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Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 1 - January 8, 2005

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King’s Deer house fire continues to stir controversy

Questions continue to arise about how the Nov. 13 fire on Bardsley Place grew from a small chimney fire (left below) to destroy much of the roof (right) and result in total loss of the $750,000 home.

Click on the photo to view more photosClick on the photo to view more photos

View more photos of the Nov. 13, 2004 Bardsley Place house fire

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board of directors met on Dec. 8 to talk about the budget and the Gleneagle station expansion, but the subject of the evening was clearly the King’s Deer house fire of Nov. 13.

Chief Bill Sheldon read a letter signed by the chiefs of four North Group fire districts that "expressed our serious concern about operational safety and fireground management issues" during the fire, which occurred within the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) boundaries. He gave the board a report on the sequence of events at that fire and a summary of the problems observed.

Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument firefighters responded to the fire at 19315 Bardsley Place. As it was a North Group automatic aid call, crews from five other districts also arrived on the scene. The blaze grew from a small chimney fire in the attic to consume much of the roof of the $700,000 home, despite firefighters battling the blaze for over two hours. Numerous problems arose during the blaze, and four firefighters were injured.

The chiefs’ concerns were presented in a letter, delivered by Larkspur Chief Jamie Bumgarner to TLFPD Chief Rob Denboske on Dec. 7. The text of this letter—which was also sent to the boards of directors of the affected fire districts and the Palmer Lake Town Council—is printed below.

Denboske did not reply to the letter as requested. Instead, on Dec. 16, the TLFPD board of directors sent a letter of reply, which is printed below as well following the chief’s letter.

The following is a summary of the incident based on Sheldon’s comments to the board and comments given to OCN by all the other North Group chiefs and numerous North Group firefighters who were at the scene.

Before the first chief, Larkspur’s Bumgarner, arrived, a Woodmoor/Monument firefighter had fallen and broken his elbow on an unsecured ladder as he was taking a hose up (single-handedly) on the garage roof. Standard firefighting procedure is for two firefighters to advance a hose, with the second helping to lift the weight of the charged hose, and a third firefighter ensuring that the feet of the ladder do not slip.

Even though the chimney fire had already burned through the roof, creating ventilation, firefighters climbed onto the partially collapsed roof and applied water, in contradiction to standard firefighting procedure for a ventilated attic fire, according to Sheldon and DWFPD Assistant Chief Vinny Burns. Burns said he ordered them off the roof as soon as he saw them up there.

The water that was applied through the hole in the roof may have caused the fire to spread laterally, eventually resulting in the house being a total loss. Standard firefighting procedure says that for a ventilated attic fire, an interior ceiling should be pulled down and water should be applied upward into the attic, not downward through the hole, as was done. The steam pressure is then released through the existing hole in the roof. Applying water downward through the hole in the roof limits heat ventilation and also "probably" created additional water damage to the home, according to the chiefs.

Sheldon and Burns stated that the 750 gallons on the initial Woodmoor/Monument pumper and the 400 gallons on the Tri-Lakes ladder truck were enough to have "knocked down" the fire before the other North Group apparatus arrived, had appropriate standard firefighting techniques been used. However, that water was completely expended before the other districts arrived with more water, and the fire spread significantly during that interval. Woodmoor/Monument has no tenders, and Tri-Lakes has only one 1,000-gallon tender, which did not arrive until later.

King’s Deer was built with no cisterns or fire hydrants, so the only source for additional water at this fire was a water shuttle using portable storage tanks. The tenders dump their water into the portable tanks so it can be siphoned by the pumpers and applied to the fire.

According to the chiefs, shuttle effectiveness was hampered by a lack of knowledge by the Tri-Lakes cadet charged with telling the tenders where to refill. The tenders were directed to locations farther away than necessary and not dispersed enough to minimize pressure drops in the supplying water mains, Sheldon said. Sheldon redirected the tenders after taking command of the water shuttle. He said using cadets for these types of duties violates standard North Group policy as well as general fireground safety rules.

The chain of command was unclear at the beginning of the incident. No chief from Tri-Lakes or Woodmoor/Monument responded to the call, and there was no captain on the Woodmoor pumper, which was the first to arrive at the scene. The senior Tri-Lakes firefighter on their ladder truck, second on the scene, did not assume incident command when he subsequently arrived.

Bumgarner drove from his home in Monument to the fire and took incident command, but he arrived after the first injury. Burns assumed command at the house after he arrived. Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Julie Lokken assumed command of the effort in the garage and adjacent kitchen when she arrived.

There was concern that there was initially no safety officer to monitor changing conditions or accountability officer in place to track the locations of the firefighters inside the structure. No rapid intervention team was created.

There was also a problem with firefighters ignoring orders. Lokken says she ordered three firefighters out of the garage when she saw that the fire was coming through the garage ceiling. The firefighters temporarily abandoned the garage area, moving into the kitchen. However, when Lokken went to coordinate with Burns in another part of the house on how best to use these three, they returned to the garage. Eventually Bumgarner and Lokken had to raise the garage door, which had fallen, to again order them out of the garage.

Burns reported that his initial orders to pull down the kitchen ceiling and apply water to the attic to contain the fire had not been followed or completed. The fire subsequently spread past the kitchen to the rest of the house.

Bumgarner later had to give a Tri-Lakes firefighter a direct order to find Denboske and get him to the scene because certain of the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument firefighters would not follow commands from the other districts’ chiefs. Denboske later arrived in civilian clothes, without bunker gear or other visible identification. Sheldon said this made him difficult to identify as incident commander since the other districts’ firefighters might not know Denboske personally.

A total of four firefighters injuries were directly observed by the three initial commanding chiefs, despite statements that there were only two injuries by TLFPD Chairman Charlie Pocock, Treasurer John Hildebrandt, Assistant Chief Ron Thompson, and Denboske at a number of public meetings since the fire.

The fire, which was still not extinguished after two hours when the other North Group district trucks left the scene, subsequently rekindled itself twice on Monday, Nov. 15. When the homeowners visited Wescott’s station during the Christmas holidays, they reported their house is a total loss, despite claims to the contrary by the Tri-Lakes leadership at public meetings.

Sheldon noted that there has been no North Group debriefing of the fire. He said debriefing a fire of this magnitude within 24 to 48 hours is standard procedure at most other fire agencies. Pocock and Hildebrandt confronted Bumgarner and Lokken in their respective fire stations to complain about the chiefs’ letter. Sheldon said both chiefs told the board members they would only discuss operational matters with Denboske at a North Group debriefing.

Sheldon also noted that various changes within North Group districts will require a North Group meeting to re-align the mutual aid response matrix. Those changes include the formation of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority, the addition of the Franktown Fire Protection District and their numerous tenders, and the likely addition of a few other fire districts, such as Elbert and Falcon.

Other business

Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Dennis Feltz reported that special ownership tax revenue to the district was up more than enough to offset the roughly $13,000 shortfall due to unpaid property tax revenue. Some purchases, like new tires for one of the fire trucks, were deferred until after December, to ensure that expenditures remain in line with the amended budget for 2004.

Feltz asked to step down from the treasurer position after Dec. 31, though he will continue to serve on the board. No decision was made about who would be the next treasurer.

Station 3 update: Sheldon reported that the district will be signing contracts for $410,000 in work to be done in adding a new engine bay, conference room, restroom, storage, offices, workout facility, and parking lot. The district’s attorney, Peter Obernesser, and the contractor, Robert Foster, were out of town, so the contract forms will be completed after they return.

Ritz noted that a special meeting of the board could be held to make a final review of the contract details, but no construction funds would be expended in 2004. Board member Kevin Gould, who is an architect, will review the contracts and create the agendas for the final "pre-construction/kickoff" meeting and all subsequent progress meetings with CMS Contractor, Inc. Sheldon will send out announcements and obtain hard hats and gold shovels for the groundbreaking ceremony. Board members will review the contracts for any cost savings that may have been overlooked prior to signing.

Run Report: Wescott made 132 runs in November, with 39 in the district and 93 for mutual or automatic aid to other districts, bringing the total for the year to 1,283 runs, a 13 percent decrease from last year’s total of 1,471 for the same 11-month period. District runs included 24 medical, 6 traffic accidents, 3 automatic alarm, 1 smoke, 2 public assistance, and 3 carbon monoxide alarms. Out-of-district runs included 3 medical, 3 traffic accidents, 1 automatic alarm, 4 structure fires, 1 smoke, and 81 AMR ambulance runs.

Radio upgrades: Sheldon noted that there would be a considerable expense to upgrade district radios in order to use a wider range of frequencies to comply with federal Homeland Security goals. Some of this expense will be covered by about $7 million in federal grant money. However, this grant requires a 20 percent match from local entities, roughly $1.4 million. Completion of the upgrade program will take about two years.

Budget Finalized: The board unanimously approved ordinances for the 2005 budget and an amendment for the final 2004 budget. The board also unanimously approved the 2005 appropriation and an amendment for the final 2004 appropriation. Then the board approved a resolution for the mill levy, which remains at 7.0 mills in 2005. The amendments make final adjustments for changes in personnel expenses, higher than expected special ownership tax revenue, and changes to the training and equipment budgets during the fourth quarter.

After a brief discussion, the board decided not to consider solicitations by other providers for workers’ compensation insurance. The board also unanimously approved board meeting dates for 2005, which will continue to be held on the third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 at Station 2, on 15000 Sun Hills Drive.

* * *

In a later press release, the district announced the following occurred at the annual Christmas and Awards Dinner on Dec. 11:

  • Jamie Gutschick, Juan Villafana, and Tim Hampton were promoted to lieutenant.

  • Career (full-time) firefighter Scott Ridings was promoted to captain.

  • DWFPD service awards were given to James "Tiny" LaMorte for 15 years of service; Villafana and Gutschick for five years of service; and Jim Biskner and Shannon Balvanz for having answered 500 alarms.

  • Letters of commendation were given to Ridings and Balvanz for an ice rescue at the High Forest Ranch subdivision on March 7.

  • Firefighter of the Year awards were presented to Villafana (volunteer) and Ridings (career.)

  • U.S. Air Force Academy Fire Department Deputy Chief John Staub awarded Chief Sheldon and the district a Plaque of Appreciation for their service and close working relationship.

View photos of the Nov. 13, 2004 Bardsley Place house fire

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Bardsley Place Fire: Chiefs’ Letter

Chief Rob Denboske
Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District
18650 Highway 105
Monument, Colorado 80132

Dear Chief Denboske:

We are writing this letter to express our serious concerns about operational safety and fireground management issues after a recent structure fire response that involved your district.

During the structure fire on November 13, 2004 at 19315 Bardsley Place, there was a significant lack of management/supervision on scene. Some of these issues were:

  • Four firefighters were injured on the call, including a broken arm.

  • Cadets were being used in a manner not consistent with the tenets of the Fire Explorer program and sound fireground management.

  • No chief officer from the District responded until personally requested by the Incident Commander.

  • Directions of the Incident Commander and other chief officers were not being followed by firefighters from your district, tasks assigned to your crews were not completed, and some firefighters ignored the direction of senior officers, especially when directed to leave the structure.

  • Officers from other districts had to "take up the slack" during the incident.

One of the foundations of North Group operations is that all the participating agencies provide a supervised fireground with safety being a paramount concern. Your district continually fails to provide senior leadership on the fireground during incidents occurring within your jurisdiction.

We are seriously concerned with the continuing safety of our firefighters. We ask that you provide to us a written statement which outlines your solutions to these problems. We ask that you provide this reply to each of the signers under separate cover at their department or district address within 14 days of receipt of this letter. Your failure to adequately respond to these concerns could change the method in which apparatus and staffing is dispatched to emergencies in your district. We will not tolerate a continual lack of adequate supervision or unsafe fireground operations.

Jamie Bumgarner, Chief
Larkspur Fire Protection District

Julie Lokken, Chief
Palmer Lake Fire Department

William A. Sheldon, Chief
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District

Dave Ury, Chief
Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District

CC:
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Palmer Lake Town Council
Larkspur Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District Board of Directors
Chief, Woodmen Valley Fire Protection District

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Bardsley Place Fire: Response

December 16, 2004

Chief Jamie Bamgarner [sic]
Chief Julie Lokken
Chief Wm.Sheldon
Chief Dave Ury

Dear Sirs and Madam,

This letter is in response to your undated letter regarding the November 13th fire at 19315 Bardsley Place. In your letter several serious accusations were made and you demanded a response within 14 days. Interviews of many of the personnel involved in the incident have been conducted and an internal review was conducted on 12/14/2004 at the Woodmoor station that included photos, video, dispatch logs, written records and our safety committee recommendations. As with many incidents of this nature there are inherent risks of injury and improvements that can be recommended for continuous quality improvement and management. We have several conclusions and recommendations that include not only the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor departments, but also other departments that responded.

We do not feel that a public forum is the place for review of internal fire operations. Your letter made several accusations that were unfounded in fact. The letter is one-sided, bias, [sic] filled with emotion and represents the views of a very few that have an agenda of discrediting the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority. We look forward to an honest review on a level playing field without a predetermined agenda. Please let us know when you are ready to discuss developing a plan for the review.

Respectfully,
J. Hildebrandt
Board of Directors
Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority

Cc:
Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Palmer Lake Town Council
Larkspur Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Black Forest Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Chief, Woodmen Valley Fire Protection
Jim Reid, El Paso County Fire Marshall

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Tri-Lakes FPD Board, Dec. 9

By John Heiser

At the regular meeting Dec. 9 of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors, the board approved its 2005 budget and discussed some operational issues with neighbors of the new Station 2.

The board also held a hearing and unanimously approved inclusion of Hodgen Settlers Ranch, a 307-acre development on Hodgen Road east of Highway 83. The developer has submitted a plan to the county for subdividing the property into 86 single-family lots.

Financial Report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reviewed the revised 2005 budgets for the district, the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, and for the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority being formed with the Woodmoor/Monument district. He noted that some items in the fire authority budget are split 50-50 between the two districts, some are split 60-40 based on the assessed values of properties in the two districts, station expenses are split 1/3-2/3 based on the number of stations in each district, and some expenses are assigned 100 percent to one or the other of the districts.

The Tri-Lakes budget for 2005 totaled $1.449 million. The 2005 Woodmoor/Monument budget totaled $1.133 million. The 2005 fire authority budget, which is the sum of the two budgets, is $2.582 million.

Salaries and related payroll expenses comprise the largest single item at 55 percent of the fire authority’s budget. Comparing the salary subtotal of the 2004 budgets to the same item in the 2005 budgets shows the Woodmoor/Monument district’s salary budget decreased $21,960 (2.9 percent) from $747,132 to $725,172, while the Tri-Lakes district’s salary budget increased $76,985 (12.7 percent) from $607,140 to $684,125. The sum of the salary items in two budgets increased $55,026 (4.1 percent) from $1,354,272 to $1,409,298.

Hildebrandt reported that year-to-date receipt of ambulance revenue is about $220,000 and projected ambulance revenues for 2005 will be about $300,000.

The 2005 budget for the Tri-Lakes district was unanimously approved.

The board unanimously voted to certify the mill rate for 2005 at 7 mills, unchanged from 2004.

The board also unanimously approved adjustments to the 2004 budget to match actual revenues and expenditures.

Station 2 operations

Station 2 neighbors Mark and Elizabeth Woish and Andy Reid raised concerns about Station 2 and its operations:

  • The lights in the apparatus bay shine into the neighbors’ properties. Director Keith Duncan said he is looking into shielding on the light fixtures that will focus the light within the bay.

  • What additional equipment is planned for the antenna pole on the roof? Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson and district President Charlie Pocock said there will be a 3-foot antenna for the 800 MHz radios plus two small dipole antennas and a ceramic whip antenna on top of the pole.

  • The heating and cooling equipment on the roof is shiny metal that is unsightly when viewed from the neighbors’ properties. Thompson said the equipment will be painted to match the roof. He said the district is looking into additional screening.

  • Sirens are being used sometimes after 10 p.m. despite operational guidelines calling for lights-only after 10 p.m. Pocock said there was an incident where a car stopped in front of the station and sirens were used to ensure safety. Hildebrandt said, "Feel free to call if it happens again."

  • The construction crew left deep ruts in the right-of-way in front of properties adjacent to the station. Pocock said the district has asked the county to regrade the right-of-way. In response to a question from Hildebrandt, Pocock said the construction contract did not spell that out as a builder’s responsibility.

Hildebrandt said, "All your concerns are very reasonable. Our intent is to be good neighbors. We want to hear from you."

2005 meeting schedule

The board agreed to reduce their regular meetings to one per quarter and hold their meetings the same nights and locations as the fire authority meetings.

Inclusions

The board held an inclusion hearing and unanimously approved the petition for inclusion signed by the owners of Hodgen Settlers Ranch, a 307-acre parcel ¼ mile east of Highway 83 on Hodgen Road.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board plans to meet once per quarter, most likely at district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). Check Our Community Calendar for date, location, and time.

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Woodmoor/Monument FPD board, Dec. 9

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD) held a special board meeting at the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) Station 1 on Dec. 9 to approve the district budget, appropriation, and budget for 2005. The information from these Woodmoor/Monument documents was then integrated with information from the same documents from Tri-Lakes to create the budget and appropriation for the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority at a subsequent joint special district board meeting held immediately thereafter. Vice-Chairman Rod Wilson was excused.

Treasurer Bob Hansen gave a brief synopsis of changes he made from the initial budget submitted by former chief David Youtsey in September. He noted that the salary lines had been adjusted to reflect the elimination of the chief and assistant chief position. No one was hired to replace former assistant chief Jim Rackl after he resigned earlier in the year. Hansen said the figures reflected the severance package for Youtsey. The end-of-year balance increases slightly from 2004 by about $32,000.

The meeting was briefly interrupted to announce that Fire Marshal Tom Eastburn had been seriously injured in a traffic accident in front of King Soopers on Baptist Road. Later it was learned that while off duty, he had stopped to provide voluntary assistance at a traffic accident in the westbound lane. While assisting with debris removal and traffic control, he was struck by a car. Several bones were broken and he was transported to the hospital by a Tri-Lakes ambulance that responded to the scene. Eastburn has been released from the hospital and will be undergoing physical rehabilitation for several months before being able to return to duty.

The board unanimously approved the budget and the appropriation for 2005, which includes a 3 percent raise for its employees. Revenues and expenditures match at $1,133,070. The mill levy that was unanimously approved for 2005 is 9.921 mills, which will raise $946,417. The board also unanimously approved the monthly meeting calendar for 2005 for the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Tri-Lakes Station #1, also the monthly meeting night for the newly formed fire authority. The board also unanimously approved end-of-year bonuses for all its employees.

In other matters, the board considered the purchase of $6,500 worth of new computers and associated equipment to establish a PC network throughout the Woodmoor Drive station, now called fire authority station 3. After a lengthy discussion, the proposal was tabled until the regular Dec. 28 district board meeting so additional technical data on current operational difficulties with the existing computers and network could be presented to the board. Board members Jeremy Diggins and Bill Ingram also requested more complete documentation of bids and specifications from several vendors for hardware and software be presented to the board before a final purchase decision is made.

Public comment: District constituent Ken Ford asked the board if he could follow up on requests for information he made at the Nov. 26 board meeting. He requested a copy of the approved district and fire authority budgets for 2005, which the board said he would be provided with later in the evening once they were both formally approved.

Ford said that formation of a fire authority was not what the recently elected board members–Diggins, Hansen, and Wilson–had promised the voters they would create, which was a single consolidated fire district. All four board members said the fire authority was an interim step toward unification. Ford said that nevertheless, he was concerned that the wording of the fire authority agreement would allow use of most kinds of Woodmoor/Monument assets for the sole benefit of Tri-Lakes constituents, which had not occurred previously. The board said they would not let Tri-Lakes take any part of the Woodmoor/Monument cash reserve before consolidation and would also remain good stewards of personnel and physical assets even as duties were realigned to provide improved service on a different geographical basis than actual district boundaries.

Ford persisted by saying there are no constraints on the board to amend the fire authority budget in favor of the Tri-Lakes district at the expense of the Woodmoor/Monument taxpayers. The board said that although there are no restraints as Ford said, they would not do what he feared. Hansen said, "I’m not going to hand the keys over to the other district."

Ford noted that Woodmoor/Monument assets would now be the primary responder to the Jackson Creek area of the Tri-Lakes district while the mill levies had not changed at all; Woodmoor/Monument remains at 9.921 mills compared to Tri-Lakes at 7.0 mills even with the elimination of the two highest salaries for the eliminated chief and assistant chief positions. The board noted that Tri-Lakes now is the primary responder to the old town portion of Monument, which compensates for the Jackson Creek service.

