said Nichols.
On July 28, the board held a special meeting to approve a notice of award to Velocity Constructors of Englewood for a total cost of $1.1 million to complete the pre-drilled Denver Well located in the Falcon Commerce Center.
The board approved the award 3-0 and directed Nichols to sign the contract.
New trail license agreement
Secretary James Boulton said that about five months ago, Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates (MWTA) had approached Classic Homes with regard to building a single-track trail on the west end of the West Valley development, running from north to south and terminating in a cul-de-sac in Filing 7. MWTA will build and maintain the trail on their dime. Dykstra had drafted the legal agreement, and the board could move forward and approve it, said Boulton.
Nichols said that MWTA had made some changes to the agreement and red-lined the clause for provision of lighting and snow removal, and that is OK, but it also struck through the indemnity clause and that needs to be discussed with the MWTA Executive Director Cory Sutela.
District counsel Russell W. Dykstra of Spencer Fane LLP agreed that the board could approve the license agreement with FLMD and MWTA, and then address the indemnity issue later.
Nichols said it would be beneficial to the district to approve the mutual use trail for both hikers and mountain bikers, and it would be like all the other FLMD trails as a benefit to the residents, but MWTA will build and help maintain the trail. The trail will be located in a steeper area and subject to more erosion than the other trails, said Nichols.
The board approved the trail, 3-0.
Landscape service provider change
Nichols requested the board approve the first amendment: adding landscaping services to the existing agreement for contract services with Triview Metropolitan District (TMD). TMD began providing the water and wastewater operations, maintenance, and administrative services for the FLMD water system Jan. 1. See www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#flmd and http://www.ocn.me/v22n1.htm#tlmd.
Nichols said that TMD includes a landscaping maintenance department, and the additional service will be billed at $6,000 per month, the same amount as the previous provider with no changes to the landscape service. The service with TMD will begin at the end of July, said Nichols.
Dykstra recommended the contract.
The board approved the new contract, 3-0.
Landscape maintenance concerns
Nichols said in response to multiple residents’ concerns regarding landscaping:
• Vangie Stratton of Hammersmith Management recommended against a third sign at Pinon Lake because the requested location doesn’t have trail access to the lake.
• Two additional signs had been posted prohibiting the recreational use of Pinon Lake.
• It is anticipated that with TMD taking over the landscape maintenance and on site most of the time managing the water system, that issues may be handled a bit better.
• The district will continue working on some of the areas where the residents have raised concerns, such as tree replacement, but FLMD will be clear with the residents about what will be maintained in terms of mowing, etc.
North Monument Creek Interceptor project
Nichols updated the board on the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project and said:
• Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has requested the northern entities decide by Aug. 1 whether they plan to participate in the design phase of the NMCI.
• The Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility had decided against participating in the NMCI project.
• CSU will still proceed with only the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant participating in the project. The plant is jointly owned by TMD, Donala Water and Sanitation District, and FLMD.
• FLMD strongly believes that the most cost-effective solution is to proceed with TMD, and the savings will be considerable if FLMD allows CSU to treat the district wastewater.
FLMD President George Lenz said Nichols had done a great job educating the board for the past couple of years, and the board members agreed to participate in the design study for the NMCI project.
Board vacancies remain
Dykstra said that district resident Steve Schlosser had applied to fill the vacant seat on the FLMD, PPMD 2 & 3 boards, and he said that, even though Schlosser is building a house in another community, he can still qualify for the FLMD board and serve on the other boards. A publication of the vacancy would allow other candidates to potentially fill the position that would run until May 2023.
Nichols confirmed that all the boards have had a vacancy for a few years.
The board approved the publication of a notice to advertise the board vacancies, 3-0.
Note: The current FLMD and PPMD 2 & 3 boards are made up of four executive staff members from Classic Homes. A vacancy also exists on the all-resident PPMD 1 board. See www.ocn/v22n1.htm#flmd.
Land to be deeded
Boulton said a large un-platted tract that does not serve any purpose in the West Valley remains, and he suggested a legal description be obtained and it be gifted to FLMD.
Dykstra said title work and a legal description of the tract had been requested, and the board could accept the transfer and dedication of the tract before the deed transfer at the next meeting.
The board accepted the transfer and dedication subject to title, 3-0.
Dykstra announced that no action would be taken by the board after the executive session, and the board moved into executive session at 4:43 p.m., pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 24-6-402(4)(b) and (e), to discuss matters about an intergovernmental agreement.
Nichols reminded the board it had signed a full audit exemption for PPMD 3 in February and said that no deficiencies had been found in the internal control for FLMD and PPMD 2. The districts had received a "clean opinion" for the 2021 audits from Hoelting & Sons.
The board accepted the audits for both districts, 3-0.
The board approved the minutes from the Feb. 7 meeting, 3-0.
PPMD 1 board meeting
Director Chris Paulene was excused.
Nichols stated that PPMD 1 had received a "clean opinion" from the district auditor Hoelting & Sons, and requested the board approve the 2021 audit and the financial statements received by the board.
The board accepted the audit as presented, 3-0.
April financial statement
The board accepted the financial statement as of April as presented, 3-0.
The board also approved the June financial transaction to include the final bill for the 2021 audit for $5,100 from Hoelting & Sons.
The board approved the minutes from the Feb. 7 meeting, 3-0.
The PPMD 1 board adjourned at 4:09 p.m.
Meetings are usually held quarterly on the first Monday of the month at 4 p.m. Until further notice, meetings will be held via teleconference due to COVID-19 distancing protocols. Meeting notices are posted at https://forestlakesmetrodistrict.com. For general questions, contact Ann Nichols at 719-327-5810, email@example.com.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Marlene Brown
At the Triview Metropolitan District Regular Board of Directors meeting on July 20, the board approved an agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to cooperate and participate in the engineering and design of the North Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project.
Board members, Triview staff, and lawyer George Rowley attended in-person and online. The meeting agenda and packet may be viewed at https://triviewmetro.com/board-documents-and-notices. All board members were present, and a quorum was in effect.
The NMCI project can provide wastewater collection, delivery, and treatment service through the CSU plant. Potential partners include Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and Donala Water and Sanitation District. Triview anticipates its maximum wastewater treatment needs will be about 1 million gallons per day. It has determined that wastewater service provided by NMCI will be the most cost-effective and efficient means of providing the service. Therefore, Triview agrees with CSU to cooperate and participate in the engineering and design of NMCI. The board unanimously approved Resolution 2022-06.
Election of officers
The board approved the slate of officers for new terms. They are President Mark Melville, Vice President Anthony Sexton, and Secretary/Treasurer James Barnhart.
$1.6 million for Northern Delivery System segment
The board unanimously approved the consent agenda for the special board meetings June 9 and 23. Action items included the award of Segment C of the Northern Delivery System in the amount of $1.6 million to K.R. Swerdfeger. The June 9 meeting was adjourned. At the June 23 meeting, James McGrady said, "the progress is going well for Northern Delivery System." The design is in place and contract awarded, with construction scheduled sometime in the fall. The 1041 application will be filed with El Paso County when the easements are in place.
Other items include Resolution 2022-05 Resolution of the Triview Metropolitan District Concerning District’s IGA with Town of Monument Sales Tax Share and Law Enforcement Tax.
The board approved a contract of $6,000 per month for services between Triview and Forest Lake Metro District. Triview services are included but not limited to maintaining and mowing turf, removal of clippings and spraying weeds, irrigation and winterizing of sprinkler systems, tree and plant care, and snow removal.
Under resolution 2022-07, the Triview board will adopt a Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics for the board, staff, members of any committee, and any volunteers acting in behalf of the district’s attorney, who will provide details of the Code of Conduct and Ethics at a later date.
Triview board meetings are generally held on the third Thursday of the month. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 18. The district office is located at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. Check the district’s website https://triview.com for meeting updates. Also see "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook or Twitter.com@TriviewMetro.
The newsletter for July went out to Triview Metropolitan District customers. To schedule your new free smart digital water meter installation, call (719) 488-6868 or email email@example.com.
Marlene Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) meeting on July 19, the board received the 2021 audit presentation, ratified the approval and signature of the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the provision of emergency services from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD), and approved the transfer of a lump sum to TLMFPD for the services.
Director Mike Forsythe was excused.
2021 audit presentation
Audit manager Daniel Slaymaker of Erikson, Brown and Kloster LLC said the district had received an unmodified or clean opinion for the 2021 audit, and no difficulties or disagreements had occurred between the auditors and the executive staff during the process. Slaymaker also confirmed that an audit filing extension had been filed for the 2021 audit.
Chairman Mark Gunderman requested the board approve the audit extension and consider approving the 2021 audit at the August meeting after the board members had commented on it.
The board approved the extension, 4-0.
District attorney Emily Powell of Ireland Stapleton Pryor Pascoe PC law firm requested the board ratify approval and the signatures of the IGA for the provision of emergency services from TLMFPD, effective as of June 21. See www.ocn.me/v22n7.htm#dwfpd and the TLMFPD article on page 13.
The board approved the request, 4-0.
Powell also requested the board consider the approval of a one-time 2022 lump sum transfer to TLMFPD in the amount of $1.8 million to pay for the services provided for the remainder of the year. The IGA full services contract implementation date is Aug. 28, and the transfer of funds would need to be made by Sept. 13, said Powell.
Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich said the district will still collect taxes for the remainder of the year, and the bank accounts will remain open to pay for attorney fees and other administrative expenses.
The board approved the transfer, 4-0.
TLMFPD advisory board
Powell requested the board select two directors and alternates to serve on the TLMFPD advisory board. Although there will be no opportunity to vote or participate in an executive session unless invited to do so, the board would have a voice in the matters that affect taxpayers in the community. Eligibility to participate in the meetings would take place after June 28 and at the TLMFPD regular Sept. 28 meeting, said Powell.
The board appointed Gunderman and Secretary Larry Schwarz, 4-0.
Resident Steve Simpson said he and other district residents are grateful to the board for their hard work, diligence, and stewardship. The level of emergency services had already increased two notches as part of a larger team, and everything is better for the community and the firefighters, he said.
Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley said the following:
• Fire Chief Andy Kovacs and Director of Administration Jamey Bumgarner met with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) to discuss purchasing the Station 3 property. The discussion is ongoing, but if the district does not sell the property to WWSD, then Station 3 may be rebuilt on the site. See WWSD article on page 8.
• The district discussed options for fire services with the Town of Palmer Lake, but the ball is in their court. See PLBOT article on page 17.
• Four recruits graduated from the fire academy at South Metro District, Denver. The graduates are undergoing a three-month onboarding process before joining a shift in September.
• Two firefighters are attending a fire academy at the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and firefighter Golden Rains is providing instruction at the academy until paramedic Charles Ragland replaces Rains as an instructor for the final two months of the course.
• The Station 1 property could be subdivided to create a 10-acre residential park, and the district would move the future planned training tower to the Town of Monument Public Works Department on Synthes Avenue. The district would retain the remaining 4 acres behind the station.
