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Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 11 - November 5, 2005

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Harvest Party a big hit

Below: Oct. 31: An estimated 1,000 people enjoyed games, candy, jumpers, costumes, and fun at this year’s free event at Creekside Middle School sponsored by Forest Ridge Community Church. Photos by Jim Kendrick.

Below: Dustie Minton tries his luck with the football toss. 

Below: Sydney Stewart is helped in the coin toss game by her mother (L) and volunteer Katie With (R). 

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Eaton, Wilson elected to D-38 board, town sales tax and TLFPD measures pass

Below (L to R): Dee Dee Eaton and Gail Wilson were elected to the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education on Nov. 1. Courtesy photos

On Nov. 1, Dee Dee Eaton and Gail Wilson were elected to represent Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Director Districts 1 and 3.

Eaton received 58 percent of the 4,762 votes cast for Director District 1, while her opponent Jerrel Schubert received 42 percent.

Wilson received 34 percent of the 5,131 votes cast for Director District 3. In that race, John Magerko received 29 percent, Tom Roddam received 20 percent, and Georgeann Hughes received 18 percent.

The Town of Monument ballot measure to reallocate sales tax revenue was approved, with 70 percent of the 863 votes cast.

Elimination of term limits for Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District directors was approved, with 56 percent of the 2,951 votes cast.

This information is based on the final unofficial results posted on the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s Web site at http://car.elpasoco.com/elemain.asp.

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Monument Planning Commission, September 28: Commerce Center plan and Monument Ridge annexation approved, Promontory Pointe postponed, Timbers tabled

Below: Vision Development’s Director of Development Rick Blevins (L) and consultant planner John Maynard of NES, Inc. (R) answer questions from the Monument Planning Commissioners (L to R) Kathy Spence, Ed DeLaney, Lowell Morgan, and Larry Neddo on Sept. 28 regarding their plans for the new Jackson Creek Commerce Center on the northeast corner of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. Standing at the wall on the right is County Commissioner Wayne Williams. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 28, the Monument Planning Commission (PC) approved plans for the first phase of the Jackson Creek Commerce Center, located on the northeast corner of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive.

The developer of the Timbers at Monument, south of the Home Depot, had asked that their Preliminary Plat and Preliminary Planned Development (PD) Site Plan be once again continued. Instead, the commission tabled them. When the Timbers proposals are ready for PC and Board of Trustees (BOT) consideration, notice of the hearings will again be posted on the property and advertised in the paper.

Developers of Promontory Point and Monument Ridge, next to Jackson Creek on Baptist Road, presented sketch plans and requests for annexation.

While there has been considerable discussion between developers and town staff regarding the four potential annexations near Jackson Creek, no firm proposals have yet emerged for Home Place Ranch or the Baptist Camp. Citizens have had difficulty knowing when to attend PC hearings on these developments due to numerous schedule changes. The August PC meeting was canceled, and the September meeting was postponed two weeks to help the developers. The October meeting was postponed a week and then canceled because the developer wasn’t ready.

Vacancies remain unresolved

The required quorum of four commissioners was present: Chairman Ed Delaney, Kathy Spence, Larry Neddo, and alternate Lowell Morgan. Commissioners Eric Johnson and John Kortgardner were absent.

Commissioner Tim Davis recently resigned after having missed every PC meeting since his appointment by the BOT Jan. 18. Morgan has since served as an alternate, substituting for Davis throughout the year.

A second vacancy on the PC was created when Travis Easton—a Jackson Creek resident and civil engineer for Nolte and Associates, the engineering consultant firm for the Triview Metropolitan District and the Timbers development—was appointed to the BOT on Sept. 19 to fill one of two vacant trustee positions. Easton replaced former Trustee Scott Meszaros, who resigned to apply for the long-dormant town clerk position.

Johnson resigned after this PC meeting, effective Oct. 26, creating a third PC vacancy. He moved to Douglas County, after taking a new job in Denver.

Town residents who wish to apply for appointment to a vacant PC position should contact Town Manager Cathy Green at 884-8013 or cgreen@townofmonument.net.

Jackson Creek Commerce Center

Preliminary Plat unanimously approved: Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that 60,203 square feet of retail space are planned on 10 acres. The zoning is Planned Mixed Use Development. Timber Creek Drive, the main east-west access road connecting Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive, will be a public road maintained by Triview per its intergovernmental agreement with the town.

Morgan asked if there were any grading issues. Kassawara said that grading on the site by Vision Development, Inc. was begun before his department created the requirement for grading permits, but there are no apparent grading issues. He added that some details on the detention pond needed to be resolved. There was no public comment.

Preliminary PD Site Plan unanimously approved: Kassawara stated that the PC would be reviewing only two of the five planned structures on the site, a 4,000-square-foot Ent Federal Credit Union office near Jackson Creek Parkway and a 20,606-square-foot, two-story office building near Leather Chaps Drive, in the center of the parcel. There are two additional general retail building sites for a 14,700-square-foot building on Old Forest Point Drive at the south corner of the parcel and two strip center buildings with 13 units of 2,400 square feet each on the north side of Timber Creek Drive. The developer will have to return to the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for approval of the plans for the latter two sites.

Kassawara recommended two conditions of approval.

The first condition would require construction of a second right-turn deceleration lane on southbound Leather Chaps, to the south of the depicted deceleration lane for Timber Creek Drive. The addition would be for the secondary Leather Chaps entrance south of the two-story office building. Kassawara said the proposed counts in the traffic study do not require this change, but line-of-sight issues due to the curve of Leather Chaps from south to west at this access might.

The developer’s consultant traffic engineer had not yet submitted an analysis of the curvature/sight-line issue for the town’s consultant traffic engineer to review and approve. Kassawara said he would administratively rescind this condition if the consultants’ analyses show the deceleration lane is not needed.

The other condition of approval was an additional note in the PD design guidelines that would specify 9-foot-by-18-foot parking spaces instead of the 9-foot-by-19-foot spaces called for in the Regency Park design guidelines that apply east of I-25. The PD guidelines would supersede the 1987 Regency Park guidelines for this parcel.

Rick Blevins, Vision’s Director of Development, said he had no problem with the two conditions, noting that cars were larger in 1987 and that the smaller space length is also part of the Monument Marketplace PD guidelines.

There was no public comment.

Spence asked for an additional design guideline requirement for outside tables for office workers, to help minimize pedestrian traffic across Jackson Creek Parkway from this parcel to the Marketplace. She also asked for smoking areas to be shown on the plan and that the areas not be visible from the Parkway or Leather Chaps. Spence also asked that specific guideline wording be added that would require screening of service areas, trash bins, and mechanical equipment.

Blevins agreed, and Kassawara said his department would ensure that the revision to the guidelines is part of the final PD Site Plan. Blevins also noted that there would be a 35-foot-wide landscape buffer as well as a masonry screen at the north end of the parcel.

Spence asked about the maximum height of the buildings and whether signs would be compatible with those for the Marketplace. Blevins said the maximum height of equipment-screening parapets would be about 48 feet, though the Regency Park regulations allow a maximum of 100 feet. Signs will be similar to those for the Marketplace, though smaller. Spence said she wanted four-sided architecture due to the visibility of all sides of each building from adjacent roads. Kassawara said there would be, though the rear facades would have fewer windows. Spence concluded by saying she wanted the development to have a "smooth flow" to its design to avoid the "choppy look" of commercial developments in Colorado Springs.

Jackson Creek resident Jim Dorsey asked about parapet screening of rooftop equipment, noting that King Soopers’ roof equipment is not screened for adjacent houses at higher elevations. Kassawara said the town code had been changed since King Soopers was built to ensure screening from all aspects, where possible.

Jackson Creek resident John Chinnock asked if there would be a common architectural theme for the five buildings. Kassawara said there would, due to the requirements in the town’s comprehensive plan and the level of detail in the PD design guidelines for the parcel, which are similar to those for the Marketplace.

A resident who did not identify herself asked if there would be bicycle lanes on Leather Chaps. Blevins said there would be 5-foot-wide sidewalks for pedestrians but no bike lanes, since the road is already completed. Kassawara noted that the 1987 Regency Park regulations do not call for any bike lanes.

The site plan was unanimously approved, with the two conditions noted above.

Promontory Pointe

During a two-hour hearing, landowner Ray Marshall, of Landco, sought concurrent approval of his annexation proposal, rezoning request, and a PD sketch plan for the parcel, now named Walters Promontory Pointe. This parcel is the former 117-acre Vern Walters Ranch, north of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive, between the Jackson Creek and Kingswood developments. Notices of the PC hearing were posted on the site and mailed to adjoining property owners.

The site sketch plan in Kassawara’s proposal package showed that Triview has a west-to-east easement across the northern end of the parcel, providing access to the district’s water storage tank at the northeast corner of the property.

A different approach: Annexations are regulated by Colorado statutes with a tight 60-day timetable. In the past, developers seeking town annexation have also sought concurrent approval of Final Plats and Final PD Site Plans, often with developer metropolitan districts, a very complicated review process for the staff, PC, and BOT, given the annexation timing constraints.

Although far less specific development information was provided in the sketch plan, Kassawara’s summary document noted that the PC’s task was to determine if the proposed annexation complies with the town’s and county’s current comprehensive plans and to make recommendations to the BOT on any development requirements that should be included in the proposed annexation agreement.

Town Manager Cathy Green gave a short overview of the annexation request and Kassawara’s development summary package, after saying she is still in charge of long-range town planning. Green, a planner throughout her career, was originally hired as the town planner, then was elevated to the town manager after the departure of Rick Sonnenburg. Kassawara, a career professional engineer, was then elevated from his town engineer position to head the restructured Development Services Department when the planning department was eliminated.

