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Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 10 - October 1, 2005

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Palmer Lake Railroad Festival Rolls On

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Below: Train displays in Palmer Lake Town Hall. Photos by Jim Kendrick

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Below: Noreen Griffin and her son Hayden enjoying the railroad festival. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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Below: A small part of the expanded swap meet. Photo by Kelly McGuire

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By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Railroad Festival expanded this year from two to three buildings delighting children and train buffs of all ages. Train displays filled Town Hall as usual, while an additional display was added to fill two of the main engine bays of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) station. The swap meet spilled out of the Palmer Lake Elementary School cafeteria and down the hall.

A new addition to the Sept. 24 festival was the first edition of Dining Car News, with feature articles on local railroad history, hobo stew, and Fred Harvey who pioneered the Harvey Hotels along the routes of the Santa Fe Railroad, then expanded to create Harvey Dining Cars and the Harvey Girls who waited on tables in the first dining cars. In that spirit, the News also listed recommendations for all the town’s restaurants and inns.

The proceeds from the festival are donated to PLVFD.

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Unger rejects mediation agreement

By Fred Malmstrom

In an unexpected development at the Colorado Springs District Court House, District Attorney Robyn Cafasso announced that defendant Patricia Unger refused her previously mediated plea agreement to charges of embezzlement of funds from the Forest View Acres Water District. Unger’s attorney Timothy Bussey cited his client had "questions about dispensation of funds."

Judge David L. Shakes declared the criminal and civil mediation effort at an end and set Unger’s preliminary hearing to answer to criminal felony charges for 9 a.m. on Friday, October 14. That hearing was subsequently rescheduled to October 13, 10 a.m.

Under the mediation agreement, Unger’s civil charges would have been combined with her criminal case.

Unger now faces the possibility of 4 to 10 years’ imprisonment plus full restitution of funds. Embezzlement of such a large amount of money—in this case, allegedly at least $315,000—is considered a major Class 3 felony.

Although Unger’s husband, Dennis, has not been charged with criminal activity, her present withdrawal from the mediation agreement will have no effect on the pending civil suit filed against both of them.

If Unger’s criminal case goes to trial, it will not be expected to take place until early next year.

Click here for more coverage of the Forest View Acres Water District.

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BRRTA to build frontage road

Below: BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsacker indicates potential properties for inclusion. (Clockwise from left) Monument Mayor Byron Glenn, Hunsacker, PBS&J Project Manager Steve Sandvik, Chapparal Hills resident Linda Silveira-Carlson, county planning commission chair and Chaparral Hills resident Steve Sery, and Director of Development for the Monument Marketplace Rick Blevins. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

In a special meeting on Sept. 16, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) announced it would move forward with building the frontage road that would provide alternative access to the Family of Christ Lutheran Church and three adjacent lots to the east from Leather Chaps Drive.

The BRRTA board is composed of three county commissioners (Jim Bensberg, Dennis Hisey, and Wayne Williams) and two Monument representatives (Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee David Mertz). Bensberg and Mertz were absent.

Financial matters

District Project Manager Conner Shepherd reported that there were three BRRTA payments totaling $9,073.05: $1,021 to Linda Silveira-Carlson, $5,646.45 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal work, and $3,426.60 to R.S. Wells LLC for management services. He also noted that 13 invoices for engineering work performed by consultant PBS&J totaling $179,229.30 had been forwarded to Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) for payment. Five invoices for land acquisition totaling $2,216.32 from right of way consultant Wilson & Company were also forwarded to PPRTA for payment. Shepherd also reported a donation of $100 from Mt Vernon Estates LLC, owner of the Promontory Point parcel, and a pro-ration of $5,192.32 for taxes owed the property.

Engineering report

PBS&J Project Manager Steve Sandvik reported that the review of the final plans for the project by all the affected agencies had begun on Aug. 25. He was preparing bid package sets for the Oct. 1 project advertisement. Bids will be submitted by late November or early December. The construction contract will be awarded in late February or early March.

Acquisition report

Brad Rodenburg, real estate services manager for Wilson & Company, reported that there was only one outstanding right of way parcel that was not purchased or under a pending contract. The appraisal for that parcel had not been received.

Planning updates

Monument Town Manager Cathy Green reported that building construction would begin in November at the Monument Marketplace for Wal-Mart and Chili’s restaurant.

Attorney report

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker, of Grimshaw & Harring, reported that the BRRTA contract with PBS&J had been amended to include Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA), which will now begin making the construction payments. The amended contract was approved unanimously.

The first amendment to the intergovernmental agreement between BRRTA, PPRTA, and El Paso County was also approved unanimously. The amendment adds acquisition responsibilities

As a safeguard to ensure that there is no delay to the construction project, the board unanimously approved a resolution of necessity that would allow for condemnation of the last six right of way properties if there are any delays in final acquisition beyond Nov. 1. The resolution allows for a condemnation hearing to be scheduled 30 days after notification of passage of the resolution of necessity, ensuring that all land is available for use by the end of the year.

Hunsaker showed the board the areas that were proposed for inclusion into BRRTA, based on the traffic loads they would impose on Baptist Road. He said that the board would have to give the property owners 45 days notice before voting (by at least a two-to-one supermajority) to include them by the end of the year.

The board unanimously approved Hunsaker’s request to pay for the creation of the Arnold conservation easement, which should be no more than $30,000. This easement will provide for substitute Preble’s mouse habitat that will be destroyed during the Baptist Road improvement. Williams noted that the land in the easement had been donated, on condition that the cost of creating the easement was paid for by BRRTA. Shepherd noted that direct purchase of substitute habitat would cost well over $200,000.

Hunsaker also reported that the invoice for the appraisal for the transaction was $9,715 and had been forwarded to PPRTA.

Hunsaker recommended an executive session to develop a negotiating position on acquisition of one right of way parcel since the owner wants significantly more than the appraisal.

Board picks eastern frontage road

Glenn announced the decision to move forward with building the frontage road between the Lutheran Church and Leather Chaps. No agreement had been reached between all the affected landowners on the south side of Baptist Road from the church to Leather Chaps and the potential developer of the Barber-Miller-Schmidt property for an alternative access. The Barber-Miller-Schmidt parcel is also on the south side of Baptist Road, across from the King Soopers center.

In past BRRTA meetings, Chaparral Hills resident Linda Silveira has objected to the proposed use of eminent domain to create the eastern access road. She has cited adverse impacts on property owners along that part of Baptist Road and urged use of a western access road through the Barber-Miller-Schmidt parcel. Since that parcel is being planned for development, the road could be made a condition of approval for the developer at no cost to the taxpayers.

Chaparral Hills resident Steve Sery, who is also chairman of the county planning commission, said he had attempted to negotiate an agreement. He said the potential developer of the Barber-Miller-Schmidt parcel may be agreeable to providing an alternative access but cannot commit to a specific access road alignment in time to meet BRRTA’s requirement for a firm agreement. The current plan for the parcel is half commercial and half residential. Sery said the church is also interested but noted that one of the affected homeowners is not interested in the plan.

This homeowner prefers the frontage road option and has already moved his horse fence away from Baptist Road to clear the right of way for the frontage road. The homeowner believes the frontage road and associated drainage will limit the number of times vehicles knock down his fence and feeding stations during winter snowstorms.

Sandvik said that a visual screen of shrubbery or trees that would separate Silveira’s property from the frontage road was too difficult to irrigate since the area depends on wells. Providing an irrigation line from Triview Metropolitan District on the north side of Baptist Road is complicated by mouse habitat and wetlands next to Silveira’s home.

Williams suggested a fence. Sandvik said the cost of 60 feet of double-sided cedar fencing to screen headlight illumination would cost about $3,600. No decision was made.

Glenn and Williams agreed that BRRTA would remain open to a change order to eliminate the frontage for a short time longer on the condition that an alternative access would not be more costly and would be acceptable to the El Paso County Department of Transportation.

Interchange discussion

The board agreed to a plan to escrow the money (about $557,000) that Monument Marketplace was to have provided to the town of Monument for traffic impacts prior to the opening of Home Depot 15 months ago. The town had required the Marketplace developer to pay for temporary widening of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and Exit 158.

Several mouse habitat, storm drainage, and under-road utility relocation problems prevented the widening at that time. Since then there has been general agreement at Board of Trustees and BRRTA meetings that the temporary widening should be dropped and the money used for permanent widening only. Also, the mouse habitat, wetland, and drainage permits for the temporary improvements have expired.

Glenn said he had been "trying to get the interchange built using private dollars along with state dollars all the way to Jackson Creek Parkway on the east side." He asked the Marketplace developer, Vision Development, to escrow the money to finance permanent improvements rather than temporary ones, but said it appears that BRRTA rather than the town would have to hold the money.

Vision Development’s Director of Development Rick Blevins said the current agreement with the town for payment for the temporary improvement would have to be amended. He asked that a new agreement be created so he would know who would be in charge of the escrow. He noted that the improvement would be paid for with road construction bonds rather than cash. He expressed concern about how long it would be before the road is actually improved to the benefit of storeowners in the Marketplace and how long the construction bonds would be in escrow without benefit to Triview Metropolitan District.

Williams said that no decisions or actions would take place until the November election decision on Referenda C and D. After further discussion, Williams’ motion that would permit Vision Development’s road construction bonds for improving this segment of Baptist Road to be held in escrow by BRRTA or the county passed unanimously. However, no decision was made about when the escrow would begin or who would hold the construction bonds, pending further legal review by Hunsaker.

October meeting cancelled

The board cancelled the regular Oct. 14 meeting and scheduled a special meeting for Nov. 4 at the county office building.

The board went into executive session at 3:15 p.m. for discussions regarding negotiations and potential litigation. There were no announcements after the executive session or further actions taken. The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.

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The next meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 in third floor hearing room of the County Commissioners building, 27 E. Vermijo. There is no longer a regular meeting schedule due to the increased activity of the board. For schedule information, log onto http://adm.elpasoco.com/transprt/baptist_rd.asp

Articles on prior Baptist Road-related meetings are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#baptist. There is also background information 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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El Paso County Planning Commission, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27: Peaceful Pines to feel effects of Hilltop Pines development

By Steve Sery

There were once again two meetings in September. The Sept. 20 meeting had three items on the agenda involving northern El Paso County.

  1. Final plat for Hodgen Settlers Ranch, a 142.5-acre development approximately ¼ mile east of the intersection of Highway 83 and Hodgen Road on the north side of Hodgen. The preliminary plan was approved for a total of 86 dwelling units, with a minimum lot size of 2½ acres. This final plat is for 43 single-family units plus 16.8 acres of open space. It is consistent with the preliminary plan and was approved unanimously.

  2. Preliminary plan for Hilltop Pines, a 99-acre property, located between Highway 105 and Kings Deer, east of Roller Coaster Road. The proposal is for 29 lots from 2½ acres to over 5 acres. There was some discussion about access to this property and impact on Peaceful Pines, a subdivision adjoining on the south side. It is likely that the Colorado Department of Transportation may want to eliminate Peaceful Pines’ access directly from Highway 105; their access would go through Hilltop Pines and out to Roller Coaster Road. When the property to the east of Hilltop Pines is developed, there will be a second access point for both subdivisions. The preliminary plan was approved unanimously.

  3. The final item was a first reading of the El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services Department Master Plan. This plan seems to do a good job of laying out existing and proposed parks, trails, and other services. Just because something is in the plan does not mean it will happen, but it should be a good tool to overlay with proposed development to try to make sure there is consideration given to the future plans. Assuming this plan is approved after the second reading, it will be posted on the county’s Web site.

At the Sept. 27 meeting there were two consent items on the agenda in northern El Paso County. Both items were approved unanimously.

  1. A replat of 3.56 acres on Brentwood Drive in Black Forest. This property was originally platted for 10 cabin sites in 1926. The replat creates two lots, one of 2.03 and one of 1.53 acres. This is more in line with the Black Forest Preservation Plan, which calls for 5-acre lots in this area.

  2. A final plat, part of the Walters Commons Subdivision located at the corner of Higby Road and Cloverleaf Road. This part is 13.79 acres that will have 113 townhome units. This is in conformance with the preliminary plan for the whole subdivision.

There was a second reading of the El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services Department Master Plan. It was approved and will serve as a guide to staff, planning commission, and the Board of County Commissioners.

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Construction begins on extension of Milam Road

Photos by Judy von Ahlefeldt

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Below: Trees were felled by the developer on the condemned Milam Road right-of-way on Sept. 10. The County was granted possession at 5 p.m. on Sept. 9. The photo was taken Sept. 13 looking toward Shoup Rd. from north of the active entrance to the Black Forest Regional Park.

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Below: Nearly the entire route for Milam Road through the park had been cut by Sept. 15. This is looking northeast toward the planned Cathedral Pines subdivision. The road crosses five major park trails. Most trails in the north part of the park are closed until further notice.

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By Judy von Ahlefeldt
(Courtesy the Black Forest News, Sept. 15, 2005 issue)

The arm-wrestling and legal wrangling over the extension of Milam Road, over condemned private property, and through the northwest corner of Black Forest Regional Park to Cathedral Pines Subdivision is nearly over.

Only the hearings for valuation received by the landowners, whose property was taken by eminent domain, remain.

On Feb. 23, 2005, District Judge Rebecca Bromley ruled that the County had the right to condemn land for a public road right-of-way on private land west of, and adjacent to, the existing park entrance road. She did not grant the County the right of immediate possession.

Landowners appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court and requested a stay of any construction activities.

On Aug. 26 Bromley issued a ruling on a Renewed Motion by El Paso County to have immediate possession of the land. Bromley stated that circumstances had changed from "irreparable harm" to the residents’ properties to safety of local residents on Holmes and Winslow Roads, outweighing the damage to the property owners along Milam Road.

The hearing scheduled for Aug. 30 was vacated, and Bromley granted immediate possession to the County. Immediate possession was stayed first to Sept. 6 and then to Sept. 9, pending response from the Colorado Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Sept. 8 the Supreme Court denied the residents hearing of their case.

The county attorney advised the legal counsel for the residents on Friday that construction would begin on Saturday, Sept. 10.

A meeting was held with three of the six affected residents in attendance on Friday night. A survey to verify property lines was also done Friday night, and trees were felled on Saturday.

It was all legal, as the County took possession of the property, and appurtenances such as fences and gates, at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. But some landowners were angry that the tree-cutting followed the ruling so closely.

Developer Dan Potter noted that he did not want to give time for demonstrations opposing the road project to organize. He said he had already spent over $1 million on the issue, and residents had spent about $400,000 in legal fees. "Just think how much good could have been accomplished with that money," he said. "We wanted to get this project started immediately so we can get the road done in a month to six weeks."

In the final analysis, the residents had little recourse. Potter is assisting those who want help, with removing fences (two are chain-link), and has built a temporary smooth wire fence for one owner. Landowners can have the trunk wood for firewood, but it must be removed soon, before the dirt work starts.

Having Milam Road as an entrance to Cathedral Pines will divert construction traffic, as well as most future residential traffic, off Holmes, Peregrine, Tahosa, and Winslow. The settlement of the Milam Road issue also opens the way to the extension of Black Forest Regional Park to the north, removing the problem of the park donation becoming private open space if Milam was not built.

Building Milam also means a much larger intersection, with turn lanes, will be constructed at Shoup/Milam. The six affected neighbors, on both sides of Shoup, have lost property to condemnation for turn lanes or the road itself, in some cases bringing the road very close to existing homes and outbuildings.

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El Paso County Board of County Commissioners work session, Aug. 4: Protect Our Wells presents recommendations

By Judy von Ahlefeldt
(Courtesy the Black Forest News, Aug. 11, 2005 issue)

At the El Paso County Commissioners’ work session Aug. 4, Protect Our Wells (POW) recommended the County hire a hydrogeologist to advise the commissioners on subdivision proposals, track the commitment of groundwater in the County, and possibly assist with a groundwater monitoring program. The work session was informational only.

POW representatives also suggested the County begin a groundwater monitoring program for the Denver Basin aquifers, possibly funded by a modest fee per well on private wells ($10/year recommended).

Several speakers outlined the situation the County is facing with groundwater in "renewable" alluvial aquifers such as in the Upper Black Squirrel Creek alluvial aquifer north of Ellicott, and the nonrenewable Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifers in the Denver Basin.

According to the El Paso County Water Report released a few years ago, there are over 20,000 groundwater wells serving private residences. This number is growing, as is the number of commercial wells, mainly in the Arapahoe aquifer, or dependent on the Upper Black Squirrel Creek alluvium.

Kathy Hare is director of the Upper Black Squirrel Water Management District, which manages the alluvial (renewable) aquifer that lays on top of Denver Basin formations south of the Palmer Divide in the Black Squirrel Creek Basin east and southeast of Black Forest. She explained the serious groundwater declines in that basin and the issues facing recharge if water removed from the basin for use in subdivisions is not released as treated wastewater back into the same basin. The USGS is studying this aquifer.

Larry Stanley, president of POW, and Julia Murphy, POW consulting hydrogeologist, explained the dearth of information on the Dawson and Denver aquifers because of the lack of monitoring sites. Murphy outlined a proposed enhanced groundwater monitoring plan, which could utilize cost-share with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and which would be administered with the help of the County.

Courtney Brand, a senior groundwater manager with the City of Colorado Springs Utilities, shared some basic public domain data regarding the Arapahoe aquifer in El Paso County. The data suggest that the Arapahoe aquifer, which is usually used for high-capacity municipal wells, is not continuous throughout the Denver Basin within the County. He also briefed the commissioners on the City’s research on using the Arapahoe aquifers for water storage—a concept called conjunctive use, where water would be pumped back into the wells in wet years for emergency supply in dry years.

The commissioners thanked the POW leadership for the presentation. Protect Our Wells is a citizen advocacy group for private well owners in the Denver Basin. Membership costs $25 per year. All residents with private wells are urged to join POW to support the effort for study and sensible use of the groundwater resource. See www.protectourwells.org for more information.

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Black Forest Community Club, Sept. 22 : Black Forest Options Committee recommends incorporation

Photos by John Heiser

Below: Black Forest Options Committee Co-Chairs Gary Schinderle (left) and Larry Stanley (right) respond to questions. On the far right is facilitator Dr. Jeffery Zink.

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Below: The boundaries of the study area for the proposed incorporation.

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By John Heiser

Since it was formed in May 2003, the Black Forest Options Committee of the Black Forest Community Club (BFCC) has been studying various alternatives to give Black Forest residents more control over the future of their area. The committee delivered its final report to an estimated 75 residents on Sept. 22. The central recommendation in the detailed 64-page report, which can be downloaded at www.bfoptions.com, is that Black Forest should form a city.

Formation of the Options Committee was precipitated by county actions, including an update to the county’s major transportation corridors plan that shows extension of several major roadways through the Black Forest. One of these roads is the controversial extension of Milam Road from where it ends at Shoup Road north to Hodgen Road or Walker Road. When the courts ruled against the county’s original plan to extend Milam through a portion of Black Forest Regional Park, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved eminent domain proceedings forcing property owners near the park to sell property needed for the right-of-way. At the time the committee was formed, Schinderle said, "Many feel we don’t have the kind of representation that will protect our lifestyle, the reasons we moved to the Black Forest" and BFCC president Eddie Bracken, a retired Air Force major general, described the contentious situation regarding the major corridors plan as "frontal combat with the county over transportation. This is a watershed moment for our community."

Options committee co-chairs Larry Stanley and Gary Schinderle aided by facilitator Dr. Jeffery Zink presented the findings and responded to questions.

Highlights of the presentation

  • Proposed city boundaries show Walker Road on the North, Old Ranch Road, Judge Orr, and Stapleton Road on the south, Meridian Road on the east, Highway 83 on the west. The area encompasses about 4,200 properties of which about one-third are developed. The population of the area is about 15,000 with about 6,300 registered voters. Of the 4,200 properties, approximately 150 are 40 acres or larger and so under state law can opt out of the city.

  • Elected, unpaid mayor and four city council members

  • Full-time paid city manager, clerk, treasurer, planner, and planning assistant

  • Volunteer planning commission using the existing Black Forest Preservation Plan as a guide in considering development applications

  • Law enforcement services through a contract with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department. The alternative of creating an internal police department was considered but determined to be somewhat more expensive.

