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Our Community News - Home Vol. 24 No. 6 - June 1, 2024

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Contents

This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.

the PDF file. This is a 53 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

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Monument Planning Commission, May 8: Amusement park, more residential development recommended for approval

By Janet Sellers

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The May 8 agenda of the Monument Planning Commission included a resolution for a final plat known as Willow Springs Ranch filing No. 2 and an ordinance for a planned unit development (PUD) known as Conexus Lost Island 2. Reports for communication and announcements with the commission and planning staff were also on the agenda. Public comments time was not on the posted agenda.

The commissioners’ main discussions were about the two development projects, Willow Springs Ranch final plat and Conexus Lost Island 2 PUD. Discussions highlighted the location, zoning, and surrounding land use of Willow Springs Ranch near Baptist Road and Forest Lakes Drive and the nearby roundabout, indicating the need for accommodating expected increases in traffic. Later, Ben Thurston presented the resolution for Conexus Lost Island 2 amusement park. The commissioners expressed concerns and supported the proposals, with some emphasizing the need to evaluate traffic studies and major evacuation routes, as well as respecting the small-town atmosphere of Monument.

Also at the meeting, speakers discussed various aspects of traffic management and infrastructure in Monument’s growing community, including the need for a traffic study to address evacuation routes and potential issues with roundabouts. The commissioners reviewed a proposed development plan for Willow Springs Ranch while other commissioners discussed a comprehensive review of mixed-use projects, especially of recent amusement park projects nearby in areas of Colorado Springs. The commissioners discussed proposals for a mixed-use development in a former industrial area and questioned the lack of design guidelines for a mixed-use development in a PUD. The discussion included respecting the need for the Town of Monument to preserve its small-town character feel throughout current growth possibilities.

Concerns arose regarding needed comprehensive traffic studies to be completed and understood before any building would begin, due to the expected increase in the traffic for locals coming and going as well as the traffic and its implied concerns regarding visitors to both the new home areas of the Willow Springs Ranch final plat and the new Conexus Lost Island 2 amusement sites, and for evacuation issues for all traffic, including local and interstate traffic of large trucks that must use the local streets in the case of severe weather complications.

The commissioners made a motion, unanimously approved, to recommend approval of Willow Springs Ranch if the proposed final plat conforms with the review and approval criteria as outlined in the town of Monument’s land development Code Section 8 2.0 2.260 with the condition that at the time of completion, the design of the future District 38 school at that area of Forest Lakes Drive will require conversion to a right in, right out travel ability if such intersection or access improvements are required. Also, the applicant, for the location entering the Willow Springs Metropolitan District, will be responsible for the design and construction of the road conversion. The proposed plat design preserves and conserves natural areas in vegetation. Group discussions for Willow Springs Ranch also included questions about the current validity of a previous traffic study and the potential need for new studies due to subsequent developments, zoning, and open space dedication.

Recreation development and environmental impact

The commission also heard an application sought for approval by the developer of the Conexus property along Beacon Lite Road for an amusement park, Lost Island 2, and development, including office, manufacturing, and commercial space.

The presenter said the proposed development provides for indoor and outdoor recreation activities not already in town. The commissioners said the developer bears the cost of needed public improvements and needed water conservation efforts to be put in place. Regarding land use and development in a residential area, clarification is needed for Santa Fe Trail alignment and prairie dog preservation. The commissioners questioned the PUD changes before the final plat vote and issues regarding the Connexus 14-acre property and zoning PUD issues for an outdoor recreation facility.

Zoning hearing for new development with miniature golf courses

The amusement park presenter detailed the site plan for the project, including shared access drives and parking, while the commissioners directed the applicant to provide safe and reasonable road improvements and that lighting for miniature golf courses and the architecture and design conform to open space and provide ample open space for circulation and recreation. The proposed amusement park could affect changes to the Santa Fe Trail and intersections, the neighboring properties, and privacy features.

Discussions ensued regarding clarity on the impact of new development on the small town of Monument, and the compatibility of a proposed recreation center with the natural surroundings of the area. The discussions examined traffic safety and the highway completion before businesses open, and related concerns about coordination of development and access for the existing community, overall traffic safety on Beacon Lite Road, and reviewed roundabout design factors. This discussion included concerns about the four-way stop at Old Denver Road and Second Street for temporary and long-term improvements.

A motion was made to recommend the Conexus/Lost Island 2 project for development, and it passed 6-0.

Caption: Lost Island amusement park vicinity map and site plan. Maps courtesy of the Town of Monument.

Caption: Willow Springs Ranch site plan. Map courtesy of the Town of Monument.

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The Monument Planning Commission meets next at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the Monument Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument, and usually meets the second Wednesday of each month. To see the options for remote public participation in each meeting, visit www.townofmonument.org/263/Planning-Commission-Board-of-Adjustment. Info: 719-884-8028. www.townofmonument.org.

Janet Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education, May 20: Board approves purchase of property for use in Career and Technical Education programs

By Harriet Halbig

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The Lewis-Palmer D38 Board of Education discussed and approved a contract to purchase a structure at 1200 Synthes Avenue in Monument and the adjoining unimproved lot to create a facility for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming. This concept has been under discussion for over a year.

Currently a small structure near Grace Best Education Center is being used for this purpose.

As proposed, the existing concrete warehouse structure will be reconfigured for this new use. Because there is sufficient electrical capability and compressors are present, the primary design changes will be largely architectural. It was also determined that a second interior level could be added later if needed. The adjoining lot could be used for parking or future expansion.

The purchase includes the requirement of professional inspection of the property and the hiring of architectural and contracting consultants.

At its special meeting on May 24, the board discussed ways to include the community in making decisions about the property. There will be a meeting on June 20 to encourage community members to participate in a task force regarding the project. At that time a survey will be created to be circulated to the community.

In discussing the source of funding for the project, Chief Business Officer Brett Ridgway reported that as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 24-017, the district has acquired the one-time use of $8.3 million in additional revenue. In addition, there is more than $2 million in a fund deriving from cash in lieu of land from developers.

It was estimated that if the district were to build a new structure it would delay implementation by three to four years.

Because the $8.3 million is a one-time revenue, it could not be used for salary increases as it would not be sustainable. This decision also makes it unnecessary to approach the community for a mill levy override or bond funding for the project. It is therefore hoped that the facility could be in use as soon as the 2025-26 school year.

The district heard a presentation by Tatiana Bailey, executive director of the nonprofit Data-Driven Economic Strategies, regarding the present and future workforce. Bailey listed the most-needed skills in the workforce and which of these were well adapted to high schools, such as various computer software. This information could help inform planning for the new facility.

Programming in the building would include carpentry, technical skills, and business management. Students would be able to create and manage small businesses independently to do such things as manufacture T-shirts, trophies, and other items. Other programs will be offered that would result in certification in various areas.

Many other districts in the state offer comparable programs.

Generally, students would spend half of their day at this site and the remainder at Lewis-Palmer or Palmer Ridge High School.

Non-academic fees for 2024-25 approved

Ridgway explained a list of non-academic fees for the upcoming school year. These include fees for athletic, art, and music programs as well as transportation.

Ridgway explained that in creating the budget, all students contribute a certain amount to such fees as food service or transportation whether or not they use the service. Those who use the transportation service will be charged $265 per year or $50 for a punch-card entitling the holder to 20 rides.

To view the entire list of fees, please see the district website www.lewispalmer.org, go to boarddocs under the Board of Education tab and select the meeting date of May 20.

Approval of preliminary 2024-25 budget

Ridgway explained that the board is required to approve a budget for the upcoming school year by June 30.

He said he is working toward a budgeting process based on the individual student. This year, he is heading toward budgeting on a school-by-school basis. This spring, he circulated a form to all schools asking their funding priorities. The effort was not entirely successful as members of building advisory committees felt that principals should determine priorities. It is hoped that next year the concept will be more acceptable.

One point made by Ridgway in explaining the general source of revenue is that, although individuals are paying more in property taxes this year, the additional funds will not go to local schools. Instead it will reduce the amount the state contributes to funding.

He continues to estimate that the increase in funding will be about 6% for the coming year.

To view the details of the budget, please refer to boarddocs as explained above.

Staff and student recognitions

The board heard a presentation from the Bearbotics robotics team about how it is configured. The program is growing, and a student representative said that the team could use more space for its practices and manufacturing of robots. He said that of the 11 graduating seniors, 10 have chosen to major in engineering, demonstrating the value of the program,

Sixth-grade science teacher Val DeLello of Bear Creek Elementary School reported on the participation of nine of her students in the recent Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair. DeLello received an award in Teaching Excellence in Elementary Education. This is a state award from the Colorado Association of Science Teachers.

Acting Superintendent Amber Whetstine recognized Lewis-Palmer High School tutors Larry Bryant, Dave Cantwell, Ton Koehler, and Tony Saglembeni for their many hours of service.

D38 Secondary Program Coordinator Jessica McAllister was one of five national recipients of the You Science Innovative Educator Award. She was recognized for her entrepreneurial leadership and forward-thinking approach to integrate Career and Technical Education (CTE) with academic programs. McAllister led in the renovation of an existing building featuring carpentry classes and rallied community support to create space for student-run businesses.

Parent and Community Advisory Committee annual report

Outgoing co-chair Holly Rollins reported on the activities of the Parent and Community Advisory Committee (PCAC) in the past year.

Rollins said that she strove to emphasize the advisory capacity of the group by having interactive meetings which encouraged maximum participation by members.

Goals of the committee are to maximize community engagement, provide input on implementation of the board’s strategic plan, and seek feedback about schools and programs.

The group has several subcommittees including the Financial Transparency Committee, the Staff Collaboration Committee, the Special Education Advisory Committee, the Gifted Education Leadership Team, the Wellness Committee and the Calendar task force. Each of these reports at each PCAC meeting.

Primary activities of the committee in the past year included monitoring school performance, developing the Portrait of a Graduate and Portrait of an Educator, developing the Consent Task Force, participating in the formation of the D38 Foundation, analyzing results of a survey, and monitoring CTE initiatives.

In the coming year, the committee will further encourage parent involvement in committee activities, continue to include Monument Academy in meetings, and participate in reviewing the application for a new charter school in the district, the World Compass Academy Charter.

Human Resources update

Director of Human Resources Alicia Welch reported on activities in her department, including new hires, vacancies, and internal transfers.

Welch said that hiring is going much better than it did the past year with a turnover of about 8%. She said she endeavors to provide good customer service to all employees by responding promptly to any concerns and added the use of the exit interview to determine the reasons why employees leave the district and how conditions can be improved.

For details, please see boarddocs for the May 20 meeting in the www.lewispalmer.org website under Board of Education.

Caption: At the May 20 D38 Board of Education meeting, student representatives and coaches from the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) team displayed their robot and spoke about program activities. The team, which works out of the Grace Best Education Facility, explained the program and its space constraints and thanked the board for its support. Bearbotics is an experiential learning program for STEM-focused students. Students build complex robots using the latest design and fabrication tools and compete with them. The FTC program helps students develop core robotics skills quickly for students in grades 9-10. FRC offers maximum challenge and skill building, especially for engineering and related fields. For more information on Bearbotics, see https://bearbotics4068.monumentalimpact.org/. For more information on the FIRST Robotics organization, see: https://www.firstinspires.org/. From left: Board President Tiffiney Upchurch, retiring coach Mike Hinkle, Alex Epstein, Aaron Weeks, Vaughn Slivka, Mikayla Middleton, head coach Matt Middleton, Daniel Bloomfield, and assistant coach Eric VanDenHoek. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Caption: Bear Creek Elementary School Principal Donnell Potter introduced sixth-grade science teacher Val DeLello for special recognition. DeLello was recently honored as the recipient of the 2023-24 AVS Teaching Award for Excellence in Elementary Science Education. This state award, sponsored by the Colorado Association of Science Teachers organization, is awarded annually to a community-nominated teacher who demonstrates exemplary science teaching talents and accomplishments. DeLello, STEM committee chair, organizes the STEM night and the school science fair. She noted nine sixth-grade students participated in the spring Pikes Peak Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). She expressed her amazement at the students’ dedication and hard work and thanked the parents who supported them. Three of the students were able to attend the meeting. From left are board President Tiffiney Upchurch, Ben Bloomfield, Aiden Light, Justin Beasley, Potter, and DeLello. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Caption: Acting Superintendent Amber Whetstine introduced Jessica McAllister, D38 Secondary Programs coordinator, for special recognition and congratulations for winning the YouScience Innovative Educator Award. This award celebrates educators implementing innovative approaches to empower the next generation of professionals through academic and career exploration. In its press release, YouScience noted McAllister’s 23 years working in education and her spearheading innovative practices to support students in finding their passions and preparing for future careers. Under her leadership, encompassing three district-operated secondary schools, the district has embraced innovative programs to elevate career and college readiness, work-based learning opportunities, and community partnerships. From left are board President Upchurch, McAllister, and Whetstine. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Caption: Outgoing chairperson Holly Rollins presented the annual D38 Parent and Community Advisory Committee (PCAC) update to the Board of Education. Rollins said that the PCAC encourages community engagement, gives input into the board’s strategic plan priorities, shares information, and seeks feedback on district offerings. PCAC focused primarily on its advisory functions this past year, with each meeting focusing on a strategic priority at a different school across the district. PCAC had representation from the school board, administration, parents, staff, and community members. Rollins announced Renee Butler as the new PCAC chair for the 2024-25 school year, with Kirsten Zook as co-chair. Zook presented a year-end report on behalf of the Financial Transparency Committee (FTC), a subcommittee of the PCAC. Zook said the FTC’s goal was to solicit input on the budget from individual schools, to better understand revenue sources, analyze areas of strategic importance, and foster buy-in and understanding of budgets with staff, parents, and the community. Acting Superintendent Amber Whetstine and board President Tiffiney Upchurch presented flowers to Rollins, thanking her for her two-year tenure as PCAC chair. From left: Whetstine, Rollins, Upchurch. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

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The Lewis-Palmer D 38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in its learning center at 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on June 17.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Board of Trustees, May 9: It’s official: no fireworks in Palmer Lake

By James Howald and Jackie Burhans

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The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees (PLBOT) met twice in May; on May 9 and on May 30. Since the May 30 meeting was held after this issue of OCN went to press, that meeting will be covered in next month’s issue.

At the May 9 meeting, the board considered a special event permit request from Shane Neal, representing Awake the Lake (ATL). The board heard an update on the progress made by the Advisory Committee for the Elephant Rock Vision Plan. Five special event permits were approved.

The meeting was followed by an executive session to receive legal advice on an offer to purchase town land, and a vote was taken following the executive session.

Discussion of Fourth of July event becomes contentious

Neal asked the board to approve a special event permit for the Festival on the Fourth event. He explained ATL had canceled its previous plans for the event, which would have included a fireworks display, because it could not find a volunteer to manage the event. The event he proposed at the board meeting was a scaled-down version, to be held in a controlled area adjacent to the Centennial Park Gazebo on the west side of the lake, that would include alcohol sales, vendors, and music, but no fireworks. Ambulance support, EMT resources, and private security personnel would be provided. Tickets to the event would cost $20, but food and alcohol would be sold separately, he said. Neal said he expected up to 5,000 people would attend.

After explaining the event requested in the permit application, Neal went on to say ATL considered fireworks central to the event and it proposed holding the event with fireworks. Neal listed three options: the smaller, more controlled event without fireworks he had submitted a permit application for, a larger event with fireworks, or no event at all. He said when ATL canceled the previously planned event there was a lot of push back from the community, all of it in favor of holding an event with fireworks. Meetings were held to see if the event could be revived, and Neal volunteered to plan the event.

Town Administrator Dawn Collins said that she was concerned about the lack of adequate planning, that she wanted to support the ATL event, but the cancelation meant that law enforcement staff from surrounding organizations had re-assigned their staff when the cancellation was announced, and those officers were no longer available to support The Festival on the Fourth.

Jeff Hulsmann, representing ATL, said that events like The Festival on the Fourth were important to the town and the scaled-back version of the event, without fireworks, would fail and would fill the town with angry disappointed attendees

Trustee Shana Ball said she did not have enough information to decide at the meeting.

Interim Police Chief Adam Lundy said he could support the smaller version of the event but adequate police support for the version with fireworks was not available. He said the event historically has never been safe. Collins said 18 members of the Fire Department would be available to support the event.

Neal asked the board to authorize him to move forward with planning for an event with fireworks and said the board could cancel the event later if its requirements were not met. Resident Susan Miner spoke in favor of this approach. A permit for an event with fireworks was not the issue before the board.

Lundy pointed out again that law enforcement staff from surrounding agencies were re-assigned when they were told the event was canceled and were no longer available.

Mayor Glant Havenar said, "Everyone wants the event going forward," and hoped Neal would remain as the event planner.

At that point, Neal asked the board to vote yes or no on an event with fireworks. There was no motion for a vote and Neal withdrew his application for a smaller event. The board moved on to the next agenda item but that was not the end of the discussion. Later in the meeting, Hulsmann asked the board to vote yes or no on an event with fireworks. He said he did not want to take the blame for the failure of the event to proceed. The board did not vote at that point.

During the public comment section, Neal again asked the board to vote yes or no on an event without fireworks. Town Attorney Scott Krob said the board could vote but was not obligated to do so. The board voted: Trustees Jessica Farr, Dennis Stern and Havenar voted in favor of the smaller event, without fireworks, for which the special event permit was requested. Trustees Ball, Nick Ehrhardt and Samantha Padgett voted no. Trustee Kevin Dreher was not present to vote. The vote failed, since a majority was required for it to pass.

Elephant Rock vision plan update

Miner told the board that the Advisory Committee for the Elephant Rock Vision Plan had met twice. At the first meeting, they added Cathy Wilcox and Larry Bobo as committee members. The second meeting was held at Richard and Lindsay Willans’ location at the Elephant Rock property so that the committee could familiarize themselves with the Willans’ plans.

Miner said the committee was drafting a vision statement specific to the Elephant Rock property. All ideas submitted by community members have been collected and categorized. The committee had heard from The Arts Council of Palmer Lake, from the Parks and Trails Commission, and from the Palmer Lake Economic Development Group. A site team made up of Bill Fisher, John Tool, Jennifer Rausch and Larry Bobo had been formed and was ready to get started. Cathy Wilcox was working on listing possible types of financial support, and Miner was working on a critical path schedule with benchmarks, she said

Bill Fisher wrote an email listing positive attributes that uses of the Elephant Rock property should have, including:

• Benefit to the public

• Provision of park space to the community

• Preservation of the rural corridor

• Non-competitive with local businesses

• Generates revenue for the town

• Preserves historical attributes

• Supports recreation

Miner cautioned the board about accepting further ideas from the community that were not submitted first to the committee.