Green noted the southern 39-acre portion of the narrow rectangular parcel had already been annexed by the town. The county zoning of the remainder is currently RR-3, 5-acre lots or larger. Landco requested rezoning of the whole parcel to town Planned Residential Development (PRD). The definitions for PRD zoning differ among the town, Triview, and the county–a source of confusion for the commissioners and trustees.

Green said the density in the proposed development ranges from three to five dwelling units per acre. Green said the Walters parcel is in Priority Area 1, the Monument Urban Growth Area, of the town’s updated comprehensive plan.

Kassawara’s summary document noted this town annexation designation means that the parcel is "most easily served by existing infrastructure and special districts." Triview has already allocated the required number of taps to the developer. He added that the designation applies where "land is considered appropriate for annexation and development, and does not present problems which are associated with sprawl."

Kassawara’s summary also noted the El Paso County 2000 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan called for low-density development on the parcel, with RR-3 zoning and 5-acre lots. He further noted this comprehensive plan statement: "Monument’s expanding sphere of influence means that development happening in and around the Town will develop to more contemporary, suburban standards rather than the rural standards promoted by the county."

Kassawara’s document also noted the Tri-Lakes Plan calls for an east-west regional trail across the property, and a north-south "major transportation connector" or "major collector" road through the parcel to help connect Gleneagle Drive to Furrow Road. The El Paso County Department of Transportation comment letter on the proposal had asked that the sketch plan be referred to the county’s Major Thoroughfare Task Force.

Kassawara suggested that the PC recommend to the BOT that the proposal comply with comprehensive plans and that the annexation agreement address trails, park and open space dedication, buffers next to adjoining rural land uses, Baptist Road improvements, and public schools.

Landco’s consultant planner, Terry Schooler of William Guman & Associates, gave an overview of the proposal as well. He noted that the single main street through the narrow parcel was "not a highway," and flow would be slow on the curved road that follows the existing contours of the site, to take advantage of the views in all directions. A 60-foot "major collector" right-of-way with no home driveways would connect Gleneagle Drive to the eastward extension of Lyon’s Tail Drive.

The timing of installation of a traffic light at Baptist and Gleneagle will depend on when traffic counts meet the minimum requirements for the warrants. The rest of the north-south road would be residential and would have a 50-foot minor collector right-of-way with curves, driveways, and stop signs to slow traffic for child safety.

Schooler said that the controversial connections of this single north-south road to a north-south collector for Home Place Ranch and to two residential Jackson Creek streets, Lyon’s Tail and Walters Creek Drives, were a requirement for inclusion imposed by Triview’s District Manager Ron Simpson and also by town staff. Both these latter internal intersections were proposed to have all-way stop signs.

Schooler said there would be a segment of the county trail connecting the Santa Fe Trail to Fox Run Park that would run along Walters Creek Drive, then further east to the rock outcroppings near the water storage tank. There will be trees and berms along the north side of Baptist Road to reduce traffic noise and a 10-foot sidewalk. The developer will also donate right-of-way land to the county for widening Baptist Road.

Guman Land Planner Jillian McColgan presented the details of the 330 residential lots. She said that there would be:

  • 166 lots measuring 6,600 square feet (7.5-foot side setbacks)

  • 72 lots of 7,700 square feet (7.5-foot side setbacks)

  • 81 lots of 9,600 square feet (10-foot side setbacks)

  • 29 lots of 12,000 square feet (20-foot side setbacks)

All front setbacks are 20 feet and rear setbacks are 25 feet. House prices will range from $400,000 to $650,000. Minimum spacing between western homes and those of Jackson Creek will be 80 feet. Minimum spacing between eastern homes and those of Kingswood would be 145 feet.

County Commissioner Wayne Williams attended this meeting to personally reinforce the county transportation department’s collector requests. He noted the sketch plan showed a single north-south residential road with numerous driveways and stop signs. However, this single road should be a major collector that connects Gleneagle Drive, also a major collector, to another "major collector" through Home Place Ranch that intersects Higby Road.

Williams also said that Landco’s required major collector would have to have a connection to the Baptist Camp development’s major collector through the Landco parcel. Williams noted that no Baptist Camp connection was shown on the Landco proposal. He said the town should require the Baptist Camp connection to conform to the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan. The town should also require elimination of the driveways and stop signs and widening of the 50-foot right-of-way to meet county major collector requirements for the new road’s full length. The county will require all of these changes if the 78 acres are not annexed.

Numerous Jackson Creek and Kingswood property owners expressed concerns about:

  • The 50-foot right-of-way portion of the single north-south road not being adequate for the traffic generated by Promontory Pointe, Home Place Ranch, and the Baptist Camp developments.

  • Long-term decreasing groundwater availability in the Denver Basin due to the town only having a 100-year requirement compared to the county’s 300-year requirement.

  • Perimeter fencing not being consistent with Jackson Creek’s.

  • Densities much higher than adjacent Jackson Creek lots and the 5-acre lots in Kingswood.

  • Insufficient notification of the hearing.

  • Inadequacy of Kingswood Drive to support Baptist Camp traffic if no connection is made inside Promontory Pointe as requested by Williams.

  • Inadequacy of Baptist Road to handle additional traffic before and during widening.

  • No plan or funding in the next decade or more to widen the two-lane Baptist Road bridge over I-25.

  • Worsening of the current drainage issues along the north side of Baptist Road.

  • Use of a purely residential portion of Lyon’s Tail north of Leather Chaps as a major thoroughfare to avoid traffic lights on Baptist Road at Gleneagle and Leather Chaps.

  • Use of the residential north-south road by high school students driving from Baptist to Higby.

  • Approving this development’s site plan without knowing what the Baptist Camp development will look like.

  • Jackson Creek views to the east and west will not be preserved, despite realtor promises.

  • Integrity of the traffic studies.

  • The proposed homes being too close to each other.

  • Who would maintain the utility easement between this development and Jackson Creek and keep the easement looking natural.

  • Lots being too small for such expensive houses so no one will buy them.

  • Developer will switch to lower priced houses when the initial expensive homes don’t sell, degrading property values of existing adjacent homes.

Schooler rebutted, saying that this was a sketch plan of "what might be" rather than a firm proposal for final approval. He said the expensive houses would produce a "value match with existing homes, if not a match in actual acreage." Schooler also noted the town would require all the drainage issues to be resolved before final plan approval, if the property is annexed.

Schooler went on to say that nearly every Gleneagle resident who had attended previous presentations opposed the extension of Gleneagle Drive to the north as a collector. Nearly every Jackson Creek resident opposes the connections with Lyon’s Tail and Walters Creek Drives. The county, town, Triview, and the Baptist Camp developer were forcing the connections, not Landco. Schooler concluded by saying, "We’ve shown more than we should have" to get the sketch plan approved.

McColgan said that the adjacent residents "all complained" about the requirement to go to the post office to pick up the certified letters for a previous information meeting held by Guman in Town Hall. Some residents did not pick them up. Regular mail was used for the hearing notices, rather than certified mail as required by the statutes. Green said "The word got out, you’re here."

Upon learning that certified mail was not used by McColgan, the commissioners voted unanimously to continue the sketch plan. There would not have been enough time to send out a new notice by certified mail at least 15 days prior to the scheduled PC meeting on Oct. 12. The PC meeting was then delayed a week to Oct. 19, by a unanimous vote. Public notice of PC annexation hearings by certified mail is not required by statute, so the commissioners returned to the annexation issue.

Morgan asked what benefit there was in the proposed annexation for the town. Green said that the town needed the sales tax revenue from the parcel to pay for the proposed police building. Morgan noted that purely residential annexations are a money loser for the town, because infrastructure maintenance, snow plowing, and police services, among others, cost more annually than the property tax raised within the development, after buildout.

Morgan said the town had never annexed property without approving the final development plans simultaneously. Green replied that the statutes only require that the parcel fit the guidelines for annexation in the town and county master plans. Morgan added that he couldn’t approve the construction of any more new homes along Baptist Road until the bridge over I-25 is widened. The other commissioners agreed.

Green asked the commissioners to explain how the annexation proposal was not in compliance with the comprehensive plans. Spence said the development was "way too dense" to provide appropriate transitions to the existing developments. Green countered that the average density of 8,000 square feet per lot was roughly equal to that of the adjacent Jackson Creek housing clusters. Spence replied that such high densities were only appropriate to single-story patio home developments that preserve adjacent lots’ views. Neddo agreed with Spence.

A motion to continue the annexation decision until Oct. 19 also passed unanimously. This PC meeting was later canceled when the developer was not ready to address the issues raised.

Monument Ridge

AP Baptist Road, LLC sought concurrent approval of its annexation proposal, rezoning request, and PD Sketch Plan for the 30-acre Barber-Miller-Schmidt parcel on Baptist Road directly across from the King Soopers center. The developer proposes commercial buildings along Baptist and New Struthers Road and residential in the corner adjacent to Chaparral Hills. The parcel would be included by Triview, if annexed, but with town Planned Development zoning rather than Triview zoning.

This parcel is also in Priority Area 1, the Monument Urban Growth Area, of the town’s updated comprehensive plan. Kassawara wrote that the Tri-Lakes plan "identifies this land as mixed use or non-residential." It is zoned R4 by the county, a type of planned development. The county plans for this parcel have always called for mixed community commercial and residential, a major factor in the defeat of the Wal-Mart Supercenter proposal last year.

Two different PD sketch plans showed 16.73 acres of commercial space with alternative arrangements of 10 separate buildings including a bank, hotels, restaurants, a drugstore, a small retail strip center, and a gas station on the northeast corner. A large detention pond is planned for the southwest corner, next to New Struthers Road, as was proposed by Wal-Mart. No details were provided on either sketch plan as to the type of residential housing that might be built.

Kassawara noted that the commissioners were not approving anything specific on the sketch plan, just that "the land uses and densities being proposed are acceptable."