Ford then asked the board to delay the start of the fire authority and authorize a special election that would be a referendum for Woodmoor/Monument taxpayers to formally endorse the board’s formation of the fire authority. The board did not agree to his request. Ford concluded by saying that once the fire authority began operations "it is a done deal" and Woodmoor/Monument taxes may never be lowered as promised by the board members. Hansen said "We don’t have to ask for a special election." He added that the taxpayers can change the direction the board has taken at the next regular election in 2006 just as they had changed direction in 2004. Several board members said during the discussion that they would try to get their mill levy lowered at some time in the future, though it may never go down to 7 mills. The discussion was tabled until Dec. 28 and the special meeting adjourned at 8:06 p.m. to begin the fire authority budget meeting.

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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board, Dec. 9

Web site exclusive: View a photo of the fire authority board meeting

By John Heiser

On Dec. 9, following the meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the boards met in joint session as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board to approve the 2005 budget for the fire authority, which begins operation Jan. 1.

Financial Report

John Hildebrandt, treasurer of the Tri-Lakes district, noted that the two districts have signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to form the fire authority. He said, "We are planning on unifying the mill levies in the future." The Tri-Lakes district mill levy is 7 mills. The Woodmoor/Monument district mill levy is 9.92 mills.

Hildebrandt presented the revised 2005 budgets for the Tri-Lakes district, the Woodmoor/Monument district, and for the fire authority. He noted that the individual districts retain ownership of all assets and liabilities. He said all equipment would be inventoried and leased at no cost to the fire authority.

Responding to concerns expressed at some of the Woodmoor/Monument meetings, Bob Hansen, treasurer of the Woodmoor/Monument district, said, "We are not opening up our accounts to the Tri-Lakes district."

Hildebrandt noted that some items in the fire authority budget are split 50-50 between the two districts, some are split 60-40 based on the assessed values of properties in the two districts, station expenses are split 1/3-2/3 based on the number of stations in each district, and some expenses are assigned 100 percent to one or the other of the districts.

He added that the Tri-Lakes budget for 2005 is $1.449 million, the 2005 Woodmoor/Monument budget is $1.133 million, and the 2005 fire authority budget, which is the sum of the other two budgets, is $2.582 million.

The joint board unanimously approved the 2005 budget for the fire authority.

2005 meeting schedule

The joint board agreed to hold the meetings of the fire authority on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

The boards of the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument districts plan to hold their regular meetings on the same nights and at the same location as the fire authority meetings but starting at 6:30 p.m.

Briefings

Tri-Lakes district and fire authority board president Charlie Pocock reported that he presented briefings on the fire authority to the Woodmoor Improvement Association on Dec. 1 and to the Monument Board of Trustees on Dec. 6.

Hansen added that some Woodmoor residents were relieved to learn that two Woodmoor residents will be serving on the fire authority board.

Legal Counsel

The joint board unanimously approved retaining Maureen Juran as the attorney for the fire authority.

Pay scales

Pocock reported that a committee of firefighters made recommendations on adjustments in how pay is calculated. He said several items that were treated as incentives are prerequisites for some of the positions and so are properly part of the base pay. The joint board unanimously approved the revised pay scale and allowances.

Unification tasks

Pocock said work is proceeding on preparation of three documents: the unified personnel manual, the unified set of position descriptions, and the uniform special operations guidelines.

Copies of the revised personnel manual were distributed to board members for discussion and approval at the January meeting. Pocock noted that Tri-Lakes Battalion Chief Bryan Jack worked with Woodmoor/Monument Battalion Chief Larry Garner in developing the personnel manual.

Chief Jack highlighted some of the changes made to unify the personnel manuals for the two districts. He said the mission statement for the unified manual has been left for resolution by the fire authority board.

Purchasing new badges showing membership in the fire authority will cost about $3,700 for all personnel in both districts. Revised embroidered patches will cost another $500. Vinyl emblems to be applied to the vehicles will cost an additional $300. The board unanimously approved the expenditures.

Jack reported that the first of two new fire engines purchased by the Tri-Lakes district arrived last week. The district is still waiting on some of the equipment needed for it.

Executive Session

The board unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

**********

The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board holds regular monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Palmer Lake Town Fire Chief Resigns

By Tim Hibbs

At the Dec. 9 Town Council meeting, Trustee Brent Sumner announced that he had received the following letter of resignation (dated Dec. 2) from Fire Chief Julie Lokken. He said Lokken has recommended Philip Beckman for the position, but a decision on a replacement has not yet been made.

The Honorable Mayor Nikki McDonald
Honorable Members of the Town of Palmer Lake Council

I regret to inform you that due to circumstances beyond my control I will be forced to step down as the Chief of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department effective 1 January 2005.

It has been a privilege to serve you and the citizens of the Town of Palmer Lake. I consider it an honor to have served for the past 5 years as Assistant Chief and Chief of the fire department. As well as serving as a member of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

As I can I will continue to serve as a member of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and I will attempt to assist the Chief.

I do ask that you continue your endeavor of finding support for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. As we all know everything must continue to grow or we will find our Fire Department struggling and falling further behind in it’s ability to serve the citizens of the Town of Palmer Lake.

Again I wish to thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving you and the citizens of the Town of Palmer Lake as Chief of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. It is an honor that was bestowed on me that I will never forget.

Julie Lokken

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Water bill surcharge dominates Dec. 9 town council meeting

By Tim Hibbs

Mayor Nikki McDonald convened the December meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council at 7:03 p.m. to an audience of more than 30 people. All members of the council were present.

Awake The Lake

After the council unanimously approved the agenda items, McDonald invited Jeff Hulsmann, representative for a committee calling itself Awake The Lake, to the podium. Hulsmann spoke on behalf of the citizen committee, which was formed to explore options to restore the water level in Palmer Lake.

Hulsmann stated that the committee’s goal is to solve the lake’s water problem for the short and long terms. His first request of the council was that it formally sanction the committee’s organization and goals. Town attorney Larry Gaddis noted that a motion to do so was required and cautioned that it should be worded so the committee had no authority to bind the town financially.

Trustee Chuck Cornell then moved to recognize and sanction the committee subject to the requirement that it have no power to act on the town’s behalf. Trustee Brent Sumner seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

The Awake The Lake Committee, Hulsmann said, "wants to address the immediate need to get water into the lake." He asked that the town consider adding a monthly $2 surcharge to each water bill to fund this effort, noting that the surcharge would generate approximately $20,000 in its first year.

In an effort to accommodate individual preferences, he further suggested that water bill recipients be given the ability to opt out of the surcharge. The committee estimated that the cost to fill the lake one time from its current level would be between $20,000 and $25,000. Hulsmann presented the council with about 100 signed petitions supporting this approach to filling the lake.

Sumner asked how non-tap or well users would participate in the program. Hulsmann stated that committee members addressing the funding are divided into two groups, one of which is working on fund raising in the whole Tri-Lakes area, while the other is specifically addressing Palmer Lake residents. He said that well users are not currently included in the proposal.

McDonald briefly conferred with Town Clerk Della Gray about the mechanics of accounting for a $2 surcharge on each water bill and expressed some concern about the ability of the town’s billing software to manage the surcharge. Trustee Trish Flake suggested the possibility of including a returnable insert in water bills, on which residents would mark their choice to participate in the program and the amount they would wish to contribute.

However, after additional discussion, Trustee Max Parker stated that adding the surcharge to monthly bills with the ability to opt out of the program seemed to be the most workable approach. McDonald suggested that the committee meet with Gray to discuss alternatives and then opened the discussion to the public.

Bob Miner, chairman of the Palmer Lake Board of Adjustments, spoke as a private citizen and expressed his concern that well owners in the town would not be part of the surcharge program. He suggested forming a conservation district within the town to treat well owners and water system users more equally.

Hulsmann replied by restating his desire for the surcharge, saying it would only be in place long enough to generate the money needed to pay for filling the lake. McDonald said that in her experience, forming a special district takes a long time and felt that the surcharge approach is simpler.

Parker asked for details on how the committee would secure the water to fill the lake. Hulsmann said that several options are being considered, including a single purchase of up to 80 acre-feet of water credits, the use of effluent water, and the use of the town’s existing agricultural and industrial water rights. He committed to providing the council with regular reports on the committee’s activities and decisions.

Several other town residents expressed their support for action to replenish the water in the lake. A suggestion from Kurt Ehrhardt to make the surcharge permanent was met with thunderous applause from the audience.

Hulsmann noted that the only concern expressed by those signing the petition was whether or not the added water would remain in the lake. McDonald stated that an engineering study of the cause of the water loss was under way, but its results had not yet been published.

After listening to comments from various citizens, McDonald said that adding a $2 surcharge to monthly water bills without an explicit option to remove it would ease billing issues for the town clerk. No objections to this proposal were made.

Gaddis composed the text of a motion, designating it Ordinance 12-2004, to add the $2 surcharge to monthly bills. He noted that such issues required the formality of an ordinance for passage. After reading the text of the ordinance, Parker moved to accept it as written, which was seconded by Cornell. The motion passed unanimously.

The surcharge will begin with the January 2005 water bills. McDonald stated that those for whom the surcharge creates an undue burden could petition the town clerk to have it removed from their bill.

Hulsmann said that the committee would apply for storage and surface water rights to obtain the water necessary for the lake. Gaddis suggested that the chance of successfully obtaining surface water rights is extremely small because of the likelihood of litigation from entities downstream of Palmer Lake. He said that the committee should concentrate on obtaining storage rights. Hulsmann agreed to "take the issue off the table" and that he would appear at the January council meeting with more information.

Parker then complimented Hulsmann, other members of Awake The Lake, fellow council members, and town citizens for their cooperative effort on behalf of the lake.

Notice of Intent to file a lien

On an item not published in the official agenda, McDonald requested that the council approve a Notice of Intent to file a lien against the property on 6 Page Street for a water bill that is now $286 in arrears. She noted that the owner would have 10 days to respond to the notice and pay the bill, after which time a lien would be placed on the property.

The motion passed unanimously.

A motion to accept all consent items on the agenda also passed unanimously.

Standing committee reports

Water: Cornell noted that water usage continued to drop off in November due to the weather. He also stated that repairs on the D2 well are progressing.

Roads: Parker said that Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich had started a pilot program to use asphalt shavings for road repairs on Shady Lane and for patches on other roads. The shavings are being offered to Palmer Lake by the City of Colorado Springs without charge other than transportation.

Parker said that up to 2,000 tons of shavings are available to the town and that a sealant can be added to the patches during the summer, which is supposed to make them as durable as new asphalt. Flake added, "So far, so good on Shady Lane" and noted that winter snow plowing could have an impact on the patches.

Police: Trustee George Reese stated that 103 calls were handled in November by the Police Department, compared to 122 in October. The department also handled 15 cases, issued 8 citations, 14 dog warnings, and 4 dog citations.

Fire: Sumner stated that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department handled 15 calls in November. Four of those were fire calls, 3 were for medical reasons, 4 were mutual aid calls, 2 were "other" calls, 1 was to provide public assistance, and there was 1 traffic accident.

Sumner thanked all the businesses that donated items for the annual chili supper and star lighting on Nov. 27.

He also said he had received a letter from Fire Chief Julie Lokken announcing her intention to resign as chief, effective Jan. 1. The text of her letter is printed above.

Fountain Creek Watershed

Miner noted that the council had received a copy of a report regarding sedimentation and washout in Monument Creek. The report was part of the Fountain Creek Watershed’s study of problems from large floods.

Also included in the study is an analysis of events that occur when trash is carried downstream through drains. Miner said this is not generally a concern for Palmer Lake, as it lies at the furthest upstream point of the watershed area.

Humane Society contract renewed for 2005

McDonald, speaking on behalf of Police Chief Dale Smith, asked the council to consider renewing a contract with the Pikes Peak Region Humane Society in Colorado Springs. The contract is $2,000 for one year of service, which is the same amount as 2004.

The Humane Society stores stray dogs, cats, and wild animals brought to them from Palmer Lake, which relieves the town of that burden. The funds for the contract are generated primarily through the sale of dog tags. Sumner moved to renew the contract, Cornell seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Business licenses approved

Buzz Bloom appeared before the council to request a business license for Borderline Tattoo Studio, located at 80 Highway 105. Parker questioned Bloom about the need for a health permit to operate a tattooing business. Bloom replied that the state has certification requirements that cover such issues for tattoo artists. However, the state requires a business license before it will issue certifications. A motion to approve the license passed unanimously.

The second business license application and request was filed by Rhonda Norman. Her business, Rhonda’s Gifts, makes custom greeting cards, tie-dyed clothing, and cross-stitched items. McDonald noted that Norman would need a state sales tax license to operate her business, which Norman committed to secure. A motion to approve the business license was passed unanimously.

Budget ordinances approved

Ordinance 8-2004, to adopt a budget for the Town of Palmer Lake for fiscal year 2005, and Ordinance 9-2004, appropriating funds for that budget, were submitted to the council for approval. Most of the budget analysis work was completed at a special public meeting held on Nov. 17, and the budget is available for public review at the town office. The council unanimously approved both ordinances.

Two additional ordinances amending and allocating funds for the 2004 budget were presented for approval. Approximately $8,000 was reallocated from the 2004 general fund to the Police Department, with a smaller adjustment of $1,500 being made for other purposes. Motions to approve both ordinances also received unanimous approval from the council.

McDonald opened the meeting to comment and public input, but none was received, and she adjourned the meeting at 8:53 p.m.

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Palmer Lake community group explores alternatives to water surcharge

By Tim Hibbs

In response to concerns about the pending $2 surcharge on Town of Palmer Lake water bills, about 12 townspeople met Jan. 5 at the Mission Training International Conference Center.

Kim Makower, publisher of the Palmer Lake Independent News newsletter, organized the meeting. The objective was to discuss mechanisms other than a mandated surcharge to fund restoration of the lake’s water level. The Palmer Lake Town Council passed the surcharge, effective with the January billing cycle, as Ordinance 12-2004 at its Dec. 9 public meeting.

Richard Allen provided some background on the effort to maintain the quality and character of the lake. Allen was one of the founding members of the Lake Restoration Project, which was formed in 1995 to deepen the lake, provide for overflow drainage, create a fishing station with wheelchair access, and develop a trail system around the lake.

Funding for this effort came from around $60,000 in voluntary donations from citizens, civic organizations, and businesses, as well as from a grant of $75,000 from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The project completed its goals over a seven-year period, as more than 200,000 cubic yards of sediment were dredged and redistributed along the edges and throughout the north end of the lake.

Dale Platt, also a founding member of the Lake Restoration Project, said that "the community was behind us 110 percent" during the project. Both Allen and Platt stated that funds raised through voluntary contributions were key to its success, as the community identified itself with the effort.

Allen stated that many years ago, the railroad used to replace the water it removed from the lake for its steam locomotives with chlorinated water piped from reservoirs above the town. The Lake Restoration Project installed a new pipe for augmenting the lake’s water supply, which circumvented the chlorination process in favor of untreated water. Though the new pipe was to be used for augmentation only, legal restrictions have kept the pipe from being used for that purpose.

Several other people in attendance offered their views on the reasons for the declining water level in the lake. Jeff Hulsmann, coordinator of the Awake The Lake (ATL) Committee sanctioned by the Town of Palmer Lake, stated that the town has commissioned an engineering firm to investigate the problem. He noted that although preliminary findings indicated possible seepage at several points in the lakebed, neither the final results nor the recommendations for remediation have been submitted to the town.

Hulsmann was challenged on the committee’s rationale for requesting a surcharge on water bills. He stated that the ATL’s opinion that a monthly surcharge, with the option to opt out of the charge, was the fastest way to fill the lake. He said that the surcharge would allow the committee to immediately obtain access to the money needed to purchase 80 acre-feet of water, which is the amount necessary to fill the lake to its historically normal level.

He added that the surcharge was designed to be in place only long enough to generate $20,000-$25,000, which is the expected cost of the water. He further noted that the ability to opt out of the surcharge was removed from the final ordinance only because of the difficulty of managing it through the town’s water billing software.

One resident expressed his outrage about a surcharge, stating that he’d be willing to donate voluntarily but objected to what he sees as an additional tax imposed by the members of the Town Council. He termed the passage of the surcharge ordinance a "covert action."

Hulsmann replied that Town Attorney Larry Gaddis reviewed the surcharge concept at the council meeting and found nothing wrong with it. Hulsmann said that the ATL committee has no intention of upsetting anyone or doing anything illegal. Its sole purpose is to restore the water level in Palmer Lake for both the short and long terms.

He asked that those with an interest in the issue attend the next ATL committee meeting, scheduled for Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Sanitation District building.

Hulsmann said he would bring the comments made during the meeting to the ATL committee members for consideration. Most of the people present at the meeting expressed their appreciation to Hulsmann and the members of the committee for their work on behalf of the lake and the town.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

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Late Breaking News on the Surcharge

At press time, Palmer Lake Town Clerk Della Gray told OCN that the $2 surcharge on water bills had not yet been initiated and is now on hold. It appears a majority of the Town Council has reversed their position on the surcharge, and it is likely the Town Council will vote for a resolution rescinding the surcharge at the combined Workshop and Regular Meeting on Jan. 13.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 6

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 6, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) adopted the 2005 budget, appropriated its funding, and certified the town’s mill levy. The budget had been under review at several previous special and regular meetings.

Also, the board approved the annexation ordinance for the 45-acre Labib parcel on Old Denver Highway, as well as the Preliminary/Master/Zoning Plan, the final PD Site Plan, and Filing 1 Final Plat for the parcel’s 32-acre Trails End subdivision and the Final Plat for the Aston Industrial Park, which will be built on the parcel’s remaining 13 acres.

Mayor Pro Tem Frank Orten presided over the meeting due to the absence of Mayor Byron Glenn.

Fire Authority presentation

Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board Chairman Charlie Pocock read a brief statement on the history of the formation of the Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire and Rescue Authority by the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection Districts. He said that the ISO rating for areas of the Tri-Lakes district with hydrants had improved from ISO-6 to ISO-5. This may have a beneficial effect on up to 90 percent of commercial property fire insurance rates in areas with hydrants and on some private residence insurance rates. He then distributed a list of frequently asked questions and answers and a biography of Tri-Lakes Chief Rob Denboske. He noted that the positions of chief, assistant chief, and administrative assistant have been eliminated at Woodmoor/Monument, along with the position of fire marshal at Tri-Lakes.

Pocock answered questions about future fire authority operations. Any improvement in the ISO rating for areas without hydrants would depend on a "hauled water" test requiring the delivery of water by surrounding fire districts that have large tenders. Woodmoor/Monument has no tenders, and Tri-Lakes has a single 1,000-gallon tender that was recently modified to be compatible with standard portable storage tanks used by all the other North Group fire districts.

However, Tri-Lakes is still on North Group probation for operational and water delivery deficiencies, which were also the subject of a complaint letter written by the chiefs of Larkspur, Palmer Lake, Donald Wescott, and Black Forest fire districts following a fire in King’s Deer on Nov. 13. [See related article on page 1.]

Pocock said the Woodmoor/Monument station on Woodmoor Drive will be called fire authority Station 3 and will continue to handle all engine-related calls for the area bounded by I-25 to the west, County Line Road to the north, Furrow Road to the east, and Baptist Road to the south. The southern part of this "region 3" is actually in the Tri-Lakes district. Engine-related calls west of I-25, including those for areas that lie within the Woodmoor/Monument district, will be handled by Tri-Lakes Station 1 on Highway 105. Tri-Lakes Station 2 will respond to engine-related calls in the Tri-Lakes district east of Furrow Road. Ambulance calls in all three regions will be served by Tri-Lakes, which Pocock said would have three ambulances on call to provide six-minute response time throughout both districts.

The cadet program, which currently includes 11 participants, will continue. Four volunteers will live at the Roller Coaster station and attend the Fire Science program at Pikes Peak Community College. Tri-Lakes pays for the volunteers’ tuition and books. Trustee Dave Mertz noted that his son was a participant in the Tri-Lakes cadet program and planned on becoming a firefighter.

Pocock said the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department will not be eligible to become a member of the fire authority until the Palmer Lake Town Council steps up to the funding issue, allocating at least $118,000 per year as its share of operations. The current department budget is about $40,000 per year. He added that with the highest mill levy in the region, Palmer Lake residents would not likely agree to additional fire funding.

Trails End

The board unanimously approved the ordinance that ratifies the Nov. 15 approval of the annexation of the 45-acre Labib property. Then the board unanimously approved the ordinance that ratifies the Nov. 15 approval of the numerous site plans for the Trails End and Aston Industrial Park developments as well as the Trails End Filing 1 final plat.