Special events

The board approved these special events:

• Shakespeare in the Park, hosted by the Palmer Lake Arts Council. The play will be Two Gentlemen of Verona. There will be two performances at the Town Hall on Saturday, June 22, at 1 and 6 p.m.

• Wishing Star Farms children’s reading program, hosted by the Pikes Peak Library District. Children will interact with farm animals. On Thursday, June 27, at the Village Green at 9:30 a.m.

• Summer Adventure Concert, hosted by the Pikes Peak Library District. A children’s musician will perform on Friday, July 12, at the Village Green in the afternoon.

• Concert series hosted by the Pikes Peak Library District. There will be performances on Friday, Aug. 23, Friday, Aug. 30 and Friday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Village Green. The musical selections will vary.

• Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) Fun Run, hosted by the PLES Parent Teachers Organization. The 42nd annual four-mile run on the Santa Fe trail, to be held on Thursday, July 4, with a start time of 7 a.m. at the Pavilion at Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Center. Parking will be on the west side of the lake.

Executive session

The meeting on May 9 ended with an executive session for the board to receive legal advice on the sale of town property. After the executive session, the board voted in favor of Resolution 28-2024, which authorizes the mayor to sign purchase and sales agreements. The text of the resolution had not been published on the town’s website when this article went to press.

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The next regular board meetings are scheduled for June 13 and 27. All meetings will be held at the Town Hall. See the town’s website at www.townofpalmerlake.com to confirm times and dates of board meetings and workshops. Meetings are typically held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at the Town Hall. Information: 719-481-2953.

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me. Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Monument Town Council, May 6 and 20: Disappointment expressed over alleged attorney misconduct and moratorium developments

By Chris Jeub

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Two Monument Town Council meetings and a press conference held by Mayor Mitch LaKind brought pressing issues to light. LaKind addressed the public regarding ongoing attorney misconduct allegations, providing an update ahead of the investigation’s conclusion. The council meetings were marked by frustrations over an extended moratorium on new land development applications, with both council members and the public voicing concerns. The council also made several proclamations to honor community contributions, discussed updates on local development projects, and announced an extended route for the Fourth of July parade, promising an enhanced celebration for all attendees.

Press conference on attorney misconduct allegations

LaKind held a press conference on May 15 to address developments in an ongoing investigation by the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation (OARC). The investigation stems from a complaint filed by the Town of Monument against attorney Grant Vander Jagt of the law firm Starzynski Vander Jagt in January 2023.

LaKind outlined that over the past 17 months, the OARC, part of the Colorado Supreme Court responsible for regulating the legal profession, has been investigating allegations against attorneys from Starzynski Vander Jagt. LaKind provided context for the investigation, explaining that in December 2022, some outgoing Board of Trustees members engaged Starzynski Vander Jagt to re-evaluate a campaign finance violation complaint. LaKind explained the initial complaint had been properly cured according to the Fair Campaign Practices Act and the municipal code. However, LaKind claimed the subsequent investigation by Starzynski Vander Jagt exceeded its authorized scope.

In April 2023, incoming Town Council members endorsed a different report based on a separate investigation. They are now exploring ways to retrieve the town’s client file and contest billings for services rendered by Starzynski Vander Jagt. The town has refrained from public comment to maintain the impartiality of the OARC investigation.

Addressing inquiries about an August 2023 IEC complaint lodged against him by departing council members, LaKind described it as "retaliatory." He claimed that the IEC complaint was "filled with unsubstantiated and inaccurate assertions." In contrast, LaKind claimed the OARC complaint was supported by substantive evidence.

When asked why LaKind was holding the press conference before the completion of the investigation, LaKind said that the delay in the investigation resulted from Grant Vander Jagt changing attorneys. LaKind defended the town’s decision to file the complaint, action that has cost the town over $100,000, highlighting the attorney’s alleged breaches and the necessity of protecting the town’s interests.

Moratorium update exposes frustrations

Town Manager Mike Foreman presented an update on the temporary suspension of new applications under the Land Development Code, which sparked noticeable frustration among both the council members and the public. The moratorium is set up to run through July 15 to allow time for filling staff positions and handling the backlog of applications.

LaKind questioned the progress, specifically inquiring about the posting for the Planner II position and why multiple positions couldn’t be posted simultaneously. He emphasized that the moratorium has been in place since February and saw no justification for further delays in posting these critical positions. Councilmember Jim Romanello also questioned the progress, warning Foreman that any request to extend the moratorium beyond July 15 would not be supported by him. Public sentiment mirrored the council’s frustration, with developer Tom Blunk expressing disappointment. Blunk highlighted the significant financial impacts of the continued moratorium, stressing that developers have been patiently waiting and urging the council to allow some submissions. He underscored the urgency by stating, "Time kills all deals."

Foreman acknowledged the backlog, noting that numerous applications are pending and a surge in submissions is expected once the moratorium lifts. But LaKind requested a list of pending projects, pointing out that out of the 30 projects pending at the start of the moratorium, only 10 having been completed. Foreman said developers’ lack of response, not the staff’s actions, contributed to the delays. He also stressed the importance of hiring the right personnel. Foreman stated he would follow the council’s direction.

May proclamations

Several important proclamations were made to honor and recognize various groups and their contributions to the community. LaKind declared the week as Small Business Week, emphasizing the vital role that small businesses play in fostering local economic growth and community development. Foreman proclaimed May as National Cities, Towns, and Villages Month, highlighting the importance of municipalities in providing essential services and maintaining a high quality of life for residents. Foreman also proclaimed Professional Municipal Clerks Week, celebrating the dedication and professionalism of municipal clerks who ensure the smooth functioning of local government operations. Police Chief Patrick Regan declared National Police Week, paying tribute to the bravery and service of law enforcement officers who protect and serve the community, ensuring safety and security for all residents.

Monument Lake Beachfront

Lauren Richardson from Baseline Engineering presented a proposal for the final plat of Monument Lake Beachfront Filing No. 1. The purpose of the plat was to combine several lots and allow for parking permits. Despite a 7-0 recommendation from the Planning Commission and staff confirming the proposal met all review criteria, a question arose from Mayor Pro Tem Steve King regarding the status of Lake Mountain Lane being listed as a private road. This issue remained unresolved during the May 6 meeting. LaKind emphasized that the goal was to combine multiple lots, though the ownership of the road was still unclear. Town staff clarified that while the northern road is private, the town owns the access road. The final plat drawing mistakenly showed the road as private, prompting Romanello to move to defer the decision to the May 20 meeting, which passed unanimously.

Falcon Commerce Center

In another hearing, Richardson presented a final plat for Falcon Commerce Center Filing No. 3, located south of Baptist Road and west of I-25, covering 2.65 acres. The applicant, Kiowa Engineering Corp., received conditional approval pending reviews from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Staff approved the final plat, and an NES presentation highlighted that the final plat for Filing 2 was approved in October 2022, with plans to extend Terrazzo Drive to improve the south side of Jackson Creek. Concerns were raised by King about the project’s drainage potentially affecting the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). NES acknowledged some confusion but assured that downstream impacts would be reported, noting the need for a detention pond on the south side, though not immediately for this project. The motion to approve this resolution passed unanimously.

Fourth of July parade extension

President and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Terri Hayes announced an update regarding the Fourth of July parade. This year, the parade route has been extended significantly. Instead of its usual starting point near St. Peter Catholic Church, the parade will now commence at Santa Fe and Old Denver Road. This extension adds a considerable length to the route (about three blocks), promising a more extensive and engaging experience for both participants and spectators.

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The Monument Council 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 meetings are scheduled for Monday, June 3 and June 17. Call 719-884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Town Council.

Chris Jeub can be reached at chrisjeub@ocn.me.

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Monument Academy School Board, May 9, 14: Board approves alternative health insurance benefits

By Jackie Burhans

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Monument Academy (MA) held its regular meeting on May 9, followed by a special meeting via Zoom on May 14. The board heard about plans to change to an alternative plan for health benefits, announced its new board members, reported on fundraising efforts, and provided an update on personnel changes.

Health insurance benefits changing

Acting Chief Financial Officer Glenn Gustafson reported that MA faced high claims and an increase in healthcare costs of 10% to 15% with its current vendor, Cigna. MA started looking for different options, surveyed staff, and decided to pursue an alternative to the traditional insurance model. Noting that UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, and Kaiser Permanente make billions of dollars and are seeing steep increases in their stock values, he brought his expertise from managing the $30 million insurance plan at D11. Krista Pelley, director of People Operations, did a lot of work pulling in logistics, he said.

Pelley said that Cigna employer and employee premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and maximum out-of-pocket costs have increased dramatically. With MA’s contribution of $770 per employee, employees might pay nothing for the employee alone to over $18,000 for the employee plus their family. With the proposed plan and a reduction in MA’s contribution to $700, employees would pay nothing for the employee alone to up to $6,000 per year for the employee plus their family. This would leave more money in employees’ pockets, she said. MA would also save about $30,000 annually.

An evaluation team consisting of Pelley, incoming Executive Director Colin Vinchattle, Gustafson, Operations Manager Jake Dicus and Secondary Campus Registrar Laura Polen formed to explore a non-traditional plan alternative. The new plan leverages a Littleton-based company called Peak Benefits (www.getpeakbenefits.com), a consultant for healthcare plans that claims to disrupt the health insurance industry, to pull together cost-saving alternatives. MA employees and dependents will have access to Pinnacle Network (www.pinnacleapc.com), which offers subscription-based primary care that claims to provide a higher level of quality medical care than traditional insurance plans.

Medical and prescription benefits will move from Cigna to Redirect Health (www.redirecthealth.com), which requires the use of a member app to coordinate care virtually or in person, navigates the healthcare system, and provides follow-up. MA will also offer a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) where the employer provides the plan funding and employees can request reimbursement for actual medical expenses incurred up to that amount. Employees who use all their HRA before year-end must cover subsequent health bills out-of-pocket or using a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA).

Pelley said she wanted to start by speaking to staff, getting emails out to them, and giving them opportunities to ask questions. Pelley made use of technology to solicit feedback and questions. One question raised a concern about a conflict of interest since the CEO of Pinnacle, Dr. John Dygert, is the husband of an incoming board member. Pelley contacted MA’s legal counsel, who noted that the incoming board member’s term doesn’t start until July but that after that, she should recuse herself from voting on anything to do with insurance or providers.

Gustafson said that change is hard, especially when discussing healthcare, and acknowledged that people have primary care physicians (PCPs), specialists, and prescriptions that are near and dear to their hearts and health. MA took this leap, he said, knowing it would be difficult. Team members from the health benefit companies and MA fielded questions. Redirect will work with PCPs who do not accept this coverage to try to sign them up. Dialysis is covered, but organ transplants are not; if the employee is rejected for that, it is considered a loss of coverage, and the employee would be able to get a plan in the individual market and have their premiums reimbursed via the HRA. Gustafson said the two biggest changes are the savings for employees, equivalent to a 10% raise, and needing to plan procedures with Redirect ahead of time.

Staff members who attended the board meeting noted that they didn’t receive much information, didn’t have time to research, and felt a lack of clarity. A staff member said that staff do not understand this type of program, having never heard of it and were feeling panicked that this might be approved at the board meeting. Pelley said MA was going to hold four meetings of 20-30 employees so that they could have a discussion so employees could understand what was going on. Another staff member echoed concerns of feeling rushed, pushing back on negative statements about UCHealth, which had supported her financially.

Asked if staff would be able to provide input before a vote, board President Ryan Graham said the board was being asked to take action tonight. Gustafson noted that staff would leave soon and must complete open enrollment by June 30. Pelley said the board could wait until Monday or Tuesday. Graham asked the board to consider a special meeting on Tuesday, allowing employees at both campuses to meet to discuss the proposal. Pelley said the first session with employees would be held the following day, and a recording would be available.

The board unanimously approved a special Zoom meeting on May 14. Vinchattle reported good attendance at the employee meetings at both campuses and a mostly positive response from attendees. The board unanimously approved moving their health benefits from Cigna to Peak Benefits and authorizing the executive director to sign the necessary documents.

Board election results

At its regular meeting, board member Matt Ross announced the results of its board elections, which saw the re-election of Vice President Lindsay Clinton and the selection of Jelinda Dygert. Their three-year terms will start on July 1.

Fundraising update

Dicus began by thanking the sponsors of MA’s gala, which raised over $134,000 for MA. He also thanked staff and board members for their help with the event and its silent auction. The gala is the biggest fundraiser. MA will always have its Lynx fund, but it was not as successful as last year. Other fundraisers include facility rentals and the school store. The community donated over $50,000 to teachers in gift cards they can use to buy supplies and science kits.

Dicus said MA raised $215,000 overall, including upcoming facility rentals, exceeding its $200,000 goal.

Personnel and organization chart changes

Pelley reviewed personnel changes, noting that 14 staff members are not returning. Three of those are retiring, and one was cut due to budgetary constraints. She said reasons for leaving included "personal" and "leaving the profession," noting a 90% retention rate. MA has filled the middle school English and Latin positions and extended an offer for a custodian position at its East Campus. MA has a newly proposed job description for athletic director/dean, having decided to use existing staff for middle school mental health, saving $50,000 for a middle school counselor. Pelley said math and tech applicants are needed, and there were three applicants for registrar assistant. The hiring committee for the secondary principal comprises four parents and six staff members.

Regarding employees changing positions, Pelley said in elementary, one teaching assistant was moving to a teacher position, a third-grade teacher was moving to physical education, a full-time kindergarten teacher was moving to part-time, and a tech teacher would move to the position of tech assistant support. She also noted that Laura Polen would move from Registrar to Finance, and Vinchattle was moving from middle school principal to executive director. Pelley confirmed that she had spoken to legal counsel to verify the rules about posting positions internally or externally as required.

Pelley noted that the proposed organizational chart had been discussed and showed proposed reporting structure changes and position removals or additions. She explained the meaning of the colors and said the board needed to review the job descriptions for the athletic director and dean assistant. The board unanimously approved the organizational chart along with the job descriptions.

Highlights

Board meeting highlights include:

• Carle was excited to spotlight Scott Kohlhase, the first valedictorian from Monument Academy East Campus High School. Kohlhase could not attend because he was participating in a Senior Sunset event, so Vinchattle accepted his certificate.

• The board awarded Haynes the HVAC contract for the West Campus to replace two of its units which are nearing their end of life. The board unanimously approved a contract for $160,323 with Haynes and agreed to draw down the Preschool Fund balance by $82,000 to help pay for it. Gustafson suggested meeting with the board about a five- to 10-year capital plan.

• The board unanimously approved the FY24-25 proposed budget, along with resolutions for the appropriation of funds, use of beginning fund balances, and inter-fund borrowing.

• The board unanimously approved policies DJ Purchasing and Contracting and DK Payroll Procedures. The purchasing policy creates a hierarchy of who can sign contracts. The payroll procedures policy is a recommended best practice and provides controls for position changes, additions, and deletions, which must go to the board for approval. MA board policies can be found at http://bit.y/ma-policies.

• The board agreed to hold its annual retreat on July 12 at 9 a.m., the venue of which will be determined.

• Ross reported that the West Campus School Accountability and Advisory Committee (SAAC) only received 37 responses to its end-of-year survey compared to 140 in the past. The West Campus SAAC wrote a letter raising questions about the organization’s nature and purpose and the possible benefits of combining with the East Campus SAAC.

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The MA School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month.

The next regular board meeting will be on Thursday, June 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the East Campus. See more information at https://bit.ly/ma-boe.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, May 15: State funds exceed expectations; new bill approves additional revenue sources

By Natalie Barszcz

Listen to this article or the audio file

At the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) meeting May 15, the board heard about the district receiving additional funding from the state that requires an amendment to the 2024 budget, and the passing of Senate Bill 24-194 allowing Special District Emergency Services to generate funding from impact fees and seek voter approval to generate sales tax revenue. The board approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Pikes Peak Regional Fire Academy (PPRFA), the sale of a tender, and the consignment of a skid steer vehicle. Discussion continued on the Lexipol proposal (district policy manual management), and the district’s long-range planning options.

Director Chad Behnken was excused.

Unexpected additional revenue

Treasurer Jack Hinton said that during the budget process in 2023, the district expected to receive lost tax revenue in 2024 of about $373,301, after Proposition HH failed on the November ballot and the state Legislature held a late November 2023 "special session" that resulted in a reduction in property taxes that took away tax dollars from special districts. The state promised to reimburse fire district revenue losses, and the district received notification of the following reimbursements:

• $264,429 for SB-23B-001

• $213,440 for SB-22-238

The state is giving back more than anticipated for a total of $477,876, just over $100,000 in additional revenue. The district will need to amend the 2024 budget to reflect the anticipated additional revenue that exceeds 10% of the budget. It is unknown how any future state Legislature will affect the district’s budget; the district will need to add additional funding to the reserve funds. It is unknown when the additional revenue will be received, but the 2024 budget will need to be amended at the June board meeting, regardless of when the reimbursements are received from the state. A public hearing will precede board adoption of the amended budget, and then the revision will be submitted to the state, said Hinton.

Note: The Board of Directors adopted 14.951 mills and the 2024 budget was approved on an assessed $4.969 million.

Special District Emergency Services funding

Chair Nate Dowden said the state Legislature passed SB24-194 allowing special districts that are not under the jurisdiction of another political body to develop impact fees, and the bill also allows for the creation of a sales tax within the district subject to approval by the voters. The impact fee portion will need to be underpinned by a study demonstrating the need and the establishment and correlation of the proposed impact fees. He asked if District Attorney Linda Glesne planned to present a synopsis in June regarding the impacts of the new legislation.

Fire Chief PJ Langmaid said he had spoken with Glesne and suggested a legal briefing either in a special meeting or at the next meeting, and implement a study as soon as possible given other districts seeking the same path.

Hinton suggested the district act quickly to avoid being placed on the back burner, find a consultant and get the study completed, as other districts will be seeking to do the same.

Dowden requested the board be briefed by Glesne in June with a sample request for proposal, and the staff needs to identify revenue for the Lexipol proposal and the impact fee study. The impact fee study will likely cover the same information the other two proposed long-range planning studies would have covered.

Pikes Peak Regional Fire Academy

Dowden requested the district staff produce copies of the MOU for the PPRFA before the board could continue its review and approval, and the meeting paused for about five minutes. He thanked Logistics Officer Rachel Dunn for providing the MOU documents and asked which version had been presented.

Langmaid said the original version had been executed by Monument Fire District’s Division Chief of Community Risk Jonathan Bradley, but the MOU presented was not the original and had been reviewed by Glesne and the state. The state is waiting for the board’s signature after a few minor changes were made by Glesne to the original document, and no further modifications are needed, he said.