Kassawara noted that the only written comments received were from traffic engineering consultant SEH, Inc. The report recommended against approving the developer’s request that the Jackson Creek Crossing intersection on Baptist Road be converted to a full motion intersection with left-turn lights in all directions. The intersection is currently right-in/right-out only westbound at the King Soopers center, with no access to this parcel. It will be upgraded by the county to a ¾-motion intersection with left turns only from Baptist Road to Jackson Creek Crossing in both directions and no traffic light.

The SEH report also noted that the minimum spacing for traffic lights on a major arterial is one-half mile, while the separation between Jackson Creek Crossing and Jackson Creek Parkway is only 870 feet.

However, Mayor Byron Glenn told the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority on Feb. 2 that the town would annex the county road and convert this intersection to full motion and pay for the traffic light after the county transportation department completes all the improvements being paid for by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, without town participation.

Kassawara’s summary document suggested the same recommendation by the PC to the BOT for this development as for Promontory Pointe.

Green suggested that the PC continue the decision on the sketch plan until the next meeting due to insufficient time to get written comments back from citizens, utilities, and other interested parties. Land Planner Perry Thomas, of Thomas & Thomas, also said he would like to go forward with the landowner’s annexation request for a mixed use.

Thomas noted that "stepped separate building pads" were used, rather than a large flat pad like the Wal-Mart proposal, due to the variations in elevation and steep slopes on the site. He also observed that the landowner has had several requests for participation from hotel chains. The landowner has expressed willingness to participate in any public improvement fee plan to provide early private financing of widening the Baptist Road bridge over I-25.

There was no citizen opposition to the proposal during the public hearing. Family of Christ Lutheran Church representative, Ron Little, and Chaparral Hills residents Debbie and Don Grandia and Pete McKinney expressed concerns about:

  • Safety issues regarding the steep retaining wall that would be necessary along the church’s western boundary.

  • Appropriate screening for the gas station and other eastern sites.

  • Access requested by the church to the Jackson Creek Crossing is not provided.

  • County improvements costing $8 million still produce category F traffic flows, the worst rating.

  • Repeated administrative town and county approvals of developer requests for increased density "to increase profits" after the public hearings are over.

  • Less commercial and more residential for a better balance.

  • No knowledge of what the homes or commercial building architecture will look like.

  • Administrative approval by the town to change the suggested patio homes to four-story apartment buildings.

  • The type of detention pond and its impact on Jackson Creek flows and possible mouse habitat issues that were never resolved in the county’s Wal-Mart hearings.

  • Who sits on the public improvement fee board and what citizen oversight or input would be allowed.

  • Inadequate funding of New Struthers Road by the county, based on the County Commissioners allowing the Struthers Ranch developer to renege on paying for any roadway along the development’s frontage after the project was approved.

Green said there would be public hearings that would require planned development guidelines and very complete descriptions not contained in the two differing conceptual sketch plans.

Spence suggested that the restaurants be next to the hotels so guests could walk to them easily, after noting that patio home residents would probably like being adjacent to the proposed commercial uses. Morgan said again that the bridge over I-25 could not handle the additional traffic the development would generate, despite the needs of the town that would be met by the proposed commercial uses, which he called "the right businesses in the right location." He added that New Struthers would be of little help until it is completed to Northgate.

Project Engineer Virgil Sanchez, of ESI Inc., agreed with Morgan on the need for commercial property owners to work together to accelerate bridge construction. Kassawara said the town was working on the public improvement fee method of private financing for the improvement.

After further discussion, the PC unanimously approved the annexation proposal without conditions. A motion to continue the sketch plan passed 3-1, with Morgan voting no. He said he couldn’t approve a site plan on principle, when there is no resolution of the bridge issue in sight.

Policy Change

Kassawara announced that referrals from the county for the town’s comments on county developments near the town would only be presented at PC meetings in the future and no longer considered at BOT meetings.

The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 in Town Hall, 166 Second St. The Planning Commission normally meets on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Monument Board of Trustees, October 3: Board approves revision to 2005 budget

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees interviewed a candidate to replace former Trustee George Brown and approved a grant of $6,000 for the Lucretia Vaile Museum on Oct. 3. Trustees Tommie Plank and Gail Drumm were absent.

Trustee comments: Mayor Byron Glenn directed Public Works Director Rich Landreth to have his staff clear the weeds from the undeveloped property on the northeast corner of Second and Front Streets and send the property owner, who lives in Denver, the bill, as has been done previously.

Trustee applicant

Glenn said that he wanted to amend the agenda to postpone appointing a new trustee until Oct. 17. The board approved unanimously. Two Jackson Creek residents were listed on the agenda, Dr. Marc McClure and Tim Miller, but Miller was not present.

McClure said he has lived in Monument for two and a half years and runs his own maxillo-facial surgery practice. He said he had been treasurer of the Hands of Hope Hospice, served on the board of directors for the Open Door Food Kitchen in St. Joseph, Mo., and also helped with trail building there. He stated that these experiences should help him make "intelligent and thoughtful consideration" of town finances, population growth, and limited water supply.

In response to questions from Trustees Frank Orten and Dave Mertz, and Glenn, he said he was not up-to-date on the activities of the board but was interested in the town’s finances, has time to serve, and is interested in public service, though he has no interest in politics. Orten noted that McClure had not come to hear the audit report, and added the report "was a good one."

McClure said growth and new businesses are inevitable, but rather than restricting them, the town should control them so that "infrastructure is present for that growth." McClure said I-25 was a "disaster" and the county could not keep up with growth. He said he is neither pro-growth nor anti-growth.

Museum donation approved

Rogers Davis and Jim Sawatski asked the board for a contribution to the Lucretia Vaile Museum in Palmer Lake. They noted that the museum, though not in Monument, is regional in nature and is the primary preserver of the town’s history. The board unanimously approved a donation of $6,000 for 2005 and budgeting for a similar contribution in 2006, both from the board’s discretionary fund.

Katrina donation

Glenn reported that the town would match the $6,289.58 contributed to Hurricane Katrina relief by town employees with the maximum amount allowed by a previous board resolution, $5,000. Officer Kevin Swenson donated $2,170 of sick-day pay. David Just of the American Red Cross accepted the check from Glenn, said that there were 1,800 hurricane evacuees in Colorado Springs, and noted that the organization stands ready to help local residents in a disaster as well.

Noise ordinance expanded

The board unanimously approved an amendment to town ordinances regarding previously unregulated excessive noise on private property. Police Chief Jake Shirk noted that the amendment was needed as an additional tool to resolve noise complaints such as loud stereo complaints in townhomes with common walls. Town Attorney Gary Shupp wrote the proposed amendment.

Other paragraphs deal with offensive conduct or language, threats, fights, discharge of a firearm, and the display of a weapon. Shirk said the amendment does not modify or limit the state self-defense statutes regarding use of deadly force in a home invasion, often called the "make my day" law.

Liquor license transfer

The board unanimously approved a temporary transfer of the Mandarin House liquor license to the new owners, who will change the name of the restaurant to Hikari Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar. The Mandarin House is moving from Monument Plaza to Monument Marketplace, where it will seek a new license.

The Hikari owners have submitted all the proper paperwork for a permanent liquor license, but the required investigations were not yet completed. The town is not required to issue a permanent license to Hikari if all the investigation results are not positive.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved a temporary road closure of the McShane Place cul-de-sac for an annual HOA picnic on Oct. 9.

The board unanimously approved the 50-page August financial report without discussion. There were no disbursements over $5,000.

The board scheduled a special meeting on Oct. 17 to discuss the first draft of the 2006 budget.

The board scheduled a special dinner workshop session with the Triview Metropolitan District on Oct. 19 to discuss aligning their separate development regulations.

The staff has scheduled its "Christmas" party for Dec. 9 at the Air Force Academy Officer’s Club.

The board will consider passing a resolution to impose a lien on an abandoned property on Washington Street for the cost of cleaning up the lot.

Green said the board should consider passing an ordinance restricting use of train horns at night, from midnight until 6 a.m., even though some jurisdictions have had difficulty with enforcement.

Glenn suggested that the board pass a resolution asking the county to better examine traffic impacts on the town and region for nearby county developments that they consider, and to use standard engineering practices and common sense.

The meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, October 17: Miller appointed to board, Meszaros sworn in as town clerk

Town Manager Cathy Green administers the oath of office to newly appointed Town Clerk Scott Meszaros (above) and Trustee Tim Miller (below). Photos by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held a 2006 budget work session during a special meeting on Oct. 17. During the regular board meeting, former Trustee Scott Meszaros was sworn in as town clerk. The board interviewed two Jackson Creek residents to replace former Trustee George Brown. After one walked out of the meeting, angry because trustees said they did not think there should be another Jackson Creek resident on the board, the board then appointed the one who remained. Trustees Dave Mertz and Gail Drumm were absent.

2006 budget presented

Treasurer Pamela Smith presented the 20-page draft of the 2006 budget. She emphasized that all the figures listed in the draft were conservative on revenues to make sure that they were unlikely to be short of cash at the end of the year. Some of the highlights for comparing 2006 with 2005 were:

  • Total revenue and expenditures are down about $100,000, to just over $3 million.

  • The net surplus is about the same, just over $140,000.

  • The beginning fund balance is up about $143,000, to about $1.4 million.

  • The reserved fund balance for water is up about $248,000, to about $953,000.

  • The ending fund balance is down about $106,000, to about $9,000, and down $405,000 from 2002.

  • Total revenue in the general fund is down about $41,000.

  • Total expenditures in the general fund are down about $22,000.

Taxing of town’s water system may end

Smith reported that the 12 percent franchise fee that the town has used to tax its water system had been dropped in the draft budget. The purpose of the franchise fee tax was to move restricted revenue from the town’s one-cent water sales tax and/or excess water bill payments out of the water enterprise to the general fund, to fund other town requirements. Without the franchise fee, no water enterprise fund revenue could have been reallocated and spent for other town purposes. The limitation is based on Colorado statutes regarding public enterprises and the restriction in the 1989 ballot issue language that created the water sales tax, which says the sole purpose and permitted use for the sales tax revenue is the town water system.