• The district presented a plan to create a dispatch steering committee to the El Paso County fire chiefs. The county is growing and system-wide changes need to be addressed.
Bumgarner said that a major entryway change is planned at Station 5 (Shamrock Station 2) on Highway 83/Stage Coach Road. The extensive upgrade does not involve the district and is being implemented by Flying Horse North, said Bumgarner.
For more information see the TLMFPD article on page 13.
The meeting adjourned at 5:14 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of every month at MFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, at 4 p.m. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 16 at 4 p.m. Meeting attendance is open to the public in person or via Zoom. For joining instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates visit www.wescottfire.org or www.tlmfire.org or contact Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich at 719-488-8680.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Natalie Barszcz
At the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) meeting on July 20, the board heard about staff losses and the recently hired replacement staff, approved a lease/purchase agreement for an engine, and received multiple updates to include the approved used ladder truck.
Director Kiersten Tarvainen was excused until 7:09 p.m.
Chairman Nathan Dowden said the district had recently received four staff resignations, with two personnel leaving for positions closer to home in Denver and Bailey, another no longer able to work two full-time firefighter positions, and the other had left to take an engineer/driver position, a rank that does not exist within the department. The district had recruited five firefighters from across the nation via social media, and since June those new hires are attending a basic training fire academy at the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD). A new training division officer, Capt. Jason Morrison, had joined the district, said Dowden.
Tower ladder truck update
Treasurer Jack Hinton said an extended warranty for 90 days on a tower ladder truck had been quoted for $2,300, but it would not be worth the cost. However, the board had approved a lighting package, and the paint and decal package, to be completed at Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus in Alabama. The district staff would avoid having to transport the ladder truck back and forth to Denver, and the in-state quote was almost identical to the Brindlee quote for paint and decals, said Hinton. The board unanimously approved the purchase of a 2005 used Aerialscope ladder truck for a total not to exceed $350,000 at its June meeting. See www.ocn.me/v22n7.htm#bffrpd.
Dowden thanked the entire team for identifying the ladder truck and said it speaks volumes to an open leadership that is willing to explore different options. Dowden also thanked resident Hugh Carver for suggesting the district search for a used model to reduce costs.
Hinton said purchasing a used truck had saved the district about $1.25 million.
Hinton said the board had approved the purchase of a Pierce Enforcer Pumper Engine for $631,554 at the April 21, 2021 meeting. See www.ocn.me/v21n5.htm#bffrpd.
Dowden requested the board approve Resolution 2022-02 to resolve the signing authority for Hinton and Fire Chief PJ Langmaid to sign a 10-year lease/purchase agreement for $356,000.
The board unanimously approved the lease/purchase agreement.
Hinton presented the financial report, but due to poor sound quality recording from the Zoom meeting, OCN was unable to decipher any of the report.
The board unanimously accepted the financial report as presented.
2021 audit extension request
Hinton requested the board approve a request from the district auditor Dawn Schilling of Schilling and Co. Inc., Littleton, for a two-month extension for the 2021 audit.
The board approved the extension, 4-0.
Dowden read the chief’s report as of June 30, as prepared by Langmaid and the executive staff, and said the following:
• The district responded to 16 fire calls and 33 EMS calls, and about 1,430 training hours had been completed in June.
• Notable revenues were $12,582 for ambulance revenue, $41,570 for deployments with a total tax revenue of about $1.084 million (includes property taxes and special ownership taxes).
• The district spent $250,000 to secure the purchase of the 2005 used Pierce Aerialscope tower ladder truck.
• The district Station Alerting system is aligned with the CSFD template. The project completion date is to be determined.
• The district had conducted 71 wildfire risk property assessments.
• Fire stage warnings will be updated via the district website. For updates, visit www.bffire.org.
• The 2023 budget cycle had begun with company officers submitting budget requests to the respective section chiefs for review. The budget will be more challenging than in recent years due to the action taken by the state government to lower the Residential Assessment Rate and the predicted recession and rising inflation due to federal policies.
Deputy Chief of Operations Chris Piepenburg said he had responded with a Type 6 (brush truck) engine to assist with a wildland fire in Elbert County, and a type 3 (wildland) engine had deployed to San Angelo, Texas, to conduct severity patrols (watching and maintaining fire lines).
Dowden said that despite the significant daily operational workload, the leadership within the organization is consistently focused on strategic planning for the next five, 10, and 20 years, to deliver a professional and high-performing service to the community.
Thank you received
Dowden read a note of gratitude from a homeowner, thanking the firefighters for a quick response to an outbuilding fire that occurred on June 14 at a property on Shoup Road.
The meeting adjourned at 7:59 p.m.
Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday of the month at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are open to the public in person or via Zoom. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 17 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
The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection (TLMFPD) board held a special meeting on July 8 to approve an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the provision of emergency services to the residents of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD), and on July 27 the board received a presentation from Monument Professional Firefighters Local 4319 members on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The board also held an executive session to receive legal advice regarding a CBA and on setting mill levies.
Director Jason Buckingham left the meeting due to shift commitments on July 27.
Secretary Mike Smaldino and Director Terri Hayes did not attend the July 8 meeting.
Intergovernmental agreement approved
On July 8, the board held a special meeting to approve a full-service IGA for the provision of emergency services for DWFPD and assume the employment of the DWFPD personnel.
In a roll call vote, the board approved the IGA 5-0.
The meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.
Collective bargaining agreement revisited
On July 27, TLMFPD firefighters Tyler Ruona and Christian Schmidt of the Monument Local 4319 International Firefighter Association gave a presentation to the board on collective bargaining agreements. Ruona said:
• Cooperative collective bargaining would be most effective for TLMFPD personnel.
• A CBA would achieve the goal and foster an establishment between both parties, creating an advantageous working relationship,
• The agreement would be more of a give and take, rather than take it or leave it relationship.
• A CBA would create the best means to solving workplace problems and establishing effective communications.
• The CBA document will change with discussion, but eventually the district will end up with a mutually beneficial document for the future.
• A CBA is the best and fairest way to capture the progress made over the past 18 months.
• A department with a CBA speaks volumes, and it would be good for firefighter retention.
Schmidt thanked the administration and the board for supporting the firefighters in the past.
President John Hildebrandt said that should arbitration happen, the final decision would be made by a third party, and the board would have ultimately lost control in the decision-making process. Hildebrandt asked Schmidt and Ruona if it was possible to incorporate everything the firefighters are requesting and maintain a revised Meet and Confer Plus document.
Vice President Roger Lance said that about 10 years ago, the TLMFPD had a dysfunctional board and administrative staff. A CBA would have resolved many issues and accusations when everything was undesirable in terms of how the district was run. It has taken awhile to get the current board and fire chief, and it is understandable that the firefighters are concerned about future staff and board changes.
Fire Chief Andy Kovacs said the Meet and Confer Plus document had been in place since January 2019 and will expire at the end of 2022. A meeting is scheduled with Local 4319 to discuss continuing the Meet and Confer Plus from Jan. 1, 2023, until all the CBA discussions have taken place and a decision is determined, said Kovacs.
Local 4319 labor law/employment attorney Naomi Perera of The Kelman Buescher Firm P.C., Denver, said:
• Firefighter arbitration is a very rare occurrence, and 2011 was the last case she had handled.
• The neutral third party drives both parties to come to an agreement.
• Colorado has 17 districts with a CBA that includes impasse resolution and binding arbitration, and about four or five are in place without impasse resolutions.
• There would be no option to strike due to the vital nature of the service firefighters provide.
• TLMFPD would be the first district with a CBA within El Paso County.
Hildebrandt said he did not feel the process was broken, and impasse resolution could be hurtful. He requested Kovacs explain the major benefit the board would gain from having a CBA versus the Meet and Confer plus agreement.
Kovacs said the following:
• The process will be similar if the Board of Directors agrees to pursue a CBA, with a thorough legal review by both parties.
• The benefit would be a higher level of participation from the union on issues relating to wages, benefits, and working conditions, giving the firefighters a voice.
• A fire chief can listen to everything the union asks of a fire district, but ultimately as it stands with the Meet and Confer Plus agreement, the fire chief and the board have the management rights to choose to accept requests from the union.
• A third party would help mediate the process in reaching a mutual decision.
Kovacs thanked Ruona and Schmidt for the CBA presentation and said the board would move into an executive session to receive legal counsel on the process of pursuing a CBA versus a Meet and Confer Plus agreement.
Note: Local 4319 requested the board explore the possibility of a CBA on Feb. 28, 2018. After much discussion between all parties, the board agreed to a Collaborative Meet and Confer Plus Agreement on Aug. 28, 2019. See www.ocn.me/v19n9.htm#tlmfpd.
State insurance program
District counsel Jennifer Madsen of Widner Juran LLP of Centennial gave a presentation to the board on the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program (FAMLI) and said:
• Colorado voters approved the FAMLI program in November 2020. See https://famli.colorado.gov.
• The program provides partial salary during periods of family and medical leave.
• Public employers can opt out of the program, and most local governments had made the decision to opt out.
• Employees do not really want the program and see the program as money taken from pay.
• TLMFPD employees already have a 12-week paid family and medical leave insurance program.
• Individual employees may choose to participate.
• The decision to opt out would last for eight years, and the board would need to revisit the decision in 2030.
Kovacs said the employees had been provided notice and given the opportunity to provide input, but the executive staff received no comments. Board meeting attendees were given the opportunity to comment on resolution 2022-05 regarding the district’s decision to decline participation in and opt out of the FAMLI program.
Resident Gary Nelson said it seems like a tax.
In a roll-call vote, the board approved to opt out of the program, 6-0.
Kovacs requested the board approve a lease/purchase financing agreement with PNC Equipment Finance LLC for an amount not to exceed $829,680 for a stock Pierce Enforcer Engine. The board approved the apparatus purchase at the June board meeting. See www.ocn.me/v22n7.htm#tlmfpd.
Director of Administration/Fire Marshal Jamey Bumgarner said the apparatus is expected in January 2023.
In a roll-call vote, the board approved the agreement, 6-0.
Volunteer chaplain program
Kovacs said more firefighters are lost to suicide than to firefighting, and although the district has a robust Peer Support program, a chaplain program handbook had been developed. The district had identified two volunteer chaplains; both are already providing support to the Monument Police Department (MPD). The volunteer chaplains would provide support to the district firefighters, spend about eight hours per month riding along with the firefighters, and officiate over events. The district would have to pay for the chaplain uniforms, said Kovacs.
The board approved the volunteer program, 6-0.
Wescott unification – full services contract
Kovacs said Aug. 28 will be the implementation date for the DWFPD staff to be transferred to the TLMFPD payroll. The DWFPD staff will be given the option of a cash payout or a transfer of sick leave time to the TLMFPD balance. The cash payout from DWFPD for the employees will be about $70,000, and about half of the employees elected to transfer sick leave. The legal counsel, executive staff, and board members are working with brokers to update the insurance and medical plans and transfer the assets. Everything except the former DWFPD Station 6 (formerly 3, located at Sun Hills Drive) will be included. See DWFPD article on page 11.