In a 4-0 vote, the board approved the MOU contract number PPSC24-090, with direction for Langmaid to execute filing the document with the state on behalf of the district.

Director Jim Abendschan said he appreciated the decision to develop firefighter training alternatives within the region.

Langmaid said the PPRFA has received a lot of positive feedback and attention.

Note: See accompanying photo of the graduating recruits from the inaugural Joint Regional Fire Academy graduation ceremony.

Financial report

Hinton said that as of April 30, the district had about $1.86 million in the general operations checking and a total of $2.81 million (includes reserve funds, deployment operations and TABOR). The district received $6,240 in deployment revenue and about $1.365 million in county taxes. The district is just slightly over budget year to date by 0.2 percent, said Hinton.

Note: The district engaged auditor Chris Banta, under Tom Sistare of Hoelting & Company Inc., for about $13,000 to perform the 2023 audit.

The board accepted the financial report as presented, 4-0.

Proposed tender sale

Dowden said the board discussed the proposal to sell a tender that raised multiple questions.

Dunn said district Mechanic Gavin Smith said the pump is not fire rated, and the district has no other use to repurpose the apparatus.

Piepenburg said the chassis for the apparatus is outside of the 25-year fire service life-span usage.

Abendschan said it is a nice truck with hardly any use at all and brand-new Michelin tires and he wished the department had made better use of the apparatus.

Hinton asked about the 25-year lifespan stipulation on an apparatus with about 14,000 miles on the odometer.

Langmaid said the district is not bound by the National Fire Protection Association standard or any federal regulation. It hauls water and has a small pump and cannot relay pump. The new tender should not need replacing for the next 20 years, he said.

Dowden said the district had received an offer of $30,000 from Rock Bottom Propane Co. The buyer will remove the tank, pump, and body, and those items will be sold separately. He asked if there was any reason to believe the apparatus was worth more.

Piepenburg said the district was offered $20,000 intact by Brindlee Apparatus Sales, and Smith had done thorough research on the value. The department had used the apparatus in training and has done its due diligence trying to repurpose the tender, but it was no longer useful to the agency. See www.ocn.me/v24n5.htm#bffrpd.

After much deliberation from each director, the board reluctantly agreed to the sale of the tender in a 4-0 vote.

Langmaid requested the board also consider consigning the 2013 Vermeer Skid Steer 1004 vehicle that is constantly requiring repairs by Smith. Funds from the sale could be coupled with funds generated from the tender sale to purchase a front loader tractor.

Dunn said that Smith suggested the mini skid steer may generate about $15,000 if sold through GovDeals.com.

Hinton and Dowden recommended commercial equipment broker Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, headquartered in Denver with an international reach, over GovDeals.com.

The district needs to identify its needs before purchasing an expensive front loader, said Dowden.

The board approved the consignment, 4-0.

Lexipol proposal

Dowden said the board had discussed the Lexipol proposal for district policy manual management at length last month, but the initial annual fee of $17,009 with an annual fee of $10,855 did not correlate with the figures presented in May. The fee appears to have increased to $21,055 for the initial fee and $13,029 for the annual renewal fee. The board had agreed to a pro-rated fee of $5,427 for the remainder of the year at the April meeting. Alternatively, the department staff could continue developing the policy manual or the district could contract with Lexipol. The district is expecting an additional $100,000 from the state that will require reworking of the 2024 budget. Since no line item exists in the budget to contract with Lexipol, the additional funding will need to be found with a rework of the budget.

Hinton said the proposal would also need to be sent to Glesne, incurring additional legal expenses.

Dowden concurred that district counsel provide at minimum a cursory review.

Langmaid said Lexipol provides updates, revisions, and review of case law changes quarterly.

Dowden recommended the proposal be forwarded to Glesne for a review of the terms and conditions. As presented, the proposal does not state the performance period for 2025, and he requested clarification that all five tiers be completed in the pro-rated portion and reflected in the proposal.

Hinton requested staff present to the board where the Lexipol funds will be found in the budget. The pro-rated amount can easily be found by manipulating the budget, but the board needs to know the fine details and decide where the payment of about $34,000 will be sourced from before making the payment in advance to Lexipol.

The board members agreed on the proposal but tabled signing it until the June meeting.

Long-range planning options

Dowden said the board had agreed to table the discussion of long-range planning options after no alignment between board members and staff was apparent to identify the needs of the district with a macro-strategic concept that neither AP Triton nor Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) was proposing.

Hinton said the planning proposals were quoted in the region of $58,000 and $68,000 and with limited space to be developed, two stations, and 17 apparatus, it will not fly with him to fund a study to tell the board what to do, he said.

Dowden suggested tabling the discussions of the two proposals until after the district discusses the recent legislation that may affect how the district is funded in the future. A needs-based study would be needed to develop the implementation of impact fees and most pertinent, it would be duplicative to pursue either the AP Triton or ESCI proposal.

The board approved tabling the discussion, 4-0.

Chief’s report

Langmaid said the following:

• The district responded to two working structure fires near Black Forest and assisted Falcon Fire Protection District with a large wildland fire. A Type 1 Engine assisted Pueblo County with a wildland structure protection fire caused by a homeless encampment.

• A few outstanding bills were found by Administrative Officer Lisa Emry that were lost inside retired Deputy Chief James Rebitski’s email account. The lost bills included a $30,723 bill for a Stryker Cardiac Monitor.

• Dunn is seeking concrete proposals for both stations and a concrete pad for the training center to prevent injuries and reduce worker compensation claims.

• The Personal Protective Equipment closets are being expanded to accommodate the additional staff and protect the district’s investment.

• Staff are seeking quotes for some acoustic panels for the training room to make communication via Zoom easier to hear.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

Caption: Board Director Chad Behnken administers the oath of office to the district’s five graduating recruits of the inaugural Pikes Peak Regional Fire Academy on May 3 at the Woodmen Valley Chapel, Monument. From left are firefighters Carlos Amaya, Alicia Nakada, Kevin Palm, Miranda Stinson, and Patrick Wolking. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

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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 June 19 at 7 p.m. For joining instructions, updates, agendas, minutes, and reports, visit https://bffire.org or contact the Administrative Office at admin@bffire.org or call 719-495-4300.

Natalie Barszcz can be reached at nataliebarszcz@ocn.me.

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Monument Fire District, May 8 and 22: Staff promoted; controlled burn days announced

By Natalie Barszcz

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The Monument Fire District (MFD) board held a special meeting on May 8 to approve the final property inclusion from Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD). At the regular meeting on May 22, two firefighters were promoted to engineers before the meeting, and the board was introduced to the district’s nine graduates of the Pikes Peak Regional Fire Academy (PPRFA).

The board heard about the seasonal mitigation efforts and the planned control burn in Monument Preserve, received updates on the potential for additional district funding sources, and heard about other projects in progress. Former Wescott board Directors Mark Gunderman and Duane Garrett were welcomed by the board and staff.

President Mike Smaldino and Vice President John Hildebrandt attended via Zoom at the May 22 meeting.

Directors Randy Estes and Duane Garrett were excused from the May 22 meeting.

May 8 - Merger update

At the May 8 special meeting, the board held a public hearing pursuant to a published notice to consider proposed Resolution 2024-10 and to certify an order approving two properties for inclusion into the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District’s jurisdiction. The remaining real properties, identified in the assessor schedule numbers as 6132001022 and 6206304013, belong to the remaining two DWFPD board directors. There were no public comments made for or against during the public hearing.

The board unanimously approved the inclusion of property in a 5-0 vote.

The meeting adjourned at 3:32 p.m.

May 22 meeting

At the May 22 regular meeting, Fire Chief Andy Kovacs said the merger process remains on target to meet the timeline. The Transfer of the Volunteer Firefighters Pension Fund to MFD will be reflected in the 2025 fiscal year. Wescott district attorney Emily Powell and MFD attorney Maureen Juran anticipate the conclusion of the consolidation of the districts in November 2024.

Inaugural Pikes Peak Regional Training Academy

Kovacs said the first PPRTA graduation ceremony took place on May 3 at the Woodmen Valley Church North and was made possible with a second-to-none collaboration between the district, Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District, and Pikes Peak State College, and the college’s instructional cadre put together a great product. The recruits scored well during the state testing process, and some improvements will be made to future firefighter academies. Division Chief of Community Risk Jonathan Bradley and several others scrambled together the academy in short order last September to ensure a fire academy was available when other options were unavailable.

The 2025 hiring process is in discussion for budget development, and the hiring process will begin in June to establish an eligibility list in the event the district loses staff over the next year. The staff developed a great hiring process and are selecting fantastic individuals to join the organization, Kovacs said. See accompanying photo.

Mitigation efforts underway/controlled burn plan

Bradley said the 2024 chipping program had added more neighborhoods, and about 60 resident volunteers began chipping on May 11 in the areas adjacent to Monument Preserve. The district typically stacks double chipping days with two chippers, but due to a failure with one chipper, volunteers and chipping crew will return to complete the mitigation efforts in time for the U.S. Forest Service to begin the prescribed burn. Chipping events will continue every weekend throughout the combined district until Oct. 12.

Bradley laid out the plan and premise for the prescribed burn and said:

• The mitigation efforts on the west side of Monument in the area known as Monument Preserve will cumulate the efforts of residential mitigation and the mastication over the past three years with a three-day prescribed burn of up to 900 acres.

• The residents were involved in the planning and preparation for the event with the goal of removing the understory of the forest in Monument Preserve.

• U.S. Forest Service efforts removed a large amount of scrub oak and thinned the pine forest, but the scrub oak will continue to grow back until the prescribed burn removes the new growth. The result should create a healthy ponderosa pine forest.

• About 100 firefighters will be on-site during the burn planned by the U.S. Forest Service, and the burn could begin as early as June 10, weather permitting.

• The burn start point will be in the northeast section of Shiloh Pines and work back to Mount Herman Road on the first day. The burn will border Forest View Acres and Forest View Estates, but not Red Rocks Ranch.

Kovacs said he, Bradley, and the on-duty crew attended the annual Wildland Fire Preparation Workshop at Palmer Ridge High School. The turnout was lower than in recent years due to snow conditions, but it is always a good opportunity to educate the community on the dangers of wildland fire danger and preparedness, he said. See snapshot section on page 20.

New board members welcomed

Treasurer Tom Kelly welcomed former DWFPD Director Mark Gunderman. Gunderman said that ever since the merger journey several years ago, the organization has been moving in the right direction, and the department is aiming to be self-sufficient in a responsible way. He is glad the merger has worked out and the district is now taking part in a successful firefighter training academy. He appreciates the opportunity to serve on the MFD Board of Directors and hopes to continue long-term support for the district and the community.

Kovacs said he had worked closely with the Wescott board to consolidate the two districts and in the process an excellent working relationship had formed. He is excited that Gunderman and Garrett are joining the Board of Directors as representatives of the former Wescott community. Both directors will be able to provide vision, knowledge, expertise, and direction to the district in the future, he said.

Station 3 rebuild update

Kovacs said the staff is working closely with OZ Architects on the Station 3 design. A couple of directors sat in on the May 8 presentation from OZ Architects. Another presentation of the design is scheduled for the end of May to collectively decide on the final station design, the footprint, and what the station will look like on the parcel of land. After the plans have been submitted to the Town of Monument and approval is received, the district can proceed with the land purchase adjacent to and north of the YMCA.

Station remodel updates

Kovacs said a new concrete apron had been installed at the bay entrance of Station 4 (Gleneagle Drive) to replace the asphalt surface that is not designed for heavy apparatus. The crews co-located at Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) Station 22 (Voyager Parkway) will return to the district at the end of May. When the remodel is complete, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be scheduled in September to showcase the updates to the community. The Station 2 (Rollercoaster Road) full remodel is ready to go to permitting and the remodel will begin in late September or October. All stations will have incredible working conditions for the firefighters by the end of 2025, Kovacs said, except for Station 3 that will be rebuilt in a new location.

Station 1 training center update

Kovacs said Chris Purdue, the civil engineer working on the development of the Station 1 Training Center site, planned to submit all the plans for the major PUD and plat to the Town of Monument by the end of May with the hope of securing approval by mid-August. Front Range Fire Apparatus is committed to a 2-acre parcel near Highway 105 and the Burlington Northern & Sante Fe rail track.

Accreditation update

Kovacs said Battalion Chief of Accreditation Scott Ridings attended training in Indiana as part of an accreditation team and in the process experienced an accreditation assessment of another fire department. The district is close to completing the over 200 competencies required before assessment. A mentor has been provided to the district to review documentation and ensure the district is meeting the expectations of the accreditation process, he said.

Chief’s report

Kovacs said:

• After testifying for the first time at the State Capitol on SB-194, a bill that will allow special districts, specifically fire districts, to collect impact fees and sales tax was passed. Twenty other special districts already have those rights in place, and now the bill has passed through state Legislature and is waiting for Gov. Jared Polis’ signature.

• Driver/operator training on the Type 3 Wildland engine is complete, and the apparatus is available to respond within the county, the state or for deployment throughout the Western United States.

• The district purchased a LUCAS device for about $21,000. The device delivers hands-free mechanical chest compressions, and budget permitting the district hopes to purchase a device for each ambulance in 2025.

• The district purchased a new drone recently that proved beneficial during a medical emergency response to a victim on the roof of the Eagle Rock Distribution Center that is under construction. The drone provides real time situational awareness with its camera, infrared capability, and a speaker to communicate with victims. Staff members are researching the types of items that could be dropped off during a rescue. In the case of a water rescue, the drone could drop off a flotation device before staff reach the victim via boat.

• The CSFD is creating an enterprise to provide ambulance service. The service will be a bonus for the Monument residents as the district maintains an in-kind resources mutual aid relationship with CSFD.

Fleet updates

Kovacs said Division Chief of Administration Jamey Bumgarner placed an order to replace the Wescott small water tender that will be budgeted for 2025, and said:

• The approved chassis for the Type 6 Brush Truck will be assembled in Boise, Idaho. The chassis was behind schedule, delaying construction of the apparatus. The build was originally quoted as six months but will take about 18-20 months with an expected delivery in 2025.

• The delivery of two Type 3 Engines ordered in 2023 is expected to take another two years.

• The ordered tower ladder truck is expected in October. The existing tower ladder will be held in reserve, and the Wescott tower ladder will be sold after the two ordered Type 3 engines are received.

• The districts purchased a UTV to replace an existing vehicle; the snow tracks have been removed for the season. The UTV will be in service for rescues in rough terrain areas.

The meeting adjourned at 7:14 p.m.

Caption: Fire Chief Andy Kovacs administers the oath of office to the nine district firefighters graduating from the inaugural Pikes Peak Regional Fire Academy on May 8 at Woodmen Valley Chapel, Monument. On stage from left, firefighters Wesley Cashion, Erich Cassaday, Colton Dill, Matthew Griggs, Jordyn Kaplan, Joshua Kroenling, Colton Maloney, Connor Parker, and Justin Preedy take the oath of office. Family members pinned on the badges during the ceremony. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

Caption: Firefighters Christian Schmidt and Tyler Brickell were promoted to driver operator/engineers in a promotion ceremony before the regular board meeting on May 22. Engineer Schmidt receives his badge from Shannon Schmidt, left, and Engineer Tyler Bicknell receives his badge from Dana Bicknell. Fire Chief Andy Kovacs administered the oath of office during the ceremony. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

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Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For Zoom joining instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit www.monumentfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.

Natalie Barszcz can be reached at nataliebarszcz@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, May 20: Audit of 2023 budget shows financial health

By James Howald

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In May, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board heard an audit presentation of its 2023 budget from Uli Keeley of Prospective Business Solutions. The board awarded a construction contract for well equipment and site work required by a new well at the Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP). It heard updates on other projects, comments from residents, and operational reports.

2023 audit gets "unmodified opinion"

Keeley told the board that the audit process was smooth and efficient due to the preparatory work done by Office Manager Cory Lynch and District Manager Jessie Shaffer. The audit report determined that "financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects."

In her summary of the district’s finances, Keeley said total assets including capital are $86 million and total liabilities are $16 million. The district’s net position (the difference between assets and liabilities) was $67 million at the end of December 2023, an increase of $489,000 over the previous year.

Keeley said the most significant change over the previous year was that several projects were not completed by the end of 2022 but were completed in 2023 and therefore became depreciable assets in 2023. Costs associated with WWSD’s participation in the Loop water reuse project were also new items in the 2023 budget.

Board President Brian Bush asked Keeley why leases of two portions of the Woodmoor Ranch were represented as an asset in the audit report. Keeley said the Governmental Accounting Board (GASB) had changed the rules concerning leases. Keeley explained that land leased out is a receivable and GASB requires such land to be on the statement of net position and on the statement of liabilities.

Bush said he was concerned the footnote covering this issue made further leasing of ranch land a "done deal." He said any further leases would be new agreements. Keeley said it was difficult for her to make the accounting for the district’s current leases concise and clear under the new rules. Shaffer suggested that the footnote be amended to highlight the minimum amount that the district might earn from any future leases.

District lawyer Erin Smith pointed out the board could accept the audit report with direction to staff to clarify the footnote. Keeley said the report had not yet been sent to the state.

The board voted unanimously to accept the audit report with the provision that staff will clarify the current lease with Enerfin Renewables LLC and to review the updated report at the next board meeting.

Construction contract awarded

Shaffer introduced Josh McGibbon and Kelsey Traxinger, both Project Engineers at JVA Consulting Engineers, to tell the board about bids received for installation of well equipment and site work at the well under construction at the CWTP. The well will produce water from the Dawson aquifer.

Traxinger said three bids had been received: Hydro Resources had bid $192,610; Meraki Engineers had bid $245,954 and Moltz Constructors had bid $310,510. She said Hydro Resources had submitted the lowest bid and had experience working on other projects, including wells, for the district. She recommended the board accept the bid from Hydro Resources. Shaffer suggested adding $28,000 in change order contingency funding to the contract. The board voted unanimously to award the contract to Hydro Resources.

Project updates

McGibbon and Traxinger took advantage of their time before the board to provide updates on other projects JVA is managing for the district.

The Well 22 building on County Line Road is nearly complete, the downhole equipment has been installed in the well, and asphalt was laid the week before the board meeting.

Four meters for a sewer flow model study were installed the previous week and will gather data about sewer flows for the next four weeks. Peak sewer flows typically occur in May. The data collected will be used to determine which sewer lines should be replaced to increase capacity.

The design of an additional water storage tank adjacent to the South Water Treatment Plant is 30% complete. The next step is submission of the plans to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a review that typically takes five to six months.