Mayor Byron Glenn noted that water system revenue will decline sharply due to the near complete buildout on the west side of I-25. This buildout will eliminate collection of tap fees, which are typically used to pay for water system capital improvements or repairs. The town does not provide water to the east side of I-25, where the majority of town residents live and where most future tap fees will be generated.

Funds for future Monument water infrastructure repairs and upgrades will have to come from operating revenues, which may necessitate rate increases. Elimination of the 12 percent franchise fee should postpone this potential rise in rates, though the BOT still wants to reallocate the unspent restricted water sales tax revenue to pay for a larger police department building, other new municipal buildings, or new water or water rights.

Town Manager Cathy Green said the franchise fee revenue is no longer needed for the general fund. Smith agreed. Trustee Frank Orten said that the water system should support itself as an enterprise.

Glenn said that the town needs to consider dissolving the water enterprise. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that the town would need to determine the legal ramifications of this action.

In previous years, personnel costs for some supervisors and employees were arbitrarily divided between several categories of budget expenditure lines. Costs for workmen’s compensation and insurance benefits were treated differently. Smith said she is ending this practice and simplifying the accounting of direct pay and benefit costs under the administration account within the general fund.

Orten asked the board to increase the police budget for a new police officer position in 2006. Police Chief Jake Shirk insisted his most critical need was replacement of three worn-out vehicles, all with over 100,000 miles of very hard use. He said if excess funds remained available after meeting the vehicle requirement, his department could do a better job of drug investigation and enforcement if he had one or two more officers.

Shirk added that he had planned to ask for additional staff in 2007. He noted it takes about a year to advertisethe position, conduct interviews, select a candidate for background and physical screening tests, and then train the candidate to go out on patrol.

Shirk also noted there had been an 18 percent increase in calls for service and a 70 percent increase in DUI arrests by the department. This sometimes leads to problems with adequate back-up on difficult calls, despite "mutual assistance that is invaluable" from Palmer Lake and the county. The rise in DUI arrests also increases the dangers within the undersized police building. After further discussion, the board approved adding funds to pay a new officer for the last seven months of 2006. However, there is still no budget for cleaning up the hazardous wastes if a "meth" lab is discovered in town, a job that would cost at least $10,000.

The bulk of the special meeting was spent on answering the trustees’ questions about what specific line item amounts represented, how the money was to be spent, if it was to be matched with grants, and how revenue shortfalls and unexpected expense risk could be handled. The board agreed to review the draft budget so that their additional questions and comments could be addressed at future budget work sessions in November. The budget must be approved at a public budget hearing and submitted to the state no later than Dec. 15.

Copies of the draft budget are available for citizen review at Town Hall.

Business owner John Dominowski asked that every effort be made to provide funds for curb, gutter, and sidewalk improvements so that downtown business owners can remain competitive with all the new businesses on the east side of I-25. He noted that he had been asking for these for 13 years. Glenn acknowledged the need but said the town’s new master drainage plan needed to be completed first, before a curb and gutter program could begin.

The special budget meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m and the regular meeting was called to order.

Trustee comments

Glenn asked Public Works Director Rich Landreth about the status of his request to have town staff remove weeds from the empty lot on the northeast corner of Second and Front Street. Landreth said he had looked at the property and had passed on Glenn’s request to his staff. Glenn asked Landreth to write a letter to the office park on Second Street next to the Santa Fe Trail.

Glenn asked if the town entrance sign was incomplete since there did not appear to be lighting at night. Landreth said there were electrical circuits but the breaker kept tripping; the contractor has been asked to come and make a repair. Glenn asked if the town could complete the project by putting up the flagpoles—which had been cut out of the original project—using remaining board contingency funds. The flagpoles were cut due to large cost overruns. Kassawara said that the Colorado Department of Transportation had said no to curbs and gutters around the sign.

Ballot question 2A defended

Glenn said there had been articles in the Gazette and Tribune about the ballot question that included comments that he characterized as "truthful in some ways, not so truthful in others." Glenn did not discuss the content of the articles. He said he wanted to clarify some issues and tie down the amount of money that might be involved in renovating the Assembly of God church building, a less costly option than new construction on an empty lot.

Green said the only cost that seemed firm so far was the renovation cost of about $1 million. She asked that the cost discussion be deferred until the scheduled executive session for real estate negotiations, but a final number should be available within a week. Glenn agreed and said, "We messed up by not putting a specific number" in the wording of the ballot issue, but could post an estimate at Town Hall, as soon as it was known.

Dominowski said the police building subcommittee had spent 18 months on the project and estimated that the cost range would be $2 million to $2.5 million, half of the cost for a new building. He said he did not know if putting out a number before the next board meeting, after the election, would be effective. He asked the board to announce the total cost before the election at a special meeting and have the town attorney draft an ordinance that specified a monetary cap on the cost of renovation.

Dominowski said that the town owned a lot donated by the Wahlborg developers that had been expected to be used for a new police building; it could be sold to help finance the building. He also said they may have done a poor job of "getting the message out" on how the proposal to renovate the church had evolved.

Orten agreed with both suggestions, reiterating the critical need to replace the police department’s 900-square-foot office trailer. Trustee Tommie Plank said it was unfortunate that some readers might believe the town was "doing something nefarious" due to the tight timing of adding the ballot question. She noted the question was not a bond election that would change the town’s property tax mill levy, but rather just asked the voters to change the restricted use of the money already being collected. "I would hate for any articles that had been published to scare the voters by making them think we’re trying to pull a fast trick on them."

Orten also said that Jackson Creek residents "have one vote just like everyone else in Monument does" and are paying taxes just like everyone else, but people in the older part of town may be looking at Jackson Creek as a "cash cow" since they have to pay for their own roads, water, and sewer through the Triview Metropolitan District. He said that the only service received by Jackson Creek residents from the town is police service and so they "pay taxes twice for the same things."

Dominowski responded by saying that Triview would go away when the district’s debt is paid off. However, Triview has not been able to pay all the bond interest it owes during any recent year.

Glenn said that the board would produce a definite cap for the proposed ordinance by the end of the meeting, after the executive session. He then asked Smith to provide some financial data regarding the ballot issue under question in the articles.

Smith distributed a document from which she gave a lengthy presentation. She said the "one-cent sales tax does not go into the water enterprise fund." Up to 10 percent of an enterprise’s annual revenues can be tax revenue, which is defined by TABOR as a "grant." The town has further limited that amount to 9 percent to protect the enterprise’s legal status. The portion constituting the amount allocated to the enterprise fund is about 15 percent of the sales tax revenue. Another 40 percent of the sales tax revenue pays for water-related debt service. The remaining 45 percent of the sales tax revenue is being saved because it is unspendable due to TABOR and the restrictive language of the 1989 ballot question, and is accumulating in an account called Reserved Fund Balance for Water Fund.

Smith said that if the ballot question were approved, there would be no change in the maximum amount of sales tax revenue being spent on water expenses. Only the remainder would be re-allocated. She also stated that there are no plans to raise water rates and that eliminating the 12 percent water system franchise fee would leave an additional $133,000 within the water enterprise. Green added that the town needed to reallocate that money in the past to be able to continue general operations but the loss of water tap fees led to the elimination of the franchise fee.

Smith also said the 1 percent "Sales Tax Revenue is not frozen by TABOR limitations" and "the tax has not raised more than was needed for the water fund, but is restricted" by TABOR’s 10 percent grant limitation. Smith noted that no financial data were required to be part of Question 2A because it does not ask for a tax increase. "After the government facility is built, all funds will revert back to acquisition, storage, and delivery of newly acquired water and water rights."

Larkspur resident George Brown said that Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund’s comments about the ballot question quoted in the Tribune were not based on his attendance at BOT meetings, even though he "works 100 feet away" and if he has questions, "come over" and raise them. While a trustee, Brown served on the police building subcommittee. He said Green would work hard to find the minimum amount needed for renovation of the church building. He concluded, "We can’t let the police department continue to be in a double-wide, thank you, and I don’t get emotional."

Linda and Ted Suta, owners of the vacant building between the 7-11 and the Broiler Room on Highway 105, offered the structure and all the vacant property behind it to the board as an alternative to the church building at Second and Jefferson Streets. She said, "I’m sure we can work out a deal" and asked the board not to sign a contract with the church until they could make a competing offer. Glenn asked Green and Shirk to meet with the Sutas as soon as possible.

Miller appointed to board

Two Jackson Creek residents, Rick Mealer and Tim Miller, and one Santa Fe Trails resident, Board of Adjustment member Carl Armijo, were listed as candidates on the agenda. Mealer was absent; he was found to be ineligible because he has only lived in Monument since April. Armijo was also absent, "due to hunting." In addition to Miller, Jackson Creek resident, Dr. Marc McClure was in the audience. He had been previously interviewed by the board on Oct. 3.

Miller said he was an Air Force officer who works at the Academy and was retiring after 20 years on Nov. 1 and wanted to continue public service by helping "make Monument an even better community" for his two daughters to grow up in.

Glenn said Armijo had worked with him on developer issues in Castle Rock. Armijo is a civil engineer who is construction manager on that town’s staff. Orten said he worked with Armijo on the town’s Board of Adjustment. Glenn said the political environment on the board would be better with three rather than two trustees from downtown. He asked Miller and McClure if they would be willing to serve on the Planning Commission. Miller said he was surprised by Glenn "basing his decision on where I live."

Orten agreed with Glenn on not having a fifth Jackson Creek resident on the board. Plank said it was a moot point due to the upcoming election in April that might lead to all seven trustees coming from Jackson Creek.