Financial report—June 30
Treasurer Tom Kelly said that as of June 30, the overall revenue received year to date was about $8.6 million, representing 66.8% of the projected 2022 income budget that is expected to be about $12.9 million. Overall expenses were about $4.79 million year to date—about 47.1% of the projected 2022 total expense of about $10.1 million. Fifteen electronic transactions were reviewed and of note were:
• $51,700 for the Station 1 concrete apron (first of two payments).
• $20,000 for the West Metro Fire Academy.
• $16,268 for wildfire pre-plans.
• $11,461 for fuel.
The board accepted the financial report as presented, 6-0.
Kovacs said the following:
• The district responded to American Medical Response requests out of district about 14 times in June.
• Call volume and ambulance requests had increased from June 2021.
• The combined district is trending about 542 hours of training per month.
• The district is on track to achieve all the projected goals for the year.
• The concrete apron at Station 1 had been completed for about $103,000.
• The Gleneagle Professional Firefighters Local 5314 will join Monument Local 4319 in early August, creating one voice for the firefighting staff.
Hildebrandt said a water main break had occurred on July 24 at Red Rocks Ranch, and Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) did not inform the residents and TLMFPD.
Division Chief of Operations Jonathan Bradley said FVAWD informed the Palmer Lake Fire Department (PLFD) through daily dispatch. TLMFPD, Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (Dispatch Center) had been notified to send tenders if a fire occurred. FVAWD will be contacted to ensure policy and procedures include notifying TLMFPD and PLFD, said Bradley.
The board moved into an executive session at 8:36 p.m. pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402(4)(b) for conference with legal counsel for the purpose of receiving legal advice on a collective bargaining agreement and on setting mill levies.
Kovacs confirmed that when the board returned to the regular meeting at 10:20 p.m., no action was taken.
The regular meeting adjourned at 10:21 p.m.
Caption: TLMFPD recently installed a U.S flag retirement box at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. The box is located at the east-facing side entry door. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 24 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 David Futey
WE NEED YOUR HELP: Our Community News (OCN) is urgently seeking volunteers to cover the Monument Board of Trustees, which typically meets twice a month. Actions of the Monument Board of Trustees can have a profound effect on the Tri-Lakes area. The meetings can be covered by attending in person or watching the meetings online. Our volunteers will gladly help you learn how to write articles summarizing "what was discussed and what was decided." It is a very effective way to become knowledgeable about what is happening in our area. If interested, please contact John Heiser, OCN Publisher, (719) 488-3455, email@example.com.
At the July 5 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, the board discussed a quasi-judicial resolution to suggest that members state the reason for their votes, affirmed other resolutions, discussed ordinances, and held public hearings on a variety of resolutions. Mayor Don Wilson requested to modify the agenda, moving the discussion item on the quasi-judicial resolution to first on the agenda. The board approved the agenda change with a 6-0 vote.
Quasi-judicial resolution suggests giving a reason for votes
Wilson led discussion of the quasi-judicial resolution and stated that it has been discussed by the board for a couple years, but it has never moved forward with it. The discussion centered on whether a board member should provide a reason for their vote, particularly if it is a denial. As a quasi-judicial entity, the board votes on whether presented applications meet or do not meet the town’s ordinances and zoning criteria listed in the project.
Monument Planning Director Nina Ruiz provided background. She said whenever boards are determining whether to approve or deny any type of request or application, it should be based on specific criteria that has been adopted as part of the board’s rules and regulations. Thus, if a board member is voting against an item, there needs to be a rationale and reasoning behind the denial. This protects the town from lawsuits stating the decision was arbitrary and capricious. The Monument Planning Commission does this by policy, and it is a common practice among commissions and boards to provide reasoning for votes and decisions.
Interim Town Attorney Joseph Rivera said it is a policy decision for the board as only the board can govern the board and create a procedural requirement. He suggested that any board vote that approves or denies a decision should follow the criteria of stating the reasoning. His concern is whether challenges to board decisions can withstand the differential standard applied by a judicial review of the board record. Rivera said the debates the board usually engages in are sufficient. He would raise a concern if he felt the board’s open discussion did not provide enough background to support a decision.
Wilson asked Home Rule Charter Chair Steve King of the Charter Commission to provide input given that commission’s discussion on this topic. King wanted to add providing a reason for transparency to the charter. However, he was advised by the Charter Commission attorney that it could be a violation of the First Amendment to compel a board member to state a reason regarding a vote. There is a requirement to vote but not for providing the reason.
Wilson suggested that the board move forward with a policy that it is a "suggestion" that a board member provide reasoning for their vote. This was agreed upon by other board members.
The board approved all the following resolutions by a vote of 6-0.
• The board approved Resolution No. 49-2022, a contract with Wagner Construction Inc. to install two 12-inch water lines to connect the new 2 million gallon water tank to the town’s water system. The town received four bids with Wagner Construction the "low responsive bidder." The town staff recommended awarding Wagner the contract totaling $7.25 million. This is budgeted in the Water Enterprise Fund through the COP Bond Funding.
• The board approved Resolution No. 52-2022, appointing Krista Cona as a member to the Board of Adjustment. Cona was the only submitted citizen applicant and will serve a two-year term until Dec. 31, 2023.
• The board approved Resolution No. 58-2022 authorizing the town manager to file the 2021 audit with the state auditor. Hinkle & Co. PC presented the audit to the board, which is required to submit the completed audit to the state auditor within 30 days of receipt.
• The board approved Resolution No. 59-2022, a contract with Kelanar Cos. for the roof replacement at 259 Beacon Lite Road. The town’s Facilities Department determined that the repair was needed due to wind damage. The contract is for $159,115 and will be reimbursed by CIRSA except for the $5,000 deductible. The deductible was budgeted in the 2022 Facilities budget.
Ordinances discussed and voted on
By a vote of 6-0, the board approved Ordinance No. 05-2022 that updates the Land Use Development Code Sections 18.03.380, 18.03.390, 18.03.420, 18.04.150, and 18.07.110 Revising the Industrial Use Tables, Supplemental Use Standards and Definitions. The board approved the ordinance as written after an overview and lengthy discussion regarding codification of industrial design standards and existing land development code. Acknowledging the ordinance is not perfect but protects the town, the board intends to draft modification(s) in the future that incorporate their agreed-upon changes and those of stakeholders, thus providing guidance and clarity to staff.
Former Monument Planning Director Meggan Herington provided background on this item including the Planning Commission hearing of May 11, where the commission voted 6-2 to recommend approval to the board. In her presentation, Herington provided definitions for facilities such as distribution facility, freight yard, fulfillment center, micro fulfillment center, and warehousing with distribution. Related to those facilities and suggested ordinance changes, she reviewed the Schedule of Standard Zoning District Uses, Commercial Uses, Planned Unit Developments—Scope and Intent, Supplemental Use Standards—Site Features among other items for the board.
By a vote of 4-2, the board approved Ordinance No. 09-2022, amending Section 12.28 (Monument Lake Rules and Regulations) and 18.03.350 (Temporary Uses) of the Monument Municipal Code. Madeline VanDenHoek, Monument’s director of Parks and Community Partnerships, provided the board with the staff-suggested amendments to lake use permits in the municipal code that were eventually approved by the board. These included increasing the permit fee from $250 to $350, removal of fee waiver for nonprofits that are conducting business at the lake, making permits first come-first serve, limiting the number of permits, and requiring use during non-peak hours. The permit could be revoked should the business operate during peak hours.
By a vote of 5-1, the board approved Ordinance No. 10-2022, the purchase of two easement interests for the construction and maintenance of subsurface wet and dry utilities. One easement is a construction easement and the other a permanent easement. This is an ordinance instead of resolution because it involves land and property.
By a vote of 6-0, the board tabled voting on Ordinance No. 11-2022, intended to update section 1.16.140 of the Municipal Code. Monument Planning Director Nina Ruiz presented the background and made a recommendation for an ordinance change regarding land use applications on an agenda. Within the code there is a limitation of no more than five land use applications on an agenda, with no more than two hearings for a planned unit development and two hearings for subdivisions of the five. The board regularly exceeds this ordinance as it did in this and the preceding two meetings. This also puts the Planning Department in a difficult decision process because they need to determine who they will allow to present and who to postpone until a subsequent meeting. Most applications the board presently reviews are for subdivisions. After discussing a few suggestions by board members and public input, the board voted to table the discussion.
By a vote of 6-0, the board approved Resolution No. 53-2022, where the Town of Monument approved the amendment and reinstatement to the Triview Metropolitan District No. 3 Service Plan. Russell Dykstra of Spencer Fane LLP presented background information and the restated service plan. The 428-acre district was formed in 2006, was slated for 800 residential units, and is presently still vacant. The plan has changed to 300 units, based on the housing market and input from town staff as to what is appropriate for the property. The same infrastructure is needed even with fewer residential units.
The presented service plan raises the authorization to issue bonds to pay for the infrastructure with an increased mill levy from 50 for debt service to 60, adding 10 mills for operations and maintenance, and a maximum debt of $18 million. The overall improvement cost is $35 million, with the developer obligated to provide the difference. In the plan, residents will receive additional amenities such as a community center, pool, spa, and outdoor recreation area. The mill levy will not be increased on current Monument residents but will be placed on only those buying homes in this district, and they will be informed of the district’s debt obligations. The plan will also bring the area up to current town standards and provide for a Gleneagle Drive connection to Higby Road.
By a vote of 6-0, the board approved Resolution No. 54-2022: a Final Plat for Conexus Filing No. 2. The plat is located along the west side of I-25, east of Old Denver Road and north of Baptist Road. Triview Metropolitan District will provide both water and wastewater for all development within Conexus. This plat is within the previously approved Conexus Phase 2 and Phase 3 Preliminary PUD. There will be four lots, five tracts and one street, and all applicable codes are met.
By a vote of 5-1, the board approved Resolution No. 55-2022, the Preliminary/Final Plat for Monument Junction East Filing No. 1. This plat is located on the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway and north of Bowstring Road. It is 17.612 acres and has 58 lots, ranging from 6,000 to 16,149 square feet, four tracts and six streets. Single-family detached homes will be built with a higher density, making the lots more affordable. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District will provide water and wastewater services from all development in Monument Junction. The plat is consistent with the approved Monument Junction Phase One Preliminary/Final PUD and all applicable code standards are met. Public comments raised concerns about lot size, density, increased traffic on Jackson Creek, dark sky lighting, and bike lanes.
By a vote of 6-0 the board approved Resolution No. 46-2022, thus declining full participation in the state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. Steve Wychulis, director of Human Resources for the town, said this relates to Proposition 18 and provided a review of related benefits already provided to town employees. He said meetings were held to inform employees, but few showed an interest. Rivera stated that the Department of Labor requires this item to be a public hearing.