Two residents question new meters

During public comments, residents Charles and Laura Curtin told the board they did not want the new water meters the district is implementing installed in their home due to their concerns about 5G and radiation. They asked to be allowed to continue using one of the water meters that the district is replacing.

Laura Curtin said she was insulted and threatened by the district staff who came to her house to update her water meter. She said she asked the installers for technical information about the new meters and was refused. Her husband sent the district an email requesting information about the new meters. They intend to present the information the district provides to the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University. Curtin said she has heard the new meters may cause speech issues in children and growths on the sides of women’s heads.

Bush said the personnel issues raised by the Curtins were not proper for a board meeting. He asked Shaffer to discuss the behavior of district staff with the Curtins in a separate meeting. He said technical information about the meters would be provided to the Curtins. He asked Shaffer and Operations Supervisor Dan LaFontaine to explain how the new meters had been selected.

Shaffer explained that battery life was the main issue with the older meters, which were originally installed in 2006. Those meters use spread spectrum radio technology to transmit water usage data back to the district for billing purposes. The new meters, which are more robust, use the cellular network to transmit data, using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology not 5G. LTE is a wireless data transmission standard that is a part of 4G mobile networking. The new meters transmit only data, not voice or video, Shaffer said, and are compatible with the AquaHawk back-end software that the district is using for customer billing.

LaFontaine said the district had reviewed products from all the meter manufacturers and had chosen the meters they are installing because they are safe and regulated by the Federal Communication Commission. The old meters are failing, and new parts are not available, he said.

Charles Curtin said he was concerned the water usage data the district collects for billing could be a violation of his privacy and could make his house more likely to be robbed if the district’s database were hacked.

Bush said the advantage of the new meters, which transmit data four times a day, is that they can detect water leaks before a large amount of water is lost. Shaffer pointed out that the meters only transmit a meter ID; the address is not transmitted. A robber would not be able to determine an address from the data transmitted by the meter. He added that on occasion the new meters have been installed on the exterior of the house to address customer concerns or connectivity issues.

Operational reports

LaFontaine told the board that in June the district would add water stored in Woodmoor Lake to the water delivered to customers. One of the district’s treatment plants would process lake water and the other would process groundwater so blending could be used to manage any taste and odor issues resulting from the use of lake water. He said he would use email and the Pipeline newsletter to notify customers of the transition.

District Engineer Ariel Hacker said the project to build a pipeline to convey water from Well 22 to the CWTP was out for bid.

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The next meeting is scheduled for June 10 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 jameshowald@ocn.me.

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Monument Sanitation District, May 15: Board aims to educate community

By Jackie Burhans and James Howald

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In May, the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) board discussed improving communication with district customers. The board also heard an operational report from District Manager Mark Parker and discussed a recent requirement that the district’s website be accessible to disabled customers.

Board brainstorms how to get their message out

Directors John Howe and Janet Ladowski told the board that they met to discuss how to improve the district’s communications with its customers. Howe suggested that, two to four times per year, the board put together a communication to district customers explaining what MSD does, who makes up the operational staff, and who sits on the board. How to contact the district should be included, he said.

Ladowski said the communication should cover anticipated road closures and should educate customers about the district’s infrastructure, explaining the role of lift stations and wastewater treatment. Howe said that one topic to cover would be how MSD, the Town of Palmer Lake, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District manage the Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) on South Mitchell Avenue together using the Joint Use Committee. Howe said customers need to understand that MSD operates independently of the Town of Monument.

District Manager Mark Parker suggested the planned communication would be helpful when tap fees or rates need to be increased.

Operations Specialist James F. Kendrick said the communication could counteract the misinformation about the district that appears in social media sites such as Nextdoor.

Howe said a draft would be ready for review in time to publish in September.

Manager’s report

In his Manager’s Report, Parker said one of the pumps failed at a lift station serving the Wagon Gap and Trails End neighborhoods and had been repaired.

There were no issues with the tenants who rent space in the district’s headquarters building, and office painting and flooring repairs were complete.

Parker said the district would do a study of inflow and infiltration to determine how much rainwater is entering the system. Insurance companies use this information to determine the cost of policies, Parker said, and the study would help keep the district’s insurance costs low.

Parker said the replacement of a sewer line between the Willow Springs Neighborhood and the TLWWTF was underway. The American Recovery Plan Act was paying for $900,000 of the project’s total cost of $1.4 million, he said. The district has 180 days to complete the work, Parker said, adding that he was optimistic that deadline would be met.

Website accessibility

Parker said he was using an online service to verify that the district’s website was compliant with state law that dictates how the site must accommodate disabled customers. He believed the site was already 98% compliant.

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Monument Sanitation District meetings are held at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month in the district conference room at 130 Second St., Monument. The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 19. 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 jackieburhans@ocn.me. James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, May 16: Audit report positive

By James Howald and Jackie Burhans

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In May, the Donala Water and Sanitation District (DWSD) board heard an audit report from Tom Sistare of Hoelting and Co. Inc. on the district’s 2023 finances. The board heard comments from resident Tammy Ball and operational reports from district staff and from consultants. The meeting ended with an executive session, after which no actions were taken.

Good news on 2023 finances

Sistare told the board he had good news concerning the district’s 2023 audit. The district staff was well-prepared for process walkthroughs he performed in early March and the audit went smoothly, he said. He issued an "unmodified, or clean, opinion" in the audit report, as he has in the past.

The audit report included these highlights:

• DWSD’s total assets exceeded its total liabilities at the close of the 2023 financial year by almost $47 million.

• The district’s total net position increased in 2023 by $2.5 million.

• Capital assets net of depreciation increased by $19,895 from the prior year.

• DWSD’s total outstanding long-term debt decreased by $396,897 due to the payment of loans.

Sistare noted DWSD’s operational expenses were up 10.5 %. They declined by 8.5% in 2022.

Resident asks for help with repair schedule

Tammy Baugh, representing the Donala Club Villas Townhomes Association, told the board the association had issues with broken water lines and sewer backups and needed to make repairs to roads. She asked the board to advise her about repairs to water and sewer lines DWSD might have planned so that road repairs would not have to be redone. The roads could be damaged by the line repair work.

District Manager Jeff Hodge said repairs to the association’s lines had been delayed because the funds were redirected to the repair of eight of the district’s 12 wells. He said some of the failures Ball mentioned were service lines, for which the residents, not the district, are responsible.

Board President Wayne Vanderschuere told Baugh he would make sure the association got as much lead time as possible when the district scheduled repairs to its lines.

Water Operator Ronny Wright told Baugh he believed the association’s service line problems were due to the use of dissimilar metals that degraded over time.

Manager’s report

During his manager’s report, Hodge told the board he was expecting a memo from DWSD Attorney Linda Glesne outlining any compliance issues that arose from the last legislative session.

Hodge said the release of 400 acre-feet of water owned by DWSD from the Pueblo Reservoir, which was anticipated last month, had not happened. Consultant Brett Gracely of LRE Water explained this further in his report below.

In his comments on the Loop water reuse project, on whose board Hodge serves, he said the City of Fountain is considering becoming a participating district.

Operational reports

• Wright and Chief Waste Plant Operator Aaron Tolman reported normal operations for water and wastewater.

• Consultant Roger Sams, of GMS Engineering Inc., said spot blasting was underway in the first of the water tanks the district is rehabbing. He predicted the tank would be back in operation by the end of summer when demand for water is at its highest.

• Gracely told the board Pueblo Reservoir had reversed its decision that it was necessary to release water for safety reasons. He said snowpack was still high and snow is continuing to fall at higher altitudes.

Executive session

The meeting ended with an executive session to deliver Hodge’s annual performance review.

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The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 20 at 1:30 p.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 jameshowald@ocn.me. Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority, May 16: Board refines relationship with CSU

By James Howald

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On May 16, the El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority (EPCRLWA, or the Loop) board continued its discussion of how it will coordinate its work with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU). John Kuosman, a water practice leader with Merrick and Co., who also serves as the Loop’s project planning and workflow manager, updated the board concerning reports on where to locate pipelines for the project, a study of the required water treatment, and the Member Agency Commitment Agreement (MACA), which specifies the benefits and responsibilities of participating districts.

Kuosman summarized a discussion held with the Town of Fountain concerning its possible participation in the Loop. The board also held an executive session after which no action was taken.

CSU will assist, not lead

Over several months, the Loop board has debated whether it should work with CSU to achieve its goal of water reuse or design a project that can "go it alone." This discussion has considered, for example, whether the Loop could use CSU’s Edward Bailey Water Treatment Plant (EBWTP) to treat its water or whether the Loop should construct its own treatment facility. These decisions affect the total cost of the project and how the project will be financed.

Kuosman told the board he had met with 10 people from CSU the previous week to coordinate the efforts of the two districts. CSU brought people from the water quality, treatment operations, transmission, regulatory, and engineering side of the district. His recent discussions with CSU led him to believe CSU wants the Loop to create momentum for the concept of water reuse, wants the Loop to build its project, and will do more to help later, but it will not supply momentum itself. CSU "is a supporter not a driver," he said.

Kuosman said CSU’s timetable for water reuse was about five years behind the Loop’s schedule. CSU was open to the Loop’s use of the EBWTF but can only commit to using blending as a water quality strategy for 5 million gallons per day. CSU wants additional analysis of the use of blending, Kuosman said.

CSU requested a more formal request from the Loop board, specifying how the systems will connect, the amount of flow and how water quality issues will be handled, Kuosman said. Conceptual discussions about the rates CSU would charge the Loop for the use of its infrastructure had also taken place, according to Kuosman. Further discussion of the role of CSU would be included in the executive session, he said.

Reports ready to review

Kuosman said he had sent two reports to Spencer Fance LLC, the Loop’s legal firm, for review. They concern the placement of pipelines required to convey the Loop’s water from Fountain Creek to customers in participating districts. One pipeline report addresses the southern portion of the project and the other the northern portion. He received four responses to a Request for Proposal for companies to manage easement and right of way acquisition for the pipelines.

Kuosman said the MACA, which details the roles, responsibilities, benefits, and commitments of participating agencies, was being reviewed by Spencer Fane LLC.

Kuosman explained that the documents were covered by attorney-client privilege and would be discussed during the executive session following the May meeting. He asked the board to schedule an additional meeting on May 30 at 9 a.m. The board voted to hold the meeting at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office at 6250 Palmer Park Blvd.

Kuosman described a meeting he and Director Jeff Hodge held with the City of Fountain as "very positive," and said the city was not ready to commit but wanted to study participation in the Loop further. He explained the city has 200 acre-feet of water they could handle via the Loop. "They are willing to continue the conversation," Kuosman said

Executive session

The meeting ended with an executive session to receive legal advice from the Loop’s attorney and to hear further details from Kuosman. No votes were taken after the executive session.

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The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 20 at 9 a.m. Regular meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Monument Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road. Workshop meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Cherokee Metropolitan District offices at 6250 Palmer Park Blvd., Colorado Springs. Please see loopwater.org or call 719-488-3603 to verify meeting times and locations.

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me.

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Triview Metropolitan District, May 23: Water and wastewater rates and fees increase approved; billing discrepancy solves wastewater increase

By Natalie Barszcz

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At the Triview Metropolitan District (TMD) meeting on May 23, the board held a public hearing on the proposed water and wastewater rate fees increases and discussed at length the district’s need to implement the increases before approving the rates effective June 1. The board heard about a discrepancy in the American Conservation & Billing Solutions (AmCoBi) process and received multiple updates on water delivery and wastewater solutions. The board held an executive session to discuss water and land acquisitions, and development incentives.

Vice Chair Anthony Sexton was excused.

Rate and fees increase discussion

President Mark Melville opened the public hearing on Resolution 2024-04, a resolution of the TMD Board of Directors regarding the establishment of rates and fees for the provision of water and wastewater services along with road and bridge fees for single family, multi-family, and commercial construction within the district, effective June 1.

District Manager James McGrady said the greatest expense for the district this year will be the operation of the Northern Delivery System (NDS) at $8.32 per 1,000 gallons for Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to convey, treat, and deliver the district’s water to customers. If the district does not make any rate or fee changes, in mid-July when water will hopefully be delivered via the NDS, the district will find itself upside-down when the fixed costs are due, he said. Raising rates is necessary to at least cover the additional cost of delivery; the district cannot charge less than the cost for delivery of water, he said.

McGrady said that almost everyone in the district uses less water during the winter months and typically most residential customers remain in the Tier 1 category during that time and transition to Tier 2 during the summer months. He estimated about a $20 increase for the average residential bill, or about a $16.50 increase on about 4,000 gallons. After the NDS begins delivering the district’s water, a cost to service study will reveal if a rate re-evaluation is needed. Inflation will be a major factor going forward for the district, he said.

Director Jason Gross said the district successfully secured renewable water, and realtors should be advertising that benefit for homebuyers in TMD.

Treasurer/Secretary James Barnhart said the rate increases are part of the cost of transitioning to a renewable water system.

Melville said that regionally, TMD is the first district to transition to a renewable water system, and at some point other districts will need to catch up. Without the NDS, the district would need to drill new wells at a cost of about $2.5 million to meet demand. The NDS will lower the cost of well maintenance.

Water Attorney Chris Cummins said that if every district moved to renewable water sources, the wells could be saved for the future.

Melville closed the public hearing at the end of the board discussion after hearing no comments from the public for or against the proposal.

The board approved Resolution 2024-04, in a 4-0 vote.

Residential user rates and fee increases are as follows:

• The base water rate (Renewable Water Fee) per month will increase from $31.50 to $40.

• Metering and billing charges will remain $5 per month.

• Tier 1 0 to 8,000 gallons will increase to $9 (up from $6.82 per 1,000 gallons)

• Tier 2 8,001 to 20,000 will increase to $13.50 (up from $10.49 per 1,000 gallons)

• Tier 3 20,001 to 30,000 will increase to $20 (up from $18.59 per 1,000 gallons)

• Tier 4 30,001 to 40,000 will increase to $30 (up from $24.28 per 1,000 gallons)

• Tier 5 Over 40,000 will increase to $40 (up from $35.97 per 1,000 gallons)

• The sewer base rate will increase to $57.68 (was $52.44)

• The average November-February volume use uniform rate will increase to $5.69 (was $5.17)

The full rate and fee scales for all categories and users can be found at www.triviewmetro.com.

Website accessibility update

District lawyer George Rowley said the state Legislature had extended website accessibility compliance until July 1, 2025. See www.ocn.me.v24n5.htm#tmd.

McGrady said the site had been checked and was already about 96% in compliance with the accessibility requirements. He recommended the district allow GroundFloor Media Inc. to continue managing the district’s site and correcting the remaining issues.

In a 4-0 vote, the board approved Resolution 2024-05, adopting a digital accessibility policy and designating a compliance officer.

Water sold and wastewater discrepancy

Assistant Manager Steve Sheffield said the new District Administrator Sara Lamb had done an awesome job closing the numbers on water pumped and sold. The process had led staff to believe that more water was being treated at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Waste Water Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) than had been sold to its customers, he said.

McGrady said the district cannot afford to have discrepancies in the water pumped and processed through the UMCRWWTF if the Northern Monument Creek Interceptor (NMCI) project moves ahead. The AmCobi reports differ, and the district staff now know how much water is going through the flow meters, and the discrepancy is about 2%. A meeting to hash out the discrepancy with AmCobi is scheduled. The fluctuating amounts had been perplexing the board for several years and throughout his tenure as district manager. Thankfully, Lamb’s experience finally found the issue with the billing and procedures are now in place, McGrady said. The investigation revealed that some commercial customers were being undercharged, he said.

NMCI update

McGrady said the cost for the development of the NMCI is expected to be revealed by early August or September, and CSU will decide whether to pursue the pipeline. The design engineer has recommended a timely decision be made to ensure the implementation team is available to see the project through. If the project proceeds, the pipeline could be built by early 2027.

Cummins said a change of water rights decree will be needed if the district stops releasing treated wastewater into Monument Creek and uses the NMCI to send wastewater 10 miles down-stream through the pipeline to the JD Philips Water Resource Recovery Facility, Colorado Springs.

Northern Delivery System update

McGrady said the construction of the NDS pumphouse is going well, and completion is expected about July 15. The project is two weeks behind schedule due to the electrical crew needing to be increased from three persons to a six-person crew. The Town of Monument’s (TOM) potential tie-in to the TMD water delivery system agreement had progressed to the town’s attorney, he said.

Operational updates

Sheffield said:

• The conceptual building drawings for the district office space were complete.

• The Sanctuary Pointe Park reservation site is behind schedule due to liability issues.

• The design phase for the Higby Road widening project was complete and the design plans have been submitted to the TOM. The design includes a 100-foot right of way instead of 120 feet, and those cost savings will be used for retaining walls.

• The Creekside Drive turn lane requested by School District 38 was budgeted for $150,000 but is a little over budget and bid for $185,000.

Public works and parks and open space update

Superintendent Matt Rayno said the May 6 windstorm destroyed seven street signs and uprooted about 27 trees throughout the district. Cleanup is completed and crews will take care of the damage in due time. Some projects had to be pushed back due the manpower needed to address the uprooted large pines in Sanctuary Pointe.

Note: This reporter thanked the crews for replanting a tall spruce on the south Agate Creek Drive trail system on May 23. See accompanying photos.

Rayno also said:

• Paving work began in Promontory Pointe, and crews will begin the mill work and overlay of Sanctuary Pointe in mid-June.

• A production specialist was hired to check the power and lighting capabilities of the band structure at the Sanctuary Pointe Athletic Field. The structure was a little under-powered and an additional breaker was installed to give bands more power. A ribbon-cutting event with a live band and six food trucks was scheduled for May 31.

• The district is fully staffed for the summer.

• Staff attended a defensive driver training class to ensure safety in inclement weather.

• The dated landscape beds along Leather Chaps Drive are scheduled for updating in June.

Executive session

The board moved into an executive session at 7:47 p.m. pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes sections 24-6-402(4)(a) for the purpose of acquisition of water/land and 24-6-402(4)(b) for the purpose of determining the positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategies for negotiations, and instructing negotiators as it relates to potential development incentives.

Sheffield confirmed that after the meeting re-entered the regular session at 8:58 p.m., the board publicly supported Director Jason Gross attending the next TOM meeting to voice support for the Higby Road improvement project, and to speak on the TMD board’s behalf.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

Caption: District crews work to replant a toppled spruce tree on the south Agate Creek trail system on May 23. About 27 trees were uprooted by wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour on May 6. Photo by Natalie Barszcz.

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Meetings are usually held on the third Thursday of the month at the district office at 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for June 20 at 5:30 p.m. For meeting agendas, minutes, and updates, visit https://triviewmetro.com.