The board also unanimously approved the revised annexation and development agreement for Trails End. The original motion (Nov. 15) to approve this did not include the developer’s request for administrative approval of subsequent filings without additional public hearings by the Planning Commission or BOT. The board unanimously approved this request, with words to that effect already added to the language in the second ordinance. However, the board also added the condition that construction of all 86 homes must be initiated within five years. Otherwise, hearings must be held for any construction started after that interval.

Trails End is accessed from Old Denver Highway and lies primarily between The Village at Monument and the railroad tracks. Aston Industrial Park lies just west of the railroad tracks and east of Electric Propulsion on Synthes Avenue. Electric Propulsion will buy the Aston Industrial Park land for use primarily as an employee recreation area. They may build an employee training center on the parcel, but no industrial buildings will be permitted. This purchase resolves the issue of the industrial park being landlocked, with no access or easement to Synthes Avenue.

Trustee Gail Drumm noted that at some point the town needs to consider annexing the county portion of Old Denver Highway, south of the entrance to Santa Fe Trails. The town has recently repaved its portion of the highway that runs along these annexed subdivisions. Town Attorney Gary Shupp concurred, saying the town needs to negotiate this annexation with the county in the near future.

2005 Budget Hearing

Police Advisory Committee (PAC) Request: Chairman John Stearns reported back to the BOT on his consultations with Town Engineer Tony Hurst, and he distributed copies of the package Hurst had presented to the committee at its 5:30 p.m. meeting that evening. Hurst had told the committee that he was a civil engineer, but not an architect and could not prepare renderings of any proposed new police department building. His expertise is limited to determining if the proposed sketch or site plans will fit on the actual site selected.

Stearns indicated that the PAC’s two requests for a total of $10,000—which would cover building renderings by an architect, site selection, and public awareness education leading to a special election for a bond issue in November—remained the PAC’s best estimate for 2005 expenses.

Trustee George Brown asked Stearns if the southern part of the Limbach Park expansion was large enough for a new police station. Stearns said that the parcel was not the best option. It is too small to provide adequate parking for a courtroom addition. He also said train traffic every 20 minutes would create unacceptable noise for dispatching, transcription, and court proceedings. In addition, the majority of police calls are currently for Jackson Creek, and the proportion will only increase as more houses are built along Leather Chaps and Jackson Creek Parkway.

Stearns added that part of the $10,000 funding is to pick a site that is optimized for the long-term needs of the department—east of I-25 most likely, to ensure adequate response times. However, the sites owned by the town on the west side of the interstate could be part of a land trade to reduce the site acquisition expenditure. He said the developers of the Wahlborg property and of Jackson Creek are interested in tax write-offs for land donations. Building costs would range from $1 million to $1.5 million.

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg said that the $10,000 would have to come out of the paving account or the general fund reserve. However, the reserve fund was already $62,000 below the minimum required by law, he added.

The state has a hard minimum requirement for the end-of-year cash balance, which is based on total annual expenditures; every increase in expenditures also increases the amount of money that must remain in the general fund at the end of the year.

Drumm noted that there was no money for a new station and that the architectural style might differ, depending on the site location and surrounding buildings. Trustee Tommie Plank said the board should review site selection and architectural renderings prior to any public awareness efforts. Stearns said the studies and renderings would be good for at least three years and that renderings would be made only after the site and style of architecture were decided upon.

After further discussion, the board unanimously approved $5,000 for site selection and architectural inquiries, adding that if the project moves along faster than expected, the other $5,000 would be approved later in the year. The initial $5,000 was taken out of the road paving budget.

Town park landscape funding request tabled: The board delayed making any decisions about providing all or a portion of the $22,500 that the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) had requested to improve the appearance of town parks, the current and planned new entry signs on Third and Second Streets, respectively, and Town Hall. The board directed Sonnenburg to ask the association to apply for a Community Development Fund grant, which should have enough money to fund at least one of the five proposed projects.

In previous BOT meetings, it appeared that the most likely project to receive funding first would be the Limbach Park improvements. The other proposed improvements may be funded in phases through similar grant requests.

Public Works to add full-time employee: The board finalized an agreement to accept Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall’s request to hire a full-time employee in lieu of three to six summer hires. However, to save $10,000 (25 percent), the new employee will not be hired until April 1, the beginning of the second quarter of 2005. The consensus was that a single year-round employee could do higher quality park and cemetery work, in addition to road repairs, than several students working during the summer only, making the move more cost effective.

Staff sick leave accrual changes deferred: The board determined that more information was needed before a decision could be made to reduce the maximum number of sick leave hours that could be accrued from the current limit of 720 hours. Employees are reimbursed for half of their accrued hours.

New standards require the town to account for possible payouts, which increases the reserve that must be retained at the end of the year, tightening the budget. The board has previously agreed in principle to provide short-term disability insurance (30 to 90 days) to offset the reduced sick leave accrual benefit. The town already provides long-term disability insurance benefits after 90 days.

Matching park grant funds approved: The board finalized approval of $40,000 to match a Greater Outdoors Colorado grant for play equipment at Limbach Park, after it was resolved that the grant’s requirement for a perimeter and play area fence did not necessitate chain-link fencing. Sonnenburg said that split-rail fencing would be acceptable.

New Business

Budget ordinances and resolutions approved: After the public hearing was closed, the board unanimously approved the 2005 Budget ordinance, then the 2005 Appropriation ordinance. Next, they unanimously approved the mill levy resolution for property taxes—6.408 mills, down from 6.454 in 2004—which will generate about $350,977.

Grant approved: The board approved a resolution to accept a Law Enforcement Assistance Fund Grant of $9,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The money must be spent on overtime for police officers conducting DUI enforcement checks and is part of a statewide $1.8 million program.

Sergeant Rick Tudor, acting police chief, said the grant would pay for the first year of what may become a three-year program. The department may target this additional enforcement to weekends or holidays from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., supplementing existing enforcement at these hours.

Financial issues: The board unanimously approved a payment of $5,900, in addition to the previously approved $7,200, for operations and maintenance of a stream flow gauge for Monument Creek north of Monument Lake. The U.S. Geological Survey had been expected to provide this $5,900 in matching funds. The total $13,100 will be paid to the Department of the Interior.

The board also approved a final payment of $34,183.50, after a final change order reduction of $18,329.73, to T. Lowell Construction, Inc. for completion of the raw water line that runs from well 9 along Old Denver Highway to well 8 at the intersection with Second Street.

Finally, the board unanimously approved a new computer consulting firm, selecting Trusted Consulting Group, Inc. of Englewood.

The October financial report was unanimously approved. Two payments over $5,000 were also unanimously approved. Engineering consultant GMS, Inc. received approval for $10,918.94 for routine services performed. A payment of $7,161 was also approved to Specialty Resources, Ltd. for water system maintenance.

The board also unanimously approved Sonnenburg’s five-part pay increase recommendation that included a 0.4 percent cost-of-living increase and the associated salary range adjustments, a 3.0 percent raise pool, and a new custodian pay range. Raises for the staff must average 3.0 percent and not exceed 5.0 percent for any individual.

Tuscany Hills Subdivision Improvement Agreement approved: Shupp recommended that the board approve what he called a standard agreement. Sonnenburg said that former Town Planner Mike Davenport had administratively approved the document and the final PD site plan for the shopping center in Filing No. 3 of Valley Vista Estates on south Cipriani Loop, west of Knollwood Drive.

Curfew changes tabled: The board discussed at length several student requests to eliminate the town’s curfew for minors. The curfew is 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, unless minors have their parents’ permission to be out later than that.

Tudor said elimination of the curfew would set up teenagers for failure and make Monument one of the very few places in the state without a curfew. Tudor added that a curfew violation has occurred only about once a year on average. The board unanimously agreed that no change should be made but asked that the concerned students be invited to discuss the issue with the board at a future meeting.

Building advice to county: Sonnenburg asked the board for comments that would be submitted per the request of the county regarding the expansion of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Station 3 on Gleneagle Drive. The board unanimously passed a motion to conditionally approve the expansion. The conditions were: minimize the disturbance of existing terrain and trees, relocate or replace any trees that must be removed, and ensure that the project complies with the I-25 visual corridor portion of the Tri-Lakes Plan. [However, all affected trees on the flat parcel have already been moved, and the station cannot be seen from the interstate.]

The board unanimously passed a motion to conditionally approve the expansion (with the same conditions as above) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility administration building. A condition requiring notification of surrounding residents was also added. [However, there are no trees in the flat area where the additional building is proposed, the area is not observable from the interstate, and surrounding residents, who are Monument Sanitation District constituents, have already been informed of the new building.]

Staff Reports: Sonnenburg briefly discussed the eight responses to the town’s survey on senior needs; no action was taken.

He said 17 applications for the police chief position had been received and that the screening committee had held its first meeting on Dec. 4. Also on the committee are Trustees Scott Meszaros and Drumm, Tudor, former Chief Joe Kissell, and Police Advisory Committee member Ginny Cullen. A list of questions that would be directed to the candidates were submitted to the board for comment.

Sonnenburg also said he had received 12 applications for the vacant town planner position.

He said the Tri-Lakes wish tree was posted on the bulletin board. Citizens could buy a gift to fulfill a posted "wish" and bring it Town Hall unwrapped.

Shupp noted that the trustees should review copies of the court documents that directed the town to hold additional hearings regarding the lawsuits against the town filed by the owner of the Ready Mix Concrete batch plant at Washington and Highway 105. The town’s insurer, CIRSA, has approved the services of Denver law firm Nathan, Dunn, and Bremmer to assist the town in both lawsuits. One suit has been referred back to the town manager for a hearing. The other suit may be referred back to the board, also for a hearing. CIRSA will pay for most of the legal costs to the town.

There was a brief discussion about whether it is preferable for snowplows to leave the plowed snow in the center of the road or on sidewalks and driveways, as is currently being done. No decision or recommendation was made.

The meeting adjourned at 8:21 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 20

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held a special meeting, to address town policy on employee sick leave accrual and a regular meeting, to discuss routine fiscal and staff reporting items, on Dec. 20.

In the regular session, Judge John Ciccolella, who presides at monthly municipal court sessions, was re-appointed for 2005 and 2006, Gary Barber and Betty Konarski reported on town and regional water issues, and John Savage asked the board for clarification of expenses he might incur during renovation and expansion of his Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center.

Special Meeting

Mayor Byron Glenn called the special meeting to order at 6 p.m. The single agenda item was discussion of the employee sick leave policy. The town’s auditor suggested in the 2003 audit that the board review the town’s growing financial obligation to staff for their unused sick leave, which increased 20 percent in 2002 and 25 percent in 2003. The report said the board should review the 50 percent payout policy for up to 750 accrued "sick time" hours "to determine if this large liability is reasonable for the Town, or if it could be reduced."

Background: Treasurer and Town Clerk Judy Skrzypek had been asked at the Nov. 15 BOT meeting to survey the employees on their preferences regarding maximum sick leave accrual reductions if short-term disability insurance were added to the benefits package. The audit for 2003 had said that the Monument budget needed to reflect a likelihood of some payout of unused sick leave hours when employees retire or cease working for the town. Currently employees can accrue up to 750 hours of sick leave at a rate of 8 hours per month, assuming no absences for illness.

All the staff department heads surveyed their employees and submitted reports of their findings, which were provided to board members at the Dec. 6 meeting. No decision was made at that session nor were any changes incorporated in the final budget for 2005. Some of the reports noted the likelihood of "sickouts" so that employees could use up their excess hours that would otherwise be lost if the accrual maximum were lowered without protection of all accrued hours.. However, Town Attorney Gary Shupp has always recommended that the board ensure that hours accrued in excess of a new lower maximum would not be "lost" or ineligible for future remuneration.

Sonnenburg also presented new data from the Mountain States Employer’s Council along with his, Skrzypek’s, and the department heads’ written input. Sonnenburg provided additional survey information for many Colorado towns and cities, showing the range of cashing-out policies for accrued sick leave.

Discussion: Skrzypek suggested that the town offer a cafeteria menu of benefits so that employees could make trade-offs on sick leave, medical, and dental benefits. She also suggested that the town might be able to form an alliance with other governmental entities to increase the number of employees in the pool to get a better menu to choose from.

She said Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall had found that the town did not have enough employees to qualify for reasonable benefits from Delta Dental. She also noted that the town had to decide whether to continue paying full compensation for 90 days of illness or injury with a long-term disability benefit thereafter, or change to a benefits philosophy after 30 days of full sick leave compensation.

Sonnenburg said the renewal of the current annual long-term disability, life, health and dental insurance benefits package would begin on Jan. 1. He said that there should be enough sick leave hours available to cover two 30-day absences each year, and suggested that more benefits flexibility be considered by the board.

Sgt. Rick Tudor, acting police chief, said his employees wanted short-term disability insurance to allay concerns about financial ruin, and added that the current sick leave accrual is a powerful incentive for employee retention, fitness, and staying well.

Trustee Tommie Plank suggested that other employees and benefit providers should make a presentation to the board. Trustee Gail Drumm suggested that the department heads should also present their own research to get a different point of view on benefits. Trustee Dave Mertz noted that the regional fire districts had split apart on purchasing benefits in recent years and now had poorer benefits at a higher cost. Trustee George Brown said the town should know what range of choices it has for its size and for a larger alliance.

Glenn noted that employees are leaving at the rate of about three per year, which obligates the town to budget for and pay a substantial amount of accrued sick leave. He asked that the staff provide the board with data on a variety of options for each type of benefit, menus that the employees could choose from, and cost spreadsheets.

The special meeting adjourned at 6:22 p.m.

Regular Meeting

The board unanimously approved the ordinance for a two-year reappointment of Judge Ciccolella. He was given a pay raise from $320 per monthly session to $350. Ciccolella had not received a pay increase in four years. Town Clerk Judy Skrzypek administered the Oath of Office.

Water Update: Former Mayor Betty Konarski and Gary Barber, who represent Monument in several county and regional water groups and authorities, gave an update on water issues. Barber distributed a paper called "Water Rights in Colorado: No One Ever Said It Was Easy" and gave a slide presentation. He described the El Paso County Water Authority as a coalition of government entities similar to a regional transportation authority. Pooling limited financial resources allows high-cost studies to be performed at a modest cost to each entity.

For example, the town paid about $8,000 of the $600,000 cost of the transit loss model study. The new model should give greater and more accurate credit for water returned to Monument Creek but subsequently lost to evaporation (about 25 percent) before being measured en route to the Arkansas River. This in turn could make it easier to eventually divert water to refill Monument Lake. The study should be completed by the end of 2007.

Barber said that the Palmer Divide Water Group is similar in concept but regional in makeup because it includes entities from Douglas County. He then listed the ways these groups interact with county, state, and federal agencies to represent the town’s interests.

Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center water rights purchase: Owner John Savage, who is also chairman of the town’s Parks and Landscape Committee, asked for clarification on why he might have to pay for additional water rights for his proposed car wash facility when he expands his business. He has paid for active ¾-inch and unused 1½-inch taps for almost 10 years.

He also presented a letter from the deputy town clerk dated March 29, 1995, verifying "that 213 Hwy 105 has an existing 1½ inch water tap. No further tap fees are required by the Town of Monument." He said if his business is required to purchase more water rights, that the fee should be reasonable.

In a memo to the board, Wall said that Savage’s parcel had an adjudicated water right of 0.35 acre-feet per year, but Savage’s architect projected a water requirement of 3.5 acre-feet per year upon completion of the expansion. Wall noted the two taps authorize Savage the use of 2.5 acre-feet per year, leaving him 1 acre-foot short. Wall recommended that the town sell Savage the rights to 1.5 acre-feet of water per year from the town’s unused reserve, for a fee of between $2,200 and $4,000.

Savage’s wife, Dawn, said she is half-owner and noted that she too felt the town had already agreed to the use of the water by accepting monthly payments of $10 for the inoperative larger tap for nearly 10 years.

Wall was absent due to illness, so the board asked Barber for his opinion on a fair rate. Barber suggested that $4,000 for an additional 1.5 acre-feet per year was a fair price, adding that he believed the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District would charge $10,000 for the same commercial right. Savage asked that the board consider the $2,200 price.

The board unanimously approved a fee of $4,000, which the Savages agreed to pay.

Budget ordinance amended: Wall sent a memo to the board asking that it reconsider the hiring date for the new streets/parks technician of April 1 instead be January 1. He said the additional cost of up to $10,000, depending on the actual start date, could come from potential savings on construction costs for the new garage at the Public Works facility. Wall proposed that the staff perform some or all of the construction work, to reduce labor costs. The board tabled this proposal due to Wall’s absence.

The board then unanimously approved an amendment to the 2004 Budget and 2004 Appropriation Ordinances that reflect actual increased general fund revenues and expenditures of $74,737.48. The water fund revenues and expenditures were also increased by $19,568.49. Skrzypek said the changes reflected additional expenses for cemetery operations and lease of five town vehicles that were paid for with higher than expected revenue.

Computer Service payment: Skrzypek recommended that the town prepay its new computer consultant, Trusted Consulting Group, Inc. all $18,000 budgeted for 2005 to maximize the bonus the town would receive. The company offers a bonus that varies proportionally in four steps, from 5 percent for a prepayment of $5,000 or more to 15 percent for a pre-payment of $20,000 or more. Her recommended $18,000 pre-payment would earn the town a 12.5 percent bonus, netting a credit for an additional $2,250 of service. Any unused service dollars could be rolled over to the next contract.

Skrzypek noted that the new company would likely have some learning curve issues that would lead to higher consultation expenses in the first part of 2005, and asked for enough spending authority to not have to come back to the board immediately for another small incremental approval.

Trustee George Brown disagreed with her recommendation and said that a full payment would eliminate the new company’s incentive to make a good first impression. The board unanimously agreed to pay $5,000, the lowest pre-payment that would earn a bonus, netting $250 of free additional service.

Payments: The board unanimously approved:

  • A final payment of $10,375.25 to XKE Contractor Inc., which completes this annual asphalt road maintenance contract. Also approved was a change order that reduced the total contract price from $150,446.40 to $129,640.64. The changes were primarily due to weather precluding some crack sealing.

  • A December pass-through tax payment of $121,458.65 to Triview Metropolitan District.

  • A payment of $12,250 for 2005 dues for membership in the Palmer Divide Water Group to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

  • A final payment of $6,550 to Classen Computer Consulting for new server deployment in Town Hall and the police department.

Preapplication Review for Timbers at Monument: Ron Murphy of Hammers Construction, Inc. made a presentation of plans for a retail commercial development on the south end of Jackson Creek Parkway. The development would border Foxworth-Galbraith on the east and north. The purpose of preapplication meetings is to allow the property owner and developer to hear comments or concerns from the town prior to expending substantial funds on engineering, as well as to inform neighboring citizens during this early phase.

The staff report listed the review items. Town Engineer Tony Hurst noted that an easement would be required to provide access to the Foxworth-Galbraith after Struthers Road north of Baptist Road is closed. The developer is willing to contribute to needed improvement of Baptist Road and will provide a traffic impact study to town traffic consultant SEH, Inc. The retail stores will have four-sided architecture with a "mining town" look and will conform to local comprehensive plans as a regional commercial center.

The report also noted that the Town Planning Commission recommended that the shopping center have a small playground, a park with picnic tables, and upscale restaurants instead of fast-food outlets. The commission also recommended that the Timbers developer improve the CDOT bridge over I-25.

Murphy listed changes and comments after previous discussions with town staff. He noted that the site plan had an improved traffic design, that a tentative agreement for a movie theater had been made, requiring an expeditious approval by the town, and that the drawings now listed the other types of businesses that have already been placed within the center. These include an anchor store, fast-food and sit-down restaurants, retail, offices, financial businesses, and a drug store.

Murphy also noted the amount of dirt that needed to be removed from the Timbers parcel was nearly exactly the same as the fill needed to widen Baptist Road. Under his proposal, Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to Struthers would be rebuilt using the final grade and construction specifications that will be called for by CDOT when they expand the interchange at Exit 158.

This portion of Baptist Road was originally supposed to have been widened before Home Depot was to be allowed to open its doors. However, if that widening had been completed, it would have only been temporary. Every bit of the temporary material used would have to be destroyed, removed, and completely replaced with lanes and ramps that meet higher CDOT specifications. Murphy is proposing to skip that step and its expense. His plan of building four of the required six lanes to CDOT specifications would save all the costs of the planned temporary road widening construction.

His proposal would also include construction of the temporary eastern realignment of the intersection of northern Struthers Road and the north side of Baptist Road. The intersection would be moved east, just past the eastern boundary of the Foxworth-Galbraith parcel’s fenceline.

There is still no projected start date for this "mandatory" temporary widening of Baptist Road west of Jackson Creek Parkway, even though Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg has administratively approved a big-box retail store on Pad A of the Marketplace (which, at the end of the meeting, Glenn announced would most likely be a Wal-Mart.).