  • Two alternatives were proposed for public works, which includes snow removal and road and bridge maintenance. The first public works alternative would be to create an internal department. The second alternative would be to contract with the county for those services. Both alternatives were carried throughout the report because the second alternative, which was determined to be somewhat less expensive, would require approval by the board of county commissioners.

  • Total annual expenses were estimated at $3.7 million under public works option 1 and $3.2 million under public works option 2.

  • Revenue would come from property taxes, a 2 percent sales tax, utility franchise taxes, licenses and permits, revenue transfers from other governmental entities, charges for services such as development plan review, a $5,000 per new house impact fee charged to developers, fines and forfeitures, and grants.

  • Under public works option 1, the property tax mill levy was estimated at 10.477 mills, which works out to $83.40 per $100,000 of assessed value. Under option 2, the property tax mill levy was estimated at 5.25 mills, which works out to $41.79 per $100,000 of assessed value.

  • The committee proposed funding the homestead exemption for qualifying seniors 65 years or older who have owned and lived in their house for 10 years. Under the exemption, half of the first $200,000 of actual value is exempted from the city’s property tax. To implement this, city residents would have to vote to adopt a home rule charter.

Having completed its assignment, the options committee was dissolved. Schinderle said, "I hope some group picks this up and goes forward with it." Those interested in helping implement the recommendations in the report were urged to contact the co-chairs.

Bracken, speaking as a private citizen, said, "The bottom line is do we trust or not trust the board of county commissioners?" He added, "One dollar a day on a $400,000 house plus 2 percent sales tax is a reasonable amount to pay to protect our lifestyle."

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The Black Forest Community Club was formed in the mid-1920s. Its bylaws state, "The purpose of the BFCC is to promote community among the residents of the Black Forest; to promote interaction among its members; to provide a place: for social and intellectual growth, for the dissemination of information, for discussion of public affairs, and for entertainment and social activities; to obtain local improvements; to assist in the preservation of the Black Forest; and to provide a point of contact for issues affecting the Black Forest." The BFCC meets at the Black Forest Community Center near the corner of Shoup and Black Forest Roads. There is more information on the club and the center at http://www.blackforest-co.com/bfcc/.

Gary Schinderle can be reached at 495-1809. Larry Stanley can be reached at 495-7825.

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Sheriff’s Department Community Meeting, Sept. 6: Sheriff notes shortage of deputies, suggests ways residents can help

Photos by John Heiser

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Below: Sheriff Terry Maketa with Lt. Glen Athey in the background at the community meeting Sept. 6. 

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By John Heiser

On Sept. 6, Sheriff Terry Maketa and 12 members of his senior leadership gave a presentation to about 50 people at the Gleneagle Golf Club. They explained various programs, presented crime statistics and patterns, and outlined things residents can do to prevent and respond to crime. Presenters included Sheriff’s Department Lt. Glen Athey, Lt. Stan Presley, and Lt. Ken Hilte and Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen.

Highlights of the presentation

  • From 2000 to 2004, the population in Monument grew by 93 percent. Woodmoor grew by 86 percent and Gleneagle grew by 156 percent. Presley noted that the size of the Sheriff’s department’s staff has remained virtually unchanged.

  • Maketa said law enforcement standards call for two deputies per 1,000 residents. With a population of about 155,000 in the unincorporated county, the Sheriff’s department should have at least 300 deputies. It has 62. The Board of County Commissioners sets the budget for the Sheriff’s department.

  • The average response time in the Tri-Lakes area is 17.5 minutes for high-risk incidents such as domestic violence and active assault. Sheriff’s department procedures for high-risk incidents require the presence of two officers. The second officer may have to come from a distant part of the county or may be an officer from the Monument or Palmer Lake police departments.

  • The Tri-Lakes area has seen increases so far this year in burglary, drug cases, and motor vehicle theft. About half of the 34 burglaries cases reported so far in 2005 are the result of unlocked doors or windows. Many burglaries have been from construction sites and open garages. Maketa encouraged residents to keep their garage doors closed. He added that when residents leave for several days they should disconnect the garage door opener and deadbolt the door. He also suggested removing from parked vehicles such targets of theft as cameras, bank account deposit slips, and garage door openers.

  • So far in 2005, the mail theft rate has been 30 percent less than in 2004. The vandalism rate has been about one-third of what it was in 2004. Patrol Division Cmdr. Jim Grayson credited the dramatic reduction in vandalism to keeping school resource and D.A.R.E. officers in service at night to cover high-incidence areas. He said those officers know many of the troublemakers.

  • Maketa remarked on the rapid increase in identity theft. He noted that vehicle break-ins and mail theft are often used to gain identity information. The state attorney general’s web site on identity theft is at www.ago.state.co.us/idtheft/IDTheft.cfm.

  • One in five children who are internet users will be exposed to profanity and pornography. One in ten will be victimized. The state attorney general’s web site on safe surfing is at www.ago.state.co.us/InternetSafety/SafeSurfing.cfm

  • Maketa said, "Neighborhood watch works." He said it is a good way to identify those who do not belong in the neighborhood. Maketa added, "Learn to be a good witness. Write down license numbers and descriptions of vehicles and occupants." Brandi Christon is the Neighborhood Watch coordinator. She can be reached 520-7151.

  • Cari Karns, Exective Director of the Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers (634-7867), encouraged residents to call. She noted that in 2004 the program led to a 150 felony arrests and recovery of $1 million in property.

  • The Sheriff’s department maintains a traffic complaint line at 520-7192.

  • Hilte said of the 297 registered sex offenders living in the unincorporated area of the county, 21 live in the Tri-Lakes area. He noted that a list of registered sex offenders is available on the web at www.shr.elpasoco.com but added, "We generally don’t have problems with them. We have problems with those who fail to register." He expressed concern that the list might be misused to drive out compliant registered sex offenders who then might not let law enforcement know where they are. He said, "That would not be doing us or the community a service."

  • Residents were encouraged to report all incidents and concerns.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Sept. 8: Council appoints interim trustee

By Sue Wielgopolan

At its Sept. 8 combined workshop and meeting, the Palmer Lake Town Council appointed Jim Girlando as interim trustee to fill the vacancy created when Brent Sumner moved out of the area. Due to two resignations and the death last spring of Trustee George Reese, all trustee positions will be up for election in April.

The council also approved Police Chief Dale Smith’s request to promote part-time officer Phillip Donner to a full-time position and granted three business licenses.

Mayor Nikki McDonald announced that the council would begin budget discussions during the next meeting, and invited Palmer Lake residents to attend to observe "how the council struggles with the little amount of money Palmer Lake has" to work with.

After approving the minutes from the July meeting and payment of bills, the council moved directly into trustee reports.

Reports

Commerce and economic development: Gary Coleman, trustee in charge of commerce and economic development, reported that he will head up a committee to research the feasibility of including Palmer Lake as a stop on a future commuter train route, which would extend along the Front Range from Pueblo to Ft. Collins. Communities wishing to be considered for a station must contribute $10,000 yearly to Front Range Commuter Rail, a private corporation that hopes to get sufficient financial backing to install light-rail passenger service.

The expense would continue until at least 2014, with no guarantee that Palmer Lake would be included. In addition, the fee would not cover any expense associated with building the station. Local supporters claim a train stop would bring additional tourism dollars to the town.

The annual Tri-Lakes Railroad Festival, including a swap meet and model train displays, was scheduled for Sept. 24. Coleman mentioned the possibility of hosting a hobo stew supper, cooked over a campfire, to help raise funds for the new fire engine.

This opened the door for discussion of other possible fund-raisers to help finance fire truck payments, including another casino night or community garage sale. The trustees agreed to consider the ideas at a later date.

Coleman showed the council the art print the town will send to James Burnett, CEO of Western Enterprises, the company that conducted this year’s July 4 fireworks display. The print, a scene of a train under a night sky lit by fireworks, is a copy of a painting by local artist Joe Bohler. The gift is in thanks for Burnett’s appearance before the council at last month’s meeting to give a presentation as to what his company supplies.

Coleman recognized the Little Log Church youth group for its help with scraping and painting the trim on Town Hall. He added that another group had inquired whether they could trade maintenance on the police building for hall rental fees, and asked the other trustees for their input.

Water: Water Trustee Chuck Cornell told the council that town staff is repairing the entire water line on South Valley Road. He also informed the council that the water rate study conducted by IUG of Boulder is complete, and the water committee will meet soon to discuss the results in order to decide the best course of action.

Police: Police Trustee Trudy Finan reported that the department received a total of 139 service calls in August, down from 172 in July, and about the same as the August 2004 total. Officers issued 24 traffic or dog warnings, 12 traffic citations, and two dog citations. They handled 32 cases during the month, and made four custody arrests. Fourteen calls were for assistance to the Monument Police Department, and 17 to assist other law enforcement agencies.

Chief Dale Smith then addressed the council, and briefly outlined guidelines for fuel conservation he hopes will help offset skyrocketing gasoline prices. He said plans to reduce idling time, minimize the use of the department’s Chevy Blazer, and increase the use of foot patrols should reduce the department’s fuel bill.

Donner hired as new full-time officer: Smith then introduced part-time officer Phillip Donner and asked council members to approve his promotion to the full-time position vacated by Rob Hamilton, who recently resigned to accept a job with a federal agency. Smith thanked Hamilton, who was not present, for his three years of service.

Donner had previously worked for the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office and joined the Palmer Lake department as a part-time officer in July 2004. He completed close to 500 hours of patrol time in the past year.

Trustee Trish Flake asked whether an interview by the council was legally required. Town attorney Larry Gaddis said that Finan would do an interview if requested by members. Smith told the council that he specifically hired part-time officers with the intent of eventually promoting them to a full-time position.

According to Smith, this process saves the department considerable time and money. Otherwise, he would have to advertise the full-time opening, set up a review board, and interview prospective candidates. In addition, hiring an officer on a part-time basis gives Smith the opportunity to observe and evaluate the officer’s performance on the job.

Council members voted unanimously to approve Donner’s promotion to full-time Palmer Lake police officer.

Parks and Recreation: Trustee Trish Flake, in reporting on parks and recreation issues, told the council that Home Depot had offered to provide financial assistance to improve local parks as part of the chain’s community involvement program. Town Clerk Della Gray responded to the offer suggesting they install playground equipment next to the ball fields on the east side of Highway 105. Gray has not yet received a response to the proposal.

Flake also said the Columbine Festival would continue to be held on the second weekend in July. The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce had proposed changing the date of the festival to coincide with other area celebrations, such as the Palmer Lake Fishing Derby and the Chamber’s summer art celebration, in order to attract more visitors.

The festival, which will be in its sixth year in 2006, will continue to be a low-key celebration primarily intended for the enjoyment of Palmer Lake residents.

A certificate proclaiming Palmer Lake a "Tennis in the Park Community" was awarded to the town by the United States Tennis Association in recognition of its promotion of the sport of tennis through the construction and maintenance of public courts.

Roads: Max Parker, trustee overseeing roads and maintenance, reported that the asphalt work on High Street, Forest View Circle, and Forest View Way had been completed and that Shady Lane had been sealed.

Parker told the council that the town had purchased a storage tank for regular fuel. Palmer Lake already owns two diesel fuel tanks. Wildly fluctuating fuel prices prompted staff to consider ways to reduce gasoline costs for town vehicles; the additional tank will allow the town to reduce its expenses by buying fuel at wholesale prices and storing it for use during periods when prices jump and for use in the event of an emergency.

Fire: McDonald reported to council members that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) received a total of 30 calls during August, 15 of which were for mutual aid from surrounding fire departments. The count breakdown specified that 11 were medical calls, nine were fire calls, three were wildland calls, and three were for traffic accidents. Of the remainder, one was a public assistance call, another involved public contact, and two were unclassified.

The fire department had its ground ladders tested and recertified during the past month.

August proved to be a busy month for the firefighters, who attended several events. McDonald displayed a plaque from the town of Cripple Creek that the PLVFD had received in appreciation for its participation in the "Salute to American Veterans" rally in Cripple Creek in August. The department marched in the Pikes Peak Firefighters Association muster and parade. Members also attended the 2005 Fire-Rescue International Expo in Denver.

In the interest of facilitating timely responses to emergency calls, the council again asked all homeowners to post house numbers where they can be seen from the road. The request, which has been repeated during each meeting over the past several months, has apparently fallen on deaf ears, as numerous homeowners continue to disregard the pleas of the PLVFD to assist it in correcting this important safety issue.

Trustees will establish liquor licensing procedures

Gaddis recommended that Palmer Lake adopt written procedures to be followed when issuing liquor licenses. As Palmer Lake grows and more businesses move into town, it would be helpful to the town clerk and the council to have guidelines to follow. Newly elected trustees who may be unfamiliar with the process would particularly benefit.

He distributed a draft of the proposed procedures, stating that they are nearly identical to those currently used by El Paso County. Gaddis emphasized that the establishment of a presumptive default neighborhood surrounding a business applying for a liquor license was of particular importance.

Ideally, a "neighborhood" would include those properties that the board determined would be directly affected by the presence of an establishment serving liquor. People whose homes or businesses fall within the specified physical boundary of a "neighborhood" as defined in the procedures would have direct input into the process, through their answers to a survey or their testimony in front of the liquor licensing board. Their input would help the liquor board decide whether to approve or deny the application.

At the board’s discretion, the neighborhood could be defined as an entire town, or only those properties lying within a certain distance of the business in question. Gaddis recommended that the board specify a radius of 1,500 feet, which is the distance presently used by the county. The neighborhood definition would not be absolute; either the town clerk or the license applicant could petition the board to change the boundaries if either felt the definition was inappropriate in a specific case.

Council members also briefly discussed the current procedures for the transfer of liquor licenses to new owners when businesses are sold, and the handling of liquor license renewals, both of which will be detailed in the new document. Gaddis and Gray will review the draft, make clarifications and corrections, and present it for adoption at the next town council meeting.

Business licenses granted

The town council also reviewed three business applications. Each applicant briefly spoke about the type of business they wished to open, and afterward answered questions for trustees.

RaeAnne Soles applied to open a salon and day spa. She recently received a state license that permits her to offer such services as facial treatments, skin peels, and waxing. The business will be called "Imagine Salon and Spa," and will be located in Suite "O" of the West End Center, next to Sweet Pea’s restaurant.

Jim and Maggie Amato would like to base a painting and repair business out of their home on Oakdale Drive, and will operate under their names. They will offer handyman services, repairs, and rental unit renovations. Painting services will be limited to unoccupied homes or rentals.

Clara Smith plans to operate a lunch counter from inside the Palmer Lake Country Store, located along Highway 105. She will offer breakfast and lunch items to go, such as sandwiches and breakfast burritos.

All three business licenses were unanimously approved by the trustees. Although a fourth application for a countertop fabrication and installation business (to be named Counter Revolutions) had been submitted, the owner was not present. Approval was postponed until a later date.

Awake the Lake committee

Judy Harrington of the Awake the Lake committee updated trustees on the status of fund-raising efforts, which she said were ongoing. The committee was planning to sell engraved concrete pavers at $75 each as well as ball caps, T-shirts, and an original CD by local artists. She said the committee continued to research long-term solutions for keeping the lake full.

Harrington also informed the council that a fund-raising event was in the works. If feasible, the committee would like to split the proceeds to benefit the lake fund and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Public discussion

Bob Miner addressed the council and attempted to argue for a requested variance to the hillside ordinance, which specifies that on pitches greater than or equal to 30 percent, no more than 15 percent of the lot shall be disturbed. The ordinance is intended to minimize erosion on steep slopes.

A heated exchange took place between Parker, who said he had heard that Miner had started the most recent Variance Committee meeting without a quorum, and Miner, who refused to address the accusation, but instead demanded to know who had told Parker that a quorum had not been present.

Miner was unclear about what he had hoped to accomplish by raising the hillside variance issue. Eventually McDonald informed the trustees and audience that the council would be entering into executive session, which it did at 8:20 p.m. No announcements or decisions were made after the council came back into public session to adjourn the meeting.

A Town Council Workshop is presently scheduled for Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The next regular meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council is scheduled on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent. The council sometimes combines the workshop and meeting; call the Town Clerk’s office at 481-2953 or check the Palmer Lake Web site at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us to verify meeting dates.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 6: Board approves revision of 2005 budget

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 6, the Board of Trustees held a pre-meeting reception to welcome new Public Works Director Richard Landreth and to say thanks to Trustee George Brown on his last night in office. The board amended the 2005 budget to account for the expenses incurred by the substantial turnover in town staff and related changes. Also amended was the language of the November ballot initiative calling for reallocation of town water system sales tax revenue to other purposes.

Brown, a resident of Santa Fe Trails, was elected to office in April 2002. Mayor Byron Glenn noted that Brown would be able to continue to serve on the town’s Economic Development Committee and Police Station Subcommittee because his new residence is just north of County Line Road and Highway 83 in Douglas County.

Landreth took the new Public Works Director position on Aug. 22. He has managed public and private Colorado water systems in several jobs since 1988. He was the Public Works Director for Bayfield, near Durango, when he accepted his new appointment in Monument.

Budget Amendment Ordinance approved

The board had approved Treasurer Pamela Smith’s proposed mid-year amendment to the 2005 budget on Aug. 15. The purpose of this ordinance was to enact that "Supplemental Budget and Appropriation." The net increase to the General Fund is $27,000, while the net change in the Water Enterprise Fund is a decrease of $57,622, for a total decrease of $30,622.

After accounting for TABOR reserves of $100,395, water reserves of $690,967, and the 15 percent recommended audit reserve of $468,755, the amended balance for the General Fund at the end of 2005 increases $115,265 to $689,184. The fund’s balance for the beginning of 2005 is $1,103,892.

Details listed in Smith’s summary of the larger revisions showed how unexpected expenses have affected the town’s finances this year. The budget amendment accounts for substantial employee turnover and the near exhaustion of the Public Works overtime budget that had occurred through mid-year.

Changes listed for the General Fund were:

  • The unbudgeted cost for payout of six-month salary and vacation and sick day benefits specified in employment contracts for what she called the "mass exodus" of department heads is $80,751.

  • An increase of $42,467 was required to fill the long vacant town clerk position for the remainder of the year and increase the town manager salary.

  • Salaries also increased by $1,666 each for the treasurer, director of Development Services, and the police chief

  • Capital outlay increased by: $42,500 to purchase new Casselle municipal software that will replace numerous staff-produced independent spreadsheets; $13,217 for unbudgeted expenses for the town entrance sign; and $5,000 for architect services and consulting for the proposed new police building.

  • Computer maintenance increased by $7,196 for continued reconfiguration and maintenance.

  • Legal expenses increased by $4,714 to cover TABOR, election, water, and personnel issues.

  • Capital lease expenses increased by $5,860 for Public Works Department computer security.

  • Insurance costs for life, short-term disability, and long-term disability increased by $5,153 to correct the original budget miscalculation.

  • Repair costs for town vehicles increased by $5,500 due to unexpected repairs on older vehicles.

  • Streets and parks expenses of $41,638 for salaries, overtime, and on-call pay were transferred to the Conservation Trust Fund for park maintenance and the Storm Drainage Fund for services. Smith noted that this change made it look as though these public works salary expenses decreased by $16,551, when in fact they increased by about $25,000.

Changes in the Water Enterprise Fund were:

  • Salaries, overtime, and on-call pay increased by $16,515 due to unexpected well maintenance and testing costs.

  • Costs for employer retirement matching funds increased by $5,650 due to insufficient funding in the original budget.

  • Well maintenance and testing costs were also increased by another $9,950 to cover unanticipated regulatory requirements and a proactive maintenance program.

These changes do not include possible additional personnel costs that may arise from the termination of Public Works Foreman Ray Fisk for poor management performance. Fisk was placed on administrative leave following his misdemeanor arrest on Aug. 26 by the Palmer Lake Police Department for "unlawful sexual contact" with a juvenile. Fisk was arraigned on Aug. 29 and his hearing in county court is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Fisk was replaced by Water Technician Steve Sheffield, who had been working under contract at the Triview Metropolitan District Water Department.