Natalie Barszcz can be reached at nataliebarszcz@ocn.me.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, May 2: Variance for Black Forest property would allow short-term rental to continue

By Helen Walklett

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At the El Paso County Planning Commission meeting on May 2, the commissioners heard a request from owners Drew and Tarah MacAlmon for approval of a variance of use to allow an ancillary building to continue to be used as an occasional short-term rental. The 4.78-acre property is located on South Holmes Road, south of its intersection with Burgess Road, and is zoned RR-5 (residential rural).

The MacAlmons received approval in 2018 for an ancillary building to provide a home office and additional living space. It passed all inspections in 2019, and the bedrooms in the basement of the building have been rented out on a short-term basis since that time with the owners not knowing this was not an allowed use.

In 2022 an anonymous complaint about the rental was made to the county’s code enforcement officers, and a violation notice followed. The MacAlmons then met with county staff and were advised not to submit a variance of use application at that time, which would bring the rental activity into compliance, because the county was exploring code amendments that would allow accessory dwelling units.

Meggan Heringtion, executive director, Planning and Community Development, said, "I gave them the ability to hold off. We received the complaint about what we deemed a second dwelling. However, at the time we had been instructed to work on potential code revisions to allow accessory dwelling units and since we were working on that, I did say hold off." She explained that when the amendment was put on hold waiting for the state Legislature, the applicants were asked to submit a variance of use application. This was done in August 2023.

Ashlyn Mathy, planner II, Planning and Community Development Department, explained that because the 2018 site plan showed no kitchen, the applicants were not required to sign an affidavit acknowledging they could not rent or lease the structure as a separate living unit. Renting the space was never discussed. She said 15 neighbors had been notified and no opposition had been received but a common theme from neighbors was the suggestion that the variance be tied to the owners rather than the property so that it would not be automatically transferred were the property to be sold.

The applicants represented themselves at the hearing. Speaking about the rental activity, Drew MacAlmon said, "We feel this is a way we can recoup some of the cost of rising property taxes as well as the investment we made into the structure." He said there was no mention of short-term rental in county’s land development code in 2018.

Tarah MacAlmon told the commissioners their primary intent had always been to have a place to work from home and their focus was on completing the office space first. She said that over time they realized there might be a way for the other space in the building to be profitable.

Commissioner Tim Trowbridge commented that the staff report stated a kitchen is present. Drew MacAlmon responded that they had installed an oven without realizing it would be such an issue but had removed it when told it was not allowed. Trowbridge commented, "I’m troubled by what I see as a backdoor attempt at getting this approved." Commissioner Becky Fuller said, "I would feel better if you said ‘We snook it in and got nailed" because that’s what I feel like happened.’

Drew MacAlmon said, "In our eyes, we went through the process there of inspections, plans, engineering, building that structure and that was all approved." Tarah MacAlmon commented, "Our willingness and desire is to be fully in compliance and be able to rent this space out that we indeed have invested in."

Mathy said there had been a unique situation with this project and that there had been some confusion with the process. Justin Kilgore, planning manager, Planning and Community Development, told the commissioners, "This application is the remedy to fix the miscommunications or perceived issues with the project."

Fuller stated, "To me it’s all about the review criteria. I think the applicant has not shown this in their application. I don’t think that what we have been presented here today meets the appropriate criteria." She encouraged them to work with department staff and to focus on the criteria to prepare for the El Paso Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) land use hearing.

Commissioner Bryce Schuettpelz said, "One of the criteria about the financial hardship is a hard argument to make because if you truly built it to be an office, you weren’t planning on income coming in."

Trowbridge said, "Short-term rentals are a commercial enterprise. It’s not a guest house and it’s not compatible."

Chair Tom Bailey stated, "I am in favor of this because I believe the variance is the appropriate vehicle for addressing a shortcoming in our current code and in our current process."

A motion to approve without further conditions was amended by a vote of 6-2 to include a condition that the variance only apply while the MacAlmons own the property, becoming void upon its sale. The amended motion to recommend approval then succeeded by a vote of 5-3. The nay votes were Fuller, Trowbridge, and Commissioner Christopher Whitney.

Whitney advised the applicants to really look at the approval criteria ahead of the BOCC hearing. To the undue hardship criterium, he suggested the hardship may be that the process is confusing. Speaking to his nay vote, Trowbridge said, "I don’t think this is compatible with the neighborhood. I don’t think short-term rentals belong here."

The application is now scheduled to be heard at the BOCC land use meeting on June 13.

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The El Paso County Planning Commission normally meets the first and (as required) the third Thursday of each month at the Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle, Colo. Springs. Meetings are live-streamed on the El Paso County News and Information Channel at https://www.elpasoco.com/news-information-channel. Information is available at 719-520-6300 and https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/planning-community-development/2024-hearings-schedule/.

Helen Walklett can be reached at helenwalklett@ocn.me.

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El Paso Board of County Commissioners, May 9: Hay Creek Valley subdivision approved despite opposition

By Helen Walklett

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During May, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved two land use applications west of I-25. These were a final plat for the 20-lot Hay Creek Valley subdivision off Hay Creek Road despite neighbor concerns about wildfire risk and evacuation and a rezone to commercial for an Old Denver Road property.

Hay Creek Valley subdivision approved

At its May 9 land use meeting, the BOCC approved a request by View Homes Inc. for approval of a final plat for the Hay Creek Valley subdivision to create 20 single-family residential lots. The site has one existing single-family residence which will remain in the western portion of the site. The 214.62-acre property is zoned RR-5 (rural residential) and located west of Interstate 25, directly north of the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), south of the Forest Lakes subdivision, and southwest of Monument.

The BOCC’s unanimous decision to approve went against the recommendation of the El Paso County Planning Commission. A vote to recommend approval at its April 18 meeting failed by 3-5 resulting in a recommendation of denial. Members of the public spoke in opposition at that meeting, raising concerns about additional lots in the area, inadequate access, a section of county’s land development code which they believed was not satisfied, and traffic. The planning commissioners felt fire safety regarding ingress and egress was not met.

The subdivision’s preliminary plan was approved in fall 2023. Neighbors raised concerns about the lack of notification, water, the impact on wildlife, traffic, and wildfire evacuation at the Sept. 21 Planning Commission meeting where the preliminary plan was considered. No one spoke against the preliminary plan application at the Oct. 12 BOCC land use meeting where it was approved.

Kylie Bagley, planner III, Planning and Community Development Department, reminded the commissioners that the preliminary plan was approved with two waivers. One waived the requirement for public roads to allow a private road to service the subdivision. The other removed the requirement for two access routes.

Ed Schoenheit, engineer I, County Engineering Division, said access to the subdivision will be via a recorded access easement agreement with an adjacent property owner. Within the subdivision, access to the lots will be via a 1-mile private paved road which will have a dead-end cul-de-sac meeting county’s Engineering Criteria Manual and fire district design requirements with approved deviations. The private road will be gated and will join Hay Creek Road. The traffic study concluded that no improvements were required to Hay Creek Road itself.

Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said that, knowing there were several comments from residents about fire safety, was there a second way to get out on Hay Creek Road to the west? Schoenheit replied no and explained that Hay Creek terminates in the west farther down in the canyon area.

The property is on the northern boundary of the USAFA, an area where training operations take place. Bagley said that the USAFA had asked the developer to include plat notes and covenants to provide full disclosure of this to future lot owners. The USAFA also requested an "avigation" easement (giving the right of overflights in the airspace above or in the vicinity of the property) be recorded with the final plat.

Jason Alwine, Matrix Design Group Inc. and representing the owner, said the Fire Department [Monument Fire District] had requested the installation of a water cistern with a minimum capacity of 33,000 gallons at the far end of the cul-de-sac. The one being installed will hold 35,000 gallons. He stated that a Wildfire Hazard and Mitigation Report had also been submitted as part of the process and that some fire mitigation work had already taken place. He explained that lots will range from 5.5 to 17 acres with the larger lots situated on the southern part of the property abutting the USAFA boundary where vegetation and a ridge will provide a natural buffer between the subdivision and the USAFA training grounds. Eleven of the lots will be larger than 10 acres and all will be on well and septic.

Seven neighbors spoke in opposition. No one spoke in favor. The opposition focused on fire safety and traffic with concerns being voiced about evacuation in case of wildfire given that Hay Creek Road has only one way in and out, terminating in a dead end. Neighbors felt the application contravened Dead End Standard 8.4.4 D in the county’s land development code (LDC) which states "When more than 25 lots would front and take access to a dead-end road, a second means of access shall be provided."

Resident Lorna Bennett read a statement from a neighbor which stated, "If you vote to approve this application, know that you will be effectively waiving the LDC dead-end road mandate thereby nullifying the intent and purpose of the LDC and further jeopardizing the safety, welfare, and lives of the current occupants of this valley as well as the future occupants of the development."

Referring to the 25-home limit in the code’s dead-end standard, resident Kelly Parr said, "I just don’t understand how you can throw waivers at things that go against the law that defends people’s safety." Another resident asked, "My question is how many casualties are you willing to accept? Five, 10? One is too many. Our safety is very much at risk here and I would like you to consider that."

In rebuttal, Alwine said that the applicant was complying with all Fire Department requirements. Regarding the code condition, he stated that it did not apply to the subdivision, which has 20 lots. He said they had conversations about waivers and deviations at the preliminary plan stage with staff, engineering, and the Fire Department and that the Fire Department had given a letter of support which was submitted with the proposal.

Owner Joe Stifter, View Homes Inc., said, "The section of code that’s being referred to over and over and over, 8.4.4.D, it’s very specific in that it says, "No more than 25 units shall front and take access to a dead-end road" and what’s being continually referenced here is Hay Creek Road. We have 20 homes that front and take access from Snow Mountain Heights [the private road within the subdivision]. None of those front Hay Creek Road. So, speaking literally to the code, we meet that code."

VanderWerf commented, "I do feel at this point I need the staff to provide a legal interpretation of this 8.4.4.D because we have different points of view with regard to this and I think it revolves around what space does the application of that land development code apply to? Does it apply to all of Hay Creek Road in its entirety or does it apply to each of the developments that feed into Hay Creek Road?’ Bagley explained, "There is a parcel between the northern boundary of their subdivision and Hay Creek Road, therefore staff has determined that it does not front Hay Creek Road."

Meggan Herington, executive director, Planning and Community Development, said, "The beginning of Chapter 8 [of the Land Development Code] talks about the application of these subdivision design standards being specific to the subdivision itself, and so it’s difficult for us to say we’re going to apply this more globally outside of the subdivision review."

Commissioner Holly Williams commented, "It does seem to me that it meets the fire district requirements." Commissioner Carrie Geitner said, "I also appreciate our staff and believe they are the experts in interpreting our code, so I too take what Meggan [Herington] has said with great weight." Chair Cami Bremer said, "I absolutely believe that this meets the criteria." VanderWerf commented, "I would like to work with the staff to see if there’s anyway to put a second ingress/egress in and out of that road [Hay Creek Road]."

The vote to approve was 4-0 with Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. absent.

Old Denver Road rezone to commercial approved

Also at the May 9 BOCC land use meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved a request to rezone an 8.07-acre property at 16050 Old Denver Road from RR-5 (rural residential) to CS (commercial service). The 8.07-acre property is located half a mile north of the intersection of Baptist Road and Old Denver Road. The application was heard as a consent item, meaning there was no discussion.

The application came from the El Paso County Planning Commission meeting on April 18 with a unanimous recommendation for approval. It had been scheduled to be heard as a consent item at that meeting but was heard as a regular item at the request of Commissioner Christopher Whitney who had questions about the interplay of placetype (from the county’s master plan) and zoning. See https://www.ocn.me/v24n5.htm?zoom_highlight=%22old+denver+road%22.

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The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) usually meets every Tuesday at 9 am at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., Suite 150, Colo. Springs. Agendas and meetings can be viewed at www.agendasuite.org/iip/elpaso. Information is available at 719-520-643. BOCC land use meetings are normally held the second and fourth Thursdays of the month (as needed) at 1 pm in Centennial Hall.

Helen Walklett can be reached at helenwalklett@ocn.me.

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Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), May 11: New legislation reviewed

By Marlene Brown

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The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) held its regular bi-monthly meeting May 11 at the Woodmoor Community Center (The Barn) located at the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA), 1691 Woodmoor Dr.

The meeting was called to order at 10 a.m. by board President Mike Aspenson, who introduced the board. Vice President Bob Swedenburg reported that the NEPCO board has vacancies for treasurer, secretary, and land use/transportation chair. Swedenburg, who has been with NEPCO for over 20 years as a founding member of the board, reiterated the board would be available for training and guidance, helping new board members to feel comfortable and fit in with their position. For more information, email vicepresident@nepco.org.

Aspenson gave the treasurer report and Larry Oliver, membership chair, reported that NEPCO represents over 50 member HOAs in northern El Paso County. Swedenburg gave the land use/transportation report. Some of the projects at the El Paso County Planning Commission that pertain to the northern Tri-Lakes area are:

• Monument Ridge East—361 residences

• Neighborhood public meeting—June 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Woodmoor Community Center (The Barn)

• Settlers Ranch Filing No. 3—24 lots

• New Breed Ranch Filing No. 3—seven lots

For information regarding these county projects and others, go to epcdevplanreview.com. The Electronic Development Application Review Program (EDARP) is for unincorporated areas. You can submit, review, and search development applications online. The Monument Planning Commission currently has development projects that include infrastructure, residential, commercial, and parks.

The Wildfire Committee highlighted wildfire preparedness regarding mitigation and insurance guides published by the Colorado State Forest Service. Note that the term/program "Firewise" is evolving into a "Fire-Adapted" approach. HOAs are encouraged to reach out to Fire Adapted Colorado (FACO) for more guidance and research: fireadaptedco.org.

Outreach Communications Chair Dave Betzler said the July 13 NEPCO meeting would feature executives from the Trails & Open Space Coalition, Monument Parks and Recreation, and El Paso County Community Services.

Recent legislative impact on HOAs

Steven King, Monument mayor pro tem, said that in general, new legislation impacts local control and property rights, and in Monument, especially, since it is a home-rule community. King was joined by Bryce Meighan, Orton Cavanaugh Holmes & Hart LLC.

Signed legislation with yet-to-be determined impacts:

• HB 1007 occupancy limits

• HB 1152 ADU/accessory dwelling units

• HB 1304 Metro District Parking/ unknown status regarding ADA

• SB 005 Restricts installation of artificial turf

• HB 1091 Requires fire-hardened property/building materials

• HB 1098 Cause required eviction of residential tenants

• SB 021 Exempt small communities, such as HOAs, requirement cap annual assessments

• HB 1233 HOA delinquency enforcement

• SB 1267 Metro districts covenant enforcement

• HB 1313 Housing in transit corridors – affordable housing, applicable to home-rule towns

• SB21 1110 Incorporation of federal ADA requirements

• SB 058 Landowner Liability—requires posting of warning signs, limits landowner actions

Passed, not signed:

• HB 106 Construction defect procedures

• HB 1051 Towing carrier regulation

• HB 1108 Insurance commissioner mandated study of property and casualty insurance costs

• HB 1337 Real property owner unit association of attorney fees, assessments, collections, and enforcement fees.

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NEPCO meets every other month on the second Saturday. The next regular general membership meeting will be held July 13 from 10 a.m. to noon at The Barn. For more information, go to nepco.org.

Marlene Brown can be reached at marlenebrown@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, May 22: Board fills vacancy, explains approach to forestry

By Jackie Burhans

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The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on May 22 to announce it had filled its vacancy, address a resident’s concern about prairie dog infestation, and explain its approach to forestry and fire prevention.

Board vacancy filled

Board President Brian Bush started the meeting by announcing that the board had held a special meeting on May 15 to fill the vacancy left by Per Suhr, who recently passed away. The new board member, Susan Leggiero, will serve for the remainder of Suhr’s term, which ends in February 2025.

Prairie dog infestation

Resident Mary Ann Schroeder, who lives on Leggins Way near The Preserve common area in South Woodmoor, expressed concern that prairie dogs are invading and destroying her property. She said the same thing is happening in open space. She recently moved into the area and spent over $30,000 on landscaping. She asked the board to address the infestation and offered to be involved.

Bush said he had discussed this earlier with Common Areas Director Steve Cutler, and they have received an estimate of $4,290 to treat six acres with an estimate of 480 holes. He said he was prepared to recommend to the board that some mitigation of the prairie dogs be done, but he recognized that with all of the construction around the area, prairie dogs are going to go to places that are not disturbed. Bush said he would ask Common Areas Administrator Bob Pearsall to do a general survey to confirm that the estimate is reasonable.

However, Bush emphasized that the community’s involvement is crucial in tackling this issue. He likened the situation to noxious weeds, stating that the board’s efforts in the open space are ineffective if the neighbors who border the area do not act. He requested that Schroeder act as a special emissary to the neighbors, providing them with the name of the contractor WIA would be using. Schoeder, who had already begun speaking to neighbors, expressed her willingness to assist. Bush said the board would consider this request at its next meeting on June 26.

Public Safety Director Brad Gleason asked what would stop the prairie dogs from returning. Bush said nothing would prevent it, but the board would have to address the issue at some point. Gleason asked if the recommended product was something WIA could use. Pearsall explained that exterminators must be licensed and certified to use the product, which is environmentally friendly and will not harm pets.

Pearsall asked if Woodmoor Water and Sanitation (WWSD) would be willing to treat its property and whether he should approach WWSD District Manager Jessie Shaffer. Bush said that would be a good place to start and to tell Shaffer that the WWSD president (Bush) thinks it’s a wonderful idea.

Approach to Forestry and Fire Mitigation

Bush reported getting a call from a resident concerned that others were cutting down too many trees and that the WIA board has a clear-cutting policy in Woodmoor. That is not true, Bush said and asked Forestry Administrator Justin Gates to talk about the factors that go into decisions on tree removal, including fire mitigation, insurance, risk management, and community appearance.

Gates said he consults WIA’s Covenants and Rules & Regulations and weighs that against fire risk, forest health, and insurability. He said another factor is appearance, noting that people have moved to Woodmoor for the forested look. He indicated that he must consider the state regulations and input from the state foresters when applying for grants, but that WIA had pushed back on some of the state standards. WIA provides information on Firewise and state forestry office guidelines.

Section U of the Rules & Regulations document states that WIA covenants require approval to remove evergreen trees with a diameter greater than 4 inches. Felled and dead trees and trees infested with mountain pine beetle must be properly disposed of. Gates said the WIA does not force homeowners to do basic fire mitigation but fosters conversation and partnership. Recently, WIA focused its grant offers for mitigation on opening an evacuation corridor on Woodmoor Drive. Gates will write an article for the upcoming WIA newsletter to address any misconceptions.