Murphy also said he is working on an alternative financing package in which Hammers would finance the construction with bonds that would be paid off by CDOT as funds for Exit 158 become available. Murphy said that private permanent construction contracts would be significantly lower in cost than state road building contracts would be.

This savings plus the avoided cost for temporary Baptist Road improvements would more than make up for the interest that would be paid to the developer’s bondholders until CDOT funding was available. Further, the interest rates on the bonds would be low because of the guarantee of CDOT public funds reimbursement. He said in a similar $14.4 million road construction project for Highway 24, this type of bond sold out in only three days.

Glenn said he would have to be sure that the road construction money was in escrow before he could vote to approve a final plat for the development. He said without the road improvements in place, he couldn’t "speak favorably" of the project.

Murphy and his marketer, Jason Madsen of Kratt Commercial Properties, then answered questions from the board. Drumm asked how long it would take to complete build-out of the shopping development; Madsen said he expected it would take two years.

Brown asked what guarantees the town would have if private financing were used for Baptist Road improvements. Murphy noted that he had financed completion of three other state interchanges in conjunction with shopping center developments using this method. The three are the Windsor, 104th Avenue, and 94th Avenue exits, all developed by Perlmutter Group. Murphy said this method would also ensure earlier tax revenue for the town. Brown added that the Planning Commission request for a playground and a small park in a shopping center was "off the wall."

Glenn again said he would need to see CDOT’s assurance that Hammer’s underwriting was sound. He then asked that the entrance roads from Jackson Creek Parkway be redesigned for smoother flow; Madsen agreed to make changes. Glenn later said he wanted the Struthers Road intersection design changed and said the board would need to see the elevations prior to approval.

Mertz asked for details on the movie theater. Murphy said there had been a proposal to build a large theater on this site, but eventually the offer was withdrawn because there had been no approved development plan review. Murphy said that he could not get contracts signed by tenants until the town approved the plat, even though the trustees first want to know what each tenant’s store would be like. Drumm asked if Hammers would donate a new police station to the town. Murphy did not respond.

Staff Reports

Sonnenburg reported that the administrative staff review of the site plan amendment for the super-store pad at the Monument Marketplace was 99 percent complete. Glenn said that Wal-Mart’s real estate committee had approved the location contingent on the town’s final approval of the amended PD site plan, but that no contract had been signed by them with Vision Development. He said that Wal-Mart could close on this site "by the end of the year" if it chose to do so.

Sonnenburg also said that Transit Mix is close to submitting an application for a concrete batch plant in the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District’s business park south of Baptist Road. The plant would be located near the fence line at the northern boundary of the Air Force Academy, east of the railroad tracks..

Additionally:

  • The Wahlborg property developer has submitted his first filing for administrative review under the BOT-approved annexation master plan.

  • Valley Ridge patio homes, on Old Denver Highway, has submitted a replat for administrative review.

  • Tri-Lakes Cares will be submitting a new building development plan soon.

  • The developer of Jackson Creek Market Village, immediately east of the King Soopers center on Baptist Road, will submit its updated application for review by the Planning Commission in February.

  • Beacon Lite Senior Housing will present a preapplication for its project on the south end of Adams Street at the Jan. 12 Planning Commission meeting.

  • The police chief search committee hopes to screen the 17 application packages the town has received, then schedule a small number of interviews..

Wall’s Public Works report memo notes that the Well 1 treatment and controls building is now complete and the well is back on line. Town engineering consultant GMS, Inc. is working on the designs for an expanded water treatment facility at Well 8 to treat the raw water delivered by the new water main from Well 9.

The 2004 crack-sealing contract for town streets has been terminated due to weather and "coordination issues." The town has awarded a contract to complete the bike path on the west side of Mitchell Avenue from its current southern terminus to Mt. Herman Road. The application for designation as a Tree City for 2004 has been submitted.

Tudor’s police report noted the serious injury sustained by Woodmoor/Monument Fire Marshal Tom Eastburn, who was directing traffic and removing debris after an evening accident in front of King Soopers on Baptist Road.

The temporary building donated to the police department by Jackson Creek developer Colorado Structures has been moved and set up for use by staff. Work remaining includes connections for power and communications, as well as heating and ventilation, which should be completed by the end of January.

The order for a new police car has been sent to the state. A new bulletproof vest has been received and a request for reimbursement from the Department of Justice has been processed.

There were 30 applications for the temporary records clerk position. These applicants may also be considered for the new Public Works position.

In November, there were a total of 413 calls, 47 cases, 59 citations, and 29 fingerprints.

Sonnenburg said that Tudor polled the uniformed police officers about their long-term disability insurance protection, which has been provided by the Fire and Police Protection Association. The officers all agreed that they would like to switch to the long-term disability policy offered by Fortis LTD that is provided to the other full-time town employees as a fully paid benefit. The Fortis open enrollment period is December. The board unanimously approved the switch in coverage as of Jan. 1, 2005.

The board unanimously approved changing the date of the second January meeting to Jan. 18, because Jan. 17 is a holiday.

The board went into executive session at 8:20 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter. No announcement was to be made after the conclusion of this session.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Jan. 3

By Jim Kendrick

The agenda for the Board of Trustees’ meeting on Jan. 3 consisted mostly of follow-up items for ongoing issues; several were continued. The trustees reversed their position on hiring a new full-time streets/parks technician, giving Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall the go-ahead to hire someone immediately, instead of waiting until April 1. Trustees Frank Orten and George Brown were absent.

The Timbers

Ron Murphy of Hammers Construction requested that the preliminary plan and final plat for The Timbers development be considered for approval at the same hearing, which is called concurrent review. The Timbers is primarily a retail center that will be built on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway between Foxworth-Galbraith and Home Depot.

Murphy also requested that the board approve the entire development’s master plan at the same hearing, and give permission for administrative review and approval by town staff only of all subsequent filings and each individual building. He said the master plan will include a complete list of allowed finish materials for exterior building façades.

During the brief discussion, Town Attorney Gary Shupp advised the board to consider each of the two requests for expedited approvals separately. Trustee Tommie Plank suggested that it was too soon for the board to agree to administrative approval for future filings without having seen any of the revised site plans.

Mayor Byron Glenn agreed, saying that even though ordinances don’t currently require the submission of building elevations, he said the board would also prefer to see them before endorsing future administrative approvals.

Trustee Gail Drumm asked Murphy to again confirm that all four sides of each building would be upgraded with decorative tile, wood, and rocks façades. Murphy confirmed that all these requirements for "360-degree architecture" would be included in the appearance section of the development’s master plan.

The board unanimously approved concurrent review of preliminary site plans and final plats only. Murphy agreed to provide all the proposed building elevations to the board at the review, along with the master plan.

Town employee benefits presentation

Dick Welch of Benefit Design Services, the town’s insurance broker, gave a short benefits review, explaining the package he provides to the town’s employees. He distributed handouts that included a list of options offered by other municipalities and prices for the various options.

He said his insurance brokerage can provide a wide variety of services, but he emphasized that his business model is for the town to tell him what it wants to offer employees so he can then go out and find the best price and service for that specific range of benefits. The distribution and employee contributions are the town’s decision alone.

He concluded his presentation by saying that he wasn’t aware of any municipality that had a better benefits package than Monument.Glenn said he had invited him to speak to the board to allay Welch’s concerns that the town was about to change brokers and to give him the opportunity to answer questions. He asked Welch to work with Town Treasurer/Clerk Judy Skrzypek to inform employees of the kinds of options he could provide.

Mertz asked how many employees are needed to get the biggest group discounts. Welch said that the town had formed a benefits alliance with Triview Metropolitan District, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, in order to have at least 51 participants in the pool. This is the threshold for substantial discounts under current law, yielding a discount of $60,000 per year. Recently, the pool was further expanded by adding the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District through the formation of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority.

Railroad drainage status

Town engineer Tony Hurst gave an overview of the status of drainage problems caused by storm water outflows onto the east side of the railroad’s right-of-way from the three subdivisions between the tracks and Old Denver Highway: Pastimes, Santa Fe Trails, and the just-annexed Trails End.

Neighboring resident Mike Watt has filed lawsuits against the developers of Pastimes and Santa Fe Trails for the large amounts of sediment that have been deposited on his driveway from storm water drainage coming from these subdivisions. His driveway runs from Old Denver Highway along the northern fence of Soc-N-Roll, then under a railroad trestle bridge to his home on the west side of the tracks.

Hurst said John Laing Developers had offered a good solution to reduce the amount of storm water flowing from Pastimes into the railroad right-of-way and asked the board to approve this solution: to enlarge the subdivision’s water quality detention pond from 3.0 to 5.0 acre-feet.

Laing is proposing to extend the south end of the detention pond, tract B, further southward into the adjacent tract C, which had been given to the subdivision homeowners association (HOA) for a community park. The area taken from tract C would be about 0.65 acre.

To compensate the HOA, the developer asked that the adjacent 0.53-acre tract E to the east, which was dedicated to the town as a possible town well site, be given to the HOA for park space. Hurst said that Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall informed him that the town has no need for this well site.

The developer is asking for prompt approval to ensure that this work is completed before the spring rainy season.

Hurst said there would also be a redesign of the outlet structure and erosion control outfall for the expanded pond that would reduce the rate of storm water delivery from a maximum of 18 cubic feet per second to 5 cubic feet per second. By comparison, he said, the outlet flow for Santa Fe Trails is a maximum of 69 cubic feet per second.

There were two proposed options for the outflow: south along the Union Pacific right-of-way (no change) or north to Dirty Woman Creek. The first option would require a permit from the railroad. The second option would require a mouse habitat permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Hurst added that the drainage for the new Trails End subdivision has been designed to be distributed into Teachout Creek and will not contribute to the flow that crosses Watt’s driveway.

Mayor Byron Glenn observed that the town was being asked to solve John Laing’s problem. He said the HOA has to be satisfied with the smaller site (tract E) and would likely want some cash as well.

Glenn also expressed concerns that there had been no outflow water velocity calculations. He said that the de-silted water would be cleaner after the redesign. The cleaner water would be able to absorb more sediment as it flowed south along the railroad tracks, perhaps causing unexpected erosion and sediment deposit on Watt’s property. He was concerned that the town could be sued by Watt in the future if the redesign was not correct.

Trustee Gail Drumm said that the actual storm flows from the Valley Ridge patio homes subdivision into Pastimes had never been fully accounted for in drainage studies by John Laing. He asked if the transfer of 0.65 acres of HOA land to the developer could be considered a "taking" of HOA land.

Drumm also said that the railroad, in effect, created a dam some 130 years ago and had never agreed to design or install culverts under the tracks to restore natural drainage, which is more dispersed. He also said there was not sufficient detail available about the spillway drainage to approve even the concept of the proposal.

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg proposed tabling the issue and inviting John Laing representatives and their consultants to attend the next board meeting on Jan. 18. He added that the developer had asked if the discussion with the board could qualify as a closed executive session for a negotiation. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said, "I doubt it."

The board unanimously tabled the discussion until the next meeting.

Payment made

The board unanimously approved a payment of $2,593.81 to XKE Contractor Inc. to refund the 2 percent retainage fee for its 2004 paving contract. This action completes the contract.

New hire linked to garage construction

After previously postponing discussion, the board re-addressed the issue of a start date for the new streets/park technician. Wall said the most urgent need for the employee is in the winter for snow removal. He said that if the town could only afford three-quarters of a full-time $40,000 salary, it would be better to lay off the new employee for the last three months of 2005.

Wall again offered to take the money from the funding for construction of the new Public Works garage and use town staff to help erect the prefabricated steel building. Drumm said he had learned that this kind of building was not as easy to erect as thought, and that other entities had schedule overruns when the sections did not match properly.

Wall said that the hardest aspect of construction was having a proper foundation and locating the sill plate bolts correctly in the slab floor to ensure proper alignment of the wall sections. He assured the board that he would hire a professional contractor for this portion of the construction so that the town would be protected financially if alignment were in error.

The board unanimously approved an immediate hire for the full year and said it will find the additional money later in the year, probably from increased sales tax receipts.

Regarding insurance for staff members involved in constructing the garage, the town received a statement from its insurer, CIRSA, that indicated they would be insured for workers’ compensation if injured on the job—if their job description included building construction (it does not) or if they had been given "verbal instructions by their supervisor."

The board determined it needed more precise language from CIRSA and advice from Shupp before deciding if town staff could help build the garage without creating a potential liability issue. Glenn asked Sonnenburg to make sure that CIRSA knew that the new garage was something more elaborate than a backyard "Tuff Shed." He also asked Sonnenburg to provide the board with copies of the job descriptions of those who would help build it. The issue was unanimously tabled.

Other business

The board unanimously tabled an ordinance change regarding maximum permitted noise levels in a heavy industrial setting. They asked to see some data from other municipalities, such as Colorado Springs, to provide a basis for a decision on whether the proposed standards, 80 dB in daytime and 75 dB at night at the perimeter of the industrial property are acceptable. The town ordinance, as currently written, incorrectly calls for 55 dB and 45 dB respectively, which would be roughly equivalent to a quiet conversation and a whisper.

The board unanimously reapproved using the Monument Post Office, 545 Third St., as its standard public notice posting location for 2005.

Walters Commons review

The board approved the staff-recommended comments to the county regarding the Walters Commons development next to Woodmoor by Higby Road, east of Lewis-Palmer High School. Two standard staff comments were approved: minimize disturbance of existing trees and terrain and replant or replace all trees that must be removed; and comply with the I-25 visual corridor guidelines in the Tri-Lakes 2000 Master Plan.

Mertz noted that these same comments had recently been made regarding other construction projects and asked if this indicated that the planning assistant was only giving projects a cursory review. Sonnenburg said he and the two planning staff members do meet to discuss the wording of all these county referrals for town comment.

The board unanimously approved the staff recommendations and added a third comment, asking the county to consider requesting the developer to improve Higby Road, Bowstring Road, and Jackson Creek Parkway to help reduce congestion at the high school.

Police chief search

Trustee Scott Meszaros said the search committee for the new police chief would interview four candidates on Jan. 8 and one more on Jan. 15, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Sonnenburg added that he had numerous highly qualified applicants for the vacant town planner position. He will interview and select the replacement in the near future.

The meeting went into executive session for discussion of negotiations at 7:27 p.m. No announcements were expected.

The next meeting of the board will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at Town Hall. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Mondays of the month.

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Monument Planning Commission, Dec. 8

View the Timbers Concept Plan materials presented and a photo of the meeting

By John Heiser

At its Dec. 8 meeting, the Monument Planning Commission received a pre-application presentation on the Timbers development. Ron Murphy of Hammers Construction led the presentation, assisted by Hammers architect Nataliya Yedidovich and Nolte and Associates engineer John Radcliffe. The commission took no action on the project.

Some highlights of the presentation:

  • The project encompasses 57.5 acres north and east of Foxworth-Galbraith, between Monument Marketplace and Baptist Road.

  • The conceptual site plan projects 282,000 square feet of commercial space, with pad sites ranging from 2,600 to 88,720 square feet.

  • Intended tenants include drugstores; financial institutions; fast-food, family-style, and higher-end restaurants; medical offices; and a medium-box anchor store, which Murphy said is to be a Kohl’s department store.

  • The project is pursuing inclusion of the Foxworth-Galbraith property and the two adjacent vacant five-acre parcels, all of which are owned by the Watt family. Murphy said that in any case, the Timbers project would provide road access to the Watt properties.

  • The Timbers developer is working with other developers in the area, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to coordinate and accelerate improvements to Baptist Road and the I-25 interchange. Murphy said the current vehicle traffic on the Baptist Road interchange is at twice the design capacity, and he characterized this aspect of the project as "critically important." He said developer funds could be used to accelerate construction of CDOT’s obligations if a reimbursement plan can be agreed upon. Murphy noted that this is the fourth interchange project he has been involved in between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.

  • The development would be included into the Triview Metropolitan District. A commercial well would be drilled into the Arapahoe aquifer that would become part of the Triview water supply system.

  • Storm water drainage may be handled by on-site detention or by boring a storm drain under I-25 to deliver water to the west side of the interstate. There it would be detained on land owned by one of the owners of the Timbers property.

  • The architectural style will be "upscale" and "town center style," with some mining building features, and will be governed by covenants and design standards.

  • The project includes 15 acres of landscaped space but no park space or play areas are planned.

**********

The Monument Planning Commission normally meets on the second Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m., at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St.

For additional information, contact the Monument planning department at 481-2954.

View the Timbers Concept Plan materials presented and a photo of the meeting

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Monument Police Advisory Committee, Dec. 6

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Police Advisory Committee (PAC) met on Dec. 6, only one hour before the Board of Trustees’ (BOT) final budget hearing, to finalize their proposals for developing plans for a new town police station building. The Police Building Subcommittee, which includes the PAC and several employees of the town’s police department, has been researching available real estate and the kinds of police buildings that have been built recently for similar-sized Front Range departments.

Committee Chair John Stearns succinctly moved through a lengthy agenda to ensure that each of the many options the subcommittee had analyzed received full consideration before developing the final 2005 budget presentation he would be giving to the BOT.

While the BOT has always acknowledged the inadequacy of the current modular police building, there remains a shortfall in available revenue only to pay the interest on construction bonds and purchase land. None of the empty lots the town currently owns is well-suited for a new police station.

Options considered

The size of the building and parking lot required for a new Police Department structure depends on whether it will also house a dedicated courtroom and the town staff. Stearns had sought preliminary guidance on this subject from the BOT on Nov. 15. The consensus of the BOT was for the committee to look primarily at a stand-alone facility with a multi-purpose room that could serve as a temporary courtroom, training room, and public meeting space.

Planned growth indicates that the size of the department will likely double from the current staff of 12 officers within five years; there are also currently four administrative employees. There was no specific guidance on how to plan for a permanent courtroom facility addition.

A multi-story police building is not particularly cost-efficient due to security and elevator requirements. However, if a two-story facility could fit on a parcel already owned by the town, it would be less expensive than the cost of a lot for a single-story facility.

A dedicated courtroom and its associated support rooms would need to be located on the first floor to be practical, requiring a large area building foundation.

Adding to the expense would be the security constraints required for physically isolating holding cells, an intoxilizer room, a sally port for transporting prisoners, and security for town staff administrative facilities. (These kinds of issues have made the new county court, obsolete jail, and adjacent El Paso County Sheriff’s Office facilities in downtown Colorado Springs extremely controversial.)

The PAC has often discussed the requirement for a clear construction objective and the need to educate voters about the specifics of the option selected.

Discussion

In a phone call, former Chief Al Sharon recommended the committee visit the six-month-old, stand-alone police facility at Johnstown, a town of about 4,000 located near Fort Collins. This building also houses 12 employees but has planned room for 35 officers. Administrative Assistant Becky King volunteered to tour the facility while visiting relatives in Fort Collins during the holidays. Stearns asked her to get copies of the building plans.

Stearns noted that the BOT had directed him not to consider a building that would also include the Town Hall staff and facilities, but that they had given no guidance on whether to include a permanent courtroom complex. He indicated that in the short term, the courtroom would be moved to the adjacent Monument Sanitation District building when the town takes over the district. King asked if the district owned the entire building. [In fact, the building is not yet owned by the district; their lease-purchase agreement runs through the end of 2007.]

Sergeant Stephen Burk advocated a multi-purpose room that could be used for department training and community meetings between court sessions. There was consensus on this, after Sergeant Rick Tudor, who is currently the acting police chief, noted that the current Town Hall meeting room could be converted to needed office space.

Stearns said that there would be more public participation in community meetings if the new station were located in Jackson Creek, where the majority of town residents live. King reminded the committee that the owner of the old Monument post office, which has 34 parking spaces, would like to rent his building to the town starting in 2006.

Tudor then asked Town Engineer Tony Hurst to discuss the review he had performed in July 2003 of the preliminary study of a combined town hall, police department, and courtroom structure that was conducted by consultant OZ Architects.. Hurst reported that while he had verified the specific statistics listed in the proposal, he had not analyzed the architectural aspects.

The committee again agreed that the vacant parcels the town owns are not suitable and that the most promising locations are in the recently annexed Wahlborg property, which lies south of Highway 105 and east of Knollwood, and the vacant land by the electrical substation north of Leather Chaps on the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway. There was a lengthy discussion of how to make access to the Wahlborg lots feasible for emergency response and whether they would have too great an effect on nearby residences.

On the other hand, Burk said the Jackson Creek developer, Vision Development, Inc., might be able to arrange for a donation of the parcel on Jackson Creek Parkway and/or construction assistance. Also, the developer may be able to donate a different portable building to replace the previously donated one that proved to be structurally unworkable as an office facility.