McClure said he was concerned about the "pre-conceived process" of filling the vacancies and noted that the advertising signs did not say there was a restriction on residence of applicants. He pointed out that three Jackson Creek residents had applied and "the one you want is not even here." Armijo did not attend either October board meeting. McClure said he didn’t "want to play politics" and never considered Monument not being a unified town. Glenn said he could not escape the political atmosphere. McClure said he would have preferred Green and the trustees to have been honest with him. "I feel like I’ve wasted my time," he said and withdrew.

Miller asked what the board would have done if Armijo had not volunteered, since the board was not looking at applicant qualifications but "basing it on where they live." Glenn said, "It is my responsibility to make sure the town is well represented on the board." Plank replied, "I’m sorry, it’s not your responsibility." Glenn said, "I take it personally." Plank said "You may take it personally but that should not be your criteria." McClure walked out of the meeting without comment after this exchange between the trustees.

Brown asked to speak and said, "Byron, you can’t satisfy the people that aren’t here tonight that will throw stones" because they can never be satisfied. He added that Armijo had good qualifications that should be considered, regardless of his absence.

Green said, "The mayor is not the only decision maker here. Everyone gets to vote." Plank asked Town Attorney Gary Shupp if the town could have geographic districts for members like the D-38 board. Shupp said, "I’ll have to look it up."

The first trustee vote was a 2-2 "tie" between Armijo and Miller. Miller won the second vote and was immediately sworn in by Green.

Jackson Creek Commerce Center approved

Kassawara made the same presentation on the development as the one he gave to the Planning Commission on Sept. 28. (See article on page 1 for development details and issues.)

Kassawara noted that a traffic engineering analysis the town had requested at the Planning Commission hearing showed there was no line-of-sight requirement for an additional right-turn deceleration lane at the secondary access to Old Forest Point Drive due to the curvature of Leather Chaps Drive at that location. As a result, Kassawara had dropped the Planning Commission’s tentative condition requiring this second deceleration lane on Leather Chaps from the proposed ordinance. He added that the turn radius of the curbs at this right-in-right-out-only access would be widened in lieu of the extra turn lane.

There was no citizen comment during the public hearing. There was a brief discussion where Kassawara explained the documentation and the procedures of the town’s review and approval process for developments to Miller. The trustees unanimously approved an ordinance for the Preliminary Plat and also approved a second ordinance for the Preliminary PD Site plan, with the same two conditions recommended by the Planning Commission.

"I hear the whistle blowing" too often

The board unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting railroad locomotives from using their air horns within the town boundaries between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. However, there are still some negotiations that are required to be made with Union Pacific Railroad, even though the presence of a concrete center island, automatic gates, flashing lights, and ringing bells at the Second Street crossing partially relieves the engineers and conductors of otherwise routine air horn blasts. Engineers are still free to sound the air horn whenever they observe circumstances "requiring due care" and warning blasts are deemed necessary for safety.

Miller asked "Why not 10 p.m.?" Plank responded that Synthes runs 24 hours and changes shifts at 10 p.m.

The board also unanimously approved an ordinance that rescinded a 1982 resolution that gave water, at no cost, to the railroad property adjacent to Second Street in return for being able to lease a portion of the railroad property. The town leased an 80-foot-wide strip on the eastern edge of this railroad property and used it as the western edge of Limbach Park. The town purchased the strip of land at the end of last year, making the 1982 ordinance obsolete. The cost of the "free" water provided to Union Pacific for 2005 will be about $36,000. The railroad will be billed for the water starting in January.

Meszaros appointed town clerk

The board unanimously approved a resolution appointing former Trustee Scott Meszaros as town clerk. His appointment expires at the first BOT meeting in 2007. Appointments normally run for two calendar years. He was sworn in immediately by Green.

Resolutions

The board unanimously approved a resolution "finding the proposed annexation area known as Monument Ridge to be in substantial compliance" with Colorado statutes. The resolution set the BOT public hearing date for Nov. 21, 2005, which is more than 30 days, but no more than 60 days, after approval.

The board unanimously approved a resolution that "supports and encourages El Paso County to require county developers to address potential adverse traffic impacts that their developments may have on the surrounding roadway systems" that serve other developments near and adjacent to the town. Glenn noted that the county did not ask for the impact on Monument in traffic studies during its review and approval of the Higby Estates and Struthers Ranch developments.

The board unanimously approved a resolution approving a new telecommunication service contract from a new provider. The three-year contract with Insure Telecom/Cbeyond Telecommunications Company has the following benefits: waiver of the $500 installation fee, credit of $500 for the early termination fee for the existing contract with Xpedius, three annual credits of $495. These total $2,485. Additionally, there will be annual routine billing savings of $4,400 for a total switchover savings of $15,685.

The board unanimously approved a resolution for purchase of new administrative, utility billing, and accounting software. Smith dropped the service order and cemetery modules from the original vendor proposal, but added modules for court management. The total cost for the licensed software and modules, training, conversion, and setup is $40,485 for the finance department, $11,100 for the water enterprise fund, and $9,750 for the court department. The maintenance cost is $790 per month with a two-month credit after training.

The board unanimously approved a disbursement of $63,002.33 to Triview for property tax at a mill levy of 6.408.

Reports and updates

Green reported that developer Jamie Huff, of Tecton Corporation is interested in purchasing the land dedicated to the town by the developer of the Village Center at Woodmoor at the time the Wahlborg property was annexed. This lot had been in consideration as a possible location for new town police and courtroom buildings. Green said that Monument’s aging seniors have no choice but to leave town when they can no longer maintain their own homes or have limited mobility, because there are no appropriate options here. The nearest suitable housing is in Colorado Springs. She said this proposal plus a similar one for downtown Monument meet needs the board should support.

Green asked the trustees to determine their availability for setting up a community-wide meeting in a large facility such as Big Red or Grace Best Elementary School.

Green reported that the preliminary estimate for renovating the Abundant Life Church building to meet police department and town staff requirements was $1,421,738. She also gave trustees a table that listed 15 options for costs between $1.5 million and $3 million and lease purchase terms of 10 to 20 years.

Green reminded trustees of the working dinner with the Triview board on Oct. 19.

Green announced the formal dissolution of the Parks & Landscape Advisory Committee. A citizen’s committee organization meeting is planned for January, which would not be subject to posting and advertising of the public meeting "sunshine" laws or a responsibility of the BOT. Also, nonresidents can join the new volunteer committee. Committee volunteers will be responsible for scheduling and organizing meetings as well as taking and publishing minutes.

Kassawara reported that engineering consultant Ayres Associates, Inc. had begun work on the town’s new master drainage plan even though the contract would not be ready for board approval until Nov. 7. The plan will probably cost $75,000 to $100,000.

Landreth reported that Steve Sheffield had been transferred from the Water Department and promoted to streets/parks foreman following the departure of Ray Fisk. The upgrade of the water line to Limbach Park has been completed; paving and sidewalk construction has begun. Bids for the new water treatment plant have been reviewed and accepted.

The board went into executive session at 8:30 p.m. for real estate negotiations. After returning to open session, the board announced a cap of $2.5 million for the use of water sales tax revenue to pay for the purchase of the existing church buildings and the renovations. Costs that exceed this cap must be paid for from revenues in the general fund. The ordinance enacting this spending cap will be on the agenda for the next board meeting on Nov. 7, if Ballot Question 2A is approved by the voters on Nov. 1.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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Monument Board of Adjustment, October 12: Oil change center setback variance approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Adjustment (BOA) unanimously approved a front setback variance of 5 feet for one corner of the Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center at Highway 105 and Second Street on Oct. 12. The center is about to be renovated and expanded northward to add a 95-foot long carwash. The length of the carwash was reduced from the 120-foot length previously approved in the amended site plan, to improve setback compliance and traffic flow on all sides of the expanded center. Trustee John Kortgardner was absent.

The average setback for existing building frontages on Highway 105 between Second Street and Third Street is 38 feet, in accordance with the town code. The northeast corner will be 33 feet back from the highway. The front façade is not parallel to the highway, and the southeast corner will be 39 feet back. (The front façade of the adjacent Broiler Room restaurant is considerably closer to the highway but was constructed before the current code was created.)

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said the proposed setback wouldn’t be noticeable or create a precedent. He noted that owner John Savage is adding "considerable upgrades to the façade of the existing and proposed buildings, as well as landscape improvements, which would improve the main entrance" of downtown Monument.

Kassawara also reported that the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Marshal also prefers the amended configuration due to improved emergency vehicle access. BOA member Don Smith noted that there were two non-negative comments submitted by nearby property owners.

Board Chairman Leon Johnson announced that this was his last meeting. Although he has moved only a short distance within the local area, he will no longer be a town resident. The meeting adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Town residents who wish to apply for appointment to the vacant position should contact Town Manager Cathy Green at 884-8013 or cgreen@townofmonument.net. The board meets in Town Hall only when required, usually before a Planning Commission meeting.

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Monument Parks and Landscape Committee, October 13: Committee holds final meeting, may regroup

Below: Looking south, Lavelett Park is squeezed between Beacon Lite Road (on the left) and Woodworth (on the right). Town Manager Cathy Green is seeking suggestions on alternative uses of the park. Photo by Doug Krieger

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Monument Parks and Landscape Committee held their final meeting as an official advisory group to the Board of Trustees on Oct. 13. Members John Savage and Linda Pankratz attended; Toni Martin and Bob Watson were absent. The town provided pizza and soft drinks for attendees. Town Manager Cathy Green introduced new Public Works Director Rich Landreth, who summarized his qualifications. Landreth mentioned that he has particular expertise in the effective use of irrigation systems, having worked at several golf courses, including Broadmoor South in Colorado Springs and Tamarron Resort in Durango. He has also owned an irrigation company.