Mayor Wilson, who’s running for State House District 20 representative, made a number of comments regarding board conduct during this portion of the meeting. He said the board has built a good relationship with town staff, builders, and property owners. However, he was frustrated with this evening’s meeting where board members insinuated that town staff had done something wrong or not done their job. He reminded board members that they are incapable of doing anything without town staff. He said that if the board constantly persecutes town staff, it can count on getting nothing done. Wilson said he thought there were comments toward applicants this evening that he felt were "snotty," and this is not the way the board should conduct itself. He summed it up by saying the board should be aware of its actions and how the board treats the town staff that supports them and the community and those businesses that support the community.
Wilson also stated that he did not want to see the town zone itself out of the free market. The town got where it is today through the comprehensive plan, where once vacant land has been developed for business that, in turn, has alleviated town maintenance that was once the lone responsibility of the taxpayer. He now sees an opportunity to bring in new revenue and funds to continue improving the town without increasing taxes. But he feels the board is giving the impression that we do not want you here. Wilson said he did not think the board was doing anything wrong, but board members should be cognitive of it.
The meeting adjourned at 10:25 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 two regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 1 and Monday, Aug. 15. Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for BOT or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
David Futey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
In July, the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees gave staff direction on three issues it is considering putting before voters in November to increase tax revenues: merging the Palmer Lake Fire Department with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District, putting a mill levy override before voters, and legalizing adult-use cannabis sales in the town. The board also decided on the next step in its effort to determine the future of the Elephant Rock property.
The board heard the results of a water accounting study and the 2021 financial audit. Town Administrator Dawn Collins explained the board vacancies that would be on the next ballot. The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) will be expanded to enforce parking regulations at the reservoir trailhead and Glenway Park. Permits for four special events were granted, and the board heard two requests to display public art in the town’s administrative office and Town Hall.
The July 14 and the July 28 meetings ended with executive sessions, the first to seek legal advice on a personnel matter and the second to seek legal advice on a rezoning request.
Next steps on proposed ballot initiatives
Over the last two months, the board has explained to residents the dire financial circumstances the town faces and has held workshop meetings on three potential solutions that may go before voters. The workshops themselves are covered in another article on page 20.
Of the three, the least popular is the proposal to merge the Palmer Lake Fire Department with the Tri-Lakes Monument & Donald Westcott Fire Protection Districts. At the July 24 meeting, Trustee Darin Dawson said, "There is overwhelming feedback that this is not what the community wants." Trustee Karen Stuth said this was her conclusion as well and Dawson moved that the board direct town staff to proceed no further with this option. His motion passed unanimously.
The board agreed that a proposal for a mill levy increase should go to the voters, and the consensus was that two increases should be staggered over two years. Mayor Bill Bass suggested an increase of 12 mills in 2023 and an additional seven mills in 2024. Trustee Nichole Currier suggested 12.5 mills in 2023 and an additional 7.5 mills in 2025. Dawson proposed 15 mills in 2023 and seven mills in 2024.
Attorney Matthew Krob pointed out that, whatever additional mills were approved by voters, the board would always have the option of decreasing the actual mills collected in any given year if the town’s financial situation warranted a reduction. He also recommended to the board that it keep the ballot language as simple as possible, and that the language be reviewed by the town’s bond counsel.
Bass directed Krob and Collins to draft the ballot language and bring it back to the board at its next regular meeting on Aug. 11.
The direction on adult-use cannabis sales (often called recreational sales) took more debate to establish.
Krob suggested two approaches to writing the ballot language: drafting the entire ordinance and putting that before the voters or writing a much simpler ballot initiative that would simply say "shall the town enact an ordinance to permit sales in Palmer Lake," in which case the board would grapple with the ordinance only if the vote was in favor of such sales. Krob recommended the simpler language.
Trustee Jessica Farr moved to direct the staff to draft language modifying the town’s current ordinance to allow adult-use sales so that the board could vote on it at its next regular meeting, and thereby avoid putting the issue on the ballot. Stuth seconded the motion, arguing it would be easier to address problems if they arose after sales were approved. The motion failed, with only Farr and Stuth voting in favor and Bass, Currier, Dawson, and Trustee Samantha Padgett voting no. Trustee Glant Havenar was not present at the meeting.
Currier and Dawson both said they were committed to putting the entire ordinance before voters. Stuth argued that board members were elected to make "excellent fiduciary decisions" on behalf of voters, and that the board was failing in its duty to the town. She also argued that the town’s senior citizens were now imperiled because previous boards had not allowed adult-use sales. Bass said he was struggling with the decision. He saw the benefit of putting the entire ordinance before the voters but also saw the need to generate revenue quickly.
Resident Rich Kuehster, who previously served on the board, said he felt it was irresponsible of the board not to take a vote on the issue.
The debate led the board to direct staff to present it with several options: two versions of the ballot language—the simple version and the complete ordinance—and an ordinance legalizing adult sales that could be discussed and possibly voted on at its next regular meeting.
Board calls for financial details from potential Elephant Rock developers
At its July 14 meeting, the board agreed that it would like each of the three developers who presented plans for the Elephant Rock property to present the details of their business model to the board. The board is currently waiting for an independent appraisal of the property to be completed and wanted that information in hand before the developers return with their financial details. One of the potential developers, Jeff Zearfoss of The Carter Payne, was at the meeting and told the board his team was ready to address how their plan would benefit the town financially at any time.
The board decided it would develop the financial parameters for the developers to address at a retreat on July 25 and ask to hear from developers at a workshop on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.
Water study identifies gaps in infrastructure
Dave Frisch and Tom McClernan, both of GMS Engineering, reported to the board on the water accounting study they prepared for the town, which addresses the short- and long-term needs of the town relative to water infrastructure.
Frisch and McClernan said their study is based on the assumption that between 2020 and 2045 the town’s population would increase from 2,637 to about 3,600.
McClernan said the study showed that water production is gradually increasing but water sold is gradually decreasing, and this is evidence that the system is losing about 20% of the water produced. He said that is an acceptable rate of loss but shows there are "things happening that you want to resolve." Frisch explained that water used to fight fires, inaccurate water meters, line breaks and storage tank overflows can all contribute to water loss.
Frisch and McClernan identified priorities they recommended that the town evaluate. Those included:
• The town’s water treatment plant needs to have a third filter added to provide adequate processing capacity when a single filter fails.
• The town needs another well into the Arapahoe aquifer for redundancy in case the town’s existing well is offline for maintenance.
• The town has five pipeline segments on Park Street, Upper Glenway, and Lower Glenway that use cast-iron pipes with lead joints that need to be replaced to prevent leaks. The lead does not represent a health hazard, they said.
• Near County Line Road there is a segment of 6-inch pipeline, surrounded by 12-inch pipelines, that is a choke point for the entire system. The 6-inch segment will limit the system’s ability to meet peak demand when water is needed to fight a fire.
• Some of the pipelines in the southern part of the town are not optimally looped into the delivery system as a whole and this should be corrected. The town could choose between doing the work itself and recovering the costs from developers or requiring the developers to do the work.
Frisch and McClernan said drilling the new well, upgrading the treatment plant, and replacing the cast iron pipe would cost about $4.7 million. Correcting the problems with looping would cost $1.2 million if the town chose to do the work instead of requiring developers to do it.
Bass said the study was helpful and thanked Frisch and McClernan for their work.
Clean financial audit
David Green of Green & Associates, the town’s auditor, gave the town a clean bill of financial health in the form of an "unmodified, clean" opinion. Green said the audit procedure examined the town’s internal controls and policies using generally accepted standards. Green said the town had strengthened its internal controls over the last few years by carefully segmenting duties. That can be a challenge for a small staff, he said, adding "separation of duties is the cornerstone of internal controls."
Green said his audit showed the town’s net position was $10 million.
Stuth pointed out that Green’s audit evaluated the town’s budget in its current state, and does not address the question of whether it covers the needs of the town.
Three board vacancies to be filled
Collins said the town would have three board seats, each for four-year terms, on the next ballot. On the same ballot, the town would elect a mayor for a two-year term. Potential candidates can pick up application packets from town staff, and details of the process can be found on the town’s webpage here: https://www.townofpalmerlake.com/administration/page/elections.
STEP to fund parking and reservoir trail enforcement
Sergeant Lundy of the Palmer Lake Police Department told the board he had studied the enforcement of parking regulations at the reservoir trailhead since the installation of the parking kiosks and had determined that about 16% of parked cars were failing to pay the kiosk fees, leading to about $300 to $400 in lost revenue per week. Lundy proposed increasing the enforcement of parking regulations at the reservoir trail head and using the revenue to fund additional patrols of the reservoir trail. No additional officers would need to be hired, he said. Existing officers would do the patrolling required as overtime.
Special events permits
The board approved the following special events permits:
• National Night Out, Aug. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Village Green, will include a chance for the community to meet officers of the Palmer Lake Police and Fire Department and enjoy hot dogs, music, and face and rock painting.
• Pikes Peak Library District Summer Adventure Party, Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Village Green adjacent to the Palmer Lake Library, will include a reading party, arts, crafts, and outdoor play.
• Palmer Lake Historical Society Chautauqua Assembly, Aug. 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Village Green, will include demonstrations and walking tours of historical places. Palmer Lake Fire Department and Palmer Lake Police Department personnel will attend.
• Pikes Peak Library Concert Series, Aug. 12, 19, and 26 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Village Green, will include acoustic and large band performances.
Stuth spoke to the board about a Business Symposium sponsored by the Palmer Lake Economic Development Group (PLEDG) scheduled for Sept. 22 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is open to business owners who want to refresh their skills or want to open a business and will address business plans, marketing, web development, social media, financing, store design, and inventory management. There is an entrance fee that includes a light breakfast and lunch. See https://townofpalmerlake.com or https://palmerlakecolorado.org for details.
Art to be displayed
The board heard and approved two requests to use town locations to display the work of local artists to the public. The plans were the work of Deputy Town Clerk Julia Stambaugh and Lynn Roth and Dennis Book, both of the Palmer Lake Arts Council, and were coordinated with the arts pillar of the PLEDG.
The first request was for permission to install two pedestals for display of sculptures adjacent to the town’s library. The sculptures to be displayed will be selected by a jury including town residents. The sculptures displayed will be changed occasionally.
The second request was to use wall space in the front of the Town Hall to display work by local artists.
Neither installation will be used to sell the art displayed but contact information for the artists will be provided.
The July 14 meeting concluded with an executive session to get legal advice on a personnel matter concerning the town administrator. The July 28 meeting ended with an executive session to consider a request to rezone Lakeview Heights from R-3 to R-10,000.
The next two board meetings are scheduled for Aug. 11 and 25. See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times, dates and locations of board meetings and workshops. Meetings are typically held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 719-481-2953.
By James Howald and Jackie Burhans
In response to the town’s financial challenges, Mayor Bill Bass and the Palmer Lake Board of Trustees have developed three potential solutions: merging the town’s fire department with Monument Fire Protection District (formerly Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District) to cut costs, passing a mill levy override, and legalizing adult use cannabis sales. A separate but related issue is the board’s effort to plan the future development of the Elephant Rock property, which is expected to generate much-needed tax revenue. In addition to discussion in regular meetings, the board has held a series of workshops to address these issues with the public and to hear their input.