Directions given

Keller Williams consultants Karsten Musaeus and Dick Liccardi were asked to look for lots that would hold a building of up to 18,000 square feet and up to 90 parking places. The committee discussed using a portion of the recently purchased Union Pacific land that surrounds Limbach Park. Tudor ruled out any parcel right next to the tracks because of unacceptable noise for everyday dispatching operations, trials, and court transcription procedures. He also ruled out using any donated parcel on the west side of the railroad tracks, due to trains blocking the route of police vehicles responding to a call. There was consensus that no location on the west side of I-25 would be as suitable as one in the Wahlborg addition or Jackson Creek.

The committee asked Stearns to request $10,000, half for consultants to prepare preliminary building designs and half to provide for public education leading to a November 2005 bond election to fund construction of the new building. Stearns asked that the department provide him with specific demographics on population and police call source distribution within the town limits.

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m. The BOT meeting then started in the larger conference room.

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings of the PAC are normally held at Town Hall on the first Wednesday of the month.

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Monument Sanitation District Dec. 14

By Jim Kendrick

The effort to dissolve the district as well as the approval of the 2005 budgets, 2005 appropriation, and 2005 mill levy were the main discussion items at the Monument Sanitation District Board (MSD) meeting on Dec. 14. The board also discussed permit issues for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). Monument Trustee Tommie Plank attended the meeting.

Treasurer Ed Delaney reported that the tap fees for 2004 significantly exceeded the budget of $200,000, with $296,792 for 47 new taps received to date. About $2,000 more than expected was also received in specific ownership taxes. About $67,000 spent on studying whether electrolysis would be a useful technology to control copper was redesignated as a capital expenditure in 2004. The total cost to date for consultant attorneys to address the discharge water copper density issue at the WWTF is $96,409.

Joint Use Committee Update

President Lowell Morgan noted that the Palmer Lake Sanitation District had determined it could not afford all the budget items for 2005, and some plant investments were deferred until 2006. Also, the new plant technician hiring date was moved back for an indefinite period to save on additional salary.

Morgan said that the WWTF has its new five-year permit, beginning on Jan. 1. He also said JUC consultant attorney Tad Foster had been successful in negotiating a higher permitted copper level in the facility’s discharge water of 24.8 parts per billion on average and 36.4 parts per billion for a single measurement during the initial compliance period.

Foster said he didn’t believe that the limit would drop as low as previously thought, to 8 parts per billion, when the compliance period was over. He also didn’t believe that the new mercury standards, which are currently projected to be below the threshold of detection for standard tests, would be put in place either. The compliance period runs through the end of 2007.

Morgan said that he believed the plant had been allowed to receive the higher copper limits due in part to the district’s diligence in performing aggressive testing to find the source of the aberrant high readings on a few occasions in 2004. Since those readings were measured, copper levels have remained below to barely above the threshold of detecting any copper levels at all.

Morgan noted that the revised JUC budget for 2005 was approved at the meeting the night before. The MSD board unanimously approved their portion of the JUC budget. Morgan noted that the JUC agreement to have Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District manage administrative aspects of the WWTF operation was extended for 2005.

The JUC will investigate becoming a more independent entity, managing itself, beginning perhaps in 2006, after a new WWTF employee is hired. Morgan added that the estimated price of the new JUC pickup truck dropped nearly $8,000 due to judicious shopping by WWTF manager Bill Burks. Burks has also suggested using the larger blowers that aerate the treatment ponds less frequently and running smaller blowers more continuously, which may yield a small savings.

Dissolution process ends with no signatures submitted

The district’s attorney, Larry Gaddis, reported that another cycle of legal correspondence had been initiated by Ernie Biggs and John Dominowski, who have made several claims that the district had not approved their application for dissolving the district. But Secretary Glenda Smith had approved Bigg’s and Dominowski’s forms on Sept. 15. However, the 90-day period for collecting signatures ended without any being turned in to the district. So far, the district has spent over $5,000 in legal fees to answer several letters submitted by Biggs and Dominowski.

Background: The wording in the "full text of the measure" on the cover letter of this type of application for dissolution of a special district may be anything the submitting constituents choose. Biggs and Dominowski chose to make a reference in the cover letter that indicated the town of Monument might take over district operations. However, Smith required them to eliminate any mention of this in the "summary of the measure" on the forms that constituents would actually sign.

The pertinent Colorado Revised Statute defines the procedures for each of these two parts in different sections. The statute that specifies what a district must do—if it receives enough legal signatures asking for a dissolution to initiate a district court review—gives complete control to the district to formulate a dissolution plan in good faith and then petition the district court to decide whether the special district should be dissolved. If the court thinks that it should consider dissolution, then it decides whether the special district’s proposed plan is appropriate. The statutes do not authorize constituents to participate in or influence the formulation of the dissolution plan.

In an e-mail to Morgan on Aug. 4, Biggs wrote: "Don’t you think it would be much simpler for the Sanitation board would [sic] vote to dissolve on its own and start working with the Town to take over? There are several good reasons to do this and I know you have thought of most of them. However I would like to mention a couple that may mean the most for your board. First the town would not be divided … People could be proud to say the board did the right thing and the battle in the ‘EYE’ is not necessary. Second, If [sic] the board starts the turnover, they might be able to make a few requests. Such as, Mike and the sectary’s [sic] jobs. If the battle is fought to the end who knows what will happen. [sic] … You may also think I might be scared off. I don’t know what you might be thinking but as a [sic] old farm boy I don’t think it takes a head clerk at Wal-Mart to figure out who will win."

(The word "EYE" above refers to the political newsletter called Eye on Monument that Biggs and Dominowski once published, which advocated that Morgan, Smith, and Delaney should be recalled as town trustees during the recall election of 2001.)

On Oct. 21, Gaddis sent Biggs and Dominowski a letter advising them not to tell potential signers that the petition would restrict the takeover of over MSD operations to the town of Monument. While MSD would consider the town as one possible entity for takeover, Gaddis’s letter said, "It would be a violation of the board’s fiduciary duty to restrict itself to only one option." The letter said that if they disagreed, "then it may behoove all of us to seek a declaratory judgment from the court as to the answer to that issue before proceeding."

Biggs and Dominowski never sought such a court decision. Gaddis’s letter also admonished them not to "misrepresent the law to people who may be asked to sign the petition."

On Nov. 12, Biggs wrote the district saying that these words from Gaddis meant that the petition wasn’t approved by the district, even though they only ask that the two not say the town would take over. Biggs asked the district to go to court if it thought that was necessary.

Biggs’ letter also implied that the board could not prevent him from implying to petition signers that the town would take over the district. Biggs’ letter says "We will await your approval again." However, they had already received approval in Smith’s letter of Sept. 15. Biggs’ letter asks the district to give direction on what the district wants.

Discussion: Gaddis told the board that on Dec. 1, he wrote back saying he was "surprised by Biggs’ and Dominowski’s professed confusion." His letter reiterates—with quotations from the attached copies of every previous letter in this legal dialog—that the documentation they submitted was approved on Sept. 15 and that none of their subsequent assertions to date were correct. His letter says:

"After hearing that you represented to the Town of Monument [Board of Trustees] that they were the only entity to be considered in the event of dissolution of the district, I wrote a letter to the two of you on October 21, 2004 again reiterating … that the language that you insisted be placed in the petition did not bind the district to only negotiate with the Town of Monument."

"It appears that the confusion is solely on your part. The district has been consistent throughout this entire process as to the rights and responsibilities of the district board. … you have been on notice since at least the July 20, 2004 meeting that you and I attended, where in I advised the board in your presence, that the board had a legal obligation to negotiate with all appropriate governmental entities to determine the one that could best serve the citizens of the district. It was then and remains now my opinion that ‘the petitioners can not limit the district to only one option for negotiations regardless of what you insisted in putting in the full text of the measure."

Gaddis then reviewed the letter Biggs sent the board on Dec. 7. Biggs wrote that Gaddis was "providing the District only with his opinion as to whether the wording on the petition can reference the town, which we feel is wrong. While there may be no authority specifically granting to the electorate the right to limit the voter initiative petition by stating that the District should deal only with the Town, there is also no authority prohibiting this concept. … The District has approved the petition as written."

Gaddis and the board agreed that this last sentence contradicted all their previous assertions that the board had not approved the petition.

After further discussion, where Gaddis again reviewed each step of the dissolution process and answered board members’ questions, the board noted that the 60-day period for signature gathering had concluded and that no forms had been turned in, ending the matter. Gaddis advised the board that it did not need to refund Biggs’ $300 application fee or reply to his Dec. 7 letter since "the board considers the matter to be closed today."

Wakonda Hills service

The board then agreed to move forward again with the extension of collection lines through the Zonta property, part of which is within Monument’s northern boundary, to Wakonda Hills. District Manager Mike Wicklund was asked to work with Monument’s Public Works department to help achieve resolution on whether Monument would provide water to the county portion of the Zonta parcel without making the owner pay up to $2 million for a new town well and storage tank.

There are existing town water mains that run north along Beacon Lite Road all the way past Wakonda Hills, but the board agreed that the town is not obligated to provide this service outside its boundaries.

Board member Chuck Robinove noted that if the matter cannot be resolved in a timely manner, the district could incur the additional lift station expense to bring all of the Wakonda Hills flow east to its collection lines on the west side of Beacon Lite. Wicklund noted that the county had asked the district to begin the process of extending its services to Wakonda Hills, and he had initiated meeting with the residents and the town to start the process back in 1999.

The board unanimously approved the sewer service plan, with conditions, for Trails End. Wicklund will require the developer to make changes recommended by the district’s consulting engineer, SEH, Inc.

Other business

The board unanimously approved ordinances for its budget for 2005, final amended budget for 2004, appropriation for 2005, amended appropriation for 2004, and a resolution specifying the mill levy for payment of interest and principal on its bond debt, 3.5 mills. The bonds will be paid off at the end of 2007.

The board also approved a $60 rebate for all its constituents for 2005. For homeowners, this will mean three free months of service.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

The next meeting is on Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the MSD office at 130 Second St.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 6

By Sue Wielgopolan

At this last meeting of 2004, the Donala board of directors finalized the budget and certified the mill levy for 2005. The new budget includes a water use rate hike, a tap fee increase, and an increase in water development fees with an equal reduction in sewer development fees. Board member Ed Houle was absent from the proceedings.

Annexation of Donohue/Ellsworth properties

Chaparral Hills residents Gerald and Regina Donohue and Edmund Ellsworth attended the meeting to review, revise, and sign their respective petitions and orders for inclusion into the Donala Water & Sanitation District. The inclusion agreements were similar; both property owners are subdividing their 5-acre properties into two lots and will obtain water from Donala.

The Donohues requested service for both their lots and will relinquish the water rights to the well at their residence. Ellsworth will also be hooking into Donala’s water system for the new lot but intends to continue using the well on the property where the family home is located.

Donala will initially pay half the cost of the new water pipeline and will recoup its investment as new property owners build and link up to Donala’s pipeline. Because the line will also serve as a "loop" for the new development in Struthers Ranch, the builder, Laing Homes, will pay the remainder.

Review and approval of financial statements and check registers

Board members reviewed the financial statements for the past two months instead of the usual one month, as Donala did not meet in November. After clarification of point items by General Manager Dana Duthie and bookkeeper Betsy Bray, the board unanimously approved the financial statements.

Certification of mill levy

The board of directors certified the mill levy for 2005. This paperwork, required by the state of Colorado, allows special districts to tax consumers within their areas at a rate within the limits imposed by TABOR.

The board certified mill levies for Area A (customers receiving water and sewer services), which includes all of Gleneagle, and Area B (those receiving water service only), which includes a small section of Chaparral Hills. Area B residents will be taxed at half the rate of residents in Area A.

Review and approval of 2005 budget and related resolutions

After correcting minor bookkeeping errors and revising numbers from the last two months to reflect actual, as opposed to projected, income and expenditures, members of the board unanimously approved the 2005 budget. The new budget included the following rate changes.

Residential rate changes

  • Water tap fees increased $500, from $5,000 to $5,500

  • Sewer tap fees increased $500, from $5,000 to $5,500

  • Water development fee increased $1,000, from $1,000 to $2,000

  • Sewer development fee decreased $1,000, from $2,000 to $1,000

Commercial rate changes:

  • Water tap fee increased the same percentage as residential, with the cost dependent on the line size:
    ¾-inch line, $5,500
    1-inch line, $5,500
    1½-inch line, $16,000
    2-inch line, $32,000
    2½-inch line, $45,000
    3-inch line, $60,000
    4-inch line, $120,000
    6-inch line, $240,000

  • Sewer tap fee increased the same percentage as residential, to $5,500 for the first 20 fixture units (FU), plus $250 per fixture unit over 20. (However, quality concerns could raise the tap fee; the actual fee will depend upon design and anticipated use. Commercial establishments must also comply with the District Sewer Use Regulations.)

  • Water development fee increased from 20 percent to 40 percent of tap fee

  • Sewer development fee decreased from 40 percent to 20 percent of tap fee

Rate changes common to residential and commercial:

  • Water service rates increased 5 percent to 10 percent from 2004. The minimum service charge per month, which does not include any water, increased from $10 to $11. Incremental rates also increased as follows:

  • Up to 10,000 gallons per month use: 10-cent increase for every 1,000 gallons, from $2.50 to $2.60

  • From 10,001 to 20,000 gallons use: 20-cent increase for every 1,000 gallons, from $3.25 to $3.45

  • From 20,001 to 30,000 gallons use: 20-cent increase for every 1,000 gallons from $3.50 to $3.70

  • From 30,001 to 40,000 gallons use: 25-cent increase for every 1,000 gallons, from $4.00 to $4.25

  • At or above 40,001 gallons use: 25-cent increase for every 1,000 gallons, from $4.75 to $5.00

Golf course rates changed:

  • Potable (tap) water, same as residential customers

  • Reuse water (plant effluent): $2.25 per 1,000 gallons

  • Raw (untreated) well water from Well 5/6

  • Only and pumped at Donala convenience: $2.25 per 1,000 gallons

  • Raw water in addition to reuse (plant effluent) water: $3.00 per 1,000 gallons

  • Augmentation (surface replacement) water: $1.75 per 1,000 gallons

Rates remaining the same:

  • Sewer service rates: $26 per month

  • Non-sufficient check: $25

  • Reconnection fee: $75

  • Lien removal fee: $100

  • Late payment fee: 5 percent per month

  • Disconnect letter: $5 per month

Duthie provided the board with a sheet comparing rate changes between Donala and Colorado Springs, which will also be raising its rates for 2005. Springs residents will be paying about $2.05 more for water and $4.08 more for sewer, for a total increase of $6.13 per month. Donala’s water rate change will be higher, at $3.60 per month, based on an average water use of 13,000 gallons per month for a single-family home.

Sewer charges will not increase, resulting in a lower overall change than neighboring consumers in Briargate.

Donala customers wishing to compare rates of other surrounding communities, such as Woodmoor and Monument, may visit Donala’s Web site at www.donalawater.org for more information.

Other approved expenditures worth noting, which are unique to fiscal year 2005, include:

  • $130,000 for a backup generator, which will enable the district to supply customers with minimal water service for a lengthy period of time in the event of a major power outage. The generator will run on diesel fuel and will be able to supply power to water pumps as long as fuel is available.

  • $30,000 for CAD software to be used to convert current paper copies of graphic information (such as size, age, type, and location of lines and hydrants) to computer files. Doing the conversion in-house will save the district at least $50,000 over the cost of having a contracting firm perform the same function.

Recertification of Gleneagle Enterprise

The board of directors unanimously voted to approve the recertification of the Gleneagle Enterprise. The original documents, signed into effect in June 1995 and establishing the existing enterprise, focused on the district’s function as water provider for the area. Little mention was made of the wastewater and sanitation services also provided by Donala. The new certificate updated the document’s wording to include both functions, without changing the main features of the original charter.

Resolution to reimburse for expenses related to WWTF expansion

Board members approved a resolution extending Donala’s ability to reimburse itself for revenue bond funds or other financing for expenses related to the waste plant expansion beyond IRS limitations. Without the resolution, the district would only be allowed by IRS rules to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred within a two-year window before financing, with no time limit on engineering expenses.

Donala’s board members deemed the resolution necessary to ensure reimbursement of expenses related to its share of the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) expansion, as the anticipated time frame for completion of construction extends over at least a three-year period.

Donala’s estimated share of the total cost of the expansion is roughly $4.5 million, which the district would like to finance, preferably over a 20-year period. However, the board has made no commitment to seek a bond measure to help fund its portion of the expansion. The resolution preserves the legal option to use revenue bonds or other funds retroactively over a longer period of time.

El Paso County Water Authority

Duthie provided a summary of November and December meetings of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA). Pat Ratliff, EPCWA’s lobbyist, reported that the Colorado Legislature is back in session on Jan. 12, with many Western Slope legislators in positions of authority on water committees. She felt this did not bode well for the passage of legislation favorable to Front Range water districts, which are in a vulnerable position because of ongoing drought conditions and rapidly dropping aquifers.

Duthie reported that the first payment of $20,000 has been made to the U.S. Geological Survey for the transit loss model. The EPCWA and the City of Colorado Springs have co-commissioned the study, which they hope will provide a more accurate estimate of the amount of water being returned as treated effluent to the Arkansas by upstream entities.

Participants believe that the study will show they are actually returning more water to the river than the state currently estimates, resulting in higher water credits and the ability to resell the additional water. The participating agencies also worked out and approved budget shares for 2005. Donala’s share totaled $8,034.

In other business, members of EPCWA nominated the slate of officers for 2005. They include: president, Larry Bishop of Widefield; vice president, Betty Konarski of Monument; secretary, Stu Loosely of Cherokee; secretary, Dana Duthie of Donala (current); and members-at-large, Ann Nichols and Roy Heald.

The next meeting of the EPCWA, during which elections will take place, is Jan. 5 at 9 a.m. in the 3rd floor hearing room of the El Paso County Office Building, 27 E. Vermijo.

Operational projects

The redrill of Well 1 has been completed and the well pump tested. The newly installed pipe is smaller in diameter than the previous pipe, since the older pipe size is no longer manufactured. The smaller diameter will result in greater friction loss and a smaller "head" (lower pressure at the top of the well).

Expected to be up and running before the end of 2004, the well will still deliver 650 gallons/minute. Some dredging of the pond used to drill the well still remains to be done. Because Donala was allowed to use the existing pond near the Muirfield patio homes, instead of having to dig and fill their own pit, the district enjoyed substantial cost savings.

The drilling and associated work on Well 8a is also complete. The well is currently operational.

Work on the Baptist Road pipeline was pushed into 2005. Budget allocations were carried over from 2004, resulting in no additional expenditures. The engineering firm GMS is presently working on the design which, when complete, will carry water from Tari Drive (including water from Wells 8a, 11, and 12) to the plant on Holbein Drive. Work is expected to be completed in 2005.

The southern sewer interceptor section running from the south end of Falcon’s Nest III to the south end of the Academy View storage buildings has been completed. The interceptor was installed in anticipation of serving future construction to the west of Struthers Road. The interceptor pipe is also large enough to accommodate all sewage generated by Donala at present, should the need arise to transport waste to the Colorado Springs system.

WWTF expansion update

Donala, Tri-Lakes, and Forest Lakes Estates are still awaiting approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat plan. Even though the WWTF expansion itself will not affect mouse habitat, work cannot begin until the railroad crossing is moved to accommodate construction equipment. The crossing lies within mouse habitat and cannot be completed until the federal approval is granted.

Duthie expressed additional concerns about the safety of the crossing, as a crossing gate is not required. Duthie was also concerned about the distance in the initial plans between the WWTF gate (which would be closed) and the railroad crossing. Longer trucks might be caught on the railroad crossing while waiting for the treatment facility gates to open. (Note: To provide a margin of safety for railroad operators and truck drivers, the plans were later changed to increase that distance.)

Developer updates

A tentative agreement has been reached with James Barash over location of an easement across his property for a sewer main to serve a two-story, 30,000-square-foot office space to be built by Executive Custom Construction. Written finalization should take place in January. The sewer pipeline will be large enough to serve commercial properties north of the new building, which will be located across from People’s National Bank in Gleneagle.

A developer has approached Donala to discuss improvements necessary to convert the former dentist’s office space in the Gleneagle shopping center into a Laundromat.

Duthie determined that in order to ensure that water service to existing businesses in the complex would not be impaired, extensive modifications would be needed to provide adequate supply to such a water-intensive operation. This would include retapping the main to install a dedicated line of at least 1½ inches in diameter.

Additionally, the relatively small size of the existing 4-inch sewer line at that site would probably be insufficient to handle the sudden high-capacity demands on the wastewater disposal system without negatively impacting other businesses using the same lines.

The board agreed with Duthie’s assessment that such problems would need to be satisfactorily addressed before Donala would agree to provide service.