Discussion: Glenn asked Smith to discuss the $42,500 increase for Casselle administrative computer software. Smith said the 2005 budget had already included the module for water-billing, but it had not yet been purchased. She said the staff wanted to convert all record-keeping from the MAS 90 software purchased three years ago. Former treasurer Judy Skrzypek had created numerous Excel spreadsheets to manage the town’s finances due to shortcomings of the MAS 90 software for municipal management. Smith said the additional cost was for accounting, general ledger, and purchase order modules to convert the labor-intensive spreadsheets.

Brown asked if the price included implementation and update costs. Smith said that the software will cost no more $8,000 and the rest of the increase was for conversion, training, and implementation. She said she would check on when the town would have to begin paying for software updates, which she thought would be annual. She added that a listing of future maintenance and update cost details would be required by the request for proposal.

Trustee Frank Orten concurred with Smith, saying MAS 90 "is a great business application used by thousands of companies" but not well-suited to a municipality and that the spreadsheet problem would be solved. The board unanimously approved the budget reforecast amendment ordinance.

Ballot question amended

The board unanimously approved a resolution to amend the ballot question language for reallocating water fund sales tax revenue to other capital purposes. The original ballot language and the ordinance that authorized the ballot issue for the Nov. 1 election had been approved on Aug. 22 at a special board meeting to meet the Sept. 1 deadline.

Currently, revenue from the town’s 1 percent water sales tax can only be used for the water system. The ballot question proposes changing this restriction. The board has not proposed dissolving the Water Enterprise Fund, another option that was reviewed by the town’s TABOR lawyer.

The 1989 ballot issue that created the town’s water sales tax was passed before the TABOR amendment to the state constitution was adopted. The BOT converted the town water system to an enterprise fund to be exempt from TABOR refund requirements for excess tax revenue. The Water Enterprise Fund is supposed to be self-sustaining from collected customer fees. No more than 10 percent of the enterprise fund’s revenue can come from the water sales tax under TABOR.

Annual water sales tax revenue has exceeded this 10 percent TABOR limit for years, but the 1989 ballot issue prohibits use of the revenue for any other purpose than the water system. The water sales tax revenue that exceeds the 10 percent TABOR restriction is currently unusable for any purpose, though it does earn interest. However, this interest is also unusable under TABOR.

The wording of the proposed ordinance and ballot question had been changed several times as the issue was considered by trustees during previous BOT meetings. The versions of the ordinance and ballot question language that were first proposed for a board vote on Aug. 15 were rejected, and the issue was continued to a special BOT meeting on Aug. 22. The revised ordinance and ballot language approved at the special meeting was submitted to the county before the Sept. 1 deadline for a combined town and county election. This resolution only amended the ballot question language without changing it substantially in form, which is allowed by the language of the ballot issue ordinance.

This latest change was recommended by Attorney Thomas Peltz, of Kutak Rock LLP, the town’s consulting TABOR attorney. The ballot question now reads:

"Without increasing taxes, shall the town of Monument be allowed to modify restrictions on the sales tax revenues, as approved by the electors in 1989, to permit such revenues over and above that contributed to the town water enterprise fund, to be used for the construction or purchase and renovation of a police and/or governmental facilities complex, including fixtures, equipment and furniture, and for the acquisition of water rights and storage and delivery of any newly acquired water and shall such revenues constitute a voter approved revenue change under Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution."

Master drainage plan contract initiated

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said he had sent a request for qualifications to create a storm water drainage master plan to "11 or 12 firms." He had analyzed the nine responses to determine the top three. He asked the board to approve his ranking of these three and to authorize him to begin negotiations with the top-ranked firm, Ayres & Associates. He said he would bring back the negotiated contract for approval by the board.

Kassawara estimated that the cost would range between $75,000 and $100,000. These funds would come from the Storm Drainage Impact Fee account. Plan development should take about four months to complete.

The study will focus on the downtown area, including railroad track issues, and recommend regulation changes and funding options to implement the plan.

Glenn noted that Ayres had developed the Triview Metropolitan District’s master drainage plan. He also noted that Triview is responsible for drainage issues including those in the developments that are seeking annexation by the town and inclusion by the district.

Currently there are four proposed developments seeking annexation and inclusion: Home Place Ranch, on Higby Road; and Promontory Point, the Barber-Miller-Schmidt parcel, and the Baptist Camp parcel, all on Baptist Road.

The board unanimously approved Kassawara’s request.

Crossroads at Monument commercial development

Kassawara discussed the county’s request for the town’s comments on a proposed commercial development between Lake Woodmoor Drive and Highway 105 just east of the BP gas station on Woodmoor Drive. The developer’s proposal calls for a fast-food restaurant and an office building.

Kassawara’s proposed comments asked the county to require:

  • additional landscaping around the restaurant;

  • a traffic study that addresses the effects of the development on the intersections along Highway 105 from the Exit 161 to Knollwood, as well as the intersection of Woodmoor and Lake Woodmoor Drives;

  • copies of architectural drawings for the fast-food restaurant and office building be given to town staff for further review and comment to the county; and

  • preservation or relocation of existing trees on the parcel.

Trustee Gail Drumm requested that the letter ask that the traffic impact study also include traffic impacts caused by all the new and proposed developments south of Highway 105. Several trustees commented on the difficulty of turning left from Lake Woodmoor Drive onto southbound Woodmoor Drive, particularly if a motorist wished to proceed west over the Highway 105 bridge at rush hour. Drumm called this maneuver "a real bear."

The board approved Kassawara’s proposed comments by consensus, without a formal vote.

July Financial Statement approved

The board unanimously approved Smith’s 50-page July Financial Statement without comment. Glenn asked about the status of the unresolved 2004 audit.

Smith told the board that the consultants, former town treasurer Judy Skrzypek, and auditor Kyle Logan of Swanhorst & Cutter, LLC, had given her a rough draft of the 2004 audit but would need to ask the state for a second deadline extension to finish the report. She said the final draft would not be ready for the Sept. 19 BOT meeting. Skrzypek is performing the audit preparation work for the town since Smith did not start work until April 2005. Smith noted that she had e-mailed Skrzypek asking her to expedite completion of the audit.

Smith also had given the board a seven-page work plan listing 122 projects and tasks she needs to perform in the near term and asked the board to modify her prioritization of issues if required. In addition to financial matters, Smith is also acting town clerk and responsible for human resources, information technology and communications, and general, workman’s compensation, and liability insurance. The board proposed no changes to her list.

Town Manager’s Report

Green formally introduced Landreth as the new Public Works director and thanked Brown for his service to the town, noting specifically that she admired his commitment to the Police Department building, as well as to the board.

Brown said of his time on the board, "It’s been an interesting four years. … I learned a lot," and that the town staff is "fantastic." He recalled that a reporter had asked him how much he was going to spend on his first election campaign and he had replied "zero." When the reporter told him he wasn’t going to win, he had replied, "I hope not." He also noted that when he started as a trustee, the challenge was that the town had no money and it was easy to say no to proposals. He said now that the town had some revenue, there would be several hard choices to make regarding a number of proposals, but that he would be enjoying Monday night football instead.

In other matters, Green recommended organizing a joint dinner with the Triview Metropolitan District board to discuss creating joint regulations. Currently, Triview has its own regulations that differ in several ways from the town’s regulations.

Green suggested that the town might want to match employee donations to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund. After some discussion, the board unanimously approved Orten’s proposal to match up to $5,000 from the board’s contingency fund. There was also agreement on Orten’s proposal that a town potato bake would be a good way to raise money as well, perhaps to be organized with the support of the Historic Monument Merchants Association.

Green said that town clerk interviews would begin on Sept. 20 and noted that the empty trustee seat had to be filled no later than Sept. 29 to beat the 60-day deadline. Brown’s seat will have to be filled by Oct. 20. Four signs soliciting volunteers would be made and displayed throughout the town. Also, Board of Adjustments member Leon Johnson is moving outside the town boundaries and will have to be replaced.

Green noted that the School District 38 growth study had been postponed until Sept. 19.

She also asked the board to consider changing the town’s mileage reimbursement policy to match the federal policy so that it would change automatically in the future without board review and approval.

The meeting adjourned at 7:06 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 19: Board fills vacancy, receives presentations on growth, planning

Below: Newly appointed trustee Travis Easton at the far end of the table discusses secondary access to Remington Hills #1 with Rick Blevins holding drawing and other trustees and town staff. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click here on on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 19, the Board of Trustees (BOT) held a special meeting to hear the results of the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 50-year growth study and to review Town Manager Cathy Green’s findings on factors relating to varying urban densities.

In the regular meeting, the board appointed Travis Easton, who has served nine months as a planning commissioner, to replace former Trustee Scott Meszaros. Former mayor Betty Konarski gave a presentation on water issues that face the town during rapid growth. Trustee Tommie Plank was absent.

The town is seeking volunteers who have been residents of Monument for at least one year for two appointments. The appointment to fill the new vacancy created by Trustee George Brown’s resignation on Sept. 6 would expire at the April town election next year, and the appointee would have to stand for election to remain a trustee. The board will also make the appointment to fill the new Easton vacancy on the Planning Commission. Volunteers should contact Green at 884-8013 or cgreen@townofmonument.net for more information.

Special Meeting

D-38 growth described

District 38 Board of Education President Jes Raintree, Treasurer Bob Manning, and Superintendent Dave Dilley presented the results of a study conducted by consultant Strategic Resources West and the district’s Growth Coalition, a committee with representatives from numerous regional governmental agencies and other interested organizations.

When all the available residential lots within the district have houses built on them, there will be a need to build an additional six to seven elementary schools, one more middle school, and one more high school. There are currently five elementary, two middle, and one high school buildings in D-38, plus the Monument Academy, the district’s charter school. The new school buildings are projected to be about the same size as those in existence.

Dilley said the consultant’s projections call for total buildout to take from 30 to 50 years, though he believes that buildout "might be a little bit sooner than that." Enrollment will grow from the current 5,500 students to 12,804 students according to the study. He also presented a draft map of how the school boundaries might be aligned for the three middle schools and two high schools.

Manning said the spreadsheet created by the study is an "efficiency model" that predicts when the board must decide to open a school, set election dates for mill levy votes, issue construction bonds, begin construction, and begin teaching classes. He demonstrated several features of the large and complex spreadsheet and how to extract data. The model is based on 3 percent growth and easily accepts updates for changes in property values and development.

Manning noted that the next major milestone would be a bond issue for a new high school building in the November 2006 election and that new middle and elementary schools would not be needed until 2012. Dilley said that ideally both high schools would have about 3,000 to 3,200 students, the size of Lewis-Palmer High School five years ago. In describing the issues the district faces for school construction, Dilley noted that the empty land available for schools already tends not to be in places where the future students will live.

After a wide-ranging discussion, Glenn asked Dilley to meet with Town Manager Cathy Green to determine how annexation requests should best be handled to assist the district in providing the new schools. Dilley said the district needs land donations rather than cash-in-lieu for open space requirements as developments are approved, even though the district already owns a few future elementary school sites. Dilley thanked Green for her participation in the Growth Coalition.

Density issues described

Green presented a slide show about parameters that are useful in analyzing developments with varying degrees of urban density. She described a narrow, but highly emotional split that exists in the urban planning profession on what the optimum density for a "great city" means. One group believes in high-rise cities with densities of over 200 dwelling units per acre with 100-story buildings of small apartments, in order to fund museums, theaters, and the like. The other group believes that density should not exceed 10 to 20 dwelling units per acre to promote views and a sidewalk café atmosphere.

Green also noted that the tax structure in Colorado creates a dilemma since municipality funding comes more from sales tax than property tax. Adequate sales tax revenue requires a lot of commercial property but retail follows residential development rather than leading it.

Also, residential areas are money losers after construction is completed because the cost of maintaining their expensive infrastructure is more than the money raised through the state’s comparatively low property taxes. Some other western states and cities have developed tight regulations to balance and separate residential and commercial development, but these types of limits are generally unpopular in Colorado, except in Boulder.

Green observed that most Colorado homeowner associations protect their perception of "quality of life" by vigorously protesting development of any adjacent open land and demanding that municipal staffs preserve their community’s low density surroundings and home views. She said Monument regulations do not currently protect individual home view corridors as is done in Douglas County. Also, Monument does not have regulations that promote life-cycle housing where residents can find appropriate housing for the various stages of life—from single living to child raising to downsized homes in senior communities—all in the same town.

Green also reported that there is very little professional collection of density data or analysis of the related community issues for rural areas like the Tri-Lakes region. Even Jackson Creek, which averages three dwelling units per acre, is thought of as rural by the planning profession. As a result, she said, there is often no significant shopping development in towns like Monument and Palmer Lake.

Regular Meeting

Glenn asked that the agenda be modified to add two items: appointment of a new trustee and delaying Baptist Road improvements near I-25. Both were unanimously approved.

Complaint about ballot issue

Glenn said that he had "a heavy heart" because he had been "notified by a newspaper last week" that the paper had received a phone call complaint from a citizen who "didn’t think the ballot issue was fair." Glenn said that the caller’s complaint was that Jackson Creek residents "were being given a break" because Triview Metropolitan District would still receive their full 50 percent of sales tax revenue per their intergovernmental agreement with the town before reallocation of the rest of the funds, unlike the rest of the town.

Glenn said the residents of Jackson Creek and the other parts of town "need to stick together as a town" along with those who are annexed in the future as the town expands its boundaries, and that everyone in town is treated the same and contributes the same. The ballot issue is a "straight across the board sales tax initiative, not a sales tax increase, but a reallocation of our current tax." He added that the ballot question is not a wedge issue between Jackson Creek versus Old Town. He asked the board to help him get out the word that there is no separation between the residents.

Konarski discusses town water resources

Konarski gave a preliminary report on findings of a group of interested citizens who are developing a strategic water plan for the town. She proposed a draft goal and some guiding principles for the plan and asked for feedback from the board.

She proposed a draft goal for the plan: "A diversified portfolio of water rights and facilities sufficient to reliably meet the water demand of the town of Monument at buildout to the ultimate service area." The word diversified was defined as a "suitable mix of surface water, groundwater, and storage water rights."

She also proposed draft guiding principles for the plan: "Convert from a water supply system that is primarily based upon wells in the Denver aquifer to a more integrated water supply system that includes at least 30 percent (?) renewable water rights within the next 20 years with additional renewable sources added in the future to balance the reductions being seen in Denver Basin productivity."

She also suggested that water acquisition plans should be developed with a 20-year horizon and updated every one or two years, and that the town should own the water rights for the town’s water supplies.

Groundwater: Konarski also made several observations about the town’s Denver Basin groundwater situation. Monument has only adjudicated some of its water rights in the lower Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers, including rights within the town boundaries and about one-third of those the town owns beneath Beaver Creek Ranch.

The town’s water rights in the upper Dawson and Denver aquifers have never been adjudicated. She advised that careful analysis would be required to determine the cost-benefit tradeoffs of adjudicating the upper aquifer water given their declining yields and the requirement for augmentation water plans.

None of the water in any of the four aquifers under land recently annexed has been adjudicated. She suggested that the town "obtain landowner consents to adjudicate the Denver Basin groundwater outside the previously decreed January 1, 1985 boundaries." She also suggested that the town require in the future that all landowners deed their groundwater rights to the town as a condition of annexation and establish a fee system that would fund the town’s legal work to adjudicate these deeded rights.

Similarly, as renewable water rights are purchased in the future, the town must adjudicate those as well, and also have a funding mechanism to pay for these legal costs.

Konarski said the town needed to have a plan for declining groundwater production even as more wells are drilled and operating costs increase for each well. She noted that the town’s alluvial wells require full augmentation and that 12 other town alluvial water rights on Monument Creek are not being used due to their full augmentation requirement.

Renewable water: The town owns five renewable or surface water rights for Beaver Creek, though all of this water is "used to augment wells pumping out of priority." She suggested buying other renewable water to decrease the amount of Denver Basin well water consumed. She said Arkansas Basin surface water rights should also be purchased. Gaining court approval to store Beaver Creek water in Monument Lake was also suggested; the town currently owns no storage rights in this lake.

She also suggested that the town "maintain communications with Colorado Springs Utilities regarding the possibility/potential of being included in an enlarged water service area." The town should also engage in networks that give access to projects that would bring water storage, transportation, and treatment opportunities.

An example of the latter is the Palmer Divide Water Group, of which Monument is a member, attempting to negotiate with Colorado Springs Utilities to participate in the Southern Delivery System, if and when it is constructed.

Storage: The town has a 1 million-gallon potable water storage tank that was built in 1977 near Wakonda Hills. Monument Lake has a maximum storage capacity of 469 acre-feet but currently is restricted to recreational use only as a condition of a county grant to buy water to partially refill the lake.

In addition to obtaining storage rights in Monument Lake, Konarski suggested that the town also consider obtaining rights in the Bristlecone Reservoir on Beaver Creek to store the town’s existing renewable creek water rights. Other options for analysis are transporting stored water between storage sites for eventual human consumption, re-use, or augmentation.

Funding: Konarski suggested immediately creating the funding sources for these future actions to spread the cost as much as possible. She recommended a service fee to be added to water bills, dedicated solely to purchase of renewable water. Also suggested was a new fee for new developments that would also be "designated for the acquisition of renewable water resources, so future development can pay its own way."

She also suggested that the town analyze the efficiency and cost effectiveness of separate water treatment facilities at three well locations versus a new centralized treatment plant as well as the option of contracting out the town’s water treatment. Other options to analyze are capturing, treating, and re-directing or re-using storm water and wastewater effluent.

She also recommended retaining the town’s consulting water attorney and water engineer for continuity in educating all the new staff members as well as the board on these issues.

She concluded by saying that the controlling issue for quality of life in the region is water, not growth, and that wouldn’t change even if all future growth were halted.

New trustee appointed

Planning Commissioner Travis Easton was unanimously appointed as a trustee to fill one of two empty seats on the board. Easton is a civil engineer who works on development projects for Nolte and Associates, the Triview Metropolitan District’s engineering consultant firm. He said he has lived in Jackson Creek for 20 months, is married, and has a 9-month old daughter. He said he would run for office in April and was reminded to file for election. He was sworn in by Police Chief Jake Shirk and took his seat as a voting member of the board.

Hillsong Village

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara recommended that the board support the rezoning request of Monument Gateway Investments, LLC for their 29-acre county property near Misty Acres Boulevard, just east of I-25. He said lowering the density of the zoning from Planned Office Center to Planned Unit Development to develop 65 single-family home lots "should help to preserve the view corridor along I-25" and "should be more compatible with the surrounding properties." Minimum lot size for the development will be 7,000 square feet, and there will be 5.33 acres of open space.

Kassawara’s draft letter, which was approved by consensus, asked the county to follow these guidelines from the 2000 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan:

  • Establish and maintain substantial setbacks from I-25 for future transportation expansion.

  • Incorporate provisions for an I-25 Visual Overlay Zone.

  • Encourage clustering concepts to preserve permanent open space and viewsheds to the Front Range and eastern plains.

  • Connect the development to county trail systems.

Glenn noted that the development would provide an additional 650 vehicle trips per day on Monument Hill Road, which is "not any type of collector whatsoever." He suggested a comment be added requesting a traffic study on the effects on Monument Hill Road and Woodmoor Drive to see if any improvements are required. Kassawara said the county has been responsive to the town’s requests for traffic studies recently. Glenn offered to write a separate letter for this request for greater effectiveness. Trustee Gail Drumm also asked that Kassawara notify the county that water flows through the center of the property from a large spring.

Secondary access ordinance approved

At the Aug. 15 BOT meeting, the board approved Filing 1 of Remington Hills, at the north end of Leather Chaps Drive in Jackson Creek, with a condition that a second emergency access be provided for the 91 single-family home lots for resident and emergency personnel safety. Glenn said at that time that he felt any filing with only a single access road and over 25 homes should have a secondary 20-foot wide emergency access. However, there was no town regulation to that effect and the Tri-Lakes Fire Authority fire marshal approved the plat without a secondary access. Although the board approved the filing with Glenn’s proposed condition, the developer, Vision Development, Inc., formally protested the second access condition at the time of approval.