The merger of the fire departments and the legalization of adult-use cannabis were covered in the July issue of Our Community News here: https://ocn.me/v22n7.htm#plbot.
On Saturday, July 9, the board held a public forum to give citizens another opportunity to provide feedback on the three revenue options. Details can be seen at https://www.townofpalmerlake.com/bc-bot/page/board-trustees-workshop-public-forum.
At a special meeting, the board heard Elephant Rock development proposals from three hopeful development groups. At a workshop meeting, the board discussed the proposed mill levy override.
Elephant Rock draws developer interest
On June 29, three development groups presented their visions for the Elephant Rock property to the board.
Jeff Zearfoss of The Carter Payne presented The Ranch at Palmer Lake. Focused on the value of building community, Zearfoss’s vision touched on art, outdoors activities, history, and dining. In the arts category he included music events, art classes by resident artists, gardening, a co-op gallery, movie nights, and live performances. Outdoor ideas included picnic areas, guided nature hikes, some led by a resident photographer, biking, and group runs on connected trails. The historical perspective included educational presentations for visitors and residents. Dining options included the Common Cup, a coffee house with light fare, and the Bread, Board and Bottle, serving sandwiches, paninis, soups, salads, and desserts. Local’s, a Colorado-centric option, would present bison, trout, and turkey specialties. Paired Faire would present a farm-to-table prix fixe menu. The Local Relic Farmhouse would pour seasonal artisanal beers. A by-the-glass wine program and cocktail service would round out the features of Zearfoss’s concept.
Zearfoss estimated the sales tax generated by his vision to be $185,000 to $250,000 annually, with $75,000 being donated to the Palmer Lake Economic Development Group (PLEDG). He also estimated 125 full- and part-time staff at the venue.
Richard and Lindsay Willan promoted an Old West "pioneer" village along the lines of The Flying W Ranch, The Renaissance Faire, or The North Pole that would attract eco-tourists and serve as an event center. Existing buildings and trails would be renovated and updated. A dining hall, spa, and amphitheater would be included. Trails would be used for hiking, snowshoeing and horseback riding. Local restaurants would provide catering and rotate through the dining hall. From a financial perspective, investors suggest the town lease to own portions of the property, lease free while they build, or the entire site could be subdivided with the town retaining a majority share.
Matt Dunston and Duncan Bremer proposed the Palmer Lake Festival and Event Center. They envisioned remodeling the existing buildings and adding new buildings as required. They would focus on events, weddings, business meetings, retreats, outdoor markets, festivals, and camping including RV camping. Dunston and Bremer proposed to lease the property on a "triple net basis ‘as-is’" for the 10 years the town has agreed not to sell the property. They asked the board to commit to selling them the property in 2031. They said they preferred to present further financial details only in executive session after they had been selected as the developer.
At its July 14 regular board meeting, the board voted to ask all three developers to present more detailed business models, focused on revenue generation for the town on Aug. 11 at a board workshop.
Mill levy override workshop
Following its July 17 regular meeting, the board held a workshop to discuss a proposed mill levy override with residents and hear their feedback.
Bass opened the workshop with a slide that detailed the financial impact of three mill levy increases. For a house assessed at $500,000:
• A 10% increase would mean an additional $29 in tax monthly, for an annual total of $348.
• A 20% increase would mean an additional $57.92 in tax monthly, for an annual total of $695.
• A 30% increase would mean an additional $101.35 in tax monthly, for an annual total of $1,216.
Trustee Glant Havenar pointed out that if a mill levy increase were approved by voters, it would have a bigger impact on commercial properties because their assessment rate is much higher than residential properties, and it could potentially discourage businesses from coming to the town.
A resident commented that if there were too many initiatives on the ballot it was likely that none of them would pass.
In response to a question from a resident about exactly how any increased revenue would be used, Town Administrator Dawn Collins answered that the town had capital improvement projects, such as vehicle purchases, that it has never had the money to fund, that the Fire and Police departments both needed additional staff, that the town needed a code enforcement officer, that there were road improvements that currently lack funding, and that the town’s water infrastructure also needed maintenance.
Mayor Bill Bass said the town might need a combination of the revenue from adult-use cannabis sales and a mill levy increase.
The mill levy override workshop can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/arPv9gLO0bU?t=5206.
Workshops are scheduled on an as-needed basis. See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times, dates, and locations of board meetings and workshops. Meetings are typically held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 719-481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Marlene Brown
On July 19, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners approved the permits for two ambulances for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. Ted Sayer, emergency specialist for the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, requested approval after the vehicles had passed county inspection. He noted that all required onboard supplies and equipment were in current and full compliance. The permits are in effect Aug. 1, 2022 through July 31, 2023.
Marlene Brown can be contacted at email@example.com
By Marlene Brown
The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) held its general membership bi-monthly meeting July 9. Twenty-three-member homeowners associations (HOA) were represented by interested members of HOAs in the Tri-Lakes and Black Forest areas and 24 member HOAs were absent, so a quorum was not present.
NEPCO President Mike Aspenson reiterated the need for volunteer members to join the board. The position of secretary is vacant, and Bob Swedenburg, vice president, has been filling the duties of the secretary, including the recording of the minutes and distributing them to member HOAs. He asked the HOA members to send the minutes to their membership for review and information as to what NEPCO is all about.
Aspenson also explained there is an open position for chairman of the Transportation and Land Use Committee, and a volunteer is needed to represent NEPCO at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG).
Swedenburg gave his vice-president report, which included an update to two House bills that Rep. Terri Carver had provided from the meeting of May 14. HB22-1139 states that HOAs cannot regulate the use of public right-of-way, basically meaning that HOAs cannot enforce covenants that prohibit overnight parking on county roads. HB22-1387 Common Interest Communities Reserve Funds that imposes specific requirements was vetoed by Gov. Polis on May 27.
Jim Keefe gave the treasurer’s report, saying all members have paid their dues for 2022 except for three HOAs.
Membership Director Larry Oliver reported that NEPCO has 47 active-member HOAs that include over 10,000 homes and lots. He welcomed West Oak Ridge HOA to NEPCO as a new member.
Community Outreach Committee Chairman Dave Betzler stated that he has been working on the list of external organizations that NEPCO will collaborate with for various activities. He has applied for a grant for a NEPCO laptop. Mission and messaging efforts are being developed.
Beth Lonnquist of the Red Rock Ranch Homeowners Association and the new chair of the Wildfire Preparedness Committee presented a PowerPoint on wildfire preparedness. She described how to put together a "go bag" for fire evacuation. More information can be found about the go bag at http://elpasoready.org/diy-emergency-kit. Everyone should have a go bag with 72 hours’ worth of essential supplies, she said. She also explained how an HOA can become a Firewise community and possibly receive insurance discounts. For more information, go to www.nepco.org to find her presentation in the meetings section.
Aspenson stated that although there is not a current Transportation and Land Use Committee (TLUC), the NEPCO board has agreed, with Aspenson’s leadership, to work with the Town of Monument regarding a new development and help to facilitate neighborhood meetings regarding a proposed Caliber Development of 264 high-end multi-family units—20 buildings on 15 acres just south of Palmer Ridge High School off of Monument Hill Road. NEPCO members interested in volunteering to be a member of TLUC should email Aspenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Miller was introduced as the moderator of the guest panel to discuss the pros and cons of HOA management companies. He in turn introduced Harold Larsen, president of the Heights Property Owners Association, Brandon Helms of the Warren Management Co., and Bryce Meighan, an HOA attorney with Anderson, Dude and Lebel P.C.
Helms spoke first about five pros of using HOA management companies:
1. Resources—they have the information to do the job.
2. Experience—they work with homeowners and are problem-solvers.
3. Relationships—they have a network of contractors and agencies.
4. Compliance – they understand and can ensure that an HOA is compliant with laws at the state and local level.
5. They can minimize liability with a basis of knowledge to protect the HOA.
Miller is a resident of Tall Pines Ranch HOA, which is composed of 51 lots on 2½ acres. He also is on the NEPCO board. The HOA interviewed and worked with several management companies before a member’s wife formed a company to take care of all the daily management duties.
Harold Larson, president of Heights Property Owners Association (POA), which is composed of 54 homes on 26 acres in the Woodmoor area, spoke of problems and issues that their HOA had being a self-managed HOA. There were so many problems that they discussed disbanding the HOA. The board sought help from the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA). They were able to rework the rules and regulations and get people to serve on the board. WIA agreed to manage Heights POA for a fee and is serving as its management company.
Bryce Meighan, HOA attorney, made several observations regarding use of HOA management companies. Generally, there is less risk of a lawsuit. Fewer mistakes are made in recordkeeping. Self-managed boards tend to perpetuate the same mistakes year after year. Basically, the management company keeps the board in compliance and forces it to follow the law and its HOA governing documents.
The next NEPCO meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. For more information regarding NEPCO, visit www.nepco.org
Marlene Brown can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on July 20 to hear a resident’s concerns about planned improvements to the newly donated South Woodmoor Preserve (SWP) open space and to hear board highlights. Board member Cindy Thrush was absent.
South Woodmoor Preserve improvements questioned
South Woodmoor resident Jennifer Davis spoke about her concerns with improvements planned by WIA for the new SWP open space.
The nearly 65-acre open space donated by WOSC LLC, a group of 118 homeowners surrounding the area, was formerly known as the Walters property. Members of WOSC LLC each purchased a portion of the property to extend their lots, Proterra Properties purchased 38 acres for development, and the remaining acres were donated and formally accepted by WIA at its June board meeting. As part of the donation, WIA agreed to improve and maintain SWP as it does with its existing open spaces. President Brian Bush has referred to SWP as the last bit of open space likely to remain undeveloped in northern El Paso County and said it represents an opportunity WIA has long wished for to do more for residents in South Woodmoor. Like all open spaces in Woodmoor, WIA cannot prevent public usage due to its nonprofit status.
Davis, a 14-year resident, provided information on her and her husband’s background, noting their membership in WOSC. She spoke about some issues with the raptor poles installed by WOSC after obtaining approval from WIA, saying WOSC had not consulted with its members as its bylaws require. The wind permanently bent one raptor pole that Davis could see outside her window, and she asked that it be removed rather than repaired or replaced. Raptor poles were recommended to WOSC by the county wildlife district manager as a more natural, cost-effective way to control the prairie dog population. In the past, Davis said, residents paid about $35 for extermination services.
Davis said improvements such as benches, dog waste stations, and putting down road base for trails would be rolling out the red carpet and inviting riffraff to come. Davis said WIA would also have to install bear-proof trash cans, turning the area into a carnival. She provided a packet of documentation, including WOSC newsletters, excerpts from WIA documents, photos of raptor poles, and photos of a male walking a dog in SWP, whom she characterized as a "crack smoker" lingering in the area. She also said it was too late when Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) responded, and WPS had four-wheeled through dry grass, which WIA had not yet mowed.