2005 meeting schedule

The Donala Board of Directors announced the meeting dates for 2005. Generally, meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month. However, some meeting dates have been adjusted to accommodate board members’ schedules. Those dates are: Friday, Jan. 7; Monday, March 28; Wed., April 27; and Wed., May 25. All meetings start at 1:30 p.m. and will be held at 15850 Holbein Drive in Gleneagle.

Meeting dates and times are always posted at the district office at 15850 Holbein, People’s National Bank on Gleneagle Drive; and next to the Donala drop box in the Gleneagle shopping center. Any changes to the meeting schedule will be posted at those locations at least 72 hours before the scheduled meeting.

The public portion of Donala’s board meeting was adjourned before 3 p.m. The board of directors then went into executive session to consider financial, legal, security, and/or personnel matters.

The next meeting will be Jan. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the district office at 15850 Holbein Drive. To accommodate consultants traveling from Denver, the meeting will start with an executive session. The open session will start at approximately 2:30 p.m.

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Triview Metro District, Dec. 9

By Jim Kendrick

The Triview Metropolitan District Board approved its amended budget for 2004 at its meeting on Dec. 9. Consultant Rick Blevins of Vision Development resigned as the district’s construction manager and bond holder representative.

Monument Planning Status

District Manager Ron Simpson noted that he had told Ron Murphy of Hammers Construction, the developer of The Timbers commercial center, that unless Walters Commons began construction first, Hammers would be obligated to help fund drilling Triview’s next commercial well. Simpson said he was assisting Monument Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg until they hired a planner to replace Mike Davenport.

District Engineer’s Report

Nolte Associates Inc. consultant engineer Chuck Ritter said he had participated in the district’s first meeting with the state and county health departments regarding the installation of sequenced batch reaction (SBR) wastewater treatment equipment at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) that Triview owns with Donala and Forest Lakes Water and Sanitation Districts. Ritter said the meeting went well with both departments acknowledging that the SBR process was not a new technology, even though the equipment to be installed was from a new manufacturer for this area. The health departments’ questions about consolidation with Colorado Springs Utilities were dropped once they understood that the WWTF served several districts, rather than being used only by a single special district.

Construction Manager’s Report

Vision Development consultant Rick Blevins discussed his concerns about the striping on Jackson Creek Parkway. He said that on recent drives along this road, he noted there were spots were the striping was almost non-existent, justifying the board’s earlier decision not to pay the striping contractor. He added that the snow removal contractor, Timberline, had been putting down too much sand. The street sweeper, contracted from the town of Monument, does not vacuum up the sand, only brushing it into a collector. He said the combination of excessive sand and poor sweeping has led to the stripes eroding faster than expected, creating a problem seeing them in the daytime that is even worse at night. He recommended a repaint on a warm day after a big rain using epoxy paint, which is less expensive than hot vinyl. Simpson noted that there was no money in the budget for repainting; however the town is buying a new sweeper that will have a vacuum to cut down on the large blowing dust clouds generated by the current sweeper. He also noted that the sweeping contract cost is going up.

Board member Julie Glenn asked if it was safer not to sweep the sand to keep more of the paint from being rubbed off by the excessive sand. Blevins said an option was to have the painting contractor vacuum up any residual sand just before re-striping the road. Simpson said that he could contract with the Colorado Springs Department of Transportation (DOT) to perform the re-striping as was recommended to him by El Paso County’s DOT. Blevins again noted that the predicted re-striping cost of about $20,000 for Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive was not budgeted.

Blevins said he had just met with the Army Corps of Engineers in Pueblo to discuss the array of mouse and wetland mitigation issues the district is dealing with regarding development and Baptist Road construction. Blevins noted that Colorado DOT has raised the priority of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange funding and that the other Baptist Road improvements would eventually be funded by the just-passed Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) one-cent sales tax.

Monument and Palmer Lake voted not to participate in the PPRTA. Blevins said BRRTA will still be working on the widening project since it is a county road other than within the I-25 interchange. County Commissioner Wayne Williams has kept the portion of Baptist Road from the interstate to Leather Chaps on the "A" list for PPRTA funding. The I-25 bridge deck will cost between $7 million and $8 million, he added. All this road construction affects start dates for several of the Monument Marketplace stores and The Timbers. However, he said that the town was extending the completion date requirement that would have otherwise precluded any new construction. No start date has been announced for widening Baptist Road even though the town had said widening had to be completed before the Home Depot could open for business.

Blevins submitted several snowplowing invoices from Timberline to District Administrator Dale Hill, noting that Monument Marketplace would hire a different contractor for 2005. He also said that Saddle Tree had contributed its share for sidewalks and park equipment within its new development.

Bond Holder’s Report

Blevins expressed disappointment in the $750,000 of interest paid to the principal subordinated bondholders, the Phelans, which was considerably less than what was owed. He questioned the board’s accounting and the size of the end-of-year reserve of approximately $500,000. Hill said the district needed that large an emergency reserve to cover catastrophic water or sewer system failures and to pay its bills until receipts start to come in late in the first quarter. Blevins said, "You can’t just re-finance it all."

Blevins then said he had never received a final 2005 budget to give to the bond holders even though it was approved on Nov. 17. Simpson said he was surprised by Blevins’ statement, adding, "You get everything the board does," and "I put the packets together." Chairman Steve Stephenson said that next year the board would have a budget work session to make sure all issues were resolved well before including them in the final budget.

Blevins then said he was "resigning as construction manager effective immediately." After some further board discussion regarding the reason for this decision, Blevins also said he was resigning as bond holder representative and said the board should let Simpson do that work. He said there had been no contract signed for him to continue in 2005. Stephenson asked the district’s attorney if he had any comments on whether Blevins could resign, and Pete Susemihl said "None." Then Blevins left the meeting.

District Manager’s Report

Simpson briefly reviewed end-of-year budget items that produced the changes that the board had to approve as revisions to the original 2004 budget. The board then unanimously approved the amended final budget for 2004.

Simpson also made the following remarks:

  • Work on the Monument Creek sewer interceptor is held up for now by federal delays regarding an "implementing agreement." Changes were made to the document so that it is now "parallel to the mouse habitat conservation plan."

  • The district has applied for a 50-50 $34,000 Great Outdoor Colorado parks grant.

  • An un-named restaurant has asked for tap fee information.

  • The board should "read between the lines" on his written report about negotiations to provide water and sewer service to the Watt family’s Foxworth-Galbraith parcel and the adjacent two 5-acre undeveloped lots to the north.

  • Average water consumption for Jackson Creek in November was down to 176,000 gallons per day from 606,000 gallons per day in June, affecting water receipts. Stephenson said the difference in usage was "really scary for a partially developed site," implying his concern for the district paying for enough peak capacity for the summer with very low revenues in the winter.

  • A difference in position with Donala on how large an actual cash reserve must be kept on hand for the SBR construction project to comply with the intergovernmental agreement for the WWTF has not been resolved; Donala wants Triview to have all the cash the project requires to be placed in a bank account.

District Administrator’s Report

The contracts for the district accountant and auditor were unanimously extended through the end of 2005. The board also unanimously approved payment of any other bills that come due before the end of the year; another amendment to the 2004 budget will be made when they are all paid.

The meeting went into executive session at 5:45 p.m. to discuss personnel and pending litigation issues.

**********

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 p.m., at the district offices, 174 North Washington St.

The next meeting will be held Jan. 26.

For further information, contact the Triview Metropolitan District at 488-6868.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 14

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation (W&S) Board of Directors began the Dec. 14 meeting by discussing finances for 2004 and approving the budget for 2005. All members were present for this last meeting of the year. Others in attendance included: Jessie Shaffer, district engineer; Randy Gillette, operations superintendent; Erin Smith, attorney for the Woodmoor district; Paul Gilbert, engineer with the engineering firm RTW; and Charlie Stanzione of the water consulting firm Bishop-Brogden Associates, Inc.

Jim Wyss reported that the district is above projected income and expenses for the 2004 fiscal year. Several reasons were cited for the overruns, including projects that were carried over from 2003, and higher than anticipated income resulting from construction within the district.

General manager Phil Steininger then stated that because they had exceeded expenditures, last year’s budget must be changed through the state process. Smith will assist in amending the 2004 budget before the March 31 deadline.

Rate changes

There was little discussion regarding rate changes for 2005, which are minimal; the preliminary budget had been discussed at length in previous meetings. The district published an announcement in the Tribune stating that copies of the 2005 budget, which includes water and sewer rates, can be obtained at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, located at 1845 Woodmoor Dr.

The monthly service charge will increase for residential and commercial customers. For residential customers, the service charge will rise from $4.80 to $5.40 per month for a ¾-inch residential tap. Block rates for residential water will remain unchanged from 2004.

Monthly service charges for larger (commercial only) taps have increased as follows:

  • 1-inch tap: from $9.40 to $12.11

  • 1½-inch tap: from $16.97 to $23.29

  • 2-inch tap: from $26.04 to $36.71

The commercial block waste water rate increased from $2.60 to $2.85 per 1,000 gallons.

Residential sewer rates for 2005 remained unchanged. Commercial sewer rates did increase, to a base rate of $22.96 per month. Since no customers from the Woodmoor district attended the meeting, public discussion was waived and the budget was unanimously accepted.

New garage

The budget for this year includes $250,000 for a new prefabricated vehicle garage. Presently, equipment is parked in the open year-round. The board inquired about the time frame needed to complete the garage. Paul Gilbert, consulting engineer for RTW, stated that once the building was fabricated and delivered, it could be assembled in about a month. He anticipated that it would take about four months to build.

Members decided that a tentative start date in June or July would be sufficient to meet their dual goals of postponing the cost until revenues are available and completing the garage before winter. Design work for the garage will probably begin in early March.

Joint Use Committee briefing

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s delegate to the Joint Use Committee, gave the board an update on the committee’s recent meeting and handed out a brief summary. Some highlights:

Bill Burks, plant manager at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), has been working to improve the unacceptably high nitrogen levels in the two treatment basins. By changing the amount of time the blowers aerating the basins operate, he can increase or decrease the rate at which bacteria metabolize the organic waste. Since nitrate and ammonia (both nitrogen compounds) are by-products of the actions of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, cutting back on or increasing aeration in the ponds helps control the balance between the two types of bacteria, eliminating an excess of either compound. Burks has found a balance of on-and-off times for the blowers that works well for the present level of waste entering the facility.

Three contractors have been prequalified to submit bids for the new WWTF lab. Bid packages are expected back from the contractors around Jan. 15, with construction expected to begin around mid-March. Increased space requirements make the new lab facility necessary, and new state requirements increase the frequency of water quality tests.

Operations updates

Ongoing problems with Well 8 have prompted the board to question whether it is nearing the end of its life expectancy. The well, one of the oldest in the district, is also one of the lowest producers. Because it is also the deepest, pumping costs are higher.

Recent videotapes taken of the interior revealed that the piping is corroded. A 4-inch diameter drop pipe will replace the corroded area. In addition, the well pump was replaced in 2004 at a cost of $50,000.

A recent analysis of water quality for Well 8 showed a high level of iron bacteria. Though they pose no health threat to consumers, the bacteria do proliferate rapidly and are clogging the pump and screen. This type of bacteria is aggressive enough to require chemical treatment. After Jan. 1, the district will insert a 1-inch PVC line, treat the well with high-strength chlorine, and then immediately lift out all material. The procedure will not affect water quality, as all chemicals will be removed from the well before it resumes operation.

Several water mains experienced breaks this past fall, including two each in September, October, and November. Most occur in cast-iron pipes, which are prevalent in older parts of the district. The breaks appear to be primarily shear breaks in the center of the main rather than at the joints and could possibly be caused by fractures in the internal cement lining, combined with ground movement on the outside.

Steininger wants to track the breaks, as he feels Woodmoor may be better off financially by eventually replacing the old iron water mains with PVC, rather than repairing them.

The sewer pipe lining operation for this year was completed in mid-December at a cost of approximately $350,000 for 2004. Gillette stated the district cleaned and video checked the mains, then performed spot repair or lined clay sewer mains where needed. Approximately 9,000 feet (almost 2 miles) of mains were lined with PVC this past year. (In 2003, when Woodmoor initiated cleaning and video checking, the district lined about half a mile of clay sewer main.) The 2005 budget includes an allocation of $150,000 to continue the process.

Clay sewer pipes were installed up until 1974, at which time the district switched over to PVC pipe. Of the almost 85 miles of sewer pipe in the district, about 15 to 20 miles consist of the older and less-durable clay. Over the next few years, Woodmoor will continue to use power cleaning and video monitoring to identify small areas needing spot repairs and larger sections with more extensive corrosion where a PVC liner will provide better coverage.

Water fill station proposed

Board members discussed the problem of providing water to building contractors. At present, contractors in the district have purchased a tap for construction water. The district curtailed the use of fire hydrants for construction water several years ago. Unfortunately, the sudden discharge of high volumes of water from hydrant use can stir up "red" water (water containing rust sediment), clouding customers’ water and in some cases making flushing operations necessary.

Steininger proposed looking into the feasibility of creating a water fill station to serve contractors. A water fill station is a pump station designed to provide a water source primarily for construction purposes. He stated such a station might provide several thousand dollars a year in additional income. The station could operate using card readers, which would accept cards of pre-purchased value. After dispensing a chosen amount of water to the customer, the value of each purchase would be subtracted from the value of the card.

Board members discussed at length the feasibility, costs, and benefits of providing water at different levels of treatment, including potable, nonpotable, untreated well, and surface water. This prompted discussion on whether recreational vehicle owners might also be allowed to use the water station and whether to provide a dump station. While members of the board didn’t mind RV owners using the water station, they rejected the idea of providing sewer service for a dump station.

Members then discussed possible building designs and suitable locations for a water fill station. Prefabricated corrugated metal units, also known as hot boxes, are commonly used for similar stations. However, the board felt a more attractive brick and stucco exterior would be appropriate in this district, particularly if the station were built in or near a residential area.

All members agreed that the building design would be chiefly determined by whether the neighboring areas are residential, commercial, or industrial, and that any such building would be designed to be compatible with its surroundings. The impact of construction and possible RV traffic on nearby homeowners would be a major consideration in choosing a site.

The board discussed making mutually beneficial arrangements with contractors for building a station, such as trading services for construction. For example, since the Wahlborg property would be one of the most immediate beneficiaries of a water fill station, board members may propose that the contractor build the station in lieu of paying a tap fee for construction water.

The board asked district staff to research demand, impact, costs, and other aspects related to water fill stations.

Discussion of water bill problems

Steininger informed the board that on average six to eight customers per year see a sharp spike in their billed water usage, sometimes exceeding 6,000 to 10,000 gallons over their average residential bill for one month. In cases where the cause has been investigated by the district, and no reasonable explanation for the large difference in usage can be found, Steininger requested approval from the board to negotiate an equitable reduction in charges.

He and the board members agreed it would be unfair to assume that the customer was always at fault. They reasoned that, when blame could not be assigned, it was fair to split the charges with the consumer, since they have no way of verifying that the meter is always working accurately.

The board weighed the arguments and decided to allow Steininger to use his own judgment in determining fair and equitable settlements in bill disputes.

Presentation by consultants

Charlie Stanzione, geohydrologist with the consulting firm Bishop-Brogden Associates, Inc., reported to the board regarding its studies. One of the firm’s purposes in working with the Woodmoor district is to optimize operations by identifying ways to pump, move, store, and generally use water in the most financially efficient way possible. Hydrologists are also helping the district maximize the use of wastewater effluent credits, which can be exchanged for upstream water (with no additional cost).

Approval of construction quality standards

Jesse Shaffer presented the final version of the new Construction Quality Control Standards to the board. At the November meeting, the board had reviewed, revised, and approved the draft for the standards, with final approval pending review by attorney Smith.

The new standards place the burden on the contractor to hire a consulting engineer or employ one in-house to verify conformance with the water and sewer designs approved by the district’s engineers. In the past, the district footed the bill by hiring a consulting engineer or using district engineers to visit the construction site and check for compliance.

The new standards require that daily paperwork with the contractor’s engineer’s seal be submitted to verify that the work was being completed as specified, including proper testing where needed. As added incentive to ensure that a qualified engineer is on site and completing the required paperwork, district engineers may ask that the work be uncovered at the contractor’s expense, should they have reason to doubt that the work was done according to approved designs.

The Woodmoor board unanimously approved the new standards, which will be instituted immediately.

Resolution amending rules and regulations regarding grease traps and grease interceptors

With more commercial spaces being built in Woodmoor, the board felt it necessary to clarify requirements specifying the design and use of grease traps and grease interceptors to capture insoluble solid waste and prevent clogging or damage to the district’s sewer lines. Previously, the district had no clear policies regarding grease traps.

The resolution was necessary to clarify formerly vague regulations so that business owners are clear as to what will be required of them in order for the district to provide sewer service. Board members unanimously passed the resolution.

Richard Durham resigns

Board member Richard Durham, who recently purchased a home in Gleneagle, submitted his letter of resignation, effective Jan. 10. Board members are required to live within the Woodmoor district in order to serve. The Woodmoor board had already begun advertising for candidates to fill the remainder of Durham’s term, which runs until May 2006. After reviewing résumés, the board selected an interim member, whose name will be announced at the next meeting.

The meeting went into executive session and then adjourned.

The next meeting will take place at 1 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the district conference room of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board, Dec. 16

By Tommie Plank

Superintendent Dave Dilley reported that the Colorado School Report Cards for 2003-04 have been released. All District 38 schools improved in their index numbers. Out of 10 sites (Monument Academy is divided into two sites for reporting purposes), six schools were rated "Excellent" and four were rated "High."

"These are great report cards," Dilley stated, "and we are so proud of our students and teachers. We are also grateful to the parents who support excellence in education. The district is committed to continuous improvement and will evaluate the numbers behind these reports and adjust educational programs accordingly."

The Board approved revisions to the director district boundaries as required by law every four years in order to maintain representation in each of the five districts as nearly equal as possible. The population of each of the five director districts is now within 2 percent of being equal to the others.

Two dates were set for orientation sessions for prospective school board members. Hugh Eaton, Director District No. 1, and Robert Manning, Director District No. 3, will be leaving this year due to term limitations. People interested in serving on the school board can find out more about the requirements, responsibilities, and time commitment at the sessions on March 31 and April 28.

Julie Robertson, literacy teacher at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, was recognized for being named one of four finalists for Colorado Teacher of the Year by the Department of Education. She addressed the Board, saying that what makes District 38 successful is its focus on doing what is best for kids and the cooperative efforts by all staff. After 34 years as an educator, she feels that recognition of good work is what keeps teachers motivated to continue to do better.

Hal Garland, Director of Transportation, presented an advanced draft of the new District Crisis Plan that will provide overall guidance, assistance, and support to the schools; allocate district resources as needed during a crisis; and establish the minimum requirements for each school’s plan.

There are two volumes to this plan. Volume I, the Immediate Response Emergency Action Plan, contains a list of district team members and their responsibilities, command center requirements, a notification chart for emergencies, and other resources and information to assist specific schools in implementing their plans under various scenarios. Volume II, the Crisis Prevention and Mitigation Measures, includes threat assessments, site surveys, and school specific measures. This is a "living" document that will be updated as needed.

Mary Ann Wiggs provided an overview of the Title programs that are funded under Consolidated Federal Grants. The entire application was approved in the amount of $300,000 for several programs to improve student achievement. The extensive application process, which must be refiled each year, requires setting database goals for the purpose of improving student achievement for all students. The application was reviewed by separate committees to ensure that the district was in compliance with guidelines for each of the funding sources.

The grant, covering federal funds for Title 1, Title II, Title IV, and Title V programs, is monitored by the Colorado Department of Education under the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind act. Because the district met the annual yearly progress criteria of the act, no additional improvement plan was required for the application.

Executive Director Linda Williams-Blackwell updated the Board on all facets of Special Programs and Services in the district. Currently 8.6 percent of the K-12 student population receives special services, which is below the state average of 10 percent. However, the number of students in the Special Education Program in District 38 has grown from 180 students in 1990 to 485 as of December 1, 2004. The preschool program is growing, and an additional program site will be needed next year.

Williams-Blackwell stated that the philosophy of the district, which is to address special education needs as early as possible, is best for kids and is also highly efficient and cost effective. The board voiced support for continuing and expanding this program as needed.

Lewis-Palmer High School junior Mike Vanwirt entertained the Board with his musical performance of the first movement of "Two Mexican Dances" and "Frogs" on a marimba. He has been selected to the Bands of America National Honor Band, along with senior Scott Limbird.

A Board commendation was presented to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for their continued support of the school district. Each year, the club gives a large portion of the funds they raise to District 38 schools for mini-grant projects that benefit students.