Gleason emphasized that everything Gates does aligns with federal and state recommendations, including those of FEMA and Firewise organizations, which are invested in protecting communities from wildfires.

Board highlights

• Bush reported on behalf of Community Outreach Director Rick DePaiva that the board was aware of opposition to the Monument Junction East development and requested that one or two board members attend the upcoming community meeting at The Barn on June 4 at 5:30 p.m.

• Bush reported on behalf of Treasurer Connie Brown that the board is ahead of the curve on interest income but behind on Barn rentals and office space. The board is also behind on revenue from covenant fines, which is OK with Bush. Staff members are holding down expenses, he said.

• Homeowners Association Administrator Denise Cagliaro said that WIA is filing 50 liens on properties with unpaid dues. WIA has been contacted by El Paso County to use The Barn as a voter polling and service center for the upcoming presidential election, she reported.

• Gleason noted that school is out and asked residents to watch their driving speed.

• Architectural Control Director Ed Miller reported that 71 projects were submitted to the Architectural Control Committee for approval in April, which is 18.3% higher than last year. Although projects have increased, revenue has decreased as most of the projects have no administrative fee, said Pearsall.

• Board member Cindy Thrush confirmed that chipping days have been set for June 29-30 and July 27-28 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Chipping is free to residents and open to non-residents for a nominal fee. Bush asked Thrush to write a letter of thanks to the new D38 superintendent and the high school principal for their support.

• Bush, who also serves as WWSD president, said site work on Well 22 on County Line Road would be done soon and the transmission line to Misty Acres would be done by November. WWSD is building a new tank in South Woodmoor next to its existing tank, he reported.

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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 June 26.

The WIA calendar can be found at www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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May Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

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May was cool and relatively dry, an unusual combination where we would normally expect cooler than normal temperatures to be accompanied by a couple good snowfalls. But not this year.

The first week of the month was dry with temperatures right about normal. Overnight lows were just below freezing most mornings, with afternoon highs in the 50s and 60s. An unsettled pattern then affected the region for the next week from the 9th through the 15th. During this period, daily rain showers mixed with snow at times were seen from the 9th through the 12th. High temperatures were well below normal on the 9th and 10th, only reaching the 40s. This was a good example of how important elevation is for determining whether precipitation falls as rain or snow, which is especially relevant during the fall and spring. In this case, heavy, wet snow accumulated above 8,000 feet, with 1-2 feet in Teller County, while we just received cold rain mixed with snow.

Temperatures warmed slightly over the next few days, and we received only rainfall. The unsettled period ended with area of thunderstorms, some producing decent hail especially for areas farther east of Black Forest.

Temperatures continued to warm over the next couple of days, moving into the mid-60s on the 16th, then mid-70s from the 17th through 19th. On the 18th, a series of thunderstorms developed, producing rounds of rain showers that afternoon and early evening, with hail covering the ground in some areas of Black Forest.

For the remaining two weeks of the month, conditions were generally quiet and dry. We did have a quick cool down on the 21st and 22nd and a few showers and thunderstorms. But outside of this period, most days started off quietly with partly to mostly cloudy skies developing during the afternoon. Temperatures dipped below freezing on the mornings, of the 22nd and 24th. And highs jumped into the low to mid-70s on the 23rd, 25th, and the 27th-30th giving the region our first real feel of summer-like conditions as we head into June.

A look ahead

By June we can usually say goodbye to our chance of snowfall but hello to frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Most of the time we can expect warm, sunny days with those afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

May 2024 Weather Statistics

Average High 64.2° (-1.5°)

100-year return frequency value max 75.7° min 57.9°

Average Low 36.1° (-2.7°)

100-year return frequency value max 43.2° min 32.5°

Highest Temperature 78° on the 30th

Lowest Temperature 26° on the 9th

Monthly Precipitation 0.60" (-2.04" 80% below normal)

100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"

Monthly Snowfall Trace (-5.7" 100% below normal)

Season to Date Snow 137.1" (+13.9", 10% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)

Season to Date Precip 7.78" (-1.06" 12% below normal)

Heating Degree Days 461 (+143)

Cooling Degree Days 0

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at billkappel@ocn.me.

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Between the Covers at Covered Treasures Bookstore: Time for travel and adventure!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."—Eleanor Roosevelt

June is the time to set out for travel adventures. Check out these books to get ideas of where to visit or simply find a cozy spot and travel in your mind. The first two authors will be signing their books at Covered Treasures this month.

Death Valley Duel (A National Park Mystery)

By Scott Graham (Torrey House Press) $18

When archaeologist Chuck Bender makes a stunning discovery of a century-old crime, he believes it may be related to a series of deadly accidents plaguing the Whitney to Death 150, the world’s toughest ultra trail-running race. While Chuck’s teenage stepdaughter races to win the competition, Chuck races to uncover the wicked intent lying behind the tragedies—before Carmelita becomes the next victim. Scott is an avid Colorado outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking, river rafting, skiing, and mountaineering.

Mystery in Rocky Mountain National Park: A Mystery Adventure in the National Parks (National Park Mystery #1)

By Aaron Johnson (Aaron Johnson Publisher) $14

Before Jake’s grandfather died, he entrusted a mystery to Jake, leaving behind a set of hidden codes, riddles, maps, and other clues that lead Jake and his friends on a scavenger hunt into the heart of Colorado’s wild and rugged Rocky Mountain National Park. Through twists and turns, the mystery unfolds while Jake, Amber, and Wes learn about survival skills, natural history, integrity, character, and friendship. With over 30 illustrations by the author, this page-turning adventure is designed to capture the imagination of even the most reluctant of young readers. Parents looking for a delightful read-aloud adventure will find it hard to put down.

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

By Hampton Sides (Anchor Books) $19

For more than 15 years, Hampton Sides has traveled widely across the continent exploring the America that lurks just behind the scenes of our mainstream culture. In these two dozen pieces, Sides gives us a fresh, alluring, and at times startling America brimming with fascinating subcultures and bizarre characters who could live nowhere else. Following Sides, we crash the redwood retreat of a group of fabulously powerful military-industrialists, drop in on the Indy 500 of bass fishing, and join a giant techno-rave at the lip of the Grand Canyon.

Ask a Pilot: A Pilot Answers Kids’ Top Questions about Flying

By Justin Kelley (Bushel & Peck Books) $16

This juvenile nonfiction book addresses questions like "Why don’t planes hit each other in the sky? Do you start a plane with a key? Why do my ears feel funny?" In Ask a Pilot, author, pilot, and dad Justin Kelley puts kids at ease by answering 20 of their most pressing questions. With friendly language, simple explanations, and colorful illustrations, Ask a Pilot is the perfect handbook for aviation lovers and nervous flyers alike.

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

By John Steinbeck (Penguin Classics) $16

John Steinbeck set out, at the age of 58, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years. With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers.

America’s National Heritage Areas: A Guide to the Nation’s New Kind of National Park

By Robert Manning (Globe Pequot Press) $25

There are 55 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) scattered across the U.S., and they continue to grow in number and diversity. Though they’re not officially national parks, their conservation, education, and recreation related objectives echo those of the national parks: to conserve nationally significant natural and cultural landscapes and to make them available to the public for purposes of education, recreation, and sustainable tourism-related economic development. Each chapter in this guidebook describes the remarkable natural and cultural resources that define NHAs and highlights nearby visitor attractions, enticing readers to visit NHAs and to enjoy and appreciate the attractions offered.

Until next month, happy reading.

The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at books@ocn.me.

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May Library Events: Summer Reading Program now open to all ages

By Harriet Halbig

The 50th anniversary edition of Summer Adventure at the Monument Library, presented by Children’s Hospital of Colorado, will include participation by all ages for the first time.

The program will last from May 31 until July 31 this year. You can register online via the district website, www.ppld.org, or go to the library and register in person.

As in the past few years, log your daily reading, exploration, or creativity activities on a log sheet available at the library and online. When you have completed 30 days of activities, those up to age 3 will receive a bath toy and an entry for a grand prize, those 4 to 11 will receive a reading medal and an entry for the grand prize, and those 12 to 18 will receive a choice of a book or journal and an entry for the grand prize. Those over 19 will receive an entry to win a grand prize.

Two exciting grand prizes are a private movie screening for 30 at Road House Cinema, including sodas and popcorn, and a four pack of premium seats to see the Switchbacks play, including a goody bag of team merchandise. Many additional prizes will be awarded.

There will be special programs during June associated with Summer Adventure. On June 11 from 10:30 to 11:30, enjoy a visit from Steve Weeks with music, humor, and games for all ages.

On June 25 from 10:30 to 11:30 enjoy the Feathered Adventure Magic Show.

For teens, there will be a Galaxy Painting program in Monument on June 12 from 3:30 to 4:30. The same program will be offered at the Palmer Lake Library on June 26 from 3:30 to 4:30. Registration is required for these programs. You can register online by going to www.ppld.org, programs by location, or call your local library.

Please note that all Pikes Peak Library facilities will be closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, May 18: Colorado’s Rosie the Riveter

By Marlene Brown

The Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) welcomed Gail Beaton, humanities and historical author who portrayed in Chautauqua-style Gail Murphy: Colorado’s Rosie the Riveter May 16 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Beaton had the audience riveted to their seats during her lively performance of a young woman working in factories during World War II. Supporting the war effort and their families, women worked in factories making bullets, guns, and other ammunition.

"Rosie the Riveter" was the name that was given to the thousands of women working the factories as welders, airplane builders, and mechanics. Many women had never worked outside the home, but with a lot of the men away to war the government asked up to 6 million women to fill the jobs that needed to be done.

Beaton’s book Colorado Women in World War II interweaves nearly 80 oral histories—including interviews, historical studies, newspaper accounts, and organizational records—and historical photographs (many of the interviewees themselves) to shed light on women’s participation in the war, exploring the dangers and triumphs they felt, the nature of their work, and the lasting ways in which the war influenced their lives.

Beaton offers a new perspective on World War II—views from field hospitals, small steel companies, ammunition plants, college classrooms, and sugar beet fields—giving a rare look at how the war profoundly transformed the women of this state and will be a compelling new resource for readers, scholars, and students interested in Colorado history and women’s roles in World War II. See Beaton’s website for more information on this book and her other historical books regarding women in Colorado: www.gailbeaton.com.

Caption: Gail Beaton Photo by Marlene Brown.

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On June 6 at 7-8:30 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, the PLHS will host a book launch on its newest publication: The U.S. Forest Service Monument Nursery, 1907-1965 by author Dan Edwards. He will give an illustrative talk about the history of the Monument Nursery and the background and the story about why the book was written.

PLHS meetings are usually on the third Thursday of the month at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent, 7-8 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). For more information about future presentations and membership, go to www.palmerdividehistory.org.

Marlene Brown can be reached at marlenebrown@ocn.me.

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On the Trail (in memory of Tim Watkins):  Palmer Lake bridge dedication ceremony

By Steve Pate

As reported in the May issue of OCN, the Palmer Lake Parks and Trails Commission (PLP&T) partnered with U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) senior cadet engineering students to design and build a bridge across Monument Creek into the Elephant Rock property trail system. On May 6, that bridge was officially dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Reid Wiecks, PLP&T chair, thanked the cadets and their professor, Dr. Brad Wambeke, who, after a U.S. Army career, taught at West Point and now the USAFA for their work to design and build the bridge. Wambeke said that normally a senior capstone engineering project would just involve the design and engineering work on paper. This project gave the cadets the experience of implementing their design.

Palmer Lake Mayor Glant Havenar also made remarks, thanking the USAFA cadets and Wambeke, then she and a cadet cut the ribbon to officially open the bridge.

Kevin Magner, a key PLP&T commissioner, said that volunteers would partner with the Mile High Youth Corps to develop the new loop trail through the Elephant Rock property in June.

Caption: Gene Kalesti, lead volunteer, Dr. Brad Wambeke, and senior USAFA cadets. Photo by Steve Pate

Steve Pate can be contacted at stevepate@ocn.me

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High Altitude Nature and Gardening (HANG): The aesthetics of cottagecore, bloomcore, and cluttercore

By Janet Sellers

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky."—Kahlil Gabran

Cottagecore is an internet sensation that romanticizes the dream of a simplified, natural, rural way of life. Eschewing electronics for positive habits, a favorite version is the bloomcore, with beautiful botanicals. It is about escape from screens and stressors and renewing our souls via respecting nature through the daydreamy aesthetic of Regency-era country life (as in Jane Austen’s book, Emma). But the cottagecore aesthetic has been around for at least 2,300 years, dating back to the ancient Greek countryside, popularized on our social media in the past few years. Perhaps cottagecore should be called the Emma aesthetic.

While cottagecore and bloomcore may be more formal in nature, there is also cluttercore. The art of cluttercore achieves an "organized mess that feels like a big hug." With luck and help, I "cluttercore" mow the grass around flower berms. Putting the settee in the pink shade of the crabapple tree, we listen to spring peeper frogs belt out their songs. To our cat’s amusement—or possibly dismay—we can hear but never find them. Iris and poppies appear in May and June, but the yellow, white, and purple asters don’t get going until July and August. Yardwork is also busy with plucking last year’s lanky stems of the purple blooming Russian sage (salvia yangii).

Ponderosa pine benefits

Our native Colorado springtime bursts in wildflower glory every year, including the positive benefits of our ponderosa pine blooming season. Contrary to popular belief, the pine pollen is a valuable resource. Ponderosa pine pollen has been used historically as an adaptogenic tonic that can help balance hormones, boost immunity, and increase endurance. It can also make the body more resilient to daily stressors, strengthen vital organs, facilitate anti-aging and support a healthy balanced immune system. Many think that their spring allergies are from that yellow dust that gets all over everything in June, but there are multiple pollens exploding into our air then, so we can’t blame just the pines. My dry salt inhaler works wonders for clearing my hay fever symptoms.

Pine needles necessary for pine tree health

Pine needles, as they decompose into soil, supply necessary nutrients for our pine trees to thrive. Ill-informed sources propose myths, but pine needles are acid neutral as soon as they lose the green color and make great garden mulch that knits itself together and stays put in snow, rain, and wind. Pine needles become nutrient-rich soil after a year. Even a 2-3-inch depth helps the ponderosa trees and the garden, according to the fire mitigation expert I spoke with from our local fire district who uses them in his gardens.

Caption: Garden volunteer sisters Audrey, left, and Madelyn earn volunteering service stars for their American Heritage Girls vests. Through their volunteer time at the Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) garden last year (and other service projects as well), they earned the President’s Silver Volunteer Service award. Audrey gets one star for every five hours of service. Madelyn gets one star for every 10 hours of service. They received a pin, certificate, and letter from the White House. They were recognized for all their achievements in an American Heritage Girls awards ceremony in May. TLC garden volunteers are needed for summer. Photo by Janet Sellers.

Janet Sellers is an avid "lazy gardening" enthusiast, letting Mother Nature lead the gardening wisdom that supports the Tri-Lakes high desert ecosystem. Share your garden tips and stories. JanetSellers@ocn.me

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Art Matters: Spring and summer’s Art Hop: art and play

By Janet Sellers

We had our first Art Hop on May 24. It’s a celebration of community and art in and around the shops and environs of Downtown Monument, complete with sidewalk art booths and more. Created and championed by local art legends Richard and Linda Pankratz, the annual Art Hop season has become a local favorite event each spring and summer. The event has grown from visiting art and artists at local venues to include live music around town and author book readings and signings. It’s a monthly art festival and more.

The area’s annual ArtSites public artworks, managed by the Town of Monument, hosts a permanent collection and an annual rotating exhibit that is part of the exhibit through a juried selection process. This year, the Town of Monument celebrates its new exhibiting artists with an artist reception that aligns with the downtown Art Hop on June 28.

Good for your health

Taking an evening walk is good for our health, and enjoying outdoor art and music helps create community camaraderie, all of which support optimal feelings with health benefits. Besides being in something that feels really good, there’s scientific evidence to back up the health and well-being benefits of the art!

Addiction sneaks in to our well-being

Smartphone addiction and screen addiction have crept into modern life to the extent that it is a serious mental health issue. Seemingly a simple and safe way to connect with others or keep busy, the underpinnings with the dopamine rush in games and "novelty brain" click bait marks our minds as its territory. It’s potently impressed on teens and those under 30, who have this tempting tech in their lives. The desire to connect is so powerful that addicts don’t realize what they are doing and how they are missing out on real life involvement. Screen addiction affects mental health, disrupts sleep, and causes "lazy thinkers" because generating thoughts and ideas is stifled. How this affects brain and mind development remains to be seen.

Screenagers is a term that describes our youth growing up in a screen-saturated world—a global pandemic of sorts, affecting all demographics. Dr. Delaney Ruston, a physician and film director, describes the tech-saturated world that needs balance between screen time and non-screen time in the Screenagers documentaries (and the sequels). Awareness that mere tech communication is not true human camaraderie is vital to well-being. The Screenagers movement has broadened to a myriad of educational plans and helpful actions for parents, teachers, mental and physical health practitioners, and others.

Solutions to our life balance include taking walks with others—especially family and loved ones—and being out and about with people in a safe way. Our Art Hop offers a brilliant blend of what most people like and need these days. It is the fresh outdoors, indoor venues, exercise, fun and interesting art, music and conviviality. Our shops, eateries and ice creameries are noted for the old town, friendly atmosphere. People can chat and laugh while perusing Downtown Monument in a fun and lighthearted way. The artists and artworks are accessible both to see and to purchase. Excellent artworks are offered at affordable prices, benefitting the people who enjoy the art to take back to home or office, and the artists and venues.

The next Art Hop is June 28. See you there!

Janet Sellers is an artist, writer, and speaker with a focus on enjoying nature and well-being. She can be reached at JanetSellers@ocn.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Snapshot Caption Corrections

In the May issue of OCN, in the Snapshots of Our Community,

• it was stated that Emily Osborn won the third place PLAG scholarship. Actually Ella Davis won that scholarship.

• The caption on the Earth Day Tree Planting April 21 should have identified the people pictured (L to R) as Tamara Schwarz, Aida Richardson, Don Richardson, 101-year-old WWII vet Marie West, Patsy Janeba and John Janeba. It should also have noted that the photo was taken by Tamara Schwarz.

• The photo of the Tim Watkins Memorial Trail sign was taken by Brian Mullin. Mullin also reinstalled the sign after safeguarding it during wildfire mitigation last year.

OCN regrets the errors.