The proposed emergency ordinance formally creates a new section of the town code and establishes the secondary access requirement for residential subdivisions containing more than 25 single-family homes, or if there are unique topographical features that require a second access.

There was no citizen input for or against the proposed ordinance during the public hearing.

Glenn noted that this requirement "is in line with Colorado Springs and Castle Rock." Orten asked who would be responsible for building and maintaining the secondary access if topography required the secondary access to be a very long road. Glenn said the developer would be responsible for both, that it would only be a graded temporary road with a gravel bed, and that it is necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of all who access the subdivision.

Orten replied that the requirement was "a double-edged sword" considering the "financial commitments imposed" and liabilities the developer would incur versus the need to ensure access by the numerous emergency vehicles that respond to a structure fire.

Trustee Dave Mertz asked if there should be a time limit on the temporary secondary access, noting that the longer it is in existence, the more it would be used as an alternate road. Glenn said the subdivision improvement agreement would require the developer to maintain it regardless of how much it is used. Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the emergency road could be blocked, to prevent unauthorized use, with a light cable and padlock that could easily be driven through by an arriving fire engine.

Kassawara said that "with this requirement on the books," developers would plan around the requirement and develop filings in a sequential manner that would avoid or minimize the problem. He also noted that other small towns like Monument have this requirement too. Glenn said that the Tri-Lakes Fire Authority "would have to start looking at urbanized firefighting and that not all residential lots are 3 to 5 acres in the country."

Mertz asked if the requirement could apply retroactively to the single-access roads serving the Carriages subdivision and to Kitchener Road in the Academy View subdivision. Both these limited accesses connect to Lyons Tail Drive between Leather Chaps Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway. Glenn said no, but the town could consider revising the subdivision improvement agreement prior to approval of future filings.

The emergency ordinance was approved unanimously.

Remington Hills condition revisited

In a letter to the board dated Aug. 25, Rick Blevins, Director of Development for Vision Development, Inc., asked the board to remove the condition since there was no ordinance or regulation in existence for such a requirement. He stated "that there is no basis, technical or otherwise, for the condition other than the last-minute demand of Mayor Glenn." Blevins noted that he had consulted with the developer’s traffic engineer and the Tri-Lakes fire marshal and they "concluded again that a secondary access for the subdivision is not warranted."

Blevins also noted in his letter that Triview’s District Manager Ron Simpson said the district was in no position to pay for construction or maintenance of a temporary extension of Harness Road to Higby as a secondary access. Extending Harness to Higby would be cheaper than extending Bowstring Road to Higby. However, neither the final alignment nor the final grade of either connection to Higby has been defined, so any temporary roadway built would likely have to be torn out in the future. Triview is responsible for the cost of "public roads" such as Harness and Bowstring, while Vision Development is responsible for building all the other residential streets in the subdivision.

Blevins also noted in his letter that the right-of-way for the planned contiguous segments of Bowstring and Harness are 60 feet wide, with 39 feet of asphalt. There is landscaping space in the setbacks from the right-of-way for additional emergency vehicle maneuvering room. Blevins wrote, "There is clearly enough space for fire and ambulance vehicles to pass a stalled vehicle in an emergency situation."

Glenn began the discussion by saying that the town had relied on fire districts to identify and enforce life safety issues during the approval process in the past. He said the town must now take over that responsibility of protecting the residents through the ordinance that had just been passed. He also noted that a secondary access already existed in the form of a construction road between the subdivision and the electrical substation. He said he had driven the length of the construction road in the previous week. However, with the precedents of the Carriages and Academy View subdivisions, he said he didn’t think the town could enforce the condition requiring a secondary access, even though he disagreed with the developer’s arguments and an access road already existed. He recommended that the board drop the condition.

A motion to rescind the condition passed 4-1 with Drumm opposed. The lengthy discussion continued after the vote, however.

Blevins said Glenn had driven down a utility easement that would also serve as a trail when the development reaches build out. He also said that the easement had been used to fight grass fires in the past without being graded or graveled. However, Vision Development could not and would not accept the liability for a gravel road if a fire engine got stuck on the easement. Blevins then stated that he "wanted to explain why the fire marshal says it’s okay."

Vision Development intends to fill the 5-foot gap between the asphalt and the 5-foot sidewalk with river rock and the sidewalk will now be straight rather than meandering.

The rock and sidewalk would provide plenty of hard surface for ingress of emergency vehicles and timely egress of ambulances and resident vehicles, as verified by the traffic engineer and the fire marshal. The total available width with the landscaping setback from the planned sidewalks would be no less than 75 feet, which would be sufficient even if a ladder truck were parked in the road with its outriggers extended. Glenn said that this would not be true when snow was plowed to the curbs.

Blevins concluded by saying that with the ordinance now in place, his company would build a secondary access through the adjacent undeveloped Renaissance subdivision when Filing 2 of Remington Hills is built.

Blevins also said that Triview Metropolitan District would not build the 50 feet of road that would connect the north and south segments of Kitchener Road nor require developer Miles Grant to build it for Triview. Glenn responded, "We have two developers in the district fighting and who suffers? The public."

Paving contract approved

The board unanimously approved a street paving contract with Schmidt Construction Company for $211,777 and a contingency amount of $10,233 for a total of $222,000. The funding is split between Streets and Highways Capital Outlay ($202,000) and Storm Drainage Impact Fee Fund ($20,000.) The estimated completion time for the project is 45 to 60 days.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved a resolution that ties the town’s mileage reimbursement policy to the federal policy allowing for automatic rate adjustments without board votes.

The board unanimously approved pass-through payments from the state to Triview of $6,343.79 for July motor vehicle sales tax and $48,934 for June sales tax.

Treasurer Pamela Smith said the state had turned town Auditor Kyle Logan’s request for another extension on the 2004 audit to Oct. 31. She said that if the town did not file an audit by Sept. 30, the state would temporarily withhold collected revenue until it receives the final audit. The board scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 to review and approve the final audit and directed Smith to have Logan attend that meeting to present his findings.

The board unanimously approved a new three-year telecommunications contract, beginning in 2006, with a new service provider, Cbeyond. First year costs will be $7,888 and then $699 a month. Smith said annual savings would be $4,400 a year compared to the expiring contract.

Reports

Development Services: Kassawara reported that the final PD site plans for the Wal-Mart in Monument Marketplace were approved, the land use permit was issued, and the building plans were submitted to the Regional Building Department for review. He also met with Triview District Manager Ron Simpson to discuss the progress of the town’s new construction observation and inspection program.

Town Manager: Green reported that the citizen advisory committees require a lot of staff time under the current ordinances. Each one requires a staff member to attend and record minutes as well as prepare extensive review packages. She suggested that the committees have less formal rules, no longer require board appointments, and allow for increased membership including interested people who are not town voters. Glenn agreed with Green.

Planning Commissioner Lowell Morgan reviewed substantial contributions that the citizen advisory groups had made in the past. The board agreed to discuss the matter again at future meetings.

The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m. The next regular board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month.

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Monument Board of Trustees, September 28: Board approves 2004 audit

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the final 2004 audit at a Special Meeting on Sept. 28. The delay in approving the audit, compared to previous years, was explained in part on the cover page of the 50-page document. Five of the ten town principals listed for 2004 have departed since the New Year, including former Town Treasurer/Clerk Judy Skrzypek, Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg, Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall, Trustee Scott Meszaros, and Trustee George Brown. One vacant Trustee position and two vacant Planning Commission positions remain unfilled. Treasurer Pamela Smith’s background paper to the board noted that tax revenue would have been withheld by the state had the final 2004 audit not been submitted to the State Auditor’s office by Sept. 30.

Auditor Kyle Logan of Swanhorst & Company LLC said the audit was an "unqualified report, a ‘clean’ opinion, the best opinion we give." He added that as the town’s auditor for several years, he has seen continuous steady improvement each year. Some financial highlights he pointed out were:

  • Town assets exceeded liabilities by $7,739,017 of which $3,855,089 are unrestricted.

  • Net assets increased $678,833 in 2004 to $7,588,085.

  • Town fund balances at the end of 2004 totaled $1,487,291, an increase for the year of $587,498, and of which $957,745 are unrestricted.

  • The general fund increased $798,381, but was offset by not getting a grant of $108,000 for Mitchell Avenue and a decline of $119,548 in the water fund due in large part to construction for well 8.

  • Planning expenditures were up about $40,000 due retainer fees that were written off.

  • The unreserved balance of the General Fund was $589,714, which is 25 percent of the total General Fund expenditures.

  • The Town’s debt decreased by $316,314 in 2004.

  • Sales and use revenue increased in 2004 by 6 percent to $1,789,186, where the key factor in the increase was six months of Home Depot revenue, and road construction for Monument Exit 161 and I-25 "did not have a significant impact on businesses in total for that area."

Logan also noted that the accounting methods had changed for 2004, in accordance with General Accounting Standards Board Statements 34 and 38, as they had for numerous other government entities, to comply with new national government accounting standards to make audits look more like standard commercial business audits using full accrual and modified accrual methods.

Logan made several comments after noting that there were no significant issues or audit adjustments. He said:

  • The town’s cemetery fund balance for the end of 2004 was $18 and the town should avoid subsidizing the cemetery from the general fund.

  • Some cash receipts were not deposited in a timely manner.

  • While new software to replace the "antiquated water billing system" will help, financial controls are needed with three different people opening payment envelopes, depositing payments, and posting bills.

  • Controls on electronic payments for vendors need similar controls.

  • A better crosscheck mechanism is needed to compare business license renewals with tax revenue.

Trustee Dave Mertz noted that Smith had addressed all the outstanding issues. Trustee Frank Orten said it was exciting to see such progress.

The meeting adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

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Monument Board of Adjustment, September 28: Tuscany Hills Plaza receives parking variance

By Jim Kendrick

Tuscany Hills Plaza owner Tony Duca had requested that the town allow him to convert two end retail bays into a single Mexican restaurant site. However, Monument’s parking space requirements for restaurants are twice those for retail stores in new construction and there is no room to add spaces on the property. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara supported Duca’s request and explained why they were seeking a variance instead of amending town parking space requirements.

Tuscany Hills Plaza is a five-unit retail and restaurant strip center on 1455 Cipriani Loop, southwest of the intersection of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. Originally the layout of the new center included a space for a 4,585 square foot Italian restaurant and four retail spaces totaling 7,248 square feet. Duca asked that the proposed wall between the two end retail bays be eliminated to create a second Mexican restaurant space of just over 3,600 square feet, leaving the two center retail spaces unchanged.

Restaurant regulations call for 1 parking space for each 100 square feet while retail requires 1 parking space for each 200 square feet. A strict application of the regulations would have changed the requirement from 36 retail spaces and 46 restaurant spaces to 18 for retail and 81 for restaurant, a total of 101. The parking lot was designed with 83 spaces. Kassawara said that the two restaurants would have different peak parking periods than the proposed children’s after school gym and dry cleaning store. He suggested a variance that would require, as a compromise, 1 parking space for each 150 square feet of space, which would require 79 parking spaces.

However, Kassawara said he did not want to amend the town’s regulations, since they have been very useful in the recent past. Board member Don Smith agreed saying that the regulation was created to eliminate the problem of restaurants depending mainly on insufficient on-street parking places. He said people often parked on undeveloped lots or on front lawns at peak periods until recently. He also asked Kassawara if there would be enough spaces if any of the businesses failed and turned over to new uses. Kassawara said there were probably enough spaces for that eventuality as well, though some motorists might park in the adjacent commercial lot at peak periods. The board unanimously approved Duca’s request and adjourned at 6:22 p.m.

The next Board of Adjustment meeting is at 5:45 p.m. on October 12 at Town Hall, 166 Second Street. Board of Adjustment meetings are not held on a regular schedule.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, September 12: New treatment facility building undergoes changes

By Jim Kendrick

The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) reported that construction was progressing satisfactorily on the new laboratory and administration building. Copper concentrations in the WWTF discharge, which were occasionally elevated a year ago, remain below the temporary and tighter permanent limits of the facility’s new five-year permit. However, the JUC remains concerned about possible regulatory problems when copper restrictions are scheduled to tighten in 2008.

Woodmoor Water and Sewer District (WWSD), Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Monument Sanitation District (MSD) are the co-owners of the treatment facility. Each district owns one-third of the facility’s capital assets. The JUC consists of one primary and one alternate member from each district. However, ownership of the plant’s water treatment capacity is roughly proportional to the amount of wastewater they deliver to the plant. Woodmoor owns roughly three times the treatment capacity of PLSD and MSD and also manages the facility as the executive support agent for the other two districts.

Financial report unanimously accepted

The payment of all bills was approved. The cost for the just-completed ammonia model for monitoring WWTF effluent concentrations was $3,000. The JUC’s consultant, Bill Lewis of the University of Colorado-Boulder, is the state’s nitrogen and ammonia expert and developed the state’s standard tests. There was also a labor charge of $17,836 for JUC work performed by Woodmoor’s District Manager Phil Steininger and District Engineer Jessie Shaffer on the new building.

Operations report

Facility Manager Bill Burks reported that test results for August showed that all concentrations of chemicals measured in the wastewater entering the facility and in the discharged effluent were normal. Copper, ammonia, and nitrogen levels were all well below permitted maximum concentrations. The copper concentration in the discharged water entering Monument Creek was again 8 parts per billion, barely above the minimum measurable amount.

Mike Wicklund, MSD manager, suggested taking additional copper readings at both of Monument’s testing vaults for two months to determine how the influent concentrations vary during each month.

Woodmoor’s JUC representative Benny Nasser, who is a chemist, said he had performed mass balance computations that showed that all the plant gauge readings and measurement test results are precisely consistent and that the plant removes just over 10 pounds of copper per month.

Facility Manager Bill Burks reported that the periodic sludge removal would be completed by the end of September. The next sludge removal will have to be performed in 24 months.

Building Construction

Shaffer reported that he had negotiated a change order with Access Construction for the new WWTF building. The changes for restroom tile, additional parking curbing to improve drainage and erosion control, electrical, and communication upgrades totaled $8,965, well within the projected construction budget, and were approved unanimously.

Steininger suggested that the JUC formally amend the project budget of $382,346 and contract of $343,836 to add the $8,965 change order, which was approved unanimously. He also noted that other facility costs had changed and may exceed the budgeted contingency of $19,000 by about $4,000, for a total cost of $439,581. The expected changes are:

  • Landscaping costs should decrease by $2,500, but installation will be delayed to spring of 2006, which will require a budget rollover.

  • Phone and cabling costs should increase by $3,000.

  • Asphalt costs should increase by $15,000.

  • Control system relocation and re-programming costs should increase by $7,200.

Insurance

Steininger also reported that he had followed up on the concerns expressed regarding risk coverage at the Aug. 22 annual JUC meeting. The WWTF insurer had performed a risk analysis at the time of policy renewal and would send its risk analyst out to perform another evaluation.

The meeting adjourned at 7:27 p.m. The next JUC meeting will be held at the PLSD office, 120 Middle Glenway, on Oct. 11, due to the Columbus Day holiday, at 6 p.m., before the regular PLSD board meeting. Meetings are normally scheduled on the second Monday of the month. The location rotates among the three districts. For information, call 488-2525.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, September 13: Billing cycle to change in 2006

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board approved a change in the billing cycle to calendar months beginning on Jan. 1. Inspection of district sewer pipes has been completed.

Directors Jim Wyss and Jim Whitelaw were absent.

Financial report

President Jim Taylor reported that all income aspects of the budget were "on pace." Some spending has been higher than budgeted, as expected, since professional and construction expenses tend to be bunched early in the year.

No replacement for Water Technician Toby Ormand has been hired yet. Ormand recently transferred from Woodmoor to fill the new operator position created at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (WWTF).

Integrity Bank presentation

Randall Rush, President of Trust Services and Executive Vice President, discussed the bank’s investment objectives for managing the district’s cash reserves. The bank will seek maximum security by investing in state-approved instruments such as 30-, 60-, and 90-day T-bills to minimize risk as interest rates rise. The accounts are not protected by FDIC or insurance, so the bank will tend to hold these investments to maturity to avoid any loss of face value. The initial investment will be about $3.5 million.

JUC report

Vice President Benny Nasser summarized the actions taken at the Joint Use Committee (JUC) meeting of Sept. 12. (See JUC article on page 25 for details.) There was a lengthy discussion of the reported progress, change orders, costs, and management responsibilities for administering the design-build contract issues for the new WWTF lab and administrative building.

There was also a brief discussion of current restrictions on using the processed sludge from the WWTF for other than agricultural fertilizer. Plant operator Bill Burks said that sludge removal should be completed by the end of November.

Manager’s Report

Water issues: Steininger asked for an executive session to discuss Palmer Divide Water Group negotiations, then summarized the results of a South Platte River Basin Roundtable meeting he attended Sept. 1 in Greeley. He said the meeting was largely procedural, with representatives stating their goals and concerns.

Sewer pipe lining: All video camera inspections of the interior of collection lines have been completed to determine which need to be cleaned and/or re-lined to minimize groundwater infiltration. The $350,000 budget will pay for up to 8,750 feet of relining.

Central Water Treatment Plant: The addition should be completed and on-line by April or May. Bids have been received and plans submitted to the Regional Planning Department.

Warehouse Facility: The warehouse’s architectural aspects have been coordinated with the county and Woodmoor Improvement Association. Even though parking for all district vehicles had been planned to be inside the garage, the Regional Planning Department is also requiring new additional external parking spaces because of the increase in square footage.

Subdivision status: There were no significant district-related changes reported for Village Center at Woodmoor and Walter Commons, though construction is proceeding on approved filings. The county had concerns about turnaround space for maintenance access of Well 7 within Brookmoor Filing 3. Installation of water and sewer infrastructure remains suspended due to county concerns regarding Misty Acres Filing 1.

The Greenland Preserves lift station design is being reviewed by the state health department. The district is still negotiating an excess water agreement for the Crossroads at Monument commercial development, which will include a carwash.

Cheyenne Mountain Development Company LLC has put some properties surrounding Lake Woodmoor under contract. The district has granted the current owner, KAB Pankey LLC, a water allotment for the surrounding undeveloped property that would be sufficient to serve up to the equivalent of 400 multifamily housing units. Development plans currently call for a combination of single- and multi-family homes and commercial space.

The Colorado Heights Camping Resort on Monument Hill Road, by I-25, will be adding 53 units; each new unit will count as 1/13 of a sewer tap under its contract with the district. The campground has its own well for water. The well is metered to determine sewer flow charges.

Steininger and the district’s attorney Erin Smith recommended that the board pass a policy resolution on sexual harassment and on charges for availability of water and sewer services for undeveloped lots within a partially completed subdivision. There was a lengthy discussion on the mechanics of both processes.

A budget workshop meeting was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 18 to start reviewing the draft 2005 budget that Steininger will present to the board on Oct. 11.

The first of three district Xeriscaping classes taught by landscape architect Don Claussen was held Sept. 20 and attended by 10 district residents. The other classes in the series will be offered in the spring.

The meeting went into executive session to discuss water and property acquisition negotiation at 3:15 p.m. There were no announcements after the executive session concluded and no other action taken before the meeting was officially adjourned.

The next meeting will be held on Oct 11 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, September 13: Triview tables Donala’s wastewater plant buyout offer; water rates may remain unchanged for 2006

By Sue Wielgopolan

At their September meeting, the Donala Board of Directors received copies of a letter from the Triview Metro District acknowledging Donala’s buyout offer and stating its intention to pursue expansion funding options.

General Manager Dana Duthie recommended to board members that Donala maintain its current rate structure, barring unforeseen emergency expenses.

President Charlie Coble was absent.

El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA)

Duthie, who also serves as treasurer for the EPCWA, updated board members on the authority’s activities. He told board members that Pat Ratliff, lobbyist for the EPCWA and the Douglas County Water Authority, said that the Douglas County Authority would probably disband. This should have little effect on the EPCWA or its activities.

Phil Steininger represented El Paso County at a meeting of the South Platte River drainage roundtable. Seventy-four people attended; of those, just over 50 were appointees. Several appointees were absent.