Last year, $18,000 was distributed among the nine schools in the district. Sharolyn Hoskinson, president, and Ann Malone, granting committee chair, accepted the commendation on behalf of the club.

School Resource Officer Sean Ives was also presented with a commendation certificate for his dedication to Lewis-Palmer High School students, staff, and parents. He is a deputy sheriff for El Paso County and stated that working at LPHS has been a highlight of his career.

The next regular meeting of the Lewis-Palmer School Board will be Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in the District Learning Center in the Inez-Lewis Administration Building.

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BRRTA board, Dec. 16

By John Heiser

The regular quarterly meeting of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board of directors was held Dec. 10 at Monument Town Hall.

The BRRTA board is composed of three county commissioners (Jim Bensberg, Chuck Brown, and Wayne Williams) and two Monument representatives (Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee David Mertz). Due to other commitments, Bensberg had to leave prior to the end of the meeting. This was Brown’s last meeting as a BRRTA board member. He was term limited as county commissioner and will leave office Jan. 10.

2004 Financial Report

Conner Shepherd, BRRTA project manager, distributed copies of an accountant’s report showing actual figures through Aug. 30 and estimating year-end figures for calendar year 2004.

Total budgeted expenses for 2004 were $639,750. Actual expenses through Aug. 30 totaled $107,547. The largest discrepancies between the budgeted and actual expenditures were in the areas of engineering and right-of-way (ROW) acquisition.

Engineering was budgeted at $475,000. Actual engineering expenses through Aug. 30 totaled $84,949, but were projected to grow to $222,357 by the end of the year. At past meetings, Shepherd attributed the wide disparity to delays in the engineering work due to switching engineering consultants from Loris and Associates to Post, Buckley, Schuh, and Jernigan (PBS&J).

ROW acquisition in 2004 was budgeted at $30,000, but so far no funds have been expended. ROW acquisition is awaiting completion of PBS&J’s design work.

District revenue was budgeted at $295,000. Actual revenue through Aug. 30 was $91,069. Shepherd noted that the 2004 budget assumed receipt of a $253,750 impact fee ($1.25 per square foot) for the proposed 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store on Baptist Road. In July, the county commissioners turned down Wal-Mart’s proposal.

During 2004, the fund balance is projected to decline from $433,699 to $279,009.

2005 Budget

Shepherd projected revenues for 2005 at $233,000. He said this was based on conversations with the Monument planning department and Triview Metropolitan District manager Ron Simpson.

Rick Blevins, representing Jackson Creek developer Vision Development, Inc., estimated that 100 to 110 new single-family houses would be built in Jackson Creek during 2005. BRRTA receives a $500 impact fee for each new single-family house built within the district, which includes Jackson Creek and other areas near Baptist Road. Blevins estimated that 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of commercial space would be built within or near the Monument Marketplace during 2005 but said the number could go as high as 300,000 square feet.

Ron Murphy of Hammers Construction, which is proposing the Timbers project, added that they might construct 125,000 square feet of commercial space in 2005. When completed, the Timbers project would consist of 282,000 square feet of commercial space on 57 acres north and east of Foxworth-Galbraith, between the Home Depot store and Baptist Road.

The budget projected $231,526 in engineering expense, $30,000 for ROW acquisition, $19,500 for district management, $10,000 for legal fees, and $3,600 for accounting. The contingency was proposed at $100,000, with a projected ending fund balance of $115,733.

Williams suggested increasing the contingency to $215,733 leaving a projected ending fund balance of zero.

James Hunsaker from law firm Grimshaw & Harring, attorney for the district, said, "By appropriating the funds, they can be moved fairly freely between categories."

With that change, the board unanimously adopted the budget for 2005 and appropriated the funds.

Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA)

Williams distributed copies of a draft roadway capital improvement project list to be considered by the PPRTA board. Voters at the November election approved the PPRTA. Williams noted that the PPRTA board will hold its first meeting Jan. 3, 1:30 p.m., at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) office. The 1 percent PPRTA sales tax authorized by the voters is projected to generate about $35 million to $38 million per year for capital improvement projects.

Out of the 45 projects considered top priority in the draft project list, seven are in the Tri-Lakes area, including:

  • (#1) Baptist Road widening, Mitchell Avenue to I-25, estimated total cost $750,000.

  • (#6) Baptist railroad crossing, west of I-25, estimated total cost $2.6 million.

  • (#9) Baptist Road-Hodgen Road connection, estimated total cost $1.07 million, proposed for construction in 2005.

  • (#10) County Line Road upgrade, I-25 to Furrow Road, estimated total cost $2.15 million, proposed for construction in phases 2005-2009.

  • (#12) Hodgen Road upgrade to arterial, Rollercoaster Road to Eastonville Road, estimated total cost $12 million, proposed for construction in phases 2005-2009.

  • (#19) Baptist Road widening, I-25 to Tari Drive, estimated total cost $6.2 million, proposed for construction 2005-2006.

  • (#20) Struthers Road-Jackson Creek Parkway connection, Falcon’s Nest to Baptist Road, estimated total cost $2.2 million, proposed for construction 2005-2006.

Williams added that the county is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to increase the priority of the improvements to the I-25 Baptist Road interchange to coordinate with the proposed Baptist Road improvement projects.

Glenn noted that CDOT has estimated it might be up to 10 years before funding would be available for the project. He added that the Marketplace developer is committed to $1.2 million of Baptist Road improvements and the Timbers developer might contribute another $1 million. He said PPACG representatives have told him, "There is some money out there." He remarked, "Hopefully, the bridge will be built in the next year to year and a half."

Engineering design

Stephen Sandvik, transportation design project engineer for PBS&J, presented an engineering design report.

Sandvik said the preliminary plan and profiles have been set from Jackson Creek Parkway to 2,000 feet east of Desiree. He estimated the costs of the improvements:

  • East side of Jackson Creek Parkway to Leather Chaps, ROW acquisition $420,000, construction $2.3 million, total $2.72 million.

  • Leather Chaps to 2,000 feet east of Desiree Drive, ROW acquisition $500,000, construction $2.3 million, total $2.8 million.

  • Frontage road from Leather Chaps to access the Lutheran church and properties east of the church, ROW $400,000, construction $280,000, total $780,000.

The total estimated cost is $6.2 million.

Sandvik said that at the direction of the BRRTA board, PBS&J looked into converting the current right-in/right-out intersection on Baptist Road at the east side of the King Soopers shopping center to a full motion intersection. He noted that county engineering staff, including John McCarty, county engineer and head of the county department of transportation, oppose making it a full motion intersection. He said the slopes adjacent to that part of Baptist Road mean "a significant profile change is required over the existing configuration."

Sandvik estimated the cost at $220,000, with $10,000 for design and $210,000 for construction. He added that moving the intersection east to increase the distance from the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection would create significant problems of slopes or Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat mitigation.

The board postponed a decision on the full motion intersection until a traffic impact analysis of the proposal is completed.

Sandvik also reported on PBS&J’s analysis of a frontage road from Leather Chaps west for access to the Lutheran church and properties east of the church, the third item in the list of improvements shown above. He noted that the road would require outright purchase of Chaparral Hills lot 42, a 4.8-acre parcel owned by Carlos and Deanna Quiterio purchased in January 2001 for $87,000, and significant ROW acquisition along the north side of the other three parcels.

He said, "It is very possible that costs will exceed $400,000 for right-of-way acquisition." He also observed that the frontage road would pass close to one of the existing houses.

After Bensberg left, the board unanimously authorized PBS&J to prepare legal descriptions in anticipation of ROW acquisition for the frontage road. That ROW acquisition could require use of eminent domain. Sandvik said the legal descriptions would be completed within a month.

Sandvik was also authorized to complete a final design for Baptist Road from I-25 to Leather Chaps Road.

Steve Behrens of engineering consulting firm Nolte and Associates presented his preliminary design for the connection of Struthers Road from the Falcon’s Nest development south of Baptist Road to Jackson Creek Parkway. He said it is to be a four-lane minor arterial road with raised median, curb and gutter.

Behrens noted that the Struthers Ranch developer is constructing a box culvert crossing of Black Forest Creek and the road south of the planned cross-street, Air Garden. He said the road the Struthers Ranch developer is constructing will be a rural cross-section road with a depressed median and no curb or gutter.

Behrens said one of the issues with the project is that the ROW will encroach on the CDOT mouse habitat conservation property between the new road and I-25. He added CDOT is supportive of the project because they are interested in removing the existing Struthers frontage road.

Behrens noted that other issues with the project include existing electric lines, telephone lines, and a sewer interceptor pipe. He said his design requires ROW acquisition from five properties in Chaparral Hills.

Behrens noted that the design is to be finalized in March with ROW acquisition starting this summer. He added that the proximity to mouse habitat would constrain construction from June through September.

Brown to leave office

Williams expressed appreciation for Brown’s many years dealing with transportation issues for the county and the state. He noted that Brown has served on the BRRTA board since the authority was formed.

Glenn added, "Commissioner Brown has been like a father to me since 1997 in my involvement with regional building. I owe a great deal to him."

Regarding BRRTA, Brown said, "We haven’t built much road, but we did a lot of planning."

Potential inclusions

Hunsaker asked whether the board was interested in authorizing a "proactive search for properties to force inclusions in BRRTA." Discussion of the suggestion was postponed to the Jan. 14 meeting.

Future of BRRTA

Noting that BRRTA is supported by impact fees on new construction, Williams said, "It is fair that growth pay part of the cost for Baptist Road. It is an equity issue." He added that additional engineering design will be needed over the new few years and so BRRTA should continue.

Meeting schedule

The board unanimously approved holding its regular meetings on the second Friday of the first month of each quarter (Jan. 14, April 8, July 8, and Oct. 14), with the location alternating between the Board of County Commissioners hearing room (Jan. 14 and July 8) and Monument Town Hall (April 8 and Oct. 14).

Meeting notices will be posted on the bulletin boards at King Soopers and First Bank.

**********

The next meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 14, 2:30 p.m., at the 3rd floor hearing room in the county building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs.

Articles on prior Baptist Road-related meetings are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#baptist. There is also background info at http://adm.elpasoco.com/transprt/baptist_rd.asp and www.coalitiontlc.org/baptist_road.htm.

To get more information and provide comments on the Baptist Road Improvement Project, contact: Conner Shepherd, BRRTA Project Manager, 303-779-4525, connershepherd@cliftoncpa.com.

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NEPCO meeting Dec. 4 featured Commissioner Williams

View photos of the Dec. 4 NEPCO meeting and the PPRTA project list distributed at the meeting 

By John Heiser

At the Dec. 4 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), County Commissioner Wayne Williams presented information on a variety of topics and responded to residents’ questions and comments. Williams represents District 1, which includes the Tri-Lakes area and extends south to Flintridge and Academy in Colorado Springs.

About 20 people attended the meeting. Numerous northern El Paso County homeowner associations and residential areas were represented at the meeting, including Academy View, Bent Tree, Chaparral Hills, Falcon’s Nest, Gleneagle, King’s Deer, Pastimes, Timber View, and Woodmoor.

NEPCO President Beth Courrau introduced Williams.

County Revenues

Williams said El Paso County is more dependent on sales tax revenue than many other Colorado counties. He noted that it has the same 1 percent sales tax as Douglas County but the property tax rate is 8 mills compared to 22 mills in Douglas County.

Williams added that on Jan. 1, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) will start receiving a 1 percent sales tax that applies throughout the county except within municipalities such as Monument and Palmer Lake that opted out of the PPRTA.

Transportation – Regional projects

Williams noted that so far, I-25 improvements in the Pikes Peak region have been designed to address safety issues rather than focusing on increasing capacity. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is now looking at I-25 capacity improvements. He noted that there are $140 million in transportation funds available and said, "I expect more cone zones over the next three years."

He added that much of the construction would be within Colorado Springs.

He noted that the realignment of the intersection of Highway 83 and Shoup Road is in progress. He said that when completed, Highway 83 would be four lanes wide to the top of the hill north of the intersection.

In response to a question, Williams said the extension of Powers Boulevard to I-25 is "a long way out."

Transportation – PPRTA and BRRTA projects

Williams distributed copies of a draft roadway capital improvement project list to be considered by the PPRTA board. [A discussion of the draft project list appears in the BRRTA article that appears above.]

Williams said, "If the plan is approved by the PPRTA board, we will see some real progress on Baptist Road."

He added that the Baptist Road connection to Hodgen Road and the improvements to Hodgen Road will create a 14-mile-long east-west connection.

In response to a question, Williams acknowledged that right-of-way acquisition might require use of eminent domain. He said, "We will work with the landowners first."

Transportation – County Projects

Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Board President John Ottino noted that the traffic through South Woodmoor from the north and east has worsened. In particular, Fairplay, Caribou, and Cloverleaf are being used for through traffic heading to Higby Road. Ottino said traffic from the high school, King Soopers, the opening of the Monument Marketplace, I-25 access for southbound commuters, and increases in population to the north and east are contributing factors.

He expressed concern that the increasing number of traffic lights on Highway 105 is encouraging drivers to traverse South Woodmoor. Ottino said he has spoken with John McCarty and the county department of transportation but said, "There doesn’t seem to be anything they can do."

Williams replied that the county needs to coordinate better with Monument road planning.

Courrau asked whether speed bumps or humps might be used to discourage through traffic.

Williams replied, "The county’s position is that speed is a law enforcement issue for the sheriff’s department, not a road design issue." Citing snow removal and liability issues, he added, "The county policy is that we don’t put in speed bumps. The county is much more willing to install stop signs."

Woodmoor resident Sue Holmes said residents have been trying for the past four years to get additional stop signs on Fairplay. She said, "I am frustrated. We never heard back from [former commissioner Duncan] Bremer or your office."

Water

In response to a question about the water supply situation, Williams said the El Paso County Water Authority was created to address water needs. He added that for individual wells, the county applies a rule requiring demonstration of 300 years of water availability. The statewide rule requires demonstration of 100 years of available water. Williams said that the state engineer’s office makes the determination.

Ottino said, "I was told by the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District that no one can guarantee 300 years of water." He characterized the rule as "smoke and mirrors" and "something to let developers come in until the aquifers run dry."

Williams rejected that characterization and said the real question is not how much water is there, but how much water is economically recoverable.

In response to a question regarding the county’s waiver of the 300-year rule for the Struthers Ranch development, Williams said the waiver was granted because many years ago the Donala Water and Sanitation District appropriated much of the water under Struthers Ranch. The houses in that development would be served by Donala, which satisfies the state’s 100-year rule.

Law enforcement

Williams noted that the expansion of the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) is nearly finished.

He said a serious liability issue was identified with the metro jail used to house dangerous criminals. The jail, which is the county’s responsibility, lacks fire sprinklers, jam-proof doors, and a smoke extraction system. This puts inmates’ lives at risk in the event of a fire.

Williams said, "It would have been better if we had known this when we were planning the CJC expansion. I don’t know how we will solve this problem." He said for the moment, metro jail has been shut down and alternate arrangements have been made to house the inmates.

In response to questions about having just one sheriff’s deputy cover the entire northern part of the county, Williams said, "We don’t have the coverage we need up here." He added that Douglas County has a separately funded law enforcement district. He noted that a ballot measure to pay for additional deputies was turned down by voters three years ago.

Courrau added that NEPCO might have Sheriff Terry Maketa at its April 2 meeting to further discuss law enforcement issues.

**********

The next NEPCO meeting will be held Feb. 5, 9:30 a.m., at the Monument Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr.

For more information on NEPCO, contact Beth Courrau at 488-0284 or bethcourrau@adelphia.net.

Commissioner Wayne Williams’ direct phone number is 520-6411. His cell phone is 439-1870. His email address is waynewilliams@elpasoco.com. The county’s Web site address is www.elpasoco.com.

View photos of the Dec. 4 NEPCO meeting and the PPRTA project list distributed at the meeting 

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WIA plans annual meeting

By Chris Pollard

At the Jan. 5 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board, President John Ottino made note of a new partnership between Woodmoor Improvement Association, WIA, and the Woodmoor Pines Golf and Country Club to grant special legacy membership rights to WIA residents who join the club before February 1, 2005. Details were sent to all residents in a recent postcard mailing.

The board then focused on planning the WIA Annual Meeting, which will be held in the Lewis-Palmer Middle School Cafeteria, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.

Elizabeth Miller, Architectural Control Committee (ACC) Director, planned to explain to residents how the committee was working to bring the building and landscape standards into the 21st century and welcomed input from residents about what changes they would like to see. Ottino suggested that she raise the ancillary building and fence issues because some residents had expressed interest in extra on-site storage and wanted more flexibility in fence materials. Ottino wanted suggestions from residents and input on the WIA website for those ancillary building rules. One resident had expressed interest in more flexibility with regard to retractable clotheslines and he felt that other ideas existed. Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, suggested discussing the use of trellises in landscaping and some new options in roofing materials.

Alan McMullen, Director of Common Areas, noted that he would address several issues. Restocking fish in the various ponds for catch and release fishing was a fairly high priority. He wanted to change the way the common areas were mowed to improve their appearance over the year and perhaps add trails in some of them. He would also be discussing some issues concerning the safe use of Toboggan Hill. This popular area for sledding in Woodmoor had been somewhat compromised by some users constructing "jumps" in the main sledding area and were using snowboards. Kevin Nielsen, Chief of Woodmoor Public Safety, reminded directors that the ground rule previously adopted was that nothing with bindings was allowed. McMullen also wanted to start discussion on potential community events such as holding a flea market.

Laurie Healy, Director of Covenant Enforcement, said she planned to discuss the need for covenants to make Woodmoor a pleasant and livable place. Changes were needed to address the transition from a community where there was mostly new construction to the present situation where almost all lots had been built on. She would present a brief review of current issues and the most common violations, particularly relating to dogs and fences, and then talk about updates to exterior standards and the new exterior maintenance requirements.

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, said that he would be discussing the health of Woodmoor forests and would present a map that has been generated showing where high fire hazards exist in the area. These are primarily areas where trees and undergrowth have become too dense and where infestations of mountain pine beetle had occurred. He would also show how to identify the pine beetle problem and would review plans for reducing wildfire hazard via education and grants available to assist homeowners in tree and brush removal. He would also remind residents that all infected wood should be removed or controlled in some way by June 1.

Hans Post, Director of Woodmoor Public Safety, said he would concentrate on addressing accomplishments and challenges. His department had achieved continuing low crime rates and had some successes in road rehabilitation. There had also been positive feedback from residents in a recent survey. He would discuss some statistics of the department’s activities throughout 2005 and also some successes in working with the Lewis-Palmer School District on driving and other safety issues.

Executive Director Camilla Mottl expressed one concern with the upcoming annual meeting, noting that to date she had only received 84 proxies and the rules required that at least 280 proxies and/or lot owners were needed to create a quorum for the meeting. At the request of other board members she clarified the policy as to how the board secretary voted these proxies in the election of new board members and noted that in the past these had been placed in proportion to the popular vote – trying to follow what the majority wanted.

Mottl also gave some information on the proposed Jackson Creek YMCA. She had researched the history of the proposed site and noted that Woodmoor’s authority over this had been established in work done in response to a previous proposal for a K&C RV facility. The facility would be required to pay dues and be subject to the architectural review and covenants of the WIA. She will discuss these and other issues with the YMCA later in the week to make sure they are prepared for future review of plans. Mottl noted that contrary to some recent announcements it will not be built for another 2 to 2 ½ years.

Mottl then gave a short update on pond usage issues after a recent incident where a child fell through some thin ice. She had been trying to get clarification of the signage rules from the insurer.

Ottino, in his closing remarks, expressed his concerns over the lack of progress on traffic issues in working with El Paso County officials. He stated that he wanted to take the lead in this and put forward his own proposals. He wanted to have the ability to place speed bumps or other traffic slowing measures in South Woodmoor to address the problems of through traffic. He was also interested in doing something to improve and perhaps widen Fairplay between Highway 105 and Higby. He suggested that the County should consider extending Furrow Road to Higby to allow another route to the south. The City of Colorado Springs had similar problems and had adopted several traffic slowing approaches such as rotaries, speed bumps, and constructive landscaping. Ottino added that he thought traffic planning on Highway 105 had been awful. The road and access to it is controlled by three different government entities over a short distance. There are now proposals for adding traffic lights at Knollwood and a new junction at the Church of Latter Day Saints. This would make for a total of six lights in a short distance. Other members of the board were also concerned about the ongoing safety issues at the Furrow Road junction. Post said there were proposals to rebuild the intersection in the spring. While this would mostly improve Highway 105 by flattening out the road, board members felt that it did little to address the approach from Furrow Road. Nielson suggested that it would need flashing red lights for Furrow and flashing amber on 105.