Green reviewed the committee’s past successes, as well as the present state of Monument’s parks and plans for the future. Green expressed the hope that although the committee in its present form was dissolving, interested community members would form an unofficial group to help guide town beautification, as well as park expansion and improvements.

Green cited staff time constraints as the main reason for the dissolution of the advisory committee. Several key town officials resigned or retired during the past year, including former Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg, former planner Mike Davenport, and Public Works Director Tom Wall. Most recently, Parks and Streets Foreman Ray Fisk was replaced by Steve Sheffield. The large turnover in staff resulted in increased responsibility for remaining town employees, particularly as new staff familiarized themselves with their positions. Duties associated with committee meetings, such as creating and distributing meeting agendas, assembling member packets, attending the meetings and writing up minutes took too much time away from more pressing official business.

One of the committee’s most recent successes is the new Monument entrance sign at the intersection of Highway 105 and Second Street. Unrealized projects initiated by the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA), approved by the committee and budgeted for 2005 by the Board of Trustees (BOT), will carry over to next season. Previously approved matching grants from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) have not been completely spent, and will be used for some of these future improvements. Landreth and Green outlined plans for next year.

Limbach Park

One priority is to improve the appearance of the park. Landreth plans to consolidate playground equipment and delineate the area so that gravel doesn’t spill into the grass. The poor condition of the soil is partly to blame for failure of grass to flourish; soil samples have been sent to Colorado State University for testing to determine what amendments will be needed to provide a good base for sod. Well-prepared soil will also reduce the need for fertilizer. Landreth wants to use environmentally friendly organic fertilizers, which aren’t toxic and won’t contaminate stormwater runoff.

A new 1-inch water line has been installed, which will feed a planned irrigation system and eventually permanent restrooms. Landreth also plans to install curbs, gutters, and sidewalks along Front Street. Initially he had also hoped to provide angle or perpendicular parking on the east side of the park, but the street is probably too narrow for anything other than parallel parking spaces.

Landreth said he wants to reduce sod overall, but plans to install a semicircle of high quality sod in front of the area where the band shell will eventually be built to provide a comfortable seating area for an audience.

Lavelett Park

Because the park is very narrow and borders Beacon Lite Road, a relatively busy street, Green expressed concern about the safety of the existing playground. She suggested the idea of removing the playground equipment and turning the park into a combination walking path and water conservation demonstration garden. At present, no definite plans exist to remove the equipment, but Green would like public input on ideas of how to best utilize the long, narrow space.

City Garden project

In the fall of 2004, Woody and Cathy Woodworth of High Country Store, in cooperation with the HMMA, created a plan for small town gardens in Limbach and Lavelett Parks, at the old Arch, in front of Town Hall, and around Well 3 near the intersection of Second Street and the Old Denver Highway. The Parks and Landscape Committee and Board of Trustees approved the plan. The board also approved $22,000 in funding of the projects from its annual $60,000 discretionary community development account for flowers, grasses, shrubs, decorative rocks, and irrigation systems.

Green and Landreth cancelled plans for two of the plantings. Town Clerk Irene Walters already plants and maintains flowers in front of Town Hall. The town plans to dismantle the Well 3 building when a newer well near Trails’ End is drilled, making green screening unnecessary.

Previously earmarked allocations will be distributed between the Arch, Lavelett, and Limbach. Green and Landreth hope to start on-the-ground planning in March, install irrigation and lay out beds in April, and plant with the help of community volunteers in May. Community members interested in volunteering for the project are encouraged to watch for announcements of upcoming opportunities.

Monument cemetery

Green indicated she would like to sell the town’s public cemetery to a private corporation, contract out maintenance duties, or pay a professional corporation to take over. She said that mowing and trimming around the stones was very time-consuming. Green would like to free up crews to devote more time to streets and parks. In addition, she pointed out that office staff has neither the time nor training to properly assist grieving family members with burial arrangements.

Monument Lake

Ultimately, town officials would like to see the lake become a recreation center for Monument, with a swim beach, fishing, and use of non-motorized watercraft such as paddleboats. Landreth would like to upgrade the picnic facilities, and eventually construct a trail around the lake’s circumference. Green expects the lake level to be 10 feet higher by next summer, which should considerably improve its appearance.

Pankratz asked whether the Colorado Commercial Revitalization Association (CCRA), which visited the town last summer, had submitted its findings. CCRA is a non-profit agency composed of planners, architects, landscape architects, marketing executives, park experts, and other professionals who visit small towns for a nominal fee and make recommendations intended to help revitalize the community.

Green replied that the town had received a draft, but not a final report. She said the information was good advice, but maybe a bit too general in its scope.

Informal Committee proposed

Before adjournment, Green returned to the subject of forming another informal committee. She would like to see the group take the lead in setting its own goals, which might be to review ordinances and advise staff. Or the committee could choose to concentrate on improving specific parks and streetscaping. The group could also serve as an advocate for an increase in the quantity and quality of local bike trails, an issue that has not been a high priority in the past.

Green listed the responsibilities, formerly performed by town staff, which a new committee would have to assume. Members would be responsible for selecting meeting dates and times, setting the agenda, keeping minutes, and electing officers. She offered the use of the Town Hall meeting room at times when it was not being used for Monument business.

In the past, members of the Parks and Landscape Committee were chosen by the BOT, and were required to reside or own a business in Monument. Unlike the old committee, membership would not be restricted; any interested parties could join. The group could set its own rules.

An additional advantage would be the ability to lobby staff and the BOT for approval of specific projects and budget items, a practice formerly prohibited for committee appointees.

Green said she would continue to welcome input on developer plans, which will be made available for review in the Town Hall meeting room during normal business hours. Any interested individuals, not just former committee members, may look at the plans and fill out a comment sheet, which will also be provided. Input received will be reviewed by staff and included in the developer’s packets.

It was unanimously decided that an organizational meeting would be held at Town Hall in January to determine whether there is sufficient interest to form an unofficial advisory committee. Green and Landreth expressed a desire to see the continuation of the committee in some form, hopefully by motivated individuals wanting to positively influence the future of Monument. The meeting time and date, when established, will be posted at Town Hall and published in the Tribune and Our Community News.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:40 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, October 13: Inn sign approved

By Jim Kendrick

After a lengthy and acrimonious exchange, the Palmer Lake Town Council approved a sign for the Inn at Palmer Divide being built on Highway 105. The council also approved a sign for Overby Real Estate and retroactively approved every other town sign. Trustee Jim Girlando was absent.

Five new business licenses were approved by consent:

  • Timberfish, LLC, 685 County Line Road, Unit D – Light manufacturing of wood murals

  • "Tina Maries" a Salon, 96 Oakdale Dr. – Hair Salon & Beauty Products

  • Wooden Moose, Inc., 685 County Line Road, Unit F – Trophy bases, flag cases, urns

  • "Good Vibrations," 790 Highway 105 – Vibrational Integration Biophotonic Energizer Machine, used household items, clothes, and artificial flowers and trees

  • Mozaic, LLP dba The Inn at Palmer Divide – Restaurant and Event Center

Committee Reports

Fire: Trustee Gary Coleman reported that Fire Chief Phillip Beckman and firefighter Nora Birt were in New Orleans for a week of volunteer rescue service. He noted that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and town would try to learn from New Orleans’ mistake of never practicing their evacuation plan.

While attending the meeting of the North Group (the group that organizes mutual aid between regional fire districts) earlier in the week, Coleman had learned that the region’s Multi-Agency Response Team was renamed the Palmer Divide Public Safety Group. Their first action will be an evacuation drill coordinating the efforts of the police, fire, and school district officials, once state and FEMA grant funding have been obtained.

The fire department calls for September included 7 medical, 2 fire, 3 traffic accidents, 1 public assist, and 3 mutual aid. The annual chili supper and star lighting will be held on Nov. 26 beginning at 5 p.m. in Town Hall. The event raises money to help pay for the fire department’s loan on their pumper engine.

In the interest of facilitating timely responses to emergency calls, Coleman again asked all homeowners to post large house numbers where they can be seen from the road. The request, which has been repeated during each meeting over the past several years, 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.

Police: Trustee Trudy Finan noted that October was Domestic Violence Month and the town post office was developing a revenue-producing stamp to increase public awareness of the problem, similar to the stamps for breast cancer. There are displays for both stamps at the town post office.

She also suggested that if the town is going to allow watercraft on Palmer Lake, it needs to consider budgeting for rescue equipment, since the town is so far away for a Colorado Springs Fire Department Rescue truck and crew, the closest available dedicated rescue assets. No Tri-Lakes fire districts have the special equipment or uniquely trained crews required for underwater search and rescue.

Roads: Trustee Max Parker reported that the newly paved roads in town, including a hot patch on Forest View, had held up well under the first plowing.

Awake the Lake Committee: Jeff Hulsmann asked how the town had determined the costs for water and electricity that the committee was to pay for refilling Palmer Lake with municipal drinking water. He needed the data so the committee could be reimbursed from the grant provided by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners for water purchases. Mayor Nikki McDonald said that the charge of $2.06 per thousand gallons was heavily discounted from the $4.66 rate charged to homeowners, and the lowered rate might not have covered the actual cost.

Hulsmann also asked if the board could cover or split the fee with the committee for the town’s water attorney Ronni Sperling, who addressed the June 9 Town Council meeting on issues regarding potential water rights and procurement actions. He noted that the committee had not been able to ask her questions.

After a lengthy discussion, the council agreed that the committee had not participated in the decision to have the attorney speak and unanimously approved a motion to pay the entire fee of $800. The committee will pay about $5,000 for electricity, water testing, and permits. The committee will be reimbursed by the county for about 21 acre-feet of water at about $2.62 per 1,000 gallons, a net 40 percent discount.

McDonald noted a bill of about $2,900 was previously paid by the committee for the dechlorination building on Highway 105 at the Palmer Lake park entrance.