Bush noted that WIA was not privy to, nor could it deal with, issues related to Davis’ relationship with WOSC. He said WIA had made commitments to improve SWP and could provide copies of the donation agreement. Bush said WIA manages over 100 acres of open space and believes benches, dog waste stations, and trails accrue for its residents’ benefit. Although visitors could misuse amenities, he said, WIA tries not to punish the many for the sins of the few but will deal with any issues that arise.
Bush said now that WIA owns SWP, it will remedy or remove any damaged items in the common area. He said WIA will manage this open area in smart ways that don’t harm the environment or unduly interfere with residents. Bush invited Davis to visit other WIA common areas to see the type of dirt trails installed and suggested she stay connected with the board.
Brad Gleason, WIA public safety director, noted SWP’s limited access and suggested residents call WPS or the county Sheriff’s Office if the response is slow. He encouraged residents to provide as much information as possible, including house numbers, to help locate any persons of concern. He believes WPS has a great team of officers that keep Woodmoor safe compared to other communities.
• WIA Covenants and Forestry Administrator Justin Gates provided the covenants report for Thrush, saying that of 50 items, there were 27 issues resolved via friendly communications, 13 unfounded complaints, and 10 violations in addition to 24 HOA checks that occur during a home sale. Recent fireworks violations were determined to be founded and resulted in fines of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively, as fireworks are always illegal in Woodmoor.
• Bush requested that the staff send letters to residents with tall grass due to higher than usual rainfall to stay ahead of the curve, as it will become a fire hazard when it dries. He noted residents, not the county, are responsible for grass up to the edge of the road.
• Gleason said WIA sent its road condition survey to the county so it could prioritize road repairs.
• Gleason noted many recreational vehicles, trailers, and campers in resident parking spots. Gleason said those storing vehicles for more than 72 hours would receive a letter from WIA regarding the covenant violation.
• Bush commended WPS for handling a situation where an out-of-state visitor, a law enforcement officer, drove their car up to a picnic table in one of WIA’s open spaces.
• Forestry Director Ed Miller reported on a partial extension of the wildfire mitigation grant, additional reimbursement checks, and a successful chipping day that processed 175 cubic yards of slash. Resident dues and requested non-resident donations of $5 help to cover the cost. WIA held its final chipping days over the weekend of July 30-31.
• Bob Pearsall, the commons area administrator, updated the board on the newly completed WIA office front porch, noxious weed contracting, and dead tree removal. He noted the installation of additional dog waste stations and feedback from the mower that the need to clean mower blades decreased.
• Bush asked staff for an overview of the state of the condition of the newly donated SWP land so WIA could track that it is complying with its commitments.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on Aug. 24.
Jackie Burhans can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bill Kappel
In July, we finally had a pretty normal weather month with temperatures only slightly above normal and precipitation right about average. This was good news as an active monsoon set up and brought much needed precipitation to the region. A good resource to learn more about the North American Monsoon and follow its development and historical patterns can be found at https://www.weather.gov/twc/Monsoon.
Of course, some of those thunderstorms produced heavy downpours and localized flooding at times, especially in low-lying road crossings. Temperatures generally fluctuated from about normal to slightly above normal, with a few hot days (temperatures hitting 90 or higher for us). Given that the middle two weeks of July are the hottest on average during the year, this is expected. Interestingly, almost every day during the month received at least some precipitation and thunderstorm activity.
As is typical with summertime thunderstorms, the areas of heaviest rainfall were hit and miss, with a wide variation over short distances. The heaviest rainfall occurred on the 1st, 26th, and 29th. On those days, rainfall amounts varied from over 3 inches to less than a 0.10th of an inch across the Tri-Lakes region alone. On the 26th, most everyone received significant rainfall, with several areas in the region experiencing runoff and some flooding. A good note to remember during heavy rainfall and road flooding events is to "turn around, don’t drown" when encountering a flooding roadway. It only takes about a half-foot of water to float a car. The underlying road may be washed out and there is no way for you to know until it’s too late.
The driest days during the month were July 10th, 13th, 17th, 21st, and 22nd, and the only days not recording any measurable rainfall in the region were the 13th and 17th.
Be sure to check out www.cocorahs.org to see the local rainfall amounts and the incredible spatial variations that occur. Also, this is a free site where you can volunteer to provide your own precipitation reports. And believe it or not, those data from the thousands of volunteers across North America are used by scientists for many applications, from research to engineering design, so every observation counts.
A look ahead
August is the last true "summer" month for the region. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant mornings that turn into afternoon and early evening thunderstorms. Highs during the month range from the mid-80s at the beginning of the month to mid-70s at the end. Temperatures at night get more comfortable as well, often dipping into the 40s.
July 2022 Weather Statistics
Average High 83.7° (+1.2°)
100-year return frequency value max 87.6° min 75.3°
Average Low 53.0° (+2.0°)
100-year return frequency value max 56.2° min 46.9°
Highest Temperature 92°F on the 23rd
Lowest Temperature 46°F on the 30th
Monthly Precipitation 3.31" (-0.06" 1% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 6.03" min 0.98"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 10.69" (-3.47" 25% below normal) (the precipitation period is Jan. 1 to Dec. 31)
Heating Degree Days 17 (-5)
Cooling Degree Days 120 (+50)
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information and opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community are the responsibility of the letter writers and should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer. The letters are arranged in alphabetical order by author’s last name.
D38 is pretending it needs more dollars
District 38 received a $3 million increase in per pupil funding from the state last year. They’re going to receive another $3 million increase on top of that this coming year. But their Communications Director was out on Facebook last month claiming that "funding challenges" have prevented them from raising salaries enough to compete with neighboring districts. He complained that they had to hire "more than 70 teachers this summer alone out of a workforce of about 350 teachers."
The reality is that D38 teachers are receiving a 6% raise this year. And Dr. Sommers acknowledged in a recent board meeting that they’re able to give bonuses for retention and hiring as needed.
But the misrepresentations get worse. When challenged, the Director also claimed that D38 is "no longer a top-10 ranked school district in Colorado, unfortunately." The problem is, the CDE stopped putting out rankings in 2019. Whose rankings is he citing? Those from fluff sites like Niche and US News and World Report that use silly, non-academic criteria like "Diversity" to rate schools.
D38 and its surrogates have been using the "stay competitive with surrounding districts" canard to campaign for MLOs for years. But D38’s own exit interview data, presented to the Board in years 2015 to year 2021 shows only 11 teachers in total left for pay in those six years.
The Director’s response to that datapoint? He claims it’s from "outdated reports that were not designed to accurately report on leaving for higher-paying jobs." Which leaves us wondering: When, exactly, can we "trust" the reports D38 designs? One thing’s certain: Reports that are "designed to" report teachers are leaving for higher-paying jobs are being created to present to voters right now!
Qualified to volunteer?
Can I count to 10? I was asked many years ago. That led to my monthly volunteer work with Our Community News. We are always asking for more volunteers as attrition is taking hold from health and age. Who are our volunteers? Well, a CPA, for example, and a lieutenant colonel, an author, schoolteacher, graphic artist, former AP reporter, hospice worker, estate manager, business owners, Army, Navy and Air Force veterans, a sports referee, and more. You can imagine the conversations around the table as we insert and stack more than 22,000 papers each month. Surely you can find a couple of hours to join us for this fascinating endeavor to keep the Tri-Lakes community informed. Call John Heiser or myself, John Howe, at (719) 487-1047. Happily still counting to 10.
This is a couple of months late, but I want to recognize a young man who helped me in a tenuous situation.
On May 25, the day before the Air Force Academy graduation, I had a flat tire going southbound on I-25 just before Exit 153. Being an old guy, I may have been able to change the tire in an hour or two. A young man in a blue AFA shirt stopped and asked if he could change the tire for me. He persisted and did a great job. The soft shoulder after the just-completed construction in that area made it challenging—he had to use a flat rock to keep the jack from sinking into the soft earth.
I did not get his name. He was in this year’s graduating class, and I appreciated his kindness. A belated thank you! Thanks for your help and for your continued service.
Supports Supreme Court ruling
Amen. The Supreme Court ruled on June 27 separation of church and state does not prohibit public school employees from praying aloud on the job near students. The court ruled that "The Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression." It seems to me, if cursing aloud in the stands, in schools, and on the playing field is accepted, prayer also seems appropriate. Thank you, SCOTUS.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by."—Jeanette Walls
Summer is the best time to read for fun. Here’s a sampling of some delightful and entertaining choices.
The Man Who Died Twice: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery
By Richard Osman (Penguin Books) $17
The Thursday Murder Club is riding high off its recent murder case when an unexpected visitor arrives, desperate for help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds from the wrong men. The Thursday Murder Club is up against a ruthless murderer. Can they catch the killer before the killer catches them? And if they find the diamonds, too, wouldn’t that be a bonus? This second in the series is just as clever and humorous as the first, The Thursday Murder Club.
The Windsor Knot
By SJ Bennett (William Morrow) $16.99
This bestselling first book in a clever series in which Queen Elizabeth II secretly solves crimes while carrying out her royal duties is charming and engaging. Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle in advance of her 90th birthday celebrations. The preparations are interrupted by the death of a Castle guest. When MI5 begin to question the most loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they’re looking in the wrong place. The entertaining follow-up, All the Queen’s Men, is now available.
Killer Chardonnay: A Colorado Wine Mystery
By Kate Lansing (Berkley Prime Crime) $7.99
It’s Parker’s dream, her own winery in her hometown of Boulder, Colo. But she gets more than she bargained for when a food and wine critic unexpectedly shows up on opening day, collapses and dies. With her winery at the center of a social media firestorm, Parker has no choice but to investigate the murder herself to catch a killer, restore her reputation, and keep her business open. Currently there are two more books available in the series: A Pairing to Die For and Mulled to Death. The fourth, Till Death Do Us Port, is due out in March 2023.
Auntie Poldi and the Lost Madonna
By Mario Giordano (Mariner Books) $15.99
There’s only one Auntie Poldi, or is there? No one is as they seem in this hilarious new mystery. Strange dealings are afoot, and Poldi will need all the help she can get to clear her name, especially when she discovers the case hinges on a lost Madonna statue, stolen years ago from the pope himself. This is the fourth book in the series with more to come. The first is Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions.
By J.B. Teller (Mighty Lionhearts) $16.99
Perfect for fans of Notting Hill, this joyous romantic comedy will have you asking how far you would go for love—literally! Mar thought her life would be perfect the moment she stepped down onto London soil to finally proclaim her love for Thomas. Nightclubs, royal weddings, and London life have Mar and her sister Joan on another uproarious adventure. This is local author J.B. Teller’s sequel to No Alcohol Beyond This Point.