Ten more members will be added. The complete roundtable will then select two delegates from among themselves to represent the South Platte drainage on the Interbasin Compact Committee, which will work on water legislation to be proposed by July 2006.

The formation of the nine river basin roundtables was mandated by HB05-1177, which was passed by the Colorado legislature in keeping with recommendations put forth in the Statewide Water Supply initiative (SWSI). The intent of the roundtables is to create forums where water users with conflicting interests work to resolve their differences and propose solutions to dividing and distributing Colorado’s limited water resources.

Duthie told the board that although Director of Compact Negotiations Russell George is a skilled facilitator, about half of the appointees in attendance were protective of their existing water rights and appeared reluctant to engage in negotiations that might result in compromise.

The EPCWA has two more roundtable delegates; one on the Denver Metro and another on the Arkansas River Basin roundtable. Both groups were scheduled to meet the week of Sept. 12.

El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark initiated efforts to establish a county-sponsored Web site for the EPCWA. The site will contain details about the authority, as well as meeting announcements and roundtable results.

Duthie said that membership dues for the EPCWA will increase 3 percent next year. El Paso County had at one time assumed much of the cost of the authority, but cut off funds several years ago. Authority members would like to be able to support administrative costs with dues, including executive agent Gary Barber’s salary. Barber is also manager of the Palmer Divide Water Group and the EPCWA’s appointee to the Arkansas Basin roundtable.

Donala’s dues for 2006 will be $3,245. Donala’s share of the Transit Loss Model Study, which EPCWA co-sponsors, will be roughly the same amount. The study will provide the data needed to construct a computer model that will more accurately portray water flow and loss along Monument Creek before it joins the Arkansas River.

The next EPCWA meeting will take place on Oct 5 at 9 p.m. in the 3rd floor meeting room of the El Paso County building, 27 E. Vermijo.

Water sales below expectations

Duthie said that the district had sold effluent to Monument to offset water already captured in Monument Lake. Donala has not yet installed the proper flume for Jake’s Lake to be able to supply Gleneagle Golf Course. Although water sales were below expectations for the year to date, Duthie expects them to rebound later in the fall.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Duthie said that Barber briefed PDWG members on his meeting with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Resource Supply Manager and Donala resident Wayne Vandershuere. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss possibilities for regional cooperation in providing surface water to northern El Paso County to help solve the looming water supply crisis as Denver Basin wells are depleted.

At the meeting, Vandershuere conveyed the city council’s concern over accelerating growth outside city limits. CSU is reluctant to enter into any cooperative agreement to help provide surface water that could further encourage that growth, in particular the PDWG’s inclusion in the Southern Delivery System (SDS). In the case of communities to the north, the utility is also concerned that water originating in the Arkansas Basin could end up in the South Platte Basin in communities south of metro Denver, such as Parker.

Barber drafted letters to CSU presenting two proposals for regional cooperation and reiterating the Bureau of Reclamation’s admonition to work together to forge a mutually beneficial solution to the future water supply shortfall in northern El Paso County. Copies of the proposals and letters will be forwarded to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Hopes for a possible surface water storage reservoir site in Forest Lakes Estates evaporated when Schuck Company announced it intends to subdivide the area in question to build patio homes during the second phase of construction. In addition, acreage surrounding the original existing reservoir will be platted into 33 1-acre home sites.

Because fluctuating water levels, which are intrinsic to a storage reservoir, would negatively affect real estate value, Schuck is adamant that the reservoir cannot be considered as a regional water storage site.

Further development will include commercial or industrial development. Schuck has not yet confirmed or denied whether Transit Mix is still considering the southern area as a concrete batch plant site.

The next meeting of the PDWG was scheduled to take place on Sept. 15.

Water rates likely unchanged for 2006

Duthie recommended to the board that Donala retain its present rate structure through 2006. Generally, the board increases rates every two years. Donala’s rates, including residential charges and commercial cap and development fees, were increased for 2005, so at present, Duthie recommends no change.

Although this has been a wet year, resulting in lower overall water sales income, no expensive major repairs have yet impacted expenditures. Duthie cautioned the board that even one well break could severely skew the district’s profit to loss margin.

Board member Dennis Dougherty asked if adjustments could be made later, should unforeseen repairs or other expenditures become necessary. Duthie replied that the board would only be recommending that he proceed with building next year’s budget. No figures would be finalized until the Nov. 30 meeting.

CWPA approves Donala loan; Triview rejects buyout

Duthie reported that the Colorado Water and Power Authority (CWPA) approved Donala’s loan application for up to $10 million. The loan approval was time-sensitive as current flow rates into the plant have already exceeded the predetermined trigger point for beginning expansion construction.

Triview Metro District, co-owner with Donala and Forest Lakes Metro District of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Facility (WWTF), acknowledged Donala’s offer to buy out its portion of the WWTF, but did not give a definitive yes or no answer. After receiving word from the CWPA that Triview’s loan application for $5 million was likely to be rejected, Donala amended its loan application amount from $5 million to $10 million, so that critical construction deadlines could be met. Donala then gave Triview until the end of 2005 to find the means to fund its $5 million share of the facility expansion.

Written correspondence from Triview to Donala stated that in addition to reapplying for the CWPA loan in October, the district would also be exploring alternative sources of financing.

Upper Monument Creek Regional WWTF prepares for expansion construction

Issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) over the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat plan continue to delay access road work. The FWS required the Forest Lakes District, permit applicant and owner of the property surrounding the plant, to provide a letter of credit indicating that money to be used for habitat restoration will be available once work is complete. Forest Lakes wants to put the money into escrow instead. Work can begin only after the FWS reaches an agreement with Forest Lakes regarding acceptable documentation of the funds.

Mountain View Electric must also move its lines before access road construction begins.

The Operations Coordination Committee (OCC), comprised of the plant superintendent and engineers and managers from the three districts that co-own the WWTF, received two bids for access road dirt work and construction of the railroad crossing. The committee selected low bidder Glacier Construction, which will do the work for $159,000. Construction should begin by Oct.1, dependent upon whether Forest Lakes is able to obtain verbal approval from the FWS for its mouse habitat plan.

The committee is moving forward with plans to reinforce rather than replace the small bridge across Jackson Creek. The current capacity of the bridge, while adequate for traffic presently using it, might not support the larger cement trucks and earthmovers that will be crossing frequently during expansion construction. Although the single lane bridge might eventually be expanded to two lanes after Forest Lakes begins residential development, the WWTF owners opted to go with the less pricey, less intrusive temporary fix.

Forest Lakes has annexed to Monument. The district decided to wait for the town of Monument, which would ultimately be responsible for maintenance of the 65-year-old bridge, to sign off on the plans before it commits funds for construction.

Duthie estimates that the bridge reinforcement operation will take about two weeks. The bridge will be unusable during that time. He said that the closure might present a problem with the sludge hauler, which the WWTF will need to work out before construction begins.

Engineering firm GMS, which is designing the expansion of the plant, will release the request for proposal to the eight qualified bidders by the end of September. A pre-proposal meeting will be scheduled for early October; bids will be accepted until the middle of the month. The OCC expects to have the selected contractor onboard by the end of October. The design process will wrap up shortly after.

Three American companies and one Dutch company submitted proposals to the WWTF for the ultraviolet disinfection process. The proposals used a variety of processes; committee members will weigh the pros and cons to determine which proposal best fits the needs of this plant.

Struthers Road engineering work

Triview and Donala had planned to install water and sewer lines looping the two districts during construction of the northern extension of Struthers Road, which would connect to Jackson Creek Parkway. Unfortunately, the engineering firm working for the county used outdated information in designing the roadbed.

Engineers designing the pipeline and planning excavation depth used the most current surveying records, but failed to verify that both groups were using the same data and that the designs would match up. It was later discovered that there was a significant elevation discrepancy between the two plans.

El Paso County had used up its engineering budget at the time the error was revealed and had no funds left for redesign. The project stalled. Duthie informed board members that the county had recently decided to return to the bargaining table to attempt to work out a mutually acceptable solution.

Well update

The vault for Well 9A, which is complete and waiting to be equipped, has not yet been installed. The vault houses valves and electronic equipment, which has already been purchased. Staff expects to have the well up and running in 2006.

Remote video images of the shaft interior of Well 3A revealed a PVC sleeve that had been dropped and left in the well during repair operations—which explained why AmWest was unable to lower the pump. The PVC section has since been removed and operations resumed.

Donala will do a thorough acid cleaning on Well 3D on recommendations from an expert in the Midwest. The district had previously sent sample results and other data for evaluation to determine whether the possible increase in yield would be worth the expense of rehabilitation. Donala had attempted an acid cleaning on Well 2D, which was older. The acid ate through the aged and corroded pipe. A weaker acid will be used to clean 3D.

Cleaning and testing 3D will also give the district an indication of whether to proceed with additional rehabilitation work on Wells 7, 11, and 13, which are also in the Denver aquifer.

Well 2D will be redrilled. Donala is obtaining the state permit it needs before it can begin work.

The redrill of Well 2D, which will run around $140,000, and the acid cleaning of Well 3D, which will cost about $60,000, are repair and maintenance items, and unrelated to growth. Duthie informed the board they will appear as such on next year’s budget.

Developer update

Jim Bolton of Classic Homes contacted Duthie to inquire as to the cost of providing water and sewer to the planned development of approximately 550 homes, which will be located on the former Baptist Camp property. Duthie informed Bolton that he had sent an e-mail to Doug Stimple of Classic on June 9, indicating that the cost to the developer of infrastructure alone would be approximately $2 million. Duthie told board members that the homebuilder appeared to be in no hurry to start construction.

The owner of Academy View Storage, located just east of I-25, wants to expand the business to include RV parking, and also plans to excavate for a 4- to 6-foot-deep retention pond. The owner contacted Duthie to inform him of the plans, and asked if the district wants to install a pipeline before the pond is dug, as the intended site lies over a utility easement.

Duthie told directors he doesn’t want to pay for a pipeline that Donala may not need. Duthie also stated that county regulations stipulate that property owners may not put in anything that would "impede" use of the easement.

Donala to administer Forest Lakes water system

Duthie informed the board that Donala might administer the Forest Lakes Metro District’s water and sewer system. Schuck Corporation plans to begin residential home construction in autumn of 2006. The intergovernmental agreement (IGA) will be similar to the contract Donala had with Triview Metro District. Forest Lakes will assume the full cost of infrastructure, plus an additional 20 percent to cover the cost of operations and administration. Forest Lakes will also agree that all infrastructure will conform to Donala district standards.

Forest Lakes plans to drill a well and build a treatment plant and million-gallon water storage tank by next spring. The treatment plant will include a new pressure-treated system. Unfortunately the well water contains measurable radiation, so Forest Lakes will be required to install the appropriate equipment to bring levels into compliance with federal standards.

Duthie indicated he is skeptical that Forest Lakes will have its new well up and running in time to provide construction water for the WWTF as agreed upon in the plant expansion IGA. Work on the equalization basin should begin in February. The board discussed the option of constructing a water line passing under I-25, linking Donala with the Upper Monument Creek WWTF and Forest Lakes. Installation would include tunneling under I-25; a sewer line bore already exists.

Long-range plans for northern El Paso County call for the eventual interconnection of water lines between communities in the Tri-Lakes area, with the dual purpose of providing backup water in case of emergencies (such as large forest fires or the unanticipated short-term failure of one community’s system), and to distribute surface water when it becomes available. GMS engineer Roger Sams anticipates that the cost of the water pipeline linking Donala with Forest Lakes would run close to $300,000, with Forest Lakes assuming most of the cost.

Donala offers assistance to wastewater plants hit by Katrina

Duthie distributed an e-mail to board members soliciting equipment and volunteer labor to help repair installations ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Donala offered to donate unused blowers and pumps from the original plant, and also offered to send two volunteers and a truck. As of the meeting date, the district had not yet received acceptance of either offer.

Auditor feedback

Duthie also distributed a letter to the district from accounting firm Hoelting & Co. for the board’s review. After looking at Donala’s procedures and paperwork for 2004, Hoelting recommended a more complete separation of water and sanitation function expenses.

The firm also recommended additional cross-training between office staff, so that accounting duties would continue uninterrupted in the event of an extended absence of a staff member. At the same time, Hoelting recognized that the small size of the office placed constraints on the feasibility of such training.

Resident comments

Phillip Ramey, a new Donala resident, attended to observe the meeting, and asked whether Donala was considered "nonprofit" or allowed to accumulate profits. Duthie explained that Donala is a government agency. Special districts like Donala are governed by state statute, which places restrictions on how income may be spent. It is still subject to limitations mandated by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

The board went into executive session . The next meeting of the Donala Board of Directors will be on Oct. 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the district office, 15850 Holbein Drive.

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Forest View Acres Water District, September 11 and September 14: District hires manager and fills board vacancy

Web site exclusive...Below: Answering residents' questions Sept. 14 (L to R) Deborah McCoy, President of Special District Management Services, newly appointed board member Eckehart Zimmermann, director John Anderson, board president Barbara Reed-Polatty, and treasurer Brian Cross. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

At a special meeting, Sept. 11, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors, consisting of John Anderson, Brian Cross, and Barbara Reed-Polatty, voted to hire Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) of Lakewood, CO to provide district management.

At the special meeting Sept. 14, the board voted to appoint Eckehart Zimmermann to fill the vacancy created by the Aug. 1 resignation of Tom Guenther, former president of the district. About 15 district residents attended the Sept. 14 meeting.

The board vacancy created by the Aug. 24 resignation of Kevin Lonergan, former vice president of the district, remains to be filled by appointment. The board urged interested district residents to submit a letter of interest by Oct. 1.

Deborah McCoy, President of SDMS, served as facilitator at the Sept. 14 board meeting. She said SDMS manager Kammy Tinney, who was unable to attend the meeting, would be the manager for the district. McCoy urged residents who have operational or management questions or comments to contact SDMS at (800) 741-3254.

Background

The late Hugh Nevins established the FVAWD in 1957 to provide water to 27 homes. Currently, FVAWD provides water service to 280 residences in the Red Rocks Ranch, Clovenhoof, Villas, Sundance Estates, and Shiloh Pines neighborhoods in unincorporated El Paso County. A five-member board of directors governs the FVAWD. The district has a contract water operations manager, Dan LaFontaine, who is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.

In February, a warrant was issued for the arrest of former contract office manager Patricia Unger on charges of embezzling more than $212,000 in district funds. That amount was subsequently increased to $315,000. Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16 and was released on bail awaiting a preliminary hearing, which was initially scheduled for April 18 and then postponed to May 19. The May 19 hearing was continued to allow time for mediation and completion of the audit by Sheri Betzer, a forensic auditor, hired by the district’s attorneys. Mediation sessions were held July 8 and August 19. At a court appearance Sept. 22, Unger rejected the negotiated mediation agreement. Unger’s preliminary hearing on the criminal charges is now scheduled for Oct. 13, 10 a.m., Division 4 at the El Paso County Courthouse.

The district has filed a civil suit against Unger and her husband Dennis to recover the missing funds and associated costs. The rejected mediation agreement was intended to address the civil and criminal aspects of the case.

Election of officers

The board unanimously elected the following officers: Reed-Polatty, President; Cross, Treasurer; Tinney, Secretary; Anderson, Assistant Secretary.

Zimmermann appointed to fill vacancy

Reed-Polatty reported that letters of interest were received from Zimmermann and Ketch Nowacki. Each of the candidates described their background and answered questions. After an executive session called to discuss personnel issues, the board unanimously voted to appoint Zimmermann.

McCoy noted that Cross and Zimmermann must run for election in May 2006. The terms of Reed-Polatty and Anderson expire in May 2008.

Operations manager report

Some highlights of LaFontaine’s report:

  • During August, the plant that processes surface water produced 17.88 gallons per minute for 18.3 days for a total of 471,300 gallons. For the first eight months of 2005, the surface plant produced 10.38 million gallons.

  • The Arapahoe well produced 101.67 gallons per minute for 14.7 days for a total of 2.15 million gallons. For the first eight months of 2005, the Arapahoe well produced 8.61 million gallons.

  • Total monthly system usage was 2.61 million gallons bringing the total for the year to 18.99 million gallons. Total monthly sales were 2.02 million gallons. The water loss for the month was 591,026 gallons or 29.3 percent.

  • All bacteriological sampling and reporting requirements of the Colorado Department of Health were satisfied.

LaFontaine reported that on Aug. 31 a coupling on one of the fiberglass filter pressure vessels split and blew apart. He said, "Some parts were embedded in the ceiling." The resulting leak damaged the Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) that controls the well pump. He said the VFD must be replaced at a cost of $3,000 to $5,000.

Billing report

Some highlights of Cross’s billing report for August:

  • The district billed 282 accounts for a total of 2.02 million gallons of water.

  • Total billing was $25,592. Of that, $5,282 was billed for past due accounts, $7,254 was billed for debt service, and $13,056 was billed for administrative and water usage fees. The average per account not including billing for past due amounts was $72.02.

  • The debt service funds go to pay off an $880,000 bond issued in 1995 and a $45,000 loan obtained in 2004.

Financial report

Cross’s financial report showed an operating account balance of $29,006, a debt service account balance of $5,003, and a contingency account balance of $1,501.

Invoices paid

The board unanimously approved checks totaling $28,789 for a variety of bills including $12,254 as a transfer to the debt service account, $4,316 for LaFontaine’s services, $3,272 for electricity, $2,560 for part-time contract bookkeeper Anne Bevis’s services, $2,500 to Henkle Drilling leaving an outstanding balance due them of $14,053, $1,500 to forensic auditor Betzer leaving an outstanding balance due her of $6,491, and $1,000 to law firm Petrock & Fendel leaving an outstanding balance due them of $41,522.

Schmidt inclusion

Inclusion of Schmidt’s 40-acre parcel was deferred.

Public comments

District resident and former board member Jeff Dull questioned the legality of using debt service funds to pay bills. McCoy said, "I would say no," but added that she would check the bond documents.

Genelle Deavenport asked about the status of the $45,000 loan obtained in 2004 and whether that should have been submitted to district voters for approval. McCoy said she would research the matter.

Meeting day, time, and location set

The board unanimously approved a change so the regular monthly meeting will be held on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at Grace Best Elementary School.

**********

The next regular board meeting will be held Oct. 5 at Grace Best Elementary School, 66 Jefferson St. in Monument. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to check the date, time, and location by calling the district at 488-2110.

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Monument Sanitation District, September 20: Schutz appointed to board

Web site exclusive...Below: MSD President Lowell Morgan (center) administers the oath of office to newly appointed board member Kristi Schutz. Seated at the table (clockwise from Schutz) accounts administrator Marna Kennedy, director Chuck Robinove, treasurer Ed DeLaney, secretary Glenda Smith, and district manager Mike Wicklund.

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

Kristi Schutz was unanimously appointed to fill the vacancy on the board at the start of Monument Sanitation District board meeting on Sept. 20. She was sworn in and participated for the full agenda. District Manager Mike Wicklund distributed copies of a draft district budget for 2006. All members of the board were present.

The secretary’s and treasurer’s reports were accepted unanimously. Tap fees received since the last board meeting totaled $13,760. Wicklund pointed out a fee of $6,250 for the district’s auditor, Bauerle and Company, LLC and $10,655 for Site-Wise Utility Services for locating all the privately owned sewer pipes that the district is taking over in the Raspberry Point subdivision. The valuation of acquired sewer facilities was $21,633.

Joint Use Committee (JUC) report

Board President Lowell Morgan summarized the actions taken at the JUC meeting of Sept. 12. (See JUC article on page 25 for details.) The board then discussed options for allocating costs between the three owning districts for installing control systems to limit the amount of copper and other restricted substances in the effluent of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Vice President Benny Nasser has proposed that costs be shared based on how much copper is delivered to the WWTF by each district.

Morgan said that a far more comprehensive set of long-term data would be required on all the effluent components that the state health department and Environmental Protection Agency require the JUC to monitor and report. Nitrogen and ammonia may become as significant a problem as copper.