Hulsmann also asked that the town give monthly reports on surface and groundwater use and storage similar to those for fire and police. The council agreed to have the town’s water department gather production and storage data for monthly reports and provide copies of all the legal documentation for the water permit and water analysis for filling the lake. Gaddis said the council also needed to decide what the water rates would be for the 2006 budget formulation.

Town Attorney: Larry Gaddis reported that there would be a mediation hearing on Oct. 20 in Colorado Springs to try and resolve a dispute with the developer of the Townhomes at Willow Creek over water rates. The developer is seeking $75,000 in reimbursement for an unusable sprinkler system that would have used Willow Creek surface water for irrigation of the development’s landscaping. Gaddis said there was no record or documentation to support the developer’s claim that there had ever been any agreement between the developer and the town regarding the system.

Sign debate

The Inn at Palmer Divide, which is adjacent to Mission Training International on Highway 105, is currently under construction. Owner Al Fritts and the town staff thought the Planning Commission approved the Inn’s street sign in September. The final "approved" design is slightly wider (12.5 feet) and thicker (18 inches) than the nominal maximum permitted dimensions listed in the ordinance, but is less than 100 square feet. However, Gaddis said the ordinance allows exceptions for very large facilities that are "proportionate to the size and character of the subject property."

The Inn is a large facility, with five separate buildings on 27 acres, and clearly eligible for the approval it received under this permitted exception.

The modified sign that was "approved" by the Planning Commission was redesigned after the first proposed sign was deemed controversial due to size and lighting. The main objections came from Commissioner Denise Cornell and Trustee Chuck Cornell, who live opposite the inn on Highway 105. The final design is smaller, and lighting is now internal.

Gaddis described a legal situation he had discovered on Oct. 12 in reviewing the controversy that arose in the town’s Planning Commission regarding approval of the street sign. He said the complicated town sign ordinance was passed in 1998 to sharply restrict commercial signs. He said it is the longest ordinance the town has and is probably more complicated than necessary. Gaddis said he discovered a requirement for the council to approve every sign. However, this facet of the ordinance has never been carried out.

The town’s Planning Commission has actually given de facto final approval for every sign since enactment without forwarding the decisions to the council for formal concurrence. Gaddis said he thought that the council should formally approve the controversial sign for the inn, and then separately approve every other sign in town retroactively as an administrative clean-up matter.

There was a lengthy and heated debate between Chuck Cornell and some members of the council when he opposed approval of the already "approved" sign, primarily because every other sign in town was about to be "forgiven" in the next agenda item. Fritts did not participate in the debate but said if the completed sign had to come down, the town would have to pay for the $9,000 he had spent for building the sign. Gaddis did not disagree. Coleman said the sign should be approved by the Board of Adjustment.

The sign was approved by a vote of 4-2, with Cornell and Coleman opposed. In contrast, the ordinance retroactively deeming every other sign—including all others in technical or actual violation of the ordinance—installed before Aug. 31 "to be in full compliance" passed unanimously.

Trustee Max Parker agreed to draft a sign permit application form that would be a "checklist" to prevent future problems in interpreting the complex sign ordinance. Gaddis said the ordinance should be followed or be amended to be more streamlined and understandable.

Liquor license approval policy reviewed

Gaddis said the town needed to determine how neighborhood surveys would be conducted by future applicants for new liquor licenses. He suggested that the affected neighborhood would be unique to each application and should only be defined at the time of application.

Gaddis said the costs for the survey are entirely the burden of the applicant, even though it is not a formal legal requirement. The town has the full discretion and the right to interpret the veracity and credibility of every citizen speaking in favor of granting a new liquor license as well as determining whether any survey submitted by an applicant is in fact valid and submitted as a good faith effort.

The preliminary draft budget for 2006 was distributed for trustee review and comment by the next town council meeting.

Citizen comment

Gaddis said the council and town need to realize the likelihood of reduced availability of grant money if Referenda C and D are not approved.

The meeting adjourned at 8:48 p.m. The next regular council meeting will be held on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Council workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month and council meetings on the second Thursday.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, October 19: Access road delays hamper wastewater facility expansion

By Sue Wielgopolan

Another setback has delayed the completion date for the access road leading to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). Donala General Manager Dana Duthie informed the board Wednesday that an objection to the plan filed by El Paso County Parks could add another month to the schedule. A new access road is needed before work can begin on the equalization basin, which will store wastewater and keep the system from becoming overwhelmed during periods of peak flow.

Draft budget

After review of check registers and acceptance of the financial statements, Duthie distributed the draft budget for review by the board, which will meet Nov. 28. At that time, if member questions have been answered satisfactorily and concerns resolved, the directors will approve the budget, certify the mill levy, and pass the rate resolution for 2006. Residents wishing to view the draft budget may do so at the Donala office.

Duthie discussed major items included in this year’s budget. He noted that if projections are accurate, expenses would be greater than income for the year. He explained that the district generally tries to avoid raising rates in consecutive years. Since the rates were increased last year, he would like the board to wait until 2007 before raising them again.

Duthie pointed out that salaries had changed little from last year. Three employees with seniority left and were replaced by new hires with lower starting salaries.

The district has collected enough property taxes to cover its current bond debt to American National Bank, which administers the bonds. The bonds were issued to cover the cost of capital improvements, including the previous WWTF expansion. However, Donala must wait to pay off the debt, as the notes have a call date of 2009.

An election question asking for an extension of the mill levy to pay for the WWTF expansion will be put before Donala residents in May 2006. Donala’s share of the facility expansion is $5 million. The actual amount will depend upon whether Triview Metropolitan District, Donala’s partner in the WWTF, can qualify for a loan or find other financing for its matching $5 million share.

One of Donala’s stated goals for 2006 is to drill a new Arapahoe well. Classic Homes has expressed interest in including the former Baptist Camp into the district, and if that occurs, the new well will be delayed as other locations are considered. The planned Baptist Road pipeline, which has been on hold since 2004, will also need to be rerouted.

Other projects included in next year’s budget are the probable lowering of water lines along Baptist Road in two locations as Baptist is widened, and repainting the two water tanks just south of Baptist above Desiree, which have begun to fade.

El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA)

The Arkansas Basin roundtable recently held its first organizational meeting. The EPCWA representative on this roundtable is Gary Barber, who is the executive agent for the EPCWA and manager of the Palmer Divide Water Group.

Jane Rawlings, assistant to the publisher of the Pueblo Chieftain and daughter of Chieftain editor Bob Rawlings, was added to the Arkansas River Basin roundtable as an at-large member representing industry. Bob Rawlings is adamantly opposed to construction of the Southern Delivery System, the proposed pipeline that would carry water from the Pueblo Reservoir north to Colorado Springs.

Roundtable members have not yet selected from among themselves two appointees to represent the Arkansas Basin on the Interbasin Compact Committee, which will propose water legislation to be considered by the Colorado Legislature in the coming year.

Protect Our Wells resigns from Authority: Duthie reported that Protect Our Wells (POW), a local group representing individual residential well owners who tap into the Dawson and occasionally the Denver aquifers, resigned from the EPCWA. Originally POW did not qualify for membership, as the Authority is made up of governmental water suppliers. Due to the efforts of several members of the Authority, including Barber, POW and local farmers were included as associate members.

According to Duthie, who has been the Authority’s treasurer for the past two years, the EPCWA attempted to coordinate efforts between the U.S. Geological Survey and POW to study the wells. Duthie also told the board that individual homeowners in POW had appeared resistant to having air lines and meters installed to measure well production and water depth. He conceded that cost might have been a factor. Duthie said that without air lines or meters there was no way to study wells.

In presenting its letter of resignation to EPCWA President Larry Bishop, POW accused the Authority and the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners of failure to share information regarding the Dawson aquifer with the members of POW. Duthie said information on aquifer water depth is published annually through the state and is available to the public.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Dale Schendzielos attended the most recent PDWG meeting representing the Donala district.

He reported that Mark Morley, local developer and owner of Brush Hollow Reservoir, presented a program on the reservoir as a viable future water storage site for Colorado Springs and surrounding communities. Schendzielos stated that Morley made several convincing arguments as to why Brush Hollow was preferable to the city’s favored site, an enlarged Pueblo Reservoir.

The Bureau of Reclamation recently released a pamphlet showing the seven alternatives that will be considered in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Southern Delivery System. None of them included Brush Hollow Reservoir.

The PDWG planned to meet again on Oct. 20.

Upper Monument Creek Regional WWTF expansion

Duthie announced that the Operations Coordination Committee (OCC), consisting of the plant superintendent and engineers and managers from the three districts that co-own the WWTF, will hold a pre-proposal meeting for the eight qualified bidding contractors on Oct. 21. The contractors will have roughly a month to submit their proposals. The OCC will hold a meeting in late November or early December to award the contract.

At the request of Triview, selection of the subcontractor that will supply the ultraviolet disinfection equipment for the plant expansion has been delayed to allow a specialist from Nolte Engineering, Triview’s engineering contractor, to evaluate the five proposals.

Duthie told the board that WWTF design engineers have decided to reposition the first section of the equalization basin in order to postpone rerouting wastewater lines buried beneath the equalization basin site. Engineers will move the Quonset hut presently used for storage, and start the basin there instead. The lines will eventually have to be rerouted when the remaining portion of the basin is built.

The Colorado Water and Power Authority (CWPA) has tabled Triview’s second loan application until December. After Triview’s first application for $5 million was recommended for rejection and subsequently withdrawn in August, Donala amended its own loan application from $5 million to $10 million to cover the full cost of the expansion. The loan was approved, and Donala gave Triview until the end of 2005 to find a funding source to cover its share. Expansion construction must begin soon; the plant will reach capacity in just over a year.