Miller, as part of the review of board action items, presented the board with copies of proposed new rules regarding multi-family dwellings, having received final changes from Ron Yamiolkoski, the previous ACC director. The rules had been derived from those for single-family homes with attention to issues specific to multi-family dwellings. Distance between the buildings must be larger than the height of the buildings and there were other rules specific to controlling the overall height and ensuring adequate parking. Multiplexes are limited to six separate units in any one building.

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December Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

After a snowy and cold November, December started off quiet and seasonal. No measurable precipitation was recorded through the first 14 days of the month, and with plenty of sunshine, most of the snow cover left over from November melted away. The warmest temperatures of the month were also recorded during this dry period, with highs reaching the 50s on the 10th, 11th, and 14th.

The weather began to change when we headed into the last full week of fall, as a cold front moved through the region during the afternoon of the 15th. Snow began to fly during the evening and lasted through the next morning, with 2-5 inches of new snow recorded.

The weather cleared quickly again, and the next few days saw a return to mild temperatures and dry weather. However, the coldest air of the season was getting ready to make a run at the Palmer Divide just in time for Christmas.

The first in a series of cold fronts moved through the region on the afternoon of the 20th with little fanfare. Highs were 15° to 20° colder than the previous day, but snow didn’t start to fall until the afternoon and early evening of the 21st, as the next surge of cold air rolled in. Snow continued to fall off and on for the next few days, with 6-12 inches accumulating throughout the region.

Along with the fresh snow, temperatures continued their descent as the final surge of Arctic air moved through during the morning of the 22nd. Highs were reached at midnight and were generally in the single digits to low teens. As the morning wore on, temperatures fell to below zero and stayed there through the afternoon.

As skies cleared during the evening of the 23rd, conditions were favorable for extreme radiational cooling with the longest night of the year, fresh snow cover, light winds, and an Arctic airmass in place. Temperatures plummeted to the teens below zero across the area, the coldest reading since last February.

With temperatures this cold, we were blessed with a beautiful white Christmas around the region. But this would prove to be our last taste of winter for the year, as temperatures moderated through New Year’s Eve under mostly clear to partly cloudy skies.

A Look Ahead

January sees the coldest temperatures of the year, but precipitation is on the low side, with average amounts less than an inch. The month generally sees numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. January 2003 was right around normal temperature-wise, but saw above-average snowfall, while January 2002 was warmer and drier than normal.

The official monthly forecast for January 2005, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

December 2004 Weather Statistics

Average High 41.6°
Average Low 16.0°
Highest Temperature 58° on the 11th
Lowest Temperature -12° on the 23rd, 24th
Monthly Precipitation 0.66"
Monthly Snowfall 13.9"
Season to Date Snow 47.8"
Season to Date Precip. 12.29"

Remember, weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us on the Palmer Divide. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at our_community_news@hotmail.com.

Bill Kappel is the KKTV 11 News morning meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Milam Road eminent domain cases goes to court

On Wednesday-Friday, January 5-7, 2005, six property owners are finally having their days in court. This case will be heard by Judge Rebecca Bromley, at 9 a.m. on the 5th floor of the county courthouse. Although this case directly involves six families, they are fighting for families and private property owners all over El Paso County.

 Two years ago, three out of the five El Paso County Commissioners voted to acquire private property for the use of a developer to be used as an access to his new proposed development north of Black Forest Regional Park. There are existing roads to this area, but for some reason, the developer wants a new road through private property and the upper portion of the park.

The surprising part of this whole scenario is that our own Commissioner Wayne Williams, who we thought would be protecting our private property rights, was one of the commissioners who has voted to take our land.

Our days in court will not be as exciting as "Law & Order" or "The Practice," but it will certainly affect more than just six private property owners. This is a "public" vs. "private" case, and the outcome will affect anyone in our community who thinks their property cannot be taken from them at the whim of three men: Commissioners Wayne Williams, Tom Huffman and Chuck Brown.

Ray & Cindy Miller

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Anew

By Judith Pettibone

As each holiday note we received at our house mentioned, it is difficult to believe how fast 2004 flew! It is already time to write the first review column of the New Year! As our minds turn to improvement, it is tempting to pretend there are books like Flash! It Doesn’t Matter What You Eat Anymore or Forget Exercise – Reading on the Couch Is Just Like a Jog or Organize Your House in an Instant. But alas, some things never change; we do actually have to work at improvement. Here are a few titles for starting down the resolution path—making things better for you and for your life.

For the body

8 Minutes In The Morning (series)
By Jorge Cruise, $14.95

Cruise, the New York Times best-selling author and online diet guru, has written a series of 8-minute in-the-morning books for "extra-easy" weight loss, lean hips and thighs, and a flat belly—a combination of "power thinking," diet advice, and exercise. Cruise maintains, "You only need 8 minutes a day to slim down and stay that way. It is the most effective 8 minutes you can ever spend on your body." The weight loss book is the primer; the other two hone in on trouble spots. The "Kit" ($19.95) includes a CD, mini-booklet, and 57 weight-loss cards with the "8 Minute Moves."

The Pilates Body
The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening, and Toning Your Body – Without Machines
By Brooke Silar, $18.00

Joseph Pilates said, "In ten sessions you will feel the difference, in twenty you will see the difference, and in thirty you will have a whole new body." Followers of the Pilates technique will tell you that it is more than a fitness fad; in fact, it is truly an effective way to a healthy body. Silar is a sought-after personal trainer with a famous Pilates studio in New York. This book, with step-by-step instructions, will give you an introduction to Pilates and allow you to explore this method. You may still want to take a class, but this would be a way to extend the benefits of any professional workout you might undertake.

The Business Plan for the Body
By Jim Karas, $15.00

Taking his expertise and experience from the Wharton School of Business and from running the most successful weight-loss management firm in Chicago, Karas gives you the better body plan from the business model—crunching the numbers, managing your metabolism, and investing in the only workout you will ever need. Each chapter cleverly capitalizes on a business theme, such as chapter 8, "Establishing Realistic Investment Goals: You Were Patient Putting It On, Be Patient Taking It Off." Providing motivation and information, this book presents the information in a unique, intriguing way.

For the mind

The One-Minute Organizer: Plain and Simple
500 Tips for Getting Your Life In Order
By Donna Smallin, $9.95

The theme of this little book is that if you don’t have time for a top-to-bottom organizational makeover, you can still unclutter your life, one short minute at a time. Each of Smallin’s little ideas is designed to make a difference to busy lives … and clutter, both mental and physical. Smallin believes that you will never find time to organize. You have to make time, even if it is only five minutes each day. Personally, it is "Paper Stuff" that threatens to sink my organization, and while her chapter on "Paper Stuff" is not revolutionary, it is practical and worthy of emulation. Plain and simple.

The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
By Steven R. Covey, $26.00

On a roll (a 15-year roll) from his tremendously successful The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey now leads us from effectiveness to greatness. With an order of magnitude difference in our world’s challenges, Covey believes we need more than effectiveness to thrive. He calls for "fulfillment, passionate execution and significant contribution." Covey’s 8th Habit is finding our unique voice and then, in a leadership challenge, inspiring others to find theirs. In the inimitable Covey-way, he believes we can change the world (and ourselves).

For the life

Get Togethers
30-Minute Meals
By Rachael Ray, $18.95

You have resolved to entertain more, but the time and effort involved can be intimidating. Ray simplifies the process with quick meals. Her philosophy is, "Come on over … give me 30 minutes to whip something up." While you might not feel quite so cavalier (it would take me more than 30 minutes to tidy up) about the invitation timing, you might do more entertaining if it were easier. Ray presents simple menus for brunches, holiday dinners, sports celebrations, and even picnics. From her beginning chapters on helpful store-bought items and "setting the mood" to all the simple, yet yummy, recipes, this book would be an asset to any cookbook collection—for entertaining or for everyday. You might also check out her other book, 30-Minute Meals 2.

The Handmade Book
By Angela James, $12.95

Perhaps you are determined to learn a new skill because in doing so you can spark the spirit and satisfy the creative yearning. With so many gorgeous papers currently available, putting them together in a project can be most rewarding. This book, with ample illustrations and clear instructions, gives you 13 step-by-step, handmade book projects—notebooks, journals, albums, and portfolios. Books … they are not just for reading.

Quilting for the First Time
By Donna Kooler, $9.95

This book has beautiful illustrations—really beautiful—and would be the perfect choice for beginning this comforting and rewarding art. With lists for start-up materials and simple projects, this is the go-to book for the first-time quilter.

2005—ready … set … go anew! Until next month, when we will celebrate "Red," happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hymenalis)

Below: Junco drawing by Elizabeth Hacker. Zoom in...

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Palmer Divide, situated along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is home to a diverse bird population. My husband and I have identified numerous species but still have not found some that have been reported by other bird-watchers in this area. The Front Range flyway, well known for its abundance of migratory birds, attracts birders from all over the country. One serious birder is my brother Jack, a resident of Mississippi, who enjoys coming to Colorado to identify summer migratory species that are unique to the western states.

But we also have winter migrants here, one being the dark-eyed junco, a member of the sparrow family. Our first sightings of these "snowbirds" in the fall remind us that winter is just around the corner. Their departure in the spring usually goes unnoticed as we become preoccupied with newly arriving migrants.

Often these friendly little feeder birds are taken for granted, but at one time, birders carefully examined flocks of juncos in order to add a vagrant species to their lists. Then in 1973, the American Ornithologists’ Union combined five different junco species into a single grouping called the dark-eyed junco. Juncos range from the Rocky Mountains north to the Yukon and have distinctly different colored plumage.

While the dark-eyed junco is common at winter bird feeders across much of North America, the subspecies unique to the Palmer Divide region is the gray-headed junco. Flocks of them are often found feeding on seeds, grasses, and weeds near a spruce tree or a stand of scrub oak. At 6¼ inches in length, they are about the size of a sparrow but appear a little heavier than their slender cousin.

Slate gray in color, the gray-headed juncos’ underbellies are slightly lighter, with distinguishing reddish-brown on their backs and upper wings. All juncos’ outer tail feathers are white, and they have pale pinkish-white bills. Females and juvenile birds have less white on the outer tail feathers, are generally a paler gray, and show a greater mixture of brown in their plumage.

It is thought that flocks of juncos return to the same general wintering grounds each year. However, if the juncos at your feeder seem to be different from year to year, be aware that subspecies are known to interbreed and thus a variation in their color may result. Frequent displays of white outer tail feathers are aggressive displays that signal a flock’s readiness to take flight. This behavior occurs in the spring as flocks prepare to migrate north to breed.

As I write about the junco, we are nearing the end of 2004. I would like to take a moment to thank OCN for inviting me to write about one of the reasons I like living in the Tri-Lakes area: the birds that reside on the Palmer Divide. I would also like to thank the many readers who have responded so positively to my articles. In 2005, I hope to continue to feature a resident bird each month. If I were to feature all the birds here, it would take about four years. Some of our resident birds are easily recognizable, while others are more elusive—and unless you are an avid birder you may not recognize them.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at editor@ourcommunitynews.org.

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High Country Highlights: Winter Rose Care

By Woody Woodworth

In autumn, roses should be left unpruned. Leaving the buds to wither and rot might not be attractive, but the roses will tell their roots to prepare for winter. This process, known as letting the roses harden off, also alerts the rose to stop blooming and conserve energy for the long winter. While you leave the blooms, roses may require some wind pruning during the fall. You don’t really need to worry about cutting at a node; you are just cutting it to prevent the rose from rocking in the wind.

Next comes winter, and roses will need a little more care to make it through in good health. It’s not extreme cold that kills roses but, rather, the frequent alternate freezing and thawing that heaves the plant, thus breaking the roots. The winter sun and dry winds take moisture away from the canes and make injury more of a problem.

Winter mulching with straw, peat moss, or other composted material is advisable in all but the extreme southern sections of the United States. The mulch regulates soil temperatures and tempers the effects of freezing and thawing.

To mulch the roses, spread good bark mulch or garden compost around the base of your roses. I use the EKO brand compost available at most garden centers. Use a shovel and throw a few scoops around the base of each rose. It doesn’t have to cover the entire plant, but the base should be well insulated. You may want to put on some tough gloves and pat down the mulch. The point is to protect the base and roots from the cold, so be sure to cover them well.

That should keep your roses as happy as can be during the winter months. If you do experience damage from wind, ice, or extreme cold, don’t cut the problem parts of the plant. Unfortunately, you’ll need to leave the ugly parts of the plant alone and hope for the best. Most plants will pour on new growth when it’s time, but they need their damaged parts until the new shoots grow.

As soon as winter is finished and the days are getting longer and warmer, you should remove the mulch. You can usually just pull it from the base of the roses and spread it in the beds. The mulch will be full of nutrients and a turn will do it some good. You must be sure to get the fist-shaped base of the rose uncovered. Leaving it covered with mulch could cause suffocation and rot when spring arrives.

This is also a good time to spring-prune your roses. Pick the best stalks and cut them at about knee-level. You should reduce the plant to only four or five of these stalks. The rose, at this point, will look like a hand turned palm-side up with fingers pointing up. As with all rose pruning, you should encourage outward growth, rather than dense, inward branches.

By following the basic advice above, your roses will achieve better survivability and stronger spring growth patterns, which will keep them more disease-free with healthier buds and blooms.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Store and is a member of Garden Centers of Colorado and the Green Industry.

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Reflections: Of dolls and hermit crabs

By Chase Davis

I’ve heard it said that girls can form a self-esteem problem because they play with Barbie dolls. The only thing I know about Barbie is that was the first word my daughter learned to read. The second word was "Monster Truck," which truly warms a father’s heart.

I know that my point of view is tainted due to the fact that I’m a man; however, I don’t see how playing with a doll has anything to do with forming a girl’s self image, I thought that was television’s job. No, I blame the following events on that princess who kissed the frog. I don’t know her name, nor do I care.

It all began with my daughter screaming. There is something visceral that happens to a man when he hears the blood-curdling scream of his little girl. When I heard the ear-splitting squeal from my then five-year-old, several things happened to me at once.

The first was a sudden awareness that something was wrong. (I’m sure I looked something like Bambi’s mother right before that fatal shot.) Then there was silence, so I went back to cleaning the house. Okay, cleaning…making a mess…it’s really all in how you look at it. My wife always asks why she has to live with three slobs. My usual answer is a detailed explanation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Everything increases its disorder, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep things picked up—to which she rolls her eyes or shows me one of her fingers.

But then there it was again, a shriek from upstairs. The next thing to happen to me was a state of enlightenment. Something really is wrong. The moment I’ve been waiting for: The Apogee of Fatherhood. "I am dad, I fix things—like the Bat Signal, that call is for me," I thought. I bounded up the stairs in three leaps and dashed around the corner into Kinsey’s room. The sound was nearly unbearable. I thought she had cut her arm off, ripped a chunk of hair out, caught something on fire, finally killed her little brother (which I think is called Justifiable Homicide), or attempted to put on white pants after Labor Day.

She stood in front of her window, arms to her side, mouth wide open, with dark pants on. (Whew…not a fashion emergency.) That’s when I went deaf. At least, I thought I did. Turned out she had, mercifully, run out of air. And as her shoulders rose to suck in more air, I knew round three was imminent.

That’s when I noticed something different about her. It wasn’t her clothes. She hadn’t cut her hair. Makeup? No, that wasn’t it either. Jewelry? That was it. She had on a new pair of earrings. But why was one of them hanging from her lip?

I grabbed her shoulders and started to ask what was wrong. That’s when I realized the odd earring was really a hermit crab. That thing swung from my little girl’s lip like Quasimodo swinging from the bells of Notre Dame. Now, I don’t have a full body of knowledge about hermit crabs, but after those screams, I know they do not have ears. She took another deep breath and this time made a noise that resembled a cross between a squealing pig and the sibilant noise I make when the dentist pulls the syringe from my gum.

This is hard to admit, but I didn’t know what to do. She was screaming, I was screaming, and my son was screaming, "Tickle it daddy!" There was no reference book titled "How to Remove Crustaceous Invertebrate from Body Parts for Dummies" nearby for this one. So I improvised.

I tried to wedge my fingernail between the claws and pry it open, but it wouldn’t give. I gently tried to pull it free, but the thin line of blood from her lip (and another round of screaming) stopped me. That crab had clamped down on her lip tighter than a Kennedy to an alibi. I was out of ideas.

I thought back to when we first got the hermit crabs. We had wanted to watch them crawl around, but it was hard to get them to come out of their shells. My son decided that if he gave them a "bath," they might come out. Amazingly, he was correct: Dip a hermit crab in cold water, and out they will come, claws and legs flung outward like a drunk grasping for the railing right before the fall. (And I always thought dipping biological material in cold water made it shrivel up.)

There was the answer! All I had to do was get that thing in some water and it should let go. However, while dipping a hermit crab in a small amount of water isn’t that hard, when that same hermit crab has a death grip on a human head, well, the odds shift to the crab.

My five-year-old’s head wouldn’t fit under the bathroom sink facet. This meant only one thing: I needed more water. The tub! I grabbed Kinsey, threw her in the bathtub, and let Niagara flow. Needless to say, Kinsey didn’t want to stick her head under the cold water, so I helped her. Okay, I forced her, but in my defense, I was running on adrenaline and not thinking too clearly.

The water method didn’t work.

I’m still not sure how the crab came free. They say that to protect itself, the mind can block things out, and I think that’s what happened to me. Regardless of my memory, the crab did come free. When I asked her how the hermit crab grabbed her lip, she looked at me, her eyes still wet with tears and her lip red and swollen, and said innocently, "I just wanted to kiss him."

And that is why I blame that no-good, frog-kissing princess. But here’s the ironic part. The hermit crab’s name? Princess.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) presents: Cool Science - The Art & Science of Photography

This Super Saturday event is Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. They say: "A picture is worth a thousand words." That’s because there is so much science behind the art of photography. With the support of the amazing scientists from the nonprofit, educational organization Cool Science, the Museum will present an afternoon filled with hands on activities. Visitors will safely make pinhole cameras, chemically develop negatives, and discuss the art of photography while browsing the Museum’s historic photos.

Due to generous support from museum members, Super Saturday admissions are only $3 per person (Museum members are always admitted at no charge!). Take I-25 to the Gleneagle Exit (156A); the Museum entrance is immediately east of the interstate, just opposite the north entrance to the U. S. Air Force Academy. Visit WMMI’s web site at: www.wmmi.org. Reservations are requested, please call 488-0880, or e-mail to specialprograms@wmmi.org.

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"Punt for Health" Health & Wellness Fair

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, in coordination with the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, is sponsoring the Fourth Annual Tri-Lakes Health and Wellness Fair on Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument (I-25 to the Monument Exit, go east on 105 to Jackson Creek Parkway, south on Jackson Creek Parkway). The event is a healthy kick-off to the Super Bowl.

Forty holistic and allopathic healthcare representatives, including Memorial Hospital, the El Paso County Health Department, Penrose-St. Francis Blood bank, and many more will intercept the community. There will be a continuous line up of health and wellness professionals including self-defense, yoga and Pilate’s expert. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, massage therapists, personal trainers, mental health therapists, skin care professionals, and personal transformation counselors will sideline visitors. Score your health with the following screenings: blood pressure, bone density, fat testing, hearing, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Touch down at the fair, and take time out to tackle your health care needs and New Year’s resolutions to be fit and worry free for 2005!

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will begin accepting applications for grants after Jan. 15. All qualified organizations that provide services to residents within the boundaries of School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Qualified organizations are public schools, public safety agencies, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable or educational organization. Grant applications and instructions will be available on TLWC’s website, www.tlwc.net, beginning Jan.15. Organizations may request an application by sending a self addressed stamped envelope to: TLWC - Granting, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. Applications are due no later than March 15, 2005.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsors the annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale and Wine & Roses. Proceeds from fundraisers benefit local nonprofit groups. Last year $35,000 was granted to 24 school departments and agencies. In the past 28 years, more than $415,000 has been awarded to schools, fire and police departments and other nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organizations that provide services to residents within the boundaries of Colorado School District 38.

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Holiday Celebrations: Hay Rides and Log Rides

View photos of Small Town Christmas and Palmer Lake's Yule Log hunt.

Dec. 4: Monument Small Town Christmas celebrants enjoy a tour of historic Monument conducted by tractor driver Aaron Goodman. High Country Store sponsored the hay rides as part of the Historic Monument Merchant Association’s annual event. Photo by Doug Krieger. Caption by Sue Wielgopolan Zoom in...

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Dec. 12: Kendra Wuerth, this year’s finder of the Yule Log, rides with her father Jonathan as the log is hauled by participants from its hiding place in the woods back to Town Hall. Kendra is a repeat finder, having also been the first to spot the log in 2001. Photo by Doug Krieger. Caption by Sue Wielgopolan Zoom in...

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