Director Chuck Robinove said that increased measurements of a particular element such as copper would require supporting measurements for several others to ensure that all the readings are accurate and not altered by various types of chemical interactions. Wicklund noted some chemical agents used to control pH levels or to liquefy grease may disguise the actual concentrations of controlled elements in the wastewater delivered to the treatment facility by each district.

Subdivision Updates

Trails End lift station: Wicklund reported that engineering consultants continue to make evaluations of interior concrete cracking along the bottom edge of one of the 140-inch diameter cylindrical barrel sections of the auxiliary sewage holding tank in the new Trails End subdivision lift station.

The cost to re-line the inside of the cracked section is roughly $45,000. The cost to seal the exterior of the affected joint is not yet known. The water table surrounding the 24-foot-deep holding tank is very near the surface, and a leak would cause significant continuous groundwater infiltration and higher pumping, maintenance, and treatment costs.

More information is needed to decide on the type of repair and an appropriate number of years to extend the warranty for the assembled holding tank or whether to remove and replace the affected section, a very costly action for contractor Colorado Civil Contractors and manufacturer Amcor Pre-Cast Concrete. The standard repair bond warranty period is two years. A district-approved consulting structural engineer was hired, at the expense of the contractor, to evaluate the problem and recommend available courses of action. No conclusions have been reached about the specific manufacturing and/or installation cause of the cracking. The board unanimously authorized Wicklund to require at least a pre-paid $75,000 ten-year parts and labor warranty bond on the repair, subject to increases based on pending consultant engineering advice.

Wakonda Hills: Bids for the first phase of the Wakonda Hills sewer infrastructure installation contract are due by Oct. 18. Construction in the northeast portion of the subdivision will begin in November. Inclusions by property owners are increasing rapidly, before the tap fee rises again in 2006.

Raspberry Point: The takeover of the private subdivision sewer system is nearing completion as easement documentation is completed and signed by the property owners.

Beacon Lite Office Condominium: The board unanimously approved the sewer infrastructure plan, which calls for a 6-inch collection loop owned by the property owner. The loop will be connected to the district’s 8-inch Beacon Lite collection main. Taps from the loop to each office suite will be 4 inches. There will be no grease interceptors or restaurants, though a medical or dental office might require special considerations.

Monument Lake Road Townhomes: This proposed 13-unit development is similar to and adjacent to Raspberry Point to the east. Wicklund explained the irregularity of the boundary between the two parcels resulted from a previous "illegal subdivision" where the rear portions of some of the eastern townhomes in Raspberry Point extended beyond the property line.

The subdivision will be connected to a Palmer Lake Sanitation District collection line under the same type of intergovernmental agreement between the districts that applies to Raspberry Point. A lift station will be required due to the contours of the land and proximity to marshy areas. The Palmer Lake collection line may need to be enlarged from 15 inches to 18 inches, at Palmer Lake expense.

Budget hearing Dec. 13: Wicklund distributed copies of the draft 2006 budget, and the board unanimously approved rescheduling the final 2005 regular meeting and budget hearing for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 13. The board agreed by consensus to include money in the new budget for remodeling and purchasing new office furniture and equipment in June, when the district office will move to the adjacent space to the west. Wicklund noted that the draft budget included a $100,000 contingency payment to the JUC for an automated ammonia monitoring system if a regulatory problem arises at the WWTF in 2006.

The board unanimously approved the installation of a new grease interceptor to ensure that capacity would exist if the Pure Delights Café chooses to expand into the current office space next summer after the district office is moved one space west within the building.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the district office at 132 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, September 15: Open House Oct. 8 has activities for all

By Jim Kendrick

At the beginning of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting on Sept. 15, Chief Bill Sheldon informed the directors that paramedic Doug McIntyre had family in Mississippi that had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. With the assistance of the firefighters and Mountview Wesleyan Church, McIntyre led the collection and delivery of a truckload of bottled water and energy bars to the Biloxi-Gulfport area. Sheldon noted the difficulties for that region’s emergency medical services as they continued to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the hurricane.

The board meeting was the first to be held in the district’s new conference room. The new addition also includes a third engine bay, a new front driveway and rear parking lot, staff administrative offices, and a comprehensive health and fitness center for firefighters and staff. Director Kevin Gould was absent.

Chief’s Report

Sheldon reported that there were several clean-up projects remaining throughout the station such as painting, window washing, and professional rug cleaning. The open house at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive, near Baptist Road, has numerous activities scheduled beginning at 8 a.m. including fire trucks, firefighting equipment, an AMR ambulance, a Flight for Life helicopter, a Memorial Star helicopter, County Search and Rescue, smoke trailer, crash car exhibit, firefighting drills, Smokey Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog, free food and drinks, and free safety giveaways. For more information call 488-8680.

Sheldon noted that the district had participated in the Pikes Peak fire muster and the Fallen Firefighter Memorial ceremony as well as continuing to staff an Air Force Academy fire station during home football games.

Training under way includes driver training for the engines in cooperation with the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) and Firefighter I certification classes in cooperation with the Falcon Fire Protection District and Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District. Sheldon noted that district volunteers "filled all the holes" in the schedule when full-time staff members were away from Station 1 for training.

Sheldon also read a letter from CSFD Training Captain Tony Exum praising Wescott’s participation in the city’s joint high-rise training exercise. Exum said the insight of Wescott participants was invaluable and commended the district’s endorsement of and commitment to inter-department cooperation.

Director Joe Potter praised the firefighters who devoted their free time to organizing and presenting a three-day Civilian Emergency Response Team training program to local area residents who would be called upon to assist in emergencies within El Paso County under the direction of the Sheriff’s Department’s volunteer office.

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns reported that Captain Mike Whiting had completed National Fire Incident Reporting System training. Battalion Chief Jeff Edwards has completed three of five courses in the Chief Officer Training Curriculum and Captain Scott Ridings has completed one course.

Run report

Burns reported that the district made 134 runs in August, bringing the total to 977 for the year, a 4 percent increase over 2004. The calls consisted of 40 medical, 2 traffic accident, 4 automatic alarm, 1 vehicle fire, 2 hazardous material, 1 good intent false, 1 illegal burn, 1 lightning strike, 75 AMR ambulance calls, plus 7 mutual aid calls comprised of 3 structure fire, 2 brush fire, 1 smoke, and 1 lightning strike.

Treasurer’s report

The August treasurer’s report was unanimously approved. Recording Secretary Ginnette Ritz reported that the district had received another $14,000 in specific ownership taxes for the month and that up to about $3,000 in property taxes might be received by the end of the year.

President Brian Ritz noted that a large expense remains to be paid for increasing the number of frequencies available on all the district’s vehicle-mounted and hand-held radios to comply with new broadband federal homeland security standards. Typical upgrade costs for a radio are $3,500 for new circuitry and $210 for user fees, plus an increase of $2,400 for the district’s maintenance contract.

Sheldon advised the board that he had identified $29,000 in budgetary savings to help pay the $36,000 department contribution to his pension fund. He noted that more savings might be available by the end of the year. Sheldon will contribute about $11,000 in matching funds to his pension.

Budget preparation begins

Battalion Chief Jeff Edwards, who will replace Sheldon when he retires at the end of the year, gave an overview of his draft 2006 budget and asked the board to review it and provide him with comments by e-mail prior to the next board meeting.

The meeting went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 9 p.m. There were no announcements or actions taken prior to adjournment. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 18. The meeting location has been permanently moved to the new conference room at Station 1, 15425 Gleneagle Dr. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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District 38 Candidate Statements

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 will hold an election for two four-year term board positions as part of the coordinated election Nov. 1.

The school district is divided into five director districts that have nearly equal numbers of residents. The terms of Hugh Eaton, Director District No. 1, and Robert Manning, Director District No. 3, will be ending this year due to term limitations.

All school district board positions are elected at large; that is, residents of any of the districts may vote for one candidate for each director district.

The candidates for Director District No. 1 (in the order they will appear in the ballot): Jerrel D. Schubert and Dee Dee Eaton.

The candidates for Director District No. 3 (in the order they will appear in the ballot): John A. Magerko, Georgeann Hughes, Gail T. Wilson, and Tom Roddam.

Our Community News asked each candidate to respond to the following questions:

1) What in your background would help you as a school board member?

2) What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the school district and what do you think the district should do to deal with them?

Director District No. 1

Jerrel D. Schubert

1) Hello! My name is Jerrel Dwight Schubert and I would like to tell you a bit about myself. I have been married for twelve wonderful years to my wife Bobbie, and we have been blessed with two children. Aliceia attends the fifth grade at Palmer Lake Elementary and Jacob attends the sixth grade at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. I have lived in the Tri-Lakes area for approximately twenty years. I was a resident of the town of Palmer Lake for seventeen years and have lived in Wakonda Hills for the past three years. I worked for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for thirty years occupying supervisory and management positions. I retired last year and now I am a full time father and a part time substitute and trip school bus driver for the Lewis-Palmer School District. I volunteer to help our teachers at Palmer Lake Elementary School and offered my volunteer services at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. I graduated high school from Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs. I received a Bachelors of Science from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs-College of Business and majored in Organizational Management. I am a devoted Christian and I am a member of the Family of Christ Lutheran Church.

2) The districts most prevalent issue is growth. The biggest need we have is location for the new high school. The district is addressing the growth with a good study. I will listen to the parents, voters, and district staff to lead the board in the best direction for the growth of our district. The second is the district needs to be more of a leader in education. The examples I have is we need to get the parents more involved in our schools and be able to recognize and diagnosis disabilities like dyslexia.

Dee Dee Eaton

1) My formal education is a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech and a MBA from Georgia State University. I worked at Southern Bell for 10 years before I had a child. My jobs included project manager, human resources manager, and part of an engineering/marketing team working with large customers and working in long range planning for telecommunications equipment. My experience in planning, organization, leadership, and communication skills will all be beneficial if I am elected to the school board. I also have volunteered in a number of different organizations, one being Palmer Lake Elementary School. I love children; I am very supportive of public education and providing the best possible education for the children in the Lewis-Palmer District.

2) a. Growth and the facilities for the students is the issue at the forefront right now in our community. The newest growth study just completed for the district looks at maximum growth (30-50 years) and build out based on the existing land use and zoning. The model developed to aid in planning facilities, costs, financing, etc. will be a great tool in helping plan for growth. The model has the flexibility to change as the growth rate increases/decreases. I believe the district has used this information to identify the needs and options available.

b. There are 178 school districts in the state of Colorado. Lewis-Palmer District 38 ranks in the bottom twenty of those districts for state funding. More funding would mean better educational opportunities for our students. Unfortunately, the school board has no direct impact on this funding since it is calculated by a state formula.

Director District No. 3

John A. Magerko

  1. I bring a combination of teaching experiences, administrative/technical skills, and a positive personality to the position. Since graduate school, I have been instructing and counseling 5 through 25 year olds. Teaching experiences include many years of college classes, Sunday School classes, Boy Scouts, and boys and girls youth sports. Administrative/technical skills include IT management, church board member including treasurer duties, and youth league board member, league commissioner, and coach. Finally I bring a positive, can-do personality to the position. I also prefer to operate in an open manner and I strive to build from what we have in common as opposed to focusing on the smaller differences that we may have. Learn more about me at my website: http://members.aol.com/jmagerko/.

  2. Clearly, the construction and staffing of a new second high school is our most pressing concern. The school board, superintendent, and staff have been busy in the last year developing a growth plan. Many new findings are making the prospect of a second high school (1200-1900 students) more definitive. I believe I share the opinion of many of you; I believe we need a second high school built sooner than later. By conducting the proper research, by negotiating with contractors and property owners in advance, and by planning effectively, I believe that the district can begin construction of the new high school by summer 2007. By missing the summer months, a prime time for construction, we would delay the building of this second high school, thereby placing continued stress on our existing high school.
        My second priority is Referendums C and D. I support these reasonable and necessary referendums. With Referendum C in particular, D-38 will see improvement in programs; without it, we will see significant cuts. While TABOR works very well when state revenues are rising, it hampers Colorado, relative to other states, in recovering after times of depressed revenue. Among the many supporters of Referendums C and D are the Colorado Association of School Boards and Gov. Bill Owens. The governor said it best: "...we have cut what we can responsibly cut. And I believe most Coloradans will object if we do nothing and, in coming years, the state cuts $200 million in higher education, transportation, health care and other programs while, at the same time, provides taxpayer refunds under TABOR. Most Coloradans would, I believe, be willing to forego refunds to meet these important needs."

Georgeann Hughes

  1. I have been a teacher in School District 38, for the past 15 years. As an educator, I know the value of education, the importance of partnering with parents to reach their children to promote high achievement, the value of providing training to teachers to continue teaching based on effective classroom practices, and the need for interpersonal skills in relating to parents, administrators, and the community. I have served on building and district accountability committees to examine what is working for our children, to plan for future goals, and to broaden my knowledge and awareness of community values and expectations.

  2. Our district faces many challenges—the biggest one being educating children in the midst of high growth. Looking to the future, whether it is a second high school, or maintaining class sizes that best promote student learning, and continuing to provide quality teachers will be important issues in the upcoming years.
        My husband and I moved to District 38 18 years ago with daughters in the seventh, fourth, and kindergarten grades. We made a choice to live in this area for many reasons, primarily, however, we were most concerned about the strength of the school system. Our girls received an excellent education and were challenged and encouraged as they progressed through District 38 schools to graduation. I have an opportunity, time, and desire to provide leadership to this district to ensure quality education for every child in this district.

Gail T. Wilson

  1. Nineteen years in the classroom and fifteen years as executive director of a non-profit dealing with state and community policies on child care, preschool, and school readiness qualify me as a school board member. I have served on numerous local, state, and national boards providing me with experience in setting policy and providing leadership. I am respectful of local decision-making capacity.
        Through corporate and volunteer work I know how to listen and respect other’s differing points of view on issues and to bring consensus. I know how to make sound business decisions. I have been accountable for public funds.
        As an educator and employer I know the importance of providing each and every student a quality education.

  2. Maintaining and increasing student achievement while dealing with the pressures of a rapidly growing school district are today’s and tomorrow’s issues.
        Growth pressures are most visible in the economic arena, but they are pervasive. Growth impacts faculty recruitment, stability, and morale. Growth impacts class size. Growth impacts capital expenses and building capacity. Growth impacts maintenance. Growth impacts curriculum. We cannot allow growth to have a negative impact on student achievement.
        An immediate growth challenge to the Lewis-Palmer district is how to address the overcrowding of the High School. I support a second school building. I will listen to the community, school district employees, and research in making expansion decisions.
        Student achievement must be maintained (or increased) through a high-quality faculty delivering the highest quality instruction that meets the needs of each student. Several families in the Lewis-Palmer District have determined that a charter school is the path to achieve student success. Just as the district provides choice through open enrollment, accountable charter schools need to be supported as an enrollment choice.
        Public schools must assume responsibility for their student achievement records. School boards are the final stopping point for accountability. I know how to set outcomes and take responsibility.
        As a member of the Lewis-Palmer school board I will be an active listener in the community, making decisions that are in the best interest of the majority of students. I will be a leader making decisions based upon sound fiscal policy that supports academic excellence.

Tom Roddam

  1. My wife Martha and I have two children; Andy, a 10th grade at LPHS and Jenny, a 7th grader at LPMS.
        I have been a resident of Tri Lakes since 1999 and a resident of Colorado since the 1970s.
        I have an MBA from the University of Denver and a BA from the University of Maryland. I am a former Vice President of Polk Audio, a $70 million dollar company. I was responsible for strategic planning, and had P&L responsibility as well. I am well-versed in managing a complex organization and understand the need for long range planning and consensus building.
        I served as a "bully-proofer" at LPES for two years and have been a volunteer in various other activities at both the elementary and middle school level. We are members of the LPHS Booster Club. I have also served as a youth coach and assistant coach in several sports.
        I am currently owner of a local Tri Lakes business, Affordable Carpet Connection.
        Quality schools are integral to the economic health of Tri-Lakes. Many of us choose to live here because of the quality of the education our children receive.
        As a School Board Director I will:

    • Bring an analytical approach to the decision making process. A more thorough vetting of the data concerning future growth in the district might have led the board to present a different proposal to the community.

    • Strive to build consensus within the community. Members of the community must feel that their input is taken seriously and incorporated into the decision-making process.

  2. The two greatest issues:

  • • Improving communication between the community and the School Board/Administration. It is important that members of the community feel that their input and concerns are taken into consideration when deciding policy.

  • • Developing and implementing a plan to address growth in the district while providing students with the best possible learning experience.

The School Board should work with the administration and community to develop and institute a comprehensive 5 and 10 year plan to determine when and where schools will be needed to provide students with a superior education within a community setting and with minimal disruption (i.e., school changes) to students and families. This plan should be reevaluated every year. The goal will be to anticipate expansion needs before they become critical and provide accordingly.

The community should be presented with a clear, concise proposal on the 2006 election ballot for the construction of a second high school to be situated in the northern half of the district (site must be specified on the ballot) and a new elementary school to serve the Jackson Creek area.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, September 7: Board rejects cell tower in common area; supports addtional stop signs in South Woodmoor

By Chris Pollard

The first item on the agenda came from a relatively new resident who was concerned about the timeliness of residents responding to requests to fix problems on their property. Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Executive Director Camilla Mottl replied that there was a system of fines and liens in place to try to encourage people to remedy problems, but the WIA had no legal authority to go onto the property and fix the problems.

Mottl then announced that T-Mobile had requested permission for a cell phone tower in one of the common areas. Despite the attractiveness of the $1,500 per month rent proposed, Mottl said that it would not be possible to put a tower on the common area because that would require a commercial zoning, and currently, the WIA covenants prohibit commercial use there.

The board then discussed the new "Good Neighbor" awards, debating the type and quantity. The mugs previously awarded are now too expensive to re-create, so a request was made to research alternatives.

Pine beetle update

Jim Woodman, director of Forestry, gave an update on the mountain pine beetle problem. Most of the beetles are thought to have now flown from their original host tree to new ones. In most cases, the originally infested trees should be cut down by their owners, but there was some debate as to what to tell owners regarding those that had been newly attacked. This year, Woodman had worked with 101 property owners whose trees had been attacked by pine beetles and guessed that a further 25 to 30 residents had remedied the problem on their own.

In some areas, the number of trees affected by the beetle can increase rapidly. He recalled one visit to inspect a lot where there were supposedly three or four trees that had been attacked—only to discover that there were actually 14 trees. A week later, the number had further grown to around 35 trees. Every morning, new trees had shown signs of attack. Some treated areas are doing better, but some continue to get worse.

Fire mitigation issues

The defensible space grant of $45,000 for wildfire mitigation did not receive a very good response. Around 23 residents have applied for money and have done something on their property. About 80 people were trained on how to apply for the grant, but most have not followed through. Woodman estimated that they have used about half of the grant money available, and he has talked to the state about allowing the WIA to use the remaining money for mitigation in the common areas. The WIA would still have to provide matching funds, but it would mean that a number of problem areas could be corrected, particularly where there are large concentrations of scrub oak.

Woodman then gave an update on his progress toward making Woodmoor a "Firewise" community. Although he had been enthusiastic to get this established so that attention could be given to further fire mitigation and chipping, he recommended that this be postponed until next March. The program would require partnering with the local fire department and forestry service to do training. There was currently no Firewise partner in the fire department and there had been no replacement for that position in the state forestry service. Hopefully, by next March there will be people available to do this. He felt, additionally, there was a need to conduct a new fire risk assessment program, which would require a consultant.

He express pride in the contribution from his 20 volunteers this year, having conducted 243 lot evaluations through August. This was double the number of evaluations conducted throughout the whole of last year.

Traffic and roads

Hans Post, director of Public Safety, then presented some recommendations on traffic mitigation throughout Woodmoor. He had many negotiations with the El Paso County Department of Transportation and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). First priority was to work with the El Paso County Sheriff’s department to be more responsive to traffic safety problems. Post had sent the sheriff traffic and speed statistics from the Smart trailer so that they know which areas to target.