The Narrowboat Summer
By Anne Youngson (Flatiron Books) $17.99
Hilarious and uplifting, this is a celebration of the power of friendship and new experiences to change one’s life at any age; a novel about three women, one dog, and the narrowboat that brings them together. Sally and Eve agree to drive Anastasia’s narrowboat on a journey through the canals of England, as she awaits a life-saving operation. At summer’s end, all three women must decide whether to return to the lives they left behind or forge a new path forward.
The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux
By Samantha Vérant (Berkley) $16
A disgraced chef rediscovers her passion for food and her roots in this stunning novel rich in culture and full of delectable recipes. French-born American chef Sophie finds herself on the cusp of her dream: to be part of the 1 percent of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. But her career is sabotaged by a fellow chef. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red eye to France. There, Sophie comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change.
Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The library district’s Summer Adventure Reading program officially ends on Aug. 15, but it isn’t too late to register! Come to the library to register for the program and receive a free book. Any activities completed since June 1 count toward a completion prize of a set of colorful boats (up to age 3), a reading medal (ages 4 to 12), or an additional book or journal (ages 13 to18).
The end-of-program party was held on the Palmer Lake Village Green on Friday, Aug. 5, but parties will be held at other libraries in the district as well. To learn more about these, please see the district website, www.ppld.org.
Scheduling of regular programming will return this month.
The library district will sponsor free concerts for the family on the Village Green on Aug. 12, 19, and 26 from 6 to 7. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and enjoy some free entertainment. For further information, please see the website.
Selections for 2022’s All Pikes Peak Reads program have been announced. See the September issue for details on the titles, related programs, and author visits.
The library district’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution to participate in the November election during its July 20 meeting. For further information please see the website.
Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 5 for Labor Day.
By Natalie Barszcz
The Palmer Lake Historical Society met on the afternoon of July 21 with a team of experts ready to share a plethora of knowledge on the history of Palmer Lake with 35 participants. The participants showed a deep interest by the many thoughtful questions directed to board President Jim Sawatzki, who spoke on the history of the Town Hall.
Gary Atkins led three separate group tours around the town, delighting participants with his knowledge, and Roger Davis was on hand to talk about the Lucretia Vaile Museum. The unexpected highlight was a short, impromptu talk by Donna Arndt, the original sculptor of Come, Dizzy, the bronze canine installed on the Village Green. Each attendee redeemed a coupon for an ice cream cone at Rock House Ice Cream later that afternoon.
Caption: Tour participants gather on the Palmer Lake Village Green to register for a Palmer Lake Historical Society tour on July 21. Photos by Doris Baker.
Caption: Sculptor Donna Arndt with her creation Come, Dizzy on the Palmer Lake Village Green. Photo by Doris Baker.
The Palmer Lake Historical Society usually meets on the third Thursday of every month. The next event at Palmer Lake Town Hall is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a presentation at 7 p.m. by Flint Whitlock and Terry Barnhart on their co-authored biography titled Capt. Jepp and the Little Black Book: How Barnstormer and Aviation Pioneer Elrey B. Jeppesen Made the Skies Safer for Everyone. For additional details, visit www.palmerdividehistory.org.
Natalie Barszcz can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
It’s about time for our corn crops to be ready to harvest. In the Monument Community Garden, we had a late start, so our corn is a 60-day variety for a fast harvest—we hope. August’s warm days will help them mature by September. The tomatoes may slow down due to our nights cooling off, but we’ve had some green tomatoes ripen in the kitchen with yummy results.
Turtle Island corn
The original seed bombs may have been learned from the corn-growing peoples of the Americas, also known to natives as Turtle Island. They put corn seeds in a ball of dirt to deter pests as protection while the seedlings grow. Growing corn in garden blocks, within a group, facilitates pollination and protects against wind damage.
A native, original corn was likely bred from grasses, crossing high-yielding plants making hybrids. Maize, cultivated in Mexico for over 7,000 years, spread across the continent, and is now the most widely cultivated crop in the Western Hemisphere. Even at our high altitude with its short growing season, we can grow corn and other crops when we know the growing tips.
August seed bombs recipe
We still have time to plant for fall, and the cool season crops will sprout and grow best the next two months. Here’s a seed bomb that keeps out critters: five scoops plain clay cat litter, one scoop compost or potting soil, mix well and add one-half or one scoop of water. Mix it up like clay, add in seeds (use several seeds for wild flowers. I usually put three seeds in for sunflowers and others) pack into balls and let dry outside. Store after 24 to 72 hours in a paper bag until ready to plant. I use a castor oil and cat litter concoction of 1 gallon clay cat litter (for a spray, use a gallon of water), 6 ounces castor oil, and 3 tablespoons each cayenne and garlic powders to keep pests out.
Certain wineries in Napa Valley are teaming up with household pets to combat bugs in their vineyards. Honig Winery proprietor Stephanie Honig’s Labrador retriever Honey has been trained to smell grapevine mealybugs and identify them before the bugs infest the vineyards.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant and Health detection service reports that highly trained detector dogs can find a specific invasive pest or disease in the field. These detector dogs could accompany pest survey specialists during a foreign pest or disease outbreak and identify pest-free areas. They could also work at ports, sniffing entire shipments of commodities to detect traces of insect larvae or plant disease. Some school districts use trained dogs to detect COVID-19 and other pathogens in schools.
Janet Sellers is a writer, speaker, and an avid nature lover and fair-weather gardener. Send your tips to JanetSellers@ocn.me.
By Janet Sellers
"Art is a guarantee to sanity"—Louise Bourgeois, French-American artist
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), daughter of Sigmund Freud, produced work that significantly included psychoanalytic theory and practice. She is known worldwide for her powerful work of installation and large-scale sculptures. She believed that making art was a form of psychoanalysis and that through art she had a direct connection with the unconscious mind.
She recorded her dreams and made notes on her process, extensively on female sexuality, symbol formation, and the nature of the artist, offering an original contribution to psychoanalysis.
Art is the new meditation
Making art requires a certain amount of focus. We reach into our imagination and bring ideas back to take action on them in the present time. Focus is vital to this activity and our satisfaction. Visual artists find enjoyment doing their artwork, even if it is quite a struggle, and find fulfillment in the completion of the work. Focus is key to the outcome, both for the product and the satisfaction. Perhaps this focus and follow-through is also the greatest gift to the viewer.
The opposite is true of distractibility. A study by psychologist and neuroscientist Richard Davidson, Ph.D., showed that distractibility is rampant in 47% of the population. And the test results showed that the people who were distracted were not happy, just distracting themselves. But we have ways to change our very physiology and brains with mindfulness for the emotional life of our brains.
Meditation has long been touted as an antidote to distractibility and its ensuing discomforts. But what if you can’t sit still and meditate? Current research shows that making art offers some of the benefits of meditation in a relatively active way. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher, writes: "Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past.… This false self is never happy or fulfilled for long. Its normal state is one of unease, fear, insufficiency, and non-fulfillment."
Making art helps us focus on the now, the present moment, and act in that present moment, freeing us from mind chatter that could repeat over and over for days or decades, impacting our well-being.
More friends, fewer pills
In a 2020 interview with Juliana Valencia on NBC News 4 Washington, Dr. Ramesh Mazhari, director of Interventional Cardiology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, explained that, "The risk associated with social isolation could be as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being obese," adding that studies show loneliness can present the same risk of heart disease that smoking does. Loneliness can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 30% and can increase the inflammatory markers. Social isolation and loneliness have even been estimated to shorten a person’s life span by as many as 15 years.
Art Hop is Aug. 18
A simple, easy way to get creative and healthy is to enjoy art with others. Making art in a group or enjoying our local Art Hop each month offers a way to easily enjoy our community and art. The Art Hop is a friendly indoor and outdoor stroll through downtown Monument with street musicians, art galleries and vendors around town. Enjoy the art, make some new friends, and come back next month and do it again!
Caption: Students from Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High Schools help with the July garden chores at Monument Community Garden. They weeded and planted over two dozen each of tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and other plants. From left are Hannah Miller, Emily Miller, Nate Sapp, Angel, Katie Miller, Grace Weitzel, and Cole Wickert. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and speaker and teaches these at her studio, at university and social club talks, and online. Contact her at JanetSellers@ocn.me.
Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, speaker, and educator. She exhibits her artworks in cities and museums in Colorado and other places around the globe. She can be reached at Janet Sellers@ocn.me.
Fritzsche wins coaching award
Caption: Nancy Fritzsche, a girls lacrosse coach and volunteer in Lewis-Palmer School District 38 for 15 years, won the Dairy Max Assistant Coach of the Month Award in June. One of her players, Lily Klapp, nominated her "because of her unswerving commitment to each of her players and understanding of their individual potential. She creates an environment where all the players feel safe and encouraged. What makes Nancy an outstanding coach and leader is that she teaches the lacrosse girls to measure their success by personal improvements and not focus on their mistakes. She brings out the very best in her girl lacrosse players and teaches them to believe in themselves," said Klapp. Photo courtesy of John Klapp.
EIS takes part in evacuation exercise
Caption: El Paso County Emergency Incident Support (EIS) volunteers participated in the El Paso County Emergency Evacuation Exercise on June 25. EIS volunteers prepared and served food and drinks to over 80 first responders and exercise volunteers while they practiced procedures and escape route management for local communities. Photo by Judith Jude.
Historic Palmer Lake Town Flag
Caption: Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) board members and volunteers display the historic Palmer Lake town flag during a presentation on the history of the flag on June 16. The flag was created in 1976 to honor the Centennial State in the bi-centennial year, at the request of Gov. Richard Lamb. Every town in the state was asked to create a flag, and the original flag was designed and handcrafted by Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) members Patricia Schmidt, Jane Beachy, and Marie Pribble. PLHS members Bonnie and Wayne Russert recently took on the task of creating two duplicate flags, one to attach to the original for display in the Town Hall, and the other to be used as a banner. The duplicates were pieced together at the Quilt Shop in Wyman, Colo., and a light table was constructed to help the PLAG ink the recreated flags to mimic the originals. For more information, visit www.palmerdividehistory.org. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Friends of Fox Run Park trail work
Caption: This happy crew worked hard on one of the most used trails in Fox Run Regional Park on July 15. A week and a half later, torrential downpours undid everything they had done. More work to be done. If you are interested in volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Marlene Brown.
Independence Day Festivities - Photos by David Futey
Caption: Tri-Lakes area July fourth festivities began with the annual Palmer Lake Fun Run. This 40th anniversary of the race brought over 700 runners to the shores of the lake for the start of the race. The runners loop the lake, then proceed down the Santa Fe Trail to Monument to complete the 4-mile race. Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) is the beneficiary of the race as proceeds go toward teacher grants, field trips, and classroom technology. Volunteers from the PLES PTO, school staff, parents, and others assisted in the race. The top in-person finishers were (M) Ethan Powell (19:30) of Colorado Springs and (F) Aubrey Surage (23:50) of Monument.