Memorial Day in Monument

Caption: Hundreds of residents and veterans gathered at Monument Cemetery on May 27 to commemorate Memorial Day in what one speaker described as "a little bit of Norman Rockwell." It was sunny and warm as honor guards from the VFW, American Legion, and the Knights of Columbus raised, then lowered the American flag as Monument Boy Scout Troop 17 saluted. The crowd heard speeches from local and state politicians and, finally, taps played by Michael Carlson, a Palmer Ridge High School graduate who did the honors for the seventh time. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.

Michael Carlson plays taps. (66 sec)

Boy Scout Troop 17 from Monument and the honor guard march to open the ceremony. (21 sec)

Wildfire Preparedness Day, Apr. 27

Caption: Palmer Ridge High School’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) hosted the annual Wildfire Preparedness Day on April 27. Four speakers talked about home mitigation, fire evacuation, planning, and regional analysis. Civilian and governmental agencies including the Red Cross, Monument Fire Department, and Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management also provided information. Photo by Ella Blakely.

LPHS band concert, May 7

Caption: The Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) band performed its final concert of this school year, a Pops concert featuring seniors in the Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Symphony on May 7 at the LPHS auditorium. Directed by Sam Anderson, each band featured solos by senior musicians, and seniors were honored for their contributions during their tenure at LPHS. Awards received by these talented musicians were also announced. Photo by Steve Pate.

Little Log Church celebrates 100th

Caption: The Little Log Church in Palmer Lake celebrated its 100th anniversary on May 11. Those attending got to tour the log chapel that was built in 1924. Some wore 1920s-era clothes, including members of the 100th anniversary planning committee (in photo). A scavenger hunt was also part of the festivities. Standing from left are Donna Ewers, Anne Jones, Chairman Kristi Olsen, and Betty Thomas. Seated is Pastor Bill Story. Photo by Pete Olsen.

Taste of Tri-Lakes Cares, May 15

Caption: The Taste of Tri-Lakes Cares 40th anniversary event was held on May 15 at the Spruce Mountain Events Center. Participating restaurants competed in a "Chopped" style event by crafting tasty samples from a basket of items from the Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) food pantry. The judges’ favorite was UVA Wine Bar & Restaurant, while the crowd’s favorite was Bethesda Gardens Monument Assisted Living and Memory Care. The sold-out event with 400 attendees was supported by numerous sponsors, celebrity judges, staff, and volunteers. It was TLC’s most successful Taste of Tri-Lakes Cares event ever. Executive Director Haley Chapin, left, looks on as TLC board President Rich Schur of Schur Success Group thanks event organizer and TLC Development Specialist Christine Bucher. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Pelicans on Lake Woodmoor

Caption: It was cold, gray, and foggy on April 20 when Misty Reed of Woodmoor spotted something unusual on Lake Woodmoor. A squadron of pelicans were huddled together in an inlet. Certainly not something you see every day. Photo by Misty Reed.

Monument wind storm, May 6

Caption: It was so windy on May 6 there were waves with white caps on Monument Lake. A tree was knocked down at St. Peter Catholic School (in photo). Flags were flying straight up. A high wind warning was issued by the National Weather Service. A gust of 60 mph was recorded on Monument Hill. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.

Flags outside Jackson Creek Senior Living show how windy it was. (12 sec)

The wind created white-capped waves on Monument Creek. (23 sec)

Monument hydrant flushing, May 9

Caption: The Monument Water Department finished its annual hydrant flushing last month. About 300 hydrants were cleaned of sediment buildup over nine days. Up to 1,400 gallons a minute spewed from this hydrant off Monument Lake Road on May 9. From left, water techs Jon Rigaud, Ryan Sieber, Da’John Lee, Danny Kuchinsky, and Clint Gavigan. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.

Monument water techs flush a hydrant. (9 sec)

LPES 50th anniversary, May 13

Caption: On May 13, Lewis-Palmer Elementary School celebrated its 50th anniversary with an open house and ribbon cutting. Current and former administrators, teachers, parents, students, school board, and community members were greeted with balloons, popcorn, and snacks, and displays of yearbooks. The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center provided the ribbon and the very large scissors for the ribbon cutting. Staff members held the ribbon for current and former D38 staff and board, from left, former Principal Jenny Day, Ted Bauman, Dr. Jerry Parsons, Principal Davonne Johnson, board President Tiffiney Upchurch, Acting Superintendent Amber Whetstine, board member Todd Brown, former board member Tommie Plank, and Chief Business Officer Brett Ridgway. Photo by Jackie Burhans.

Silver Key Senior Summit, May 16

Caption: Sue Walker, director of the Silver Key Senior Center in Monument, organized activities at the Silver Key Senior Summit at the Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs on May 16. The Monument senior center events included tai chi demonstrations, chair yoga, and line dancing (pictured). Our local Silver Key Senior Center, located at 66 Jefferson St. in the Grace Best Elementary School building, offers many services for seniors which can be seen at https://www.silverkey.org. For more information, call 719-884-2300. Staff and volunteers are pictured at Tri-Lakes Silver Key, Monument. From left are Sandi Watson-Staggs, Mary Frances Quattlebaum, Sue Walker, and Mary Lou Figley. Photo by Steve Pate.

Art Hop, May 24

Caption: May 24 brought back Monument’s monthly Art Hop for spring and summer. Here, artist Dawn Healy of Black Forest shared her intricate and distinctive gourd art. Healy was the featured artist at Bella Art and Frame Gallery for May. The gallery will showcase different artist exhibitions each month along with the gallery’s signature artists. Amid the festive atmosphere of music, conviviality, and refreshments for the art lovers—and art buyers of course—locals and visitors alike enjoyed the small-town fun of visiting with each other in Downtown Monument as they celebrated the arts with community spirit. This year, the Art Hop has been moved from the third Thursday of the month to the fourth Friday.

Caption: The musical group Flashback played in front of the Love Shop in the Front Street Square. Flashback entertained passersby with popular rock tunes. Photos by Janet Sellers.

Mid-June Prescribed Burn

Caption: During this past week, preparations have been underway for a prescribed burn in Pike National Forest, west of Monument near Mt. Herman. Federal and Town employees and community volunteers are removing ground fuel from the forest along Mt. Herman Road to ensure a slow controlled burn. In this photo, Rick Binder and Val Burt from Team Rubicon work alongside a chipper crew from the Monument Fire Department. Over three days of effort, more than 60 volunteers mitigated 13 acres of Pike National Forest. The prescribed burn is scheduled for mid-June. If/when you see smoke, please do not call 911 unless you see a fire (not smoke) that is unattended. The prescribed burns are weather-dependent and are expected to take place over three days at Memorial Grove, Monument Rock, and the Mount Herman trailhead. Once the prescribed fires begin, smoke may be seen for several days. Photo by Marianne LaRivee.

First MA East HS Graduation

Caption: Monument Academy East Campus held its first high school graduation on May 18. The campus opened in fall 2019. There were 21 students in the senior class of 2024, including Valedictorian Scott Kohlhase (inset). Kohlhase is among 144 seniors in Colorado who received the prestigious Daniels Fund Scholarship. More than 200 relatives, staff, and community members attended the ceremony at the front of the campus. Photo by Evan Clay/ClayVisuals. Monument Academy East Campus held its first high school graduation on May 18. The campus opened in fall 2019. There were 21 students in the senior class of 2024, including Valedictorian Scott Kohlhase. Kohlhase is among 144 seniors in Colorado who received the prestigious Daniels Fund Scholarship. More than 200 relatives, staff, and community members attended the ceremony at the front of the campus. Photo by Evan Clay/ClayVisuals.

Monument Presbyterian Church

Caption: Monument Presbyterian Church celebrated its 150th anniversary on May 19. Attended by church members and the community, the Founders Day celebration and dedication of Sheldon Jackson Chapel at the church was held at the Sunday worship. A reception in the chapel and on the west lawn featured vintage 1880s desserts. Photos courtesy of Daniel Krucoff.

Vets march for suicide awareness

Caption: You might’ve seen three men, one waving an American flag, marching down the side of the road in Monument or Palmer Lake on May 24. They are veterans hoping to raise awareness about veteran suicide. They hiked from Denver to Colorado Springs and then to Castle Rock in 3 1/2 days. The veterans belong to the Castle Rock group ConnorsK9 P.A.W.S. President and founder Michael Connors, a disabled retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, was joined by veterans Joshua Henkels and a man known simply as Nova. Statistics show 22 veterans die by suicide each day, but Connors suspects it’s closer to 40. When he tried to take his own life, a service dog stopped him. Now, he’s helping others who might be in a similar situation. His 501c3 nonprofit provides professional service dogs to veterans. He hopes his march will result in an increase in donations that would pay for service dog training equipment. To donate, go to connorsk9paws.org and click on How to Support. Photo by Michael Weinfeld.

Three veterans walked during the Memorial Day weekend to raise awareness of veteran suicide. (12 sec)

Michael Connors, a disabled Army veteran, says more veterans commit suicide every day than you think. (20 sec)

Water tank completed, May 23

Caption: During the last weeks of May, contractors established sustainable erosion control measures and landscaping at the site of the newly constructed, controversial Monument water tank. Located in the residential Forest View Heights HOA west of Monument, the 2-million-gallon tank serves as water storage for the Town of Monument. Nearby residents have complained about the height of the tank. Rocked drainage sites and ground cover include seeding mat, planting of 55 trees, 35 shrubs and various deep-rooting, drought-resistant grasses. As of May 23, all the vegetation had been planted. Surface irrigation provides water to establish start-up growth and will be removed after two years. Excavation for the tank began two years ago, with landscaping of the surrounding area as the final stage to completion. Photo by Sharon Williams.

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Our Community Notices

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.

Slash mulch program

Slash can be brought to the Black Forest slash and mulch program. Tree and brush debris only. No pine needles. (It is important to protect the trees’ health and keep some pine needles on the ground. 80% of the nutrients that the pine trees need come from the decomposing pine needles). This program serves fire mitigation efforts in the area and is $10 per load to drop off, regardless of size. The program also offers free mulch to take home. Details: www.BFSlash.org.

WMMI needs volunteers

The Museum of Mining and Industry is currently recruiting for Visitor Services Associates and Guides. Please consider sharing your time and expertise. Volunteers must be 18 and older and pass a background check. For information about volunteer opportunities, please call 719-488-0880 or email at volunteer@wmmi.org.

Children’s Literacy Center

The center provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level! Tutoring is at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 pm, and the Summer Session will run through Aug. 14. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or email Christine Jeffson at Christine@childrensliteracycenter.org.

Community volunteers

Many students need volunteer hours for scouting, civics classes, clubs, or would just like to volunteer for the good of it. Friends of Fox Run Park will have some openings for student volunteers (and grownups, too) most of the year for various tasks. Besides tasks, the group offers information and skills demonstrations for each 2-3 hour session, and celebrates volunteers at the park with annual community events. The Tri Lakes Cares on-site garden in Monument also needs volunteers in Fall, Spring and Summer. Gardening tasks include preparing garden beds, weeding, sowing seeds, and developing the compost. Bring gardening gloves, some tools will be provided on the workdays. Contact Janet Sellers at JanetSellers@ocn.me or Marlene Brown at MarleneBrown@ocn.me for more information.

Tri-Lakes Cares needs your support

Tri-Lakes Cares is the only food pantry and human services organization 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 learn 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 Mon.-Thu., 9 am-4 pm. For more information about Tri-Lakes Cares or how you can help, contact Tri-Lakes Cares at 719-481-4864 or info@tri-lakescares.org.

Silver Key at Tri-Lakes Senior Center

Silver Key at Tri-Lakes Senior Center, formerly known as the Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center, has been providing exciting programs and activities to area seniors who have a zest for fun and learning. As the older adult population is growing, our services are in high demand. 719-884-2300 66 Jefferson St, Monument. See ad on page 2.

Need PC help?

Make It Work Clinic for PCs, FREE. Donations appreciated. We are gauging interest in helping community members with their PCs, please email us if interested. enable@monumentalimpact.org. 55 Adams St in Downtown Monument. Monumental Impact info: https://monumentalimpact.org. See ad on page 4.

Can you volunteer today?

• Links to local organizations with an immediate need for volunteers are listed on the county’s website, www.elpasocountyhealth.org/volunteering-and-donations, for groups like Care and Share, Crossfire Ministries, blood donations, Early Connections (volunteer from home opportunity), foster an animal, Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, Salvation Army, Silver Key, and United Way (ongoing opportunities).

• 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/

• El Paso County volunteer-based and nonprofit organizations rely on the hard work of individuals like you. 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.

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Our Community Calendar

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 calendar@ocn.me with changes and additions.

GOVERNMENTAL BODIES

  • Monument Town Council meeting, Mon., June 3 & 17, 6:30 pm, Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument. Normally meets first and third Mon. Info: 719-884-801, www.townofmonument.org/260/Board-of-Trustees for remote attendance links.
  • Palmer Lake Board of Adjustments meeting, Tue., June 4, 5 pm, 28 Valley Crescent St., Palmer Lake. Normally meets first Tue., as needed.
  • El Paso County Planning Commission meeting, Thu., June 6 & 20, 9 am. Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle, Colo. Springs. Meetings are live-streamed on the El Paso County News & Information Channel at https://www.elpasoco.com/news-information-channel. Normally meets first & third Thu. (as required). Info: 719-520-6300, https://planningdevelopment.elpasoco.com/planning-community-development/2024-hearings-schedule/
  • Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District board meeting, Mon., June 10, 1 pm, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Normally meets second Mon. Info: 719-488-2525, www.woodmoorwater.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee meeting, Tue., June 11, 10 am, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meets second Tue. Info: See https://tlwastewater.com/index.html Bill Burks, 719-481-4053.
  • Palmer Lake Sanitation District board meeting, Wed., June 12, 9 am, call-in only: 650-479-3208, Access Code 76439078, 120 Middle Glenway. Meets second Wed. Info: 719-481-2732. www.plsd.org.
  • Monument Planning Commission meeting, Wed., June 12, 6 pm Town Hall Board Room, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., Monument. Usually meets the second Wed. To see the options for remote public participation in each meeting, visit www.townofmonument.org/263/Planning-Commission-Board-of-Adjustment. Info: 719-884-8028. www.townofmonument.org.
  • Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, Wed. June 12 at 4:30 pm., and on Wed. 26 at 4:30 pm., (includes Volunteer Firefighter Pension Board at 4 pm); in person at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, Monument, and via Zoom. For Zoom meeting joining instructions, agendas, minutes, and updates, visit http://www.monumentfire.org or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin at 719-484-9011.
  • Palmer Lake Board of Trustees meeting, Thu., June 13 & 27, 5 pm, Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Usually meets second and fourth Thu. Info: 719-481-2953. www.townofpalmerlake.com.
  • Monument Academy School Board meeting, East Campus gym, 4303 Pinehurst Circle. Usually meets the second Thu. 6:30 pm Info: 719-431-8001, www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
  • Monument Sanitation District board meeting, Wed., June 19, 9 am, 130 Second St. Zoom meeting. Find joining instructions on the website. Meets third Wed. Info: 719-481-4886, www.colorado.gov/msd.
  • Academy Water and Sanitation District board meeting, Wed., June 19, 6 pm. Usually meets third Wed. Public can join the Skype meeting: https://join.skype.com/PAcujKTn7Nrh. Check the website for a link: https://academywsd.colorado.gov/notices-and-alerts. Meets third Wed. Info: 719-481-0711, https://academywsd.colorado.gov.
  • Palmer Lake Town Planning Commission meeting, Wed., June 19, 6 pm, Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Meets third Wed. Info: 719-481-2953, www.townofpalmerlake.com.
  • Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District board meeting, in person or via Zoom, Wed., June 19, 7 pm, Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Colorado Springs. Find updates and Zoom meeting joining instructions at www.bffire.org or contact Administrative Officer Lisa Emry at 719-495-4300. Meetings are usually held on the third Wednesday.
  • El Paso County Regional Loop Water Authority meeting, Thu., June 20, 9 am, Monument Town Hall Boardroom, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Normally meets third Thu. Info: 719-488-3603. www.loopwater.org.
  • Donala Water & Sanitation District board meeting, Thu., June 20, 1:30 pm, 15850 Holbein Dr. In 2023, meets third Thu., Check the website for the access code for the electronic meeting. Info: 719-488-3603, www.donalawater.org.
  • Triview Metropolitan District board meeting, Thu., June 20, 5:30 pm, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 302, Monument. Normally meets third Thu. Info: 719-488-6868, www.triviewmetro.com.
  • Monument Fire District board meeting, in person or via Zoom, Wed., June 26, 6:30 pm. Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, Monument. Meetings are usually held on the fourth Wednesday. Find updates and Zoom meeting joining instructions at www.monumentfire.org, or contact Director of Administration Jennifer Martin, at 719-484-0911.
  • Woodmoor Improvement Association Board Meeting, Wed., June 26, 7 pm, Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. The WIA Board usually meets fourth Wed. Info: 719-488-2693, www.woodmoor.org.
  • Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Pinon Pines Metropolitan District 1, 2 & 3 board typically meets quarterly on the first Mon. Meetings are held via teleconference. For virtual joining instructions and updates see www.forestlakesmetrodistrict.com.
  • El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) regular meeting, usually every Tue., 9 am. View agendas and meetings at www.agendasuite.org/iip/elpaso. Meetings are held at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., Suite 150, Colo. Springs. Info: 719-520-643. BOCC land use meetings are held the second and fourth Thursdays of the month (as needed) at 1pm Centennial Hall.
  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38 board meets during school year on third Mon., 6-10pm 146 N Jefferson St, Monument. The Board of Education meeting will be live-streamed on the district’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/LPSDCommunity, agenda, and supporting documents at https://go.boarddocs.com/co/lewispalmer/Board.nsf/vpublic. Contact Vicki Wood. Phone: 719.481.9546 Email: vwood@lewispalmer.org Website: https://www.lewispalmer.org.
  • Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Parent and Community Advisory Committee (now PCAC, formerly DAAC. No more meetings this school year. Meets six times a year. Usually meets monthly, second Tue. Contact info: tmckee@lewispalmer.org.
  • WEEKLY & MONTHLY EVENTS