The only proposal for traffic re-direction that would be acceptable to the county was additional stop signs that relate to redirecting traffic near the Lewis-Palmer High School. The goal would be to control the flow of people coming from the northeast to the high school. The county is reluctant to place stop signs just to slow people down but might do it to direct school traffic. With this in mind, the board agreed to pursue stop signs at the following three junctions: Caribou West and Early Star Drive, New London Road and Bowstring Road, and Fairplay Drive and New London or Portland Road.

The other major area of concern was Woodmoor Drive. Here, 81 percent of vehicles were being driven at a speed above the posted limit and 10 percent of those were 10 miles per hour over. He felt that this would be better controlled by enforcement. WIA President John Ottino added that he was still concerned about expansion from the south connecting across Higby into the Woodmoor road system. He also requested that Post contact CDOT and request signs barring left turns on Highway 105 onto Fairplay between 7 and 8 a.m. on weekdays.

Ottino had information on road planning in the Remington Hills development. Two roads had shown up on plans as "Harness" and "Bowstring" Roads that currently do not connect to similarly named roads in Woodmoor. Ottino was also concerned about connecting Furrow through to Higby, but it appeared that El Paso County would not do this unless a developer paid for it. He said he would talk to Monument planners about road planning in the same area to avoid creating shortcuts that might cause traffic safety problems similar to those encountered in South Woodmoor.

Financial issues

Mottl requested that the board consider the purchase of additional Quicken software, for between $3,000 and $4,000, to allow the billing system to be changed over so that all accounting would be run on one system. Additionally, she requested around $700 for the purchase of a Hitachi projector. Both items were unanimously approved by the board.

Mottl next announced that Woodmoor residents were now eligible to become members of the Air Academy Federal Credit Union.

Mottl said that regarding SB-100, a state bill governing homeowners associations, Lenard Rioth, the WIA attorney, now believes the WIA would not be able to receive payments for some services provided to other homeowner associations in the area. The amount that is involved, around $17,000, is significant but current thinking is that most may be recovered through changes to public safety contracts provided to those same associations.

New design standards

After much work by the Architectural Control Committee, new multi-family design standards based on the single-family ones have been created. The committee had tried to increase the average square footage to reduce density and wanted to have a negotiable percentage of the developed land set aside for open space. The height restriction for units was set at 32 feet. A motion to accept the standard was made and approved unanimously by the board.

Open Forum

As a follow-up to the Open Forum that had been conducted on the WIA Web site, Ottino stated that he wanted to get input on two of the issues from residents through the newsletter. These two issues concerned allowing people to add an ancillary building and the number of vehicles allowed to be parked outside a home. Although the parking issue had been raised in the past few years, there was continuing interest from some residents in having more space available. Adding an ancillary building would allow people to add more inside parking, but lot limitations would mean some residents would not have that option.

On the other issue raised, that of proxy voting procedures at the annual meeting, Ottino said he wanted to put a set of names for candidates in the December newsletter. Write-in candidates could be nominated from the floor of the annual meeting and the board secretary would vote all open proxy votes in proportion to the popular vote.

Weeds

As a final note Ottino said that he had received numerous complaints about weeds on the Walters property, which has been promised to come under a conservation easement. So far, no mowing had been done this year, and Ottino suggested that the problem might be that part of the land was now owned by Pulte Homes. He said he would call Pulte and continue to try to make contact with the Walters.

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September Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

September was a rather tranquil weather month for most of the Tri-Lakes region. As usual, we did see our first below-freezing temperatures of the season on the morning of the 13th, but no snowfall occurred, unlike the previous two Septembers.

The first week of September witnessed above-normal temperatures as highs reached into the 80s for the first five days of the month, about 10 degrees warmer than normal. We also started the month off on the dry side. Scattered thunderstorms tried to develop during the afternoons, but with the lack of moisture in the air and the lower amounts of energy coming from the early September sunshine, these storms didn’t produce rainfall. Most residents weren’t complaining too much however, as this allowed for a very nice Labor Day weekend.

The warm weather continued through the second week of September, as highs reached into the upper 70s and 80s from the 5th through the 11th.

The last full week of summer witnessed a variety of conditions across the Palmer Divide. The week began as the previous one had ended, with warm, sunny conditions, as highs reached into the upper 70s and 80s on the 12th. However, a Pacific cold front raced through the region just after midnight on the 13th, ushering in chilly temperatures. In fact, for the first time this season, many areas on the Palmer Divide dipped below freezing, just before sunrise. Skies remained clear through the afternoon, then clouds began to return as colder air continued to filter in and moisture returned to the region. A few sprinkles were noted late in the afternoon, but the real active weather would hold off until the 14th.

After a quiet start, strong thunderstorms developed during the mid-afternoon hours, with areas of brief heavy rain and small hail. This system also signaled a change as the next few mornings saw low temperatures hover around the freezing mark under clear skies. However, each afternoon saw plenty of sunshine and as dry, mild air moved back in from the desert Southwest, highs soared back to above-average levels through the end of the week and into the first weekend of fall.

For the most part, the month ended as it began, with mild conditions, as highs remained in the 70s to low 80s, with two exceptions. A quick-moving cold front moved in during the morning of the 22nd and held highs in the 60s with scattered showers, and a second cold front and area of unsettled weather rolled in on the 28th with clouds and showers continuing through the 29th.

As we head into the last few months of the year, we can expect temperatures to begin to take a substantial dip and chances for snow will be in the forecast through at least next April, so enjoy the last days of mild, quiet weather.

A Look Ahead

The month of October can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region, with winter conditions often experienced during the month. In fact, for the past three years, weather around Halloween has been cold and snowy. Remember the 6 to 15 inches of snow that fell last year from Halloween night through Nov. 1? But remember, too, how nice it can be in October as dry, mild conditions are often seen. The majority of Octobers are that way, with chilly mornings and pleasant afternoons interspersed with quick-moving cold fronts.

The official monthly forecast for October 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 normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

September 2005 Weather Statistics

Average High 74.9°F
Average Low 41.9°F
Highest Temperature 86°F (on the 5th, 8th, 20th)
Lowest Temperature 31°F (on the 13th)
Monthly Precipitation 0.76"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 4.20" (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

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

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

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Letters to Our Community

Concerns about Promontory Pointe

We represent the homeowners in Homestead at Jackson Creek and Kingswood development. On Monday, August 8, we attended an informal presentation given by William Guman & Associates and Land Co regarding the proposed Promontory Pointe Development. Needless to say, we were very concerned over the lack of detail and confusion presented by Land Co and Guman & Associates. The answers to many of our questions were conflicting, and in some cases perplexing.

Our first concern is water supply. The proposed development will rely on Triview Metropolitan Utility District to provide these services. Triview will provide water exclusively from wells. In addition, the proposed development of Home Place Ranch and Baptist Camp will potentially rely on Triview. As you are very aware, continued development that is completely reliant on wells as its only water source is very short sighted. Based on recent well reports in Douglas and Northern El Paso County, these water sources may have useful life spans much shorter than the Town of Monument’s "100 year" planning requirement. Declining well levels are indications that some planning practices are inadequate. Dying yards and landscaping will destroy home valuations and our town.

Our second concern is lot size. On the eastern side of Promontory Pointe is the Kingswood subdivision with 5-acre lots. The developer expressed that they used the average sized lot of Jackson Creek as their standard, and came up with 238 lots of approximately 6,000 square feet each. Obviously the Kingswood subdivision is a dramatic difference. However, the Jackson Creek subdivision is actually far different as well. The average lot size of those bordering Promontory Pointe is 12,838 [square feet], twice that of the majority of lots in Promontory Pointe. We find this dichotomy disturbing and unacceptable.

In addition, a 6,000 square foot lot has an expected sales price of $60,000, with an expected improved sales price of $240,000, based on the standard 80/20 ratio. A 12,000 square foot lot in Jackson Creek normally has a $130,000-$150,000 premium, creating a build price of $576,000. By doubling the size of the lots and creating 130 lots instead of 260, the tax base will increase by at least 20 percent, with half the demand upon water, sewer, schools, fire, and police. Based on these figures, Jackson Creek and Kingswood would highly recommend 2-4 DU/acre.

Our third concern is transportation. The proposed Promontory Pointe development plan ignores the El Paso County "Major Transportation Corridors Plan" and will adversely contribute to the unacceptable congestion along Baptist Road.

Not only will Promontory Pointe development add 300 dwellings and 450 cars to the local transportation network, there are at least three other developments being planned. The cumulative impact will result in 1,870 dwellings and 2,850 cars added to the overburdened infrastructure (300 dwellings in Promontory Pointe, 600 dwellings in Baptist Camp, 70 dwellings on the Barber property, 900 dwellings in Home Place Ranch).

We encourage you to talk with the traffic engineers to understand the numerous negative consequences that will develop if this volume of traffic is added and there is no east-west arterial between Jackson Creek Parkway and Roller Coaster Road (and eventually Hodgen).

We strongly believe that there is wisdom in the El Paso County "Major Transportation Corridors Plan." The plan provides for dispersal of north-south traffic along routes like the extension of Gleneagle between Baptist Road and Higby Road. Allowing the Promontory Pointe project to continue in any manner that inhibits an arterial road between Baptist and Higby is unwise and unsafe. We must have more north-south arterials to provide for the quick response of police, fire, and emergency medical vehicles in the newly populated areas.

In summary, there are major issues that our organizations believe must be addressed during the Town of Monument’s planning process. The short-term self-interest of developers cannot take priority over the safety, quality of life, and financial security of thousands of people in our region.

Robert Fisher, President, Homestead at Jackson Creek HOA
General Erlind Royer, President, Kingswood HOA

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When did they sell the park?

As most of you already know, the district court granted the county the right to immediate possession of the property condemned in the Milam Road battle. The county obtained possession of this property at 5:01 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, even though the valuation hearings regarding the financial settlement with the homeowners are still pending. With this action, the homeowners are basically unable to appeal the original trial court’s ruling regarding the question of whether or not the taking was public or private.

With little or no notice, and still no payment for their land, the homeowners had no time to move fences, remove gates, or secure their animals. On Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 a.m., the developer began cutting down and removing trees and fences. In fact, even the developer himself wielded a chain saw. For those who have not seen the work through the park, the trees have been cut down through the entire road easement. I will admit to a terrible sense of sadness for the park that was.

To add insult to injury, the developer installed on or about Sept. 21, surveillance cameras on trees within the Black Forest Regional Park aimed at not only the road cut, but at the homeowners’ property whose land has been forcibly taken. When questioned, the county attorney, Bill Lewis, admitted that the cameras should not be aimed so as to intrude upon the homeowners. He also admitted that they had been put up without the county’s permission.

In an effort to ask the obvious question, the landowners and I attempted to contact the county commissioners. All of us demanded that the cameras be removed from monitoring the landowners’ property. On Friday, Sept. 23, County Commissioner Jim Bensberg returned my call to let me know that he had requested that the county attorney order the immediate removal of all cameras from within the Black Forest Regional Park. The last of the cameras were removed on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

It is time for the citizens of this district to ask many pointed questions:

  1. When did the county sell the Black Forest Regional Park to the developer of Cathedral Pines? Could it be that we missed that meeting?

  2. Why is the county attorney having trouble controlling this situation? Is it because of the admitted close personal relationship between the developer and Commissioner Wayne Williams of this district?

  3. Who exactly does Commissioner Williams really represent? When the landowners tried to contact Williams, he didn’t return their calls.

  4. Why is Commissioner Williams planning to make a motion to ask the Board of County Commissioners to essentially close the north end of the regional park by making the road easement off-limits? I thought this was a public road. I thought this was a public park. (Refer to question 1 above.) I thought this was a public taking. Riiiiight!!!

  5. Why has Wayne Williams not recused himself from any dealings regarding this development? Is it because of the admitted close relationship? Oh, I’m sorry, I thought that was the reason to recuse yourself. My mistake.

In the end, this is another case of the "good ole boys" working hard. I am sorry to admit that the old adage of "money talks and bull**** walks" is alive and well in Commissioner Williams’ district. Come on, El Paso County, surely we can do better than this.

Gary Schinderle

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: The Fine Art of Sleuthing

By Judith Pettibone

Deadlines require this October-boo-mystery-shivery review to be written whilst my petunias continue to drape themselves over my deck railing. And yet, the coolness in the morning air, the beginning of the cricket symphony in the evening, and a few early-turning leaves on the aspen down the street tell me that it soon will be time to light the fireplace. Once that occurs, is there a better time to curl up with a good mystery? Don’t forget to throw an afghan over your legs to protect you from the boogieman. Here are some old, some new, some tried and true mysteries to start your fall and winter reading festival.

The Dante Club
By Matthew Pearl, $13.95

This one is hard to resist if you like Boston in 1865 (Harvard and Cambridge to be specific) as a setting, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Russell Lowell as the sleuths, and Dante’s "Inferno" as the main character – or at least the main plot mechanism. While the literary geniuses and professors, all members of the Dante Club, are busily making America’s first translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, they are interrupted by a series of grisly murders that they soon realize are modeled after Dante’s descriptions of hell. Pearl, both a Dante scholar and a Harvard grad, manages in this first novel to intrigue, educate (a quick Dante tutorial), and thrill with one surprise after another. A great read.

Aqua Alta
By Donna Leon, $7.99

If you have yet to discover Donna Leon, do. This, her fifth Guido Brunetti novel, would be a fine place to begin. As any series with a continuing sleuth unfolds, one’s knowledge about background material and fondness for the characters grows with each read. But sometimes beginning at the end or in the middle also can be sweet. Then, when you read the first books, it is like meeting a new friend and discovering the details of his or her past, bit by bit. Set in Venice, each book is steeped in this amazing city, its politics and culture, as well as Brunetti and his warm and loving family. Crave to discover luscious descriptions of Venetian food? This is your book. And you will be well entertained by the "mystery afoot."

Beekeeper’s Apprentice
By Laurie King, $6.99

Ahhh, what to say about Laurie King’s ongoing series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell? This book begins the series with the young, brilliant teenager, Russell, who meets her intellectual match in Sherlock Holmes (and he, his), now a retired beekeeper. King is a wonderful spinner of tales and each of the subsequent adventures equals this first one. However, there is something absolutely pure and sweet about Beekeeper’s Apprentice that makes one want to read it yet one more time. A perfect family read aloud. And the audiotapes of this series are absolutely wonderful. Should you like to check out another side of King (dark and adult), try Folly—a terrific read.

Maisie Dobbs
By Jacqueline Winspear, $14.00

The first in a three-book series, this novel introduces us to Maisie Dobbs, the rags-to-riches sleuth who has captured a respected readership. Set in post–WWI England, bright Maisie rose from a maid to a Cambridge student and then serves in the trenches as a field nurse. Coming back after the war with her own tragedy to deal with, she sets up as a private investigator. Using the new discipline of psychology, her own wit and considerable charm, she makes her way through her investigation and life with aplomb. Beginning with the book’s poignant dedication to Winspear’s paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother, both injured in WWI, this first novel is a compelling story and mystery. A worthy read and one that will inspire you to read the next two in the series.

Deadly Slipper
By Michelle Wan, $23.95

Have you read Orchid Thief by Susan Orleans? My fondness for this terrific nonfiction read about orchid collecting/obsession led me to choose Deadly Slipper… anything about orchids now piques my interest. Bedie, twin of Mara and wild orchid enthusiast, disappeared 20 years ago without a trace. Mara cannot give up on her sister, and when she discovers Bedie’s camera with an undeveloped roll of film, the story begins. Using the temptation of a rare orchid seen on the film, Mara persuades an orchid expert to help her. Another win-win combination of setting (southwestern France), background (orchids), and intriguing characters—Mara, a retired police detective, and Julian, the orchid expert—make this a "Debut thriller about orchids to kill for" (Kirkus Reviews).

Monday Mourning
By Kathy Reichs, $7.99

You may have already seen the trailers for the fall debut of a new forensic murder mystery series, Bones, based on Kathy Reichs’ "real" work as a forensic anthropologist. Not only is Reichs the real thing, but the adventures of her fictional character, Tempe Brennan, are also based on Reichs’ work. I first heard of Reichs from a customer who had taken a couple of classes with her in law school. Since then, I have read these sometimes pretty grim, but always gripping, tales from the field of unsanitized forensic anthropology. The future TV series is well named, as each tale always begins with, of course, bones. This latest offering can be praised for its scientific detail, and in general, Reichs can be praised for her attention to all detail, forming a well-crafted and rich mystery novel.

The cozy time of year is just around the corner. Cuddle up with a good mystery—advice that can’t be beat. Happy reading until next month, when we will be presenting our semi-annual "Best Durn Reads" collection.

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Hands that help: The 2005 Empty Bowl

Courtesy Stephen Plank

Earth, water, and fire form the natural ingredients for the handmade pottery bowls that have become the icon of the Monument Hill Sertoma/Tri-Lakes Cares annual Empty Bowl Dinner. The hands of a dedicated group of potters have pulled these bowls from their fires and donated them to the Empty Bowl Dinner each fall since 1992. Community hands that belong to ordinary citizens, churches, merchants, and service organizations work together in support of Tri-Lakes Cares to bring food, clothing, shelter and services to those in need.

Helping hands from the Lewis-Palmer High School Staff, Food/Nutritional Services, Security, and Maintenance crews, as well as Monument Hill Sertoma, Tri-Lakes Cares, and the Lewis-Palmer Serteen Club handle all aspects of the dinner. As a bonus, the talented hands of the Brass Quintet, Woody Woodworth and his acoustic guitar, Joe Bohler’s piano stylings, and the Tri-Lakes Community Adult Hand Bell Choir provide entertainment with a local flavor.

The 2005 Empty Bowl Dinner will be held at Lewis-Palmer High School on Oct. 12, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Soup, bread, drinks, and dessert are all donated by local businesses and organizations, so 100 percent of the proceeds goes to Tri-Lakes Cares. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1, and must be purchased in advance at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Pankratz Gallery, Tri-Lakes Printing, Tri-Lakes Tribune, or Rock House Ice Cream & More. The cost is a $16 donation to Tri-Lakes Cares. Checks should be made payable to Monument Hill Sertoma, the event sponsor.

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High Country Highlights: Changes of Autumn

By Woody Woodworth

Now that we have had some colder temperatures, many of you are noticing a drastic change in your garden. You gaze over the landscape you planted this last year and at the older beds that are more established, and witness plants that look a little worn, their colors slowly disappearing as the autumn sky grows dimmer by one minute every day.

Most annuals are gone due to the early frost; the perennials are striving to hang on, giving you color to their best ability. The mums burst in a flurry of color, almost daring the frost and cooler temperatures to stop them. Agastache, perovskia and red valerian are all still blooming, sharing their colors of gray/green leaves and orange, purple, and red flowers. The staghorn sumac, burning bush, and Virginia creeper are all changing vibrant red; the aspen and Canadian red cherry are turning yellow; and the pink pewter lamium ground cover is still a beautiful variegated backdrop to the shade garden.

Yes, now is still the time to enjoy your gardens before old man winter and the early twilight are upon us.

There is a little work to do in the garden this time of year, but I encourage you to take the time–when the day is not as rushed–to close your eyes and smell the newness of the fall season. In the morning, the air is crisp on your face, almost burning as you take a deep breath through your nose. Just feeling that sensation makes you reach to button up your flannel shirt or light jacket.

As the mid-day sun climbs a little lower in the sky, the air is warm and full of the reason we live in such a beautiful state. Gather a few tomato vines that may still be left on the trellis, empty a few pots of dirt that held the fantastic colors of your annual flowers and invert them or rejuvenate your compost bin by adding a bit of water to it.

Now is the time many gardeners cut back their perennials and call it quits for the season. I don’t. I like the natural landscape the flowers and shrubs have created in a season. I like to let that image linger through the winter.–then when we get that occasional snow, my gardens come alive with texture and beauty! The fountain grass bends slightly, and the Karl Forester feather reed grass I planted three years ago stand proud in a two-foot clump with three-foot high golden plumage. They will stay like that until I trim them to 6 inches in the early spring.