Caption: St. Peter’s Knights of Columbus (KoC) Council 11514 hosted its annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast. KoC Grand Knight Alan Feldkamp said they prepared for 1,500 attendees with offerings of pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs, orange juice, and coffee for the price of admission. Feldkamp said this is the Knights’ "biggest fundraiser of the year that contributes to our overall annual donation to St. Peter Church, District 38 disabled students, Tri-Lakes Cares and other nonprofits." He continued, "We really appreciate the support from the community as they make it a wonderful community gathering each year."
On Independence Day, The Monument Hill Kiwanis Club Fourth of July children’s and main parades weaved their way through the streets of downtown Monument to the delight of thousands of spectators. Children decorated their bikes, wagons, scooters, and themselves in festive red, white, and blue ornaments. With a theme of Honoring our Heroes: Our Educators, the main parade included over 80 entrants from a variety of organizations.
Caption: From left, Breckyn Belsher, Mia Williams, and Natalie Williams have their bikes decorated for the Fourth of July Children’s Parade.
Caption: (Left) Lila Sky Maddox is adorned for a festive Fourth of July (Right) Participants make their way on the parade route.
Caption: Honoring our Heroes: "Our Educators" was the theme of the Fourth of July Main Parade.
Caption: Lewis-Palmer District 38 staff and teachers pass out candies to parade spectators. (right) Monument Town Manager Mike Foreman, recipient of 2021 Manager of the Year Award from the Colorado City and County Manager Association.
Caption: Rich Hicks, President of Monument Hill Kiwanis, sponsor of the parade.
Caption: Tri-Lakes Women’s Club float honored educators.
Caption: (left) Palmer Ridge High School football team. (right) Lewis-Palmer High School football team.
Caption: (left) Palmer Ridge High School cheerleaders. (right) Lewis-Palmer High School cheerleaders.
Caption: (left) Palmer Ridge High School Bearbotics team (center) Makena Norton of Monument is the 2022 El Paso County Fair Queen. (right) Spectators clap their hands with appreciation as a Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District engine rolls by, signaling the end of the 2022 Fourth of July Parade.
Monument Street Fair
Caption: At the conclusion of the Fourth of July children’s and main parades, spectators converged upon Second and Washington streets in downtown Monument for the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Street Fair. The fair included booths from local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and food vendors, and a variety of arts and crafts. Photo by David Futey.
Festival on the Fourth
Caption: Over 15,000 people descended on Palmer Lake through the afternoon of July 4 to enjoy Festival on the Fourth at Palmer Lake. The afternoon was filled with live music, retired and active-duty military, volunteers, parents, and children. People from many areas including north of Denver, south of Colorado Springs, and east and west of the Front Range came to the festival. There were food trucks, a beer garden, bouncy houses, a dunk tank, and other activities. The crowd grew and grew with excitement for the fireworks display, with a backdrop of the Palmer Lake Star. Photos Courtesy of Trilakes360.com. Caption by Marlene Brown.
Two fire districts become one
Caption: From left, Fire Chief Andy Kovacs, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s board Secretary Larry Schwarz, Chairman Mark Gunderman (seated), and TLMFPD’s President John Hildebrandt (seated), Director Terri Hayes, Treasurer Tom Kelly, Secretary Mike Smaldino, and Vice President Roger Lance witness the historic signing of the intergovernmental agreement combining the two districts at Station 1 on July 30. A large gathering witnessed the recently established district color guard present the colors before joining in the pledge of allegiance. Kovacs read a proclamation recognizing the merger of the Tri-Lakes Monument and Donald Wescott Fire Protection Districts and announced the combined district’s new title will be "Monument Fire District." Photo by Natalie Barszcz.
Wynn named Sertoman of the Year
Caption: Dr. Victoria Wynn has been named Sertoman of the Year by the Gleneagle Sertoma Club. Club President Harvey LeCato says Wynn "volunteers for almost every service project." The club also gave Harold Moffat a $2,000 check to help pay for the annual HEARS 5K race. HEARS is a charity that provides hearing aids to low-income residents. Roger Patrizio, a founding board member of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado, was presented with a $1,000 check to help the group raise awareness and assist victims of human trafficking in our community. Finally, the Service to Mankind award was given to Jackie Bowen for her volunteer work with American Legion Post 209 of Colorado Springs. From left are LeCato, Wynn, and John Coyle, the 2020-21 recipient of the award. Photo courtesy of Gleneagle Sertoma Club.
Art Hop at Jefferson Studios
Caption: Artists of the month show off their work at the July 21 Art Hop. From left are Gail Wise, Abby Hutcheon, and Sarah Patterson. The event, which is on the third Thursday each month through September, is a highlight for art lovers, families, and music lovers. Jefferson Studios offers the Art Hop night for guest artists, but other local venues have an artist of the month. Art Hop includes musicians on the street and at galleries with a variety of artist booths, as downtown stores and galleries celebrate the arts and visitors. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Open space deeded to WIA
Caption: The Walters Open Space Committee LLC (WOSC LLC) deeded 65 acres of the South Woodmoor Preserve open space and trails to the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) on June 9. WOSC LLC is a group of 118 homeowners that has saved 94 acres of open space behind their homes. This goal has taken almost four years to accomplish. From left are WOSC LLC Vice Director Ray Sullivan, WOSC LLC Director Tish Norman, WIA President Brian Bush and WIA Vice President Peter Bille. Photo by Anja Kelley.
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 affecting 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.
D38 free and reduced price school meals policy
Applications for free and reduced price school meals, instructions and an information letter to households are available at each school or online at www.lewispalmer.org/nutritionalservices. See ad on page 18.
Drop the Distracted Driving
Colorado has a law that bans texting while driving for drivers of all ages. CDOT found that most people have a "Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature on their phone in a recent survey, but many don’t know how to use it. The unexpected can happen in an instant. Be proactive, learn how to enable this feature see DropTheDistraction at www.distracted.codot.gov.
The safety stop is now state law
Bicyclists in Colorado now have safe and legal options for navigating through intersections after governor Jared Polis signed Colorado house bill 22-1028 into law on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. The new law, which allows bicyclists and users of low-speed conveyances to treat stop signs as yield signs and stop lights as stop signs when they already have the right of way, goes into effect immediately statewide. Info: www.bikecoloradosprings.org.
What qualifies as suspicious activity? "If you see something, say something." It’s vital to report to local law enforcement. Suspicious activity can refer to any incident, event, individual or activity that seems unusual or out of place. Some common examples of suspicious activities include: A stranger loitering in your neighborhood or a vehicle cruising the streets repeatedly. Someone peering into cars or windows. Here’s what local authorities and Colorado Department of Public Safety says is needed information: Who did you see; what did you see; when did you see it; where did you see it; why it is suspicious. Call 911 or your local law enforcement agency.
Rotary Club coming to Tri-Lakes
Rotary International has 1.4 million worldwide with clubs in every country on this planet. Rotary focuses on local and international communities on improving education, saving mothers and children, clean water, sanitation, growing local economies, and protecting the environment via its member business professionals, teachers, real estate persons, developers, medical doctors, nurses, housewives, and retired people serving to change lives locally and globally. Local info: Dr. Qureshi at 719 229 1648 or firstname.lastname@example.org and www.Rotary.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Location: Southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads, drop-off open Apr. 30-Sep. 11, Sat., 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun. noon-4 p.m., and Tue., Thu. evenings 5-7:30 p.m. $2 drop-off fee for slash, loyalty card offers a discount. Free mulch, self-loading from May 14 through Sep. 17. Info: visit www.bfslash.org.
Beetle trunk drop off site
There is now a safe drop-off site for infested tree trunks at 6725 Foxtrot Ln. 80924, near Black Forest Rd. and Woodmen. Open 6 am to 7 pm daily. Closed July 1 -Sept. 30 (during flight season.) Mountain Pine Beetle infested trunk wood only, up to 20" size, small amounts of deadfall and standing dead trunk wood acceptable, no branches and/or debris of any type or size allowed. Thank you for assisting in all forest mitigation. Questions? Call or text Charles Newman 7 am -7 pm only, 719-352-6168
Emergency Financial First Aid Kit
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 offers rebates
For information on MVEA’s energy efficiency rebates, visit www.mvea.coop/save-energy-money/rebates/, or call 800-388-9881. See ad on page 12.
The Sunflower is for people with non-visible disabilities
Watch for green and yellow sunflower lanyards, bracelets, and ribbons, discreet ways to make the invisible visible. Wearing the Sunflower discreetly indicates to people around the wearer including staff, colleagues and health professionals that they need additional support, help or a little more time. However big or small, your help moves us closer to a society where people recognize that an offer of help, understanding and kindness can make a huge difference to the daily experiences that a Sunflower wearer has.
Palmer Lake trailhead parking kiosk
For visitors wanting to park up close to the trailhead, patrons will be required to pay for that parking space. The kiosk was installed in February and staff is testing the hardware. Please note that the kiosk is for debit and credit payments only and the parking payment receipt needs to be displayed on the dash of your vehicle. Take care to confirm that the license plate number printed on the receipt matches your vehicle. The parking fee is $5 plus processing fee and is subject to change for special events, holidays, etc., as determined by the Town Board.
Area code required for local 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.
Tri-Lakes Cares Needs Your Support
Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization located in and serving northern El Paso County through emergency relief and self-sufficiency 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 donate. Visit https://tri-lakescares.org/donate to find out how to donate money, medical items, personal supplies, or food. Please check the web for current needs in our food pantry at https://tri-lakescares.org/donate/current-needs. Donation drop-off hours are Monday thru Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Nicole Pettigrew, director of Volunteers and Community Partnerships, at 719-481-4864 Ext. 111.
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.
Can you volunteer today?
• OCN needs your help. See article on page 28.
• 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).
• The Colorado State University Extension office in El Paso County has several opportunities for individuals interested in volunteering. https://elpaso.extension.colostate.edu/volunteer-opportunities/
• Committed to building healthy, caring communities, these El Paso County volunteer-based and nonprofit organizations rely on the hard work of individuals like you. Reach out today and find out how you can play a part by becoming a volunteer in El Paso County. Get involved in El Paso County volunteering non-profits and organizations! https://www.americantowns.com/el-paso-county-co/volunteer-organizations/.
• The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Program is composed of a collective citizens group with a true and common desire to partner with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office by volunteering their services while learning more about the internal workings of the law enforcement community. https://www.epcsheriffsoffice.com/volunteer-program-0.
• The El Paso County Volunteer Program is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to learn about the various functions of county government as well as give back to the community. The County’s numerous boards and commissions need your experience, talents and time. https://bocc.elpasoco.com/volunteer.
• The El Paso County Fair started as a potato festival in 1905 and has grown into so much more. We will be celebrating our 117th Fair, July 16th -23rd! https://www.elpasocountyfair.com/p/getinvolved/volunteer-opportunities
• The Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit whose mission is to support Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers. The organization is comprised of an executive board of elected officers and a general membership governed by official Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation as a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization. https://communityservices.elpasoco.com/nature-centers/nature-center-volunteers/
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 January 24, 2023. Home page: www.ocn.me.
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