  • AARP Black Forest #1100, second Wed., noon. In-person Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Rd. All ages welcome. Info: www.aarpchapter1100blackforest.weekly.com.
  • AARP Local Senior Social, fourth Wed. In-person Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Rd. Info: www.aarpchapter1100blackforest.weekly.com.
  • A.A. Big Book Study, every Thu., 7 pm, Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 W. Baptist Rd. Call 425-436-6200, access code 575176#.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, every Tue. & Thu., 7:30 p.m. Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80908. AA is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they June solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Join us with your questions. Info: bflc@bflchurch.org.
  • Al-Anon for family and friends of alcoholics, every Tue. & Thu., 7:30 p.m. Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80908. Al-Anon members are people, just like you, who are worried about someone with a drinking problem. Join us with your questions. Info: bflc@bflchurch.org.
  • Al-Anon Zoom Meeting, Just for Today Online, every Mon., 9-10 am Zoom Meeting ID: 889 4142 7446, Password 349309.
  • Al-Anon meeting: Letting Go, every Thu., 9-10:15 am at Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument. For additional information go to www.al-anon-co.org.
  • Al-anon Meeting: Monument, every Thu., 7-8 pm, Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd., Monument. Info: MonumentSerenity@gmail.com.
  • Amateur ham radio WØTLM (Tri-Lakes Monument ham radio Association), third Mon. (except December). All amateur ham radio operators or those interested in becoming one are we, lcome. Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Building, 166 2nd Street, Monument. For details, contact Bob Witte, bob@k0nr.com or www.W0TLM.com.
  • American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11, second Wed., 6:30pm, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Community Meeting House, 300 CO Hwy 105, Monument. New members welcome. Info: Visit website at www.trilakespost9-11.org.
  • Art: Open Studio painting, Wed., June 5, 9:30-noon. Donations welcome, meets monthly first Wed. Tri Lakes Senior Center, 66 Jefferson St., Monument
  • Benet Hill Monastery: Let us pray with you, walk in the forest ,walk the labyrinth, come and visit prayer sites, every Sun. worship is 10:15 am, 3190 Benet Lane, 80921. See ad on page 3.
  • Benet Hill Monastery, Half Day Prayer Group, first Sat., 9 am-12 pm. All vaccinated guests are welcome. Contact Sister Therese at (719) 355-1638 or (719) 355-1650 or stherese@benethillmonastery.org. See ad on page 3.
  • Benet Hill Monastery, Centering Prayer Group, every Tue., 10-11 am. All vaccinated guests are welcome. Contact Sister Therese at (719) 355-1638 or (719) 355-1650 or stherese@benethillmonastery.org. See ad on page 3.
  • Black Forest Community Church, Centering Prayer Group, first Sat., 8:30-10 am The Old Log Church. Centering prayer opens and closes the meetings with discussion and fellowship in between; open to all.
  • Children’s Literacy Center, every Mon. & Wed., 5:30-6:30 pm. Provides free one-on-one literacy tutoring to Tri-Lakes children in grades 1-6 who are reading below grade level. Tutoring is at Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson St. Monument. For more information, to become a volunteer tutor, or to enroll your child, visit www.childrensliteracycenter.org or contact Rachel Morin, Tri-Lakes Senior Center Coordinator, CLC 610-246-1047 (cell).
  • Colorado Springs Philharmonic Guild Listening Club, third Wed. Free virtual event. Maestro Wilson will conduct monthly hour-long programs. RSVP at www.cspguild.org.
  • Dementia Caregiver Support Group, second Sat., 9:45-11:15 am. Meets in-person, First National Bank Monument ( 581 Highway 105, Monument, CO 80132). Meets monthly, 2nd Sat. Contact: Registration is required, call 800-272-3900 or email khare@alz.org to register.
  • Essential Tremor Support Group. Meets quarterly at Colorado Springs Public Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80920. For details, contact: Jim Sanchez, 719-660-7275; jimdjs22@gmail.com.
  • Essentrics Fitness Program at Senior Center, every Tue., 9 am & Thu., 10 am, Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson St, Monument, CO 80132. Registration & info: Sue Walker, 719-330-0241, www.trilakesseniors.org.
  • Fellowship of Christ Church, every Sun., 9 am. Monument Academy East Campus, 4303 Pinehurst Circle 80908.
  • Friends of Fox Run Park, Zoom meeting, fourth Thu., 7 pm, email friendsoffoxrunpark@gmail.com, they will email you the link the day of the meeting. Join the growing group to learn about volunteering and supporting the park for forest safety, trails, trees, education, special events, and more. Special events including "Christmas in July," Hummingbird Festival and more, stay tuned! Info: friendsoffoxrunpark@gmail.com.
  • Friends of Monument Preserve (FOMP) Trail repair monthly work days, second Thu. of each month from April through October. Meet at 6 pm at the parking lot off Red Rocks Road. FOMP provides all the necessary tools but you must wear appropriate clothing for landscape work and bring gloves, a hat , eye protection, sunscreen, bug repellent and water. Check the FOMP website at www.fomp.org for additional info.
  • Fuel Church GriefShare, every Thu., 5:30-7:30 pm, 643 State Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Email info@fuel.org. 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake.
  • Fuel Church Sunday Service, every Sun. Service times, 11 am Live service streaming at www.fuelchurch.org at 11:40 am on www.fuelchurch.org. Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake. Nursery and kids’ service. Non-denominational, spirit-filled. Need prayer? Email us at info@fuel.org. See ad on page 5.
  • Gleneagle Sertoma, first and third Wed., 11:45 am to 1 pm. Gleneagle Sertoma is the longest continuously active civic service organization in northern El Paso County. Our regular program presenters address local topics of interest to include local developments, community planning and projects, as well as opportunities to serve your community. Contact Harvey LeCato for meeting location and club information at mbca@comcast.net or 719-331-1212.
  • Gleneagle Women’s Club, membership luncheon, third Fri., (Sep.-June), various venues, 12 activity groups, i.e., hiking, bridge, etc. Guests welcome. For information contact Susan Owen, 719-886-7110.
  • GriefShare Support Group, last Tue., 10:30 am-noon. NEW LOCATION: Tri-Lakes Senior Center, 66 Jefferson St. in the Grace Best Elementary School building. The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance has partnered with Colorado Palliative and Hospice Care to host a 13-session grief support group in Monument. RSVP, info: Sue Walker, 719-330-0241.
  • La Leche League breastfeeding support group, second Thu., 12:30 pm. Partners and helpers welcome (and babies and kids, too) so we can meet our breastfeeding goals together. Homestead Direct Primary Care Clinic, 15455 Gleneagle Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. For more information, contact RachelKLangley@gmail.com.
  • Lions Club Bingo, every Sat. (except the first Sat.), 8:30 am-1 pm and first Mon., 5:30-10 pm Tri-Lakes Lions Club’s portion of the proceeds benefit those in need in the Tri-Lakes community. Updated info and location: Jim Naylor, 719-481-8741 or www.trilakeslionsclub.org.
  • Library Chess Club, We welcome anyone who wants to learn to play chess or wants to play a game with an experienced player. Contact Steve Waldmann, huskerco@gmail.com. Monument Library meeting room, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument (Information also on the Facebook page: Monument Library Chess Club)
  • Monument Hill Kiwanis Club meeting, every Sat., 8 am. www.MHKiwanis.org, MonumentHillKiwanis@gmail.com for details, guests are welcome. Service leadership clubs, Key clubs, Builders Club, and K-kids at D38 schools. Memberships are open to the public. Info: RF Smith, 719-210-4987, www.MHKiwanis.org.
  • Monument Life Recovery Group, every Mon., 6:30-7:30 pm, The Ascent Church, 1750 Deer Creek Rd. This faith-based support group is for those seeking freedom from all hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Daycare for children under age 11. Info: 303-946-2659, www.liferecoverygroups.com/meetings/life-recovery-group-3/.
  • Neighborhood Net Ham Radio, every Sat., 10 am Amateur ham radio operators practice for emergencies on weekly repeater nets so neighbors can help neighbors. Sign up at www.mereowx.org/neighborhood-net or contactus@mereowx.org.
  • Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) meeting, Sat., June 13, 10 am–12 pm., Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. Members of local HOAs are welcome. Usually meets bi-monthly (Jan., Mar., June, July, Sep., Nov.) on the second Sat. of the month. www.nepco.org.
  • Palmer Divide Quiltmakers, first Thu., 6:30-8:30 pm at Monument Chamber of Commerce building, 166 2nd St, Monument, CO.
  • Palmer Lake Art Group, second Sat. A variety of art programs are offered after the social gathering and business meetings. Guests welcome. 300 Hwy 105, NE corner of I-25 and 105. 9:30 am. Info: 719-460-4179, www.palmerlakeartgroup.com.
  • Palmer Lake Historical Society, Thu., June 16, 7 pm; (doors open at 6:30 pm), Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent St. Usually meets third Thu. Contact: Kokesdm@yahoo.com, https://palmerdividehistory.org.
  • Pikes Peak Genealogical Society meeting, Wed., June 8, 7 pm. Meets monthly, second Wed. Members can log in and get the monthly meeting Zoom link. Guests are welcome to attend, please request an invitation from the PPGS president at www.PPGS.org.
  • Ridgeview Baptist Church, every Sun., 10:30 am, temporarily meeting at 9130 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, 80920. Info: 719-357-6515 or www.ridgeviewcolorado.org. See ad on page 6.
  • Senior Bingo, third Wed. Silver Alliance Senior Center, Space is limited to 16. participants. RSVP & info: Sue Walker, 719-464-6873, or email sue@monumentalfitness.
  • Senior Book Club, second Fri., 11 am-noon, Silver Alliance Senior Center, all are welcome. Coffee & snacks. RSVP & info: Sue, 719-330-0241.
  • Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church, every Sun., Contemporary 9 am; Traditional 10:30 am. A live stream is available at www.tlumc.org/live. Watch live or replay: www.facebook.com/tlumc, www.youtube.com/tlumc.org. Info: 719-488-1365, www.tlumc.org. 20256 Hunting Downs Way, Monument.
  • Tri-Lakes Church of Christ Wednesday night fellowship classes, every Wed., 6-7:30 pm, 20450 Beacon Lite Road, Monument (corner of Beacon Lite & County Line Roads). Info: 719-488-9613, gregsmith@trilakeschurch.org, www.trilakeschurch.org.
  • Tri-Lakes Cruisers, first Wed., 7 pm. A nonprofit car club. Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce community room, with numerous activities and events each month. Club membership applications are now being accepted and are available on the website: https://tl-cruisers.weebly.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Networking breakfast, first and third Thu., in person or via Zoom 166 2nd Street Monument 7:30-9 am free registration at www.TriLakeschamber.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Church of Christ Cabin Conversations: fellowship with meals. every Wed., 6 pm 20450 Beacon Lite Rd.
  • Tri-Lakes Dynamic Rotary Club meeting, monthly first and third Thu. 6 pm-8 pm. First Thursday via zoom and third Thursday in person at the Chamber of Commerce, 166 2nd St., Monument. Details: www.tlrotary.com. Trilakesdynamicrotary@gmail.com. Guests welcome. We are a service club serving Tri-Lakes. Memberships open to the public. Info: www.tlrotary.com.
  • Tri-Lakes Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, third Sat., 10 am-noon, Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St., Monument. Info: Syble Krafft, 719-488-2669; Barry (group president), 719-351-9485. If you need any help, please call Syble or Barry.
  • Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) monthly meeting, Fri., June 17, 11:30 am. Program: Business Meeting Eisenhower Golf Club, USAFA. Usually meets monthly on the third Fri. To become a member, or learn about the club, visit our website at www.tlwc.net Contact Info: Tri-Lakes Women’s Club membership@tlwc.net.
  • Women’s A. A. Step Study, every Mon., 6:30 pm, meeting remotely, check for details. Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Rd. Park in the west lot. Info: 866-641-9190. Al-Anon Zoom Meeting, Just for Today Online, every Mon., 9:00 - 10:00 am Zoom Meeting ID: 889 4142 7446, Password 349309
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7829, third Wed., 7 pm, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce community room, 166 2nd St., Monument. New members welcome. Info: Post Commander and POC Bruce Beyerly, Bruce.Beyerly@gmail.com.
  • VFW Auxiliary to Post 7829, third Wed., 7p.m. Meets at Victory Baptist Church, 325 2nd Street, Suite X, Monument. Guests are welcome to join; if you are a relative of a veteran who served on foreign soil during war or other military actions, you June be eligible. For more information please contact Kathy Carlson, 719-488-1902, carlsonmkc@gmail.com or Linda Lyons, 303-579-8114, lindalyons7829@gmail.com.
  • SPECIAL EVENTS

    • VOLUNTEER TODAY! Our Community News: volunteer mailing days, Thu. May 30 & June 27, approx. 7-8:30 am. We are all volunteers at OCN and need YOUR help, even for an hour or two, getting the papers ready to mail. Contact AllenAlchian@ocn.me or (719) 488-3455.
    • Claudia Swenson celebration of life, Sat., June 1, noon, 463 Washington St., Monument. "Second Line" jazz style parade to the park. At the park, we will have music and food and many toasts to the amazing woman that Claudia was. If you would like to contribute something in her honor, please go to https://gofund.me/916830da.
    • Kids fishing derby at the lake of Palmer Lake, Sat., June 1. Bring your own fishing gear and bait (salmon eggs or worms are good) but some limited gear available, learn to fish, prizes awarded, more. Ages 4-14, 8-11:30am. To enter, bring a non-perishable food item for Tri Lakes Cares. Sponsored by the Lions Club.
    • Monument Hill Farmers market every Sat., 8:00 to 2:00 p.m. d38 Lewis Palmer admin building, 66 Jefferson Street, Monument, see ad on page 5.
    • YMCA children’s mini camps, June 3 - August 1, Mondays through Thursdays. Summer themed projects each week, ages 4 through 10. See Ed on page 6
    • Palmer Lake Library sponsors Wishing Star Farms, Thu., June 6, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM. Come to the library to meet some friendly animals. These programs are held outdoors for ages 0 - 12. at the Village Green in front of Town Hall.
    • Town of Monument, concerts in the Park, all summer Wed. starting June 6, Limbach park. See ad on page 8.
    • MVEA annual meeting, Thu. June 6, El Paso County Fairgrounds. See ad on page 11.
    • Silver Key Tri-Lakes Thrift Store Re-Grand Opening; Fri., June 7, 9am-10am. The community is invited to join the ribbon cutting ceremony with the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce . Light refreshments will be served, 755 CO-105, Palmer Lake, CO 80133.
    • Covered Treasures Bookstore, Sat., June 8, 1-3, author Linda Wommack signing The Women of the Colorado Mines and Warrior Woman: The Story of Mo-Chi, A Southern Cheyenne. Fourth Friday Art Hop, June 28, 5-8, Scott Graham signing Death Valley Duel and Aaron Johnson signing Danger in Zion National Park. 105 Second Street, Monument.
    • Space Foundation kids’ summer fun weeks, June 10-14, or June 15-19, see ad on page 12.
    • Palmer Lake historical society Father’s Day ice cream social Sun., June 16, Palmer Lake Town Hall.
    • Book Launch and historic tour, Sat., June 22. Dan Edwards The U.S. Forest Service Monument Nursery, 1907-1965, 11:00-1:00 pm; an illustrated talk about the background of the book and the story about why it was written. Books will be available. The author will lead a short tour at the current Monument Preserve to walk to the historic Memorial Grove following the program. Presented by Covered Treasures bookstore. Tri-Lakes Chamber Building 166 Second Street, historic downtown Monument.
    • Public hearing on proposed D38 budget Mon., June 17, 6:00 p.m. Any person paying school taxes in said district may, prior to the final adoption of the budget, file or register objections thereto. See ad on page 6
    • Summer solstice labyrinth retreat, Sisters of Benet Hill, June 21-23, register at www.benethillmonastery.org. see ad on page 3.
    • Shakespeare in the Park Two Gents Sat., June 22, 2pm & 6pm, at Palmer Lake Town Hall and The Village Green. Free. sponsored by Palmer Lake arts council.
    • Front Range Maker’s Market Shop, Sat., June 22, 9-4, Sun., June 23, 10-3. Indoors at Lewis-Palmer HS. 125+ local makers & artisans. Info: www.FRmakersmarket.com see ad on page 24.
    • The ArtSites public artworks, managed by the Town of Monument, hosts a permanent collection and an annual rotating exhibit that is part of the exhibit through a juried selection process. This year the Town of Monument celebrates their new exhibiting artists with an Artist reception that aligns with the downtown Art Hop on June 28.
    • Annual Paradise Ponds tour Sat.-Sun., June 29-30. Self-guided charity pond and waterfall tour. Visit several water feature exhibits throughout Colorado Springs, Monument, and the surrounding area. Purely Ponds & Waterfalls will match and donate all proceeds from ticket sales to The Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region. Ticket book with map $5, https://purelyponds.com/parade-of-ponds/.
    • Tri lakes Church of Christ VBS, Mon-Thu., June 24-27. See ad on page 7.
    • Affordable Flooring Connection. See ad on page 2.
    • Eagle Wine & Spirits, special offers through June 30. Baptist Road next to King Soopers. See ad on page 3.
    • Gleneagle Candle Company, Summer sunset collection Sat., June 1. See ad on page 3.
    • Kiwanis Monument Hill club 4th of July parade registration now open www.mhq1s.org, see ad on page 2.
    • The Love Shop: restore your furs, June 19,20, 10 -5:30 p.m.251 front Street Monument, see ad on page 9.
    • Monumental Med Spa special offers for June, see ad on page 7.
    • Mesa Health and Aesthetics. Bring ad for a special offer 1730 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument, see ad on page 2.
    • Monument Art Hop, Fri., June 28. Fourth Fridays, through September, 5-8 pm, Downtown Monument. See ad on page 3.
    • Monument Cleaners, special offers through June 30. 15932 Jackson Creek Pkwy., in Monument Marketplace. See ad on page 5.
    • Mountain View Pella windows, special offers. See ad on page 24.
    • Noel Relief Centers, new patient specials, new treatment options. 950 Baptist Rd #130, Monument. See ad on page 7.
    • PeakView Windows, special offers for June. See ad on page 24.
    • Palmer Lake historical society book launch, Thu., June 6, 7 - 8:30 p.m. Palmer Lake Town Hall, see ad on page 4.
    • The Living Room Plants, special offers through June 30. See ad on page 5.
    • Tri-Lakes Collision and Auto Service Center, special offers through June 30. See ad on page 5.
    • Western Museum of Mining and Industry family days in June, July, Aug. Special STEAM camp. See ad on page 12.
    • YMCA summer day camp for ages 5-12, www.ppymca.org/daycamp see ad on page 6.
    • Annual July 4th festivities. For details check www.trilakeschamber.com and www.mhkiwanis.org.
    • Chautauqua Palmer Lake, July 29 – Aug. 4, multiple events each day at various Palmer Lake locations. Events for all ages: Vocal and instrumental concerts, lectures, cooking demos, daily yoga and tai chi, poetry slams, PLAG-sponsored Plein Air contest, guided walks and tours, Feldenkrais classes, and more. Complete calendar of events, times, locations at https://ChautauquaPalmerLake.org. Sponsored by Palmer Lake Arts Council.
    • Trinity Community Park, grand opening, Sat., Aug. 24, games, prizes, crafts.

    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 send the information to calendar@ocn.me or Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.

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