I mulch some of my tender plants. My grape vines, roses, and trumpet vines seem to perform better the next year if I give them a little extra protection from the elements. My sprinkler system gets turned off, but I leave hoses out so I can give my plants a little drink on those beautiful 50-degree days in October and into late November. The work in the garden slows to a crawl, giving each and every one of us a little more time to ponder what seeds we might plant and what alterations we might make in the near future, and to consider all possibilities of life and the ever-changing seasons.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Evening Grosbeak

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of a a Evening Grosbeak.

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By Elizabeth Hacker

The evening grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) is one of five species of grosbeaks that reside on the Palmer Divide. The five species include the evening, rose-breasted, pine, black-headed, and blue grosbeaks. While they differ significantly in appearance, they all have sturdy conical-shaped beaks for cracking open nuts and seeds and share many similar behavioral traits.

Legend has it that about 150 years ago, a beautiful big-beaked bird appeared mysteriously each evening to sing for weary pioneers who were traveling in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains looking for a place to settle or stake a mining claim. The bird was affectionately named the evening grosbeak because the travelers enjoyed its beautiful song and mistakenly thought that it only came out to sing in the evenings.

The evening grosbeak is a plump member of the finch family and resembles a large goldfinch. Its body is about the size of a robin’s, but its neck and tail are considerably shorter. Its prominent thick, cone-shaped bill is remarkable for a bird of its size, and it is the largest among all of the species of grosbeaks.

As is the case with most birds, the male is more colorful than the female. The plumage of the adult male is impressive, with golden yellow feathers and a conspicuous gold band across the forehead that resembles a large bushy eyebrow. The under feathers on its breast are a vibrant yellow, and the crown and neck feathers are a dark brown. Tail feathers and primary wing feathers are jet black, while the secondary wing feathers are white.

The adult female is a smoky gray with soft highlights of yellow on its sides, nape, and rump. Its tail and wing feathers are black and secondary wing feathers have white on them. The plumage of a young female or male evening grosbeak already resembles that of its parents by the time it is able to fly.

During courtship, females solicit food from their prospective mates by crouching, fluttering their wings, and singing begging calls. The males respond by bringing food to the female, or pretending to. All grosbeak species are thought to be monogamous. While nesting, males may become territorial toward other males that venture too near the nest. However, during times of drought or short food supply, the males have been observed in flocks searching for food for the female and hatchlings.

There will be two to four eggs in a nest, and the grosbeaks will nest up to two times a season. The nestlings will fledge the nest about two weeks after hatching. This summer, for the first time, I observed a female coaching a fledging to fly.

The evening grosbeak lives primarily on the edges of mixed conifer forests. Its diet consists mainly of seeds, berries, and buds, but it also consumes insects. It is fond of sunflower seeds. It also must have water, fine gravel, and salt in its diet. Each fall, I always look for the flock of evening grosbeaks that briefly stops in our yard to strip the dried seeds from our French lilac bush and to pick the sunflower seeds from the large heads I use to make fall wreaths.

Grosbeaks are known for their tendency to roam and follow the food supply. Most grosbeak species do not have regular migration patterns and cycles; their patterns of movement and their numbers vary greatly from year to year. At one time, the evening grosbeak was only known to reside in the West but as food became available at bird feeders the species expanded its range and now breeds all the way to the Atlantic Coast.

The calls of the grosbeak are surprisingly noisy. They register fear, surprise, anger, pain, uncertainty, curiosity, and alarm. Most of these sounds can be detected by observing a flock at a feeder. While hiking, I once heard an evening grosbeak’s song. I was told that I was fortunate, as it’s unusual to hear them sing. I am always delighted to spot grosbeaks because they are so distinctive.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer who lives in the Tri-Lakes area. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

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Fire Marshal’s Safety Tips: Preparing and responding

By Thomas W. Eastburn,
Fire Marshall, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority

Firefighters with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority will again be visiting kindergarten to third-grade children, discussing fire safety, stop-drop-and-roll, and when to call 911 and seeing our fire rescue equipment. This educational program provides children with the tools for emergency notification, should this be required.

The fire authority has purchased and provided training for firefighters to efficiently and safely stabilize a vehicle during extrication of trapped people. This new tool compliments existing equipment and is available for use in the surrounding fire districts.

The authority’s firefighters, along with others, were called for service to aid in the Katrina Hurricane relief efforts. Two have returned from Houston, where they developed a database to register people for informational reasons. Three more have departed to man a fire station in the disaster area. This tragic event has taken a toll, not only on Gulf Coast residents but on those firefighters and their families.

September is National Preparedness Month. An article in the Rocky Mountain News covered all the recommended and required three-day survival needs for dealing with several types of emergencies. The Harvard Medical School listed 20 items from basic human and pet needs. For further information, visit www.rockymountainnews.com. The American Red Cross has a list of basic first-aid items. Their Web address for further information is www.redcross.org.

Until next month, be safe.

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Palmer Lake police seek information about assault

The Palmer Lake Police Department is asking the public for any information they might have about an assault on a police officer that occurred in Palmer Lake on Saturday, Sept. 17, at about 9:30 p.m.

An officer received a phone call reporting "kids" throwing rocks at cars in the area of Old Carriage Road and the Palmer Lake Reservoir trailhead. When the officer arrived at the trailhead parking lot, she searched the immediate area on foot. Soon thereafter, she was struck in the head and temporarily disoriented. Backup was requested, and the officer was later transported to the hospital for treatment.

A search of the area was conducted, but at this time, the identity of the assailant(s) is unknown. The police department is seeking information from the public on the identity of the assailant(s) or from anyone who experienced rocks being thrown at their vehicles in the same area at about that time. Also, the department is requesting that the person who called to report rocks being thrown at vehicles contact the police at 481-2934.

The police department is investigating this matter and is also asking the local media and the Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers for assistance in solving this case.

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Art Matters: "Shui" the universe for good luck

By Janet Sellers

Icy, snowy days spent inside are difficult to imagine just yet, but they will come, along with our need to feel comfortable and happy indoors. In some cultures, that comfort translates to an inner harmony, balancing the demands of the universe with grace and ease.

I am referring to the art of feng shui, a Chinese practice that translates to "the way of wind and water." Representing the forces of the universe in the home and workplace, it is the venerable Asian art of design and spatial relationships for optimal living, and it has become a glamorous and favorite design reference worldwide. Much of this art of placement uses specific fine art and design elements for its harmonious influence. Everyone can benefit from this in their surroundings.

The goal of using feng shui wisdom is balance and harmony in our work, familial, and personal lives. The home is our place to rejuvenate the soul, mind, and body, to nurture relationships, and to create the basis for a meaningful life. How we feel in any place is an immediate clue to its harmony or lack of it, which affects whether we’ll be comfortable and wish to return there. Feng shui traditions hold that proper placement is needed for optimal room arrangement, as this will influence our inner and outer lives.

Receiving the benefits of this artfulness in life won’t require huge outlays of money, just its thoughtful use. Using art to improve a room is one of the easiest methods. While orderliness and clearing clutter play a key role in achieving mental clarity, this venerable aesthetic tradition pays specific attention to the visual cues in fine art that will influence our imagination. The result is a transformation to a better life, including abundant health, prosperity, and love.

Feng shui master Lillian Too is a best-selling author of over 80 books in 30 languages on the subject. She proclaims that feng shui will optimize opportunity in every person’s life. An astute woman, she’s a combination of Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, and Dear Abby rolled into one successful tycoon. Here are some of her pointers.

Design a water dragon in the garden to enjoy tremendous wealth and luck. Unfamiliar with water dragons, I did a little research and found that a large, strange-looking fish, a dragon that likes to swim, an assortment of lizards, as well as fishy jewelry all share that name. Thankfully, as an alternative to owning an auspicious lizard, you could artfully place an aquarium or fountain near the home or workplace entrance, or just put a picture of fish or a water element there. Apparently flowing water and goldfish, be they real or in a picture, will do for mere enrichment.

Are you interested in activating love and romance? The southwest corners of your rooms–particularly the bedroom–could energize your personal efforts with the use of peaceful colors and with placing a pair of birds or a pair of healthy green plants there. Hanging paintings with those images (no upkeep!) could start that romantic aura moving your way, as would a painting or scroll of high mountains. It is said that love manifests near where the earth energy is.

Feng shui is a prudent and aesthetic practice in Asia and seems to be immensely popular in the West. After de-cluttering and beautifying your living space, you have room for new and better energy in your life.

Some opportunities for artistic, energetic growth this month in our area

Art Hop in Monument is held over due to popular demand! Over 20 art venue merchants invite you to enjoy the art and conviviality on Oct. 20, 4 to 7 p.m. The best art on the Front Range is right here, right now. The new small format collections here in town are ready for you—no more "vacation art and jewelry" needed.

On the street people’s choice: Local potter Ray Hayes recommends the current art teapot show at Pankratz Gallery.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Annual Members’ Show opened Sept. 9. The impressive grouping of local artists-members’ varied works is for sale through October.

TLCA’s Second Annual Sculpture Exhibition opens Oct. 14 and runs through Nov. 12. TLCA is located in the historic Kaiser-Frazer building at 394 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For information, phone 481-0475 or e-mail info@trilakesarts.org.

ArtFest: The last weekly Saturday ArtFest day will be Oct. 8 at the Farmer’s Market (2nd and Adams Streets), Monument. This will be the end of the Saturday Harvest Days for the ArtFest until we find another location. Join the artists on the two Saturdays left, and stay in touch for location updates. A call for artists is in the works for a January Snowball Festival, an indoor winter season of fine art and innovative luxury gifts. Deadline for online entries is Dec. 15: Contact artsalons@mac.com, or visit http://comoca.tripod.com

Winter Gallery, 47 Third St., features large, colorful paintings and small sculptures by artists in the local Monument Hill area. The grand opening will be in November. Co-owners Steve Stingley and Mary Winter Stingley have created a beauty of a gallery, with front and back garden areas, lovely inside space and nice lighting, and of course art to enjoy.

The (tuition-free) Serious Art Marketing Salons for Artists is in full swing at the Monument Branch Library every other Tuesday, 7 to 8:30 p.m. New members are welcome in groups of four or more to begin their learning sessions. Facilitated by Janet Sellers; call 488-8280 for details.

Monument School of Fine Arts, ongoing weekly: classical small group studio classes, all ages/levels; weekend workshops for oil, watercolor, plein air (such as "Paint Like Monet for a Day," "Photo-Van-Gogh," "Mindful Abstracts"); decor/jewelry salons (gems/polymer/gold/silver/clay) and the Serious Art Marketing Salons have ongoing enrollment. Special new art salon class: "The Art of Enjoying Art and Collecting for Beginners" with studio and gallery tours, lecture/slide presentations, and art expert guest speakers. Saturday morning salons (9 to 11:30 a.m.) includes breakfast biscotti, Saturday afternoon salon meets for a quick bite and then off to the galleries. Contact information: artsalons@mac.com; class art galleries /registration at www.startmyart.com or phone 488-8280. Join us!

Western Museum of Mining and Industry–The Art of Mining Celebration, Oct. 13, 5 to 7 p.m. Enjoy an evening of refreshments and live music to celebrate the new exhibit, The Art of Mining, featuring oils, watercolors, drawings, and etchings of miners and mines. RSVP by Oct. 3 at 488-0880. 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. Info: 488-0880, or visit www.wmmi.org.

Janet Sellers is an internationally known and collected artist and is director of the Monument School of Fine Arts. She can be reached at artsalons@mac.com.

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Concert series coming to Tri-Lakes

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance was formed two and a half years ago to promote fine classical music in the Tri-Lakes region. This year, a series of four concerts will be held at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road, on Saturdays at 7 p.m.

The season opener will be a two-piano concert with Dr. Michael Baron and Renato Premezzi. These concert artists have been performing together for over 25 years and form one of the top duo teams in the country. This will be the duo’s third appearance in Colorado Springs. The Dec. 3 concert will feature sounds from The Nutcracker Suite, mixed with Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, and more.

The second concert, on Jan. 21, 2006, will feature students of Dr. Baron, who will also appear. There will be solo works by artists ranging from 12 years old to adults.

Dr. Baron, an internationally known concert pianist and master teacher, will give a solo recital in the third concert of the season on March 4.

The final concert will be on April 8 and will showcase James Houlik, considered the top classical tenor saxophone player in the world. He will be joined by Steve Barta, local jazz pianist extraordinaire, and by Dr. Baron. 

Seasons tickets are $60 for adults, and $50 for students; call 487-1211. Individual tickets, if available, will be $22 and $18 at the door; call to get information on availability.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

Monument’s Fall Festival

The Historic Monument Merchants Association is hosting its 4th annual Fall Festival Oct. 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Historic Downtown Monument. Scarecrows made by downtown merchants will be on display throughout town and many merchants will be offering refreshments and specials. Wagon rides, a quilt show, and scarecrow making will also be featured. A walking tour of historic downtown Monument, led by local historian Jim Sawatzki, will leave from Limbach Park at 1 p.m.

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Christmas Crafts Festival in Palmer Lake

The 32nd Annual Christmas Crafts Festival, sponsored by the Palmer Lake Art Group, will be held Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, across from the Village Green just off Highway 105. Proceeds are used to fund art scholarships for Tri-Lakes area students. The Palmer Lake Art Group, a non-profit organization established over 40 years ago, is the oldest art group in the Tri-Lakes area. Its 90+ members are from various Front Range communities between Denver and the Pikes Peak region. For more information, call Al Hawkins, Craft Festival Chairman, 303-663-9415 or Mary Krucoff, 488-8101.

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Tri-Lakes observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Month of October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Around the nation battered women’s advocates will join with government officials, faith-based groups, and others to organize activities that raise public awareness about domestic violence. Locally, the TriLakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) Domestic Violence Awareness committee will be displaying information in the Palmer Lake and Monument Post Offices. The displays will feature the "Stop Family Violence" semi-postal stamp, which was initiated by a former member of the Tri-HAP committee. The excess revenues generated from the purchase of these stamps help to support battered women’s programs nationwide. The displays will also include materials about the prevalence and cost of domestic violence, the need for prevention and the availability of services for victims of abuse.

The unveiling of the Tri-Lakes National Domestic Violence Awareness display will take place on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Monument Post Office, 545 3rd St. Monument Postmaster, Robert J. Maniatis, along with Monica Deluca, Supervisor of Customer Service, will host the event. Co-sponsors of the event include Palmer Lake Postmaster Judie Mossman, Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk and Palmer Lake Police Chief Dale Smith.

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Emergency response training in Black Forest

A Citizen Emergency Response training class will be Oct. 5 and 7, 6 to 9:30 p.m. and Oct. 8, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Black Forest Fire Station, 11445 Teachout Rd., Black Forest. This free class helps citizens develop an individual or family disaster plan, family communications plan, car and home disaster kits, and it exposes participants to a disaster scenario to show them how to respond. For ages 18 or older, or accompanied by an adult if at least 13. For information, call 575-8400.

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Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) seeks art committee members

The PPLD Board of Trustees is accepting applications through Oct. 7 to fill two vacancies on its Art Evaluation Committee. Committee members review works submitted by local artists for exhibit at eight PPLD locations. The committee meets twice a year, on average, for about 2½ hours each meeting. Membership terms are two years with possible renewal of one year. Applicants should submit a letter of intent with credentials to: PPLD Board of Trustees, c/o Cathy Genato, PO Box 1579, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1579. For more information, call 531-6333, x2338, or e-mail cgenato@ppld.org.

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Gleneagle fire station open house

Everyone in the family will find something interesting and exciting at the Donald Wescott Fire Department open house Oct. 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Activities scheduled throughout the day include fire trucks and fire fighting equipment, a Flight for Life helicopter, ambulance, Smoky the Bear and Sparky the Dog, County Search and Rescue, a car crash exhibit, a smoke trailer, firefighting drills, and free hot dogs with chips and soda. For more information, call 488-8680.

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Empty Bowl Dinner

The 2005 Empty Bowl Dinner, sponsored by Monument Hill Sertoma, will be held at Lewis-Palmer High School on Oct. 12, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Soup, bread, drinks, and dessert are all donated by local businesses and organizations, so 100 percent of the proceeds goes to Tri-Lakes Cares. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1, and must be purchased in advance at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Pankratz Gallery, Tri-Lakes Printing, Tri-Lakes Tribune, or Rock House Ice Cream & More. The cost is a $16 donation to Tri-Lakes Cares. For information, call 495-3819.

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Tri-Lakes Mega Book Sale

Thousands of books will be available at the bargain price of $3 a bag at this book sale sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library. All sales benefit the Tri-Lakes Friends. The event is Oct. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. For more details, call 488-2370.

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AARP Mature Safe Driving Program

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older, and "graduates" can get a discount on their insurance. The classes are Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor. You must attend both sessions. Registration is required. The cost is $10. Phone the library, 488-2370, for more information or to register.

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Wine and Roses IV

This annual "event to attend" is sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club. The date is set for Oct. 20, and the place is Pinecrest Event Center in Palmer Lake. Food samplings, celebrity wine servers, and a silent auction will be part of the evening. For more information phone 351-1437.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club membership is open to all women living in School District 38. Luncheon meetings with programs are held September through May. The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club also sponsors the annual Pine Forest Antiques Show. Proceeds from these fundraisers benefit local nonprofit groups. For more information, visit the Web site at www.tlwc.net or call Linda Celestre at 481-0114 or Lorrie Jaeger at 481-2882.

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Health Fair

More than 40 vendors and health care professionals from the Tri-Lakes community and El Paso County will be at Lewis-Palmer High School Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to provide health and wellness information. Free health screenings, including hearing tests, vision/glaucoma tests, cholesterol tests, blood pressure checks, and cancer screenings; chair massages; reflexology; exercise program consultations; and many other services will be available. For information, call Steve Spry at the Chamber of Commerce, 481-3282, or Amy Dreher, 488-8786.

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Pikes Peak Library District seeks volunteers

The library needs volunteers for varied positions, including gardening and landscaping, maintenance work, print shop work, adult literacy coaches, and more. To apply, complete the appropriate volunteer application and send to the East Library, call 531-6333, x1251, or e-mail nmilvid@mail.ppld.org. Volunteer applications are available at all libraries and at ppld.org, under "Jobs and Volunteer Positions."

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Pine Creek Holiday Bazaar in November

Crafter-artisans in 120 booth spaces offer creative holiday gifts Nov. 12 at Pine Creek High School, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free annual event is a fundraiser for the Pine Creek High School band program. Enjoy live music, a bake sale, silent auction, and Grandma’s Kitchen! Take I-25 to Exit 151(Briargate Parkway), continue straight (east) to Powers Blvd, then left (north) to Old Ranch Road. For information, call 488-6787 or visit www.geocities.com/pcbazaar.

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Gleneagle Women’s Club Annual Arts & Crafts Fair and Book Sale in November

Everyone is invited to this free event Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cactus Rose Restaurant, 13990 Gleneagle Dr. For more information, call 599-9046.

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Students raise money for hurricane victims

Students at Antelope Trails elementary school raised $7,300 for hurricane Katrina victims. A car wash held last Saturday at the school raised $2,500. The remaining money was collected through a student-initiated bake sale and fund-raising campaign. All money will be donated to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The effort was spearheaded, organized, and directed by the fifth-grade classes, although the entire school and staff participated in the effort. Antelope Trails, a District 20 school, is located at 15280 Jessie Drive in Gleneagle. For more information call the school at 234-4100.

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County seeks volunteers for outreach group

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on its newly formed advisory committee known as the Citizen Outreach Group. The committee will advise the board on topics of concern, reach out to citizens, and facilitate communication between the board and constituents.

The committee will be made up of nine citizen members appointed by the board. Five of the members will represent each of the commissioner districts, and four will be at-large members. There will also be two nonvoting alternate positions. The board chair, vice chair, county administrator, and the liaison to the county’s Public Information Office will have the option to serve as ex officio members.

Interested volunteers should submit an El Paso County volunteer application and/or a letter of interest along with a brief resume, including address and a daytime telephone number to: Board of County Commissioners, Attn: Fran St. Germain, Executive Assistant to County Administration, 27 E. Vermijo Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208; fax to: 520-6397; e-mail: webmaster@elpasoco.com. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com by clicking on the "Volunteer-Opps" link.

For further information, call 520-6436. Deadline for applying is Oct. 7.

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