After reviewing its options, the Donala board offered to buy out Triview’s portion of the facility. Triview postponed consideration of this offer until a later date. Duthie said he recently learned that the CWPA finance committee may have again recommended disapproval of Triview’s loan. Triview General Manager Ron Simpson is investigating other funding sources. Duthie told board members that Triview is unlikely to sell its share of the WWTF.

Work on the railroad crossing has been delayed again. After finally receiving approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat plan, the three partners in the expansion—Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, Triview, and Donala —learned that the El Paso County Parks Department has raised an objection to the plans.

In order to avoid using the underpass beneath the railroad trestle bridge, which is too narrow to accommodate the construction equipment that will be used during expansion and the larger sludge trucks that will service the plant after completion, engineers decided to reroute the access road and cross the tracks at a different location.

The new route presented a problem: The distance between the gate to the plant and the crossing is so short that longer trucks would block the tracks while waiting for the gate to open. To solve that safety issue, engineers opted to place the card reader to open the gate east of the tracks. However, longer trucks would temporarily block the Santa Fe Trail, which is part of the El Paso County Park system, while waiting for the gate to open and/or trains to pass.

The county attorney invoked the county’s right to prohibit interference of the trail right-of-way, and the county commissioners became involved. The three partners of the WWTF will now have to obtain the approval of the County Commissioners for access across the easement before the road can be completed.

One suggested solution is to place the card reader on the access road east of the trail crossing. Duthie claims this creates a more serious safety hazard, because truck drivers cannot get a clear view of the railroad tracks from east of the trail. An additional railroad signal may be necessary to satisfy safety concerns and obtain County Commissioner approval for the project to continue.

Duthie estimates that instead of a completion date of Dec. 1, the new crossing will probably be finished in January.

Glacier Construction, the company selected to build the new crossing, will also bid to reinforce the small bridge across Jackson Creek. The work should start immediately after completion of the railroad crossing. However, the Schuck Corporation, developer of Forest Lakes Estates, has not yet committed to its one-third of the cost of the reinforcement. (Because Forest Lakes Metro District is developer-owned, and no development has yet occurred to provide the district with revenue, the developer is the district’s sole source of funding.) Schuck had previously claimed it would commit to funding the engineering and design after receiving confirmation from the Town of Monument that they would accept the bridge modification. Tom Kassawara, Director of Development Services for Monument, has since signed a letter stating he would approve the bridge concept.

Simpson and Duthie have spoken with Forest Lakes Metro District Manager Ann Nichols about the need for Forest Lakes to pay for its share of the bridge work. Triview and Donala eventually want additional reimbursement, as the reinforcement will disproportionately benefit Forest Lakes Estates by serving as a route into the development.

Though Transit Mix has apparently withdrawn its proposal to build on the south end, Schuck has indicated that high volume traffic will be using the road and bridge.

Well 9A

Donala received two bids for the electrical work on Well 9A and chose Urban Electric to do the job. One-half of the vault, which will house the valves and instruments, was delivered; work was delayed when the other half was not unloaded at Donala and ended up at a different location. The district expects the well to be fully functional in early 2006.

Chaparral Hills inclusions

Three more Chaparral Hills residents recently approached the district requesting inclusion. All three are on Lariat Lane and are only requesting water. After conferring with staff on line layout, Duthie proposed installing an 8-inch water main along Lariat Lane to the intersection of Leather Chaps, including a fire hydrant at the end.

Since three other adjoining lots could be conveniently included on the line, Duthie also made a proposal to those homeowners that would result in significant cost savings for them. He pointed out that all could petition for inclusion at the same time and split the court costs. In addition, performing installation and tap work at the same time would be less expensive than doing it individually. He told landowners that they could opt to pay one-sixth of the cost of the new pipeline and purchase a water tap now or pay an $800 deposit for a future tap, which the district would install for the homeowner to later hook into.

The owners of two undeveloped lots did not wish to drill wells, but rather hook up to Donala’s water line immediately. They intend to petition for inclusion and to pay for the tap and one-sixth of the cost of the new pipeline. (Normally the cost of installation would be paid by a developer and passed on to the homeowner through the price of the home. The Chaparral Hills lots are being handled by the individual landowners.)

Two other owners of existing homes and fully operational wells decided not to petition for inclusion immediately, but opted to pay for their share of the pipeline and will pay the $800 deposit for a future water tap.

The remaining two decided not to consider inclusion at the present time. Should they later request inclusion, they will be required to install their own tap, pay the tap fee, and will have to pay 150 percent of the initial one-sixth share of the water line in order to cover the cost to Donala for postponing reimbursement.

Duthie estimates that the project will cost around $20,000; he is presently obtaining bids for the pipeline work. He noted that he expects PVC availability to be somewhat of a problem, as the resin is manufactured in Louisiana, and pipe is currently in short supply.

Negotiations underway for possible inclusion of former Baptist Camp property

The board discussed whether to continue operating the 15 existing Denver/Dawson wells on the former Baptist Camp property should Classic choose to be included into Donala. Duthie said that all water rights must be deeded over to the district at inclusion. If the wells were adjudicated early enough (before 1985), augmentation isn’t required, and if they exhibit good production, Donala may continue to pump. Otherwise, the district would probably declare the wells abandoned, cap them by sealing the shaft with concrete, and drill down to the Arapahoe aquifer.

The public session of the meeting ended at 2:45 p.m., and the board went into executive session. The next meeting will be on Monday, Nov. 28 at 9 a.m. at the district office, 15850 Holbein Dr. The board normally meets the third Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m.; November’s meeting date was changed to enable as many board members as possible to be present for discussion and approval of the 2006 budget.

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Forest View Acres Water District, October 5: Nowacki appointed to the board

Below: (L to R) Attorney Paul Rufien; SDMS representatives Debbie McCoy, Kammy Tinney, and Susan Clyne; President Barbara Reed-Polatty, directors Brian Cross, John Anderson, and Ketch Nowacki; and contract water operations manager Dan LaFontaine. Photo by John Heiser

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting Oct. 5, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors appointed district resident Ketch Nowacki to fill the board vacancy created by the Aug. 24 resignation of Kevin Lonergan, former vice president of the district. The board now consists of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, John Anderson, Brian Cross, Nowacki, and Eckehart Zimmermann. Zimmermann was traveling and unable to attend the Oct. 5 meeting.

Administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting services for the district are provided through a contract with Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) of Lakewood. Deborah McCoy, President of SDMS, served as facilitator at the Oct. 5 board meeting. McCoy was accompanied by SDMS District Manager Kammy Tinney, CPA Susan Clyne, and attorney Paul Rufien. Tinney has been designated as 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 of Independent Water Services, who is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.

In December 2004, the board uncovered the apparent theft of funds from the district’s bank accounts. 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 $50,000 bond awaiting a preliminary hearing. Unger rejected a negotiated mediation agreement and waived a preliminary hearing on the charges. Criminal trial is scheduled to begin March 7, 2006. The felony charges Unger faces carry a potential sentence of four to 12 years.

The district has filed a civil suit against Unger and her husband, Dennis, to recover the missing funds and associated costs. The civil trial is scheduled to begin July 18, 2006. The district’s attorneys hired Sheri Betzer, a forensic auditor. According to information released by the board, Betzer estimated the total financial loss to the district at $625,000.

Selection of attorney

McCoy presented Rufien to the board and recommended that he be named general counsel for the district and special counsel to handle the civil suit against the Ungers. She urged the board to retain law firm Petrock & Fendel as the district’s water attorneys.

Rufien said he has degrees from Colorado College and Pepperdine Law School and has represented special districts for the past 15 years, including representation in litigation. He said he also has expertise on eminent domain proceedings. He added, "It is unique to have an embezzlement to go as far as yours has." He noted that although he does not have direct experience with embezzlement cases, he has experience dealing with conversion and misappropriation. In response to a question, Rufien said his hourly rate is $225.

The board approved McCoy’s recommendation subject to review of Rufien’s references.

Change in procedures

McCoy stated that the district’s prior use of executive sessions to discuss and make decisions regarding delinquent accounts is improper. She said those accounts should be discussed in open session. It was noted that one account is more than $500 in arrears.

McCoy also urged the board to eliminate the district’s bylaws. She said Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes governs the district. She added, "Bylaws get in the way and can result in violations relative to Title 32."

Nowacki appointed to fill vacancy

Reed-Polatty reported that letters of interest were received from Ketch Nowacki and Richard Crocker. Nowacki’s and Crocker’s qualifications were discussed. Crocker was not present at the meeting. The board unanimously voted to appoint Nowacki.

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

Financial report

McCoy presented a preliminary Sept. 30 financial report showing an operating account balance of $26,813, a debt service account balance of $17,258, a contingency account balance of $1,501, and bond reserve account balance of $2,555. The total cash position is $48,107, up from $31,916 at the end of August. The debt service funds go to pay off an $880,000 bond issued in 1995 and a $45,000 loan obtained in 2004.

Invoices paid

The board unanimously approved checks totaling $13,545 for a variety of bills, including $4,362 for LaFontaine’s services, $2,876 for electricity, $2,500 to Henkle Drilling (leaving an outstanding balance due them of about $11,500), $1,320 for part-time contract bookkeeper Anne Bevis’ services, and $1,000 to forensic auditor Betzer (leaving an outstanding balance due her of about $5,500).

No payment was made toward the approximately $41,500 owed to law firm Petrock & Fendel. Special District Management Services postponed payment of $6,742 for its services. McCoy said that SDMS and Rufien have agreed to defer charges for their services "six months or so until the district is operating normally."

Operations manager’s report

Some highlights of LaFontaine’s report:

  • During August, the plant that processes surface water produced 12.99 gallons per minute for 29.6 days, for a total of 553,800 gallons. For the first nine months of 2005, the surface plant produced 10.94 million gallons.

  • The Arapahoe well produced 105.76 gallons per minute for 13 days, for a total of 1.98 million gallons. For the first nine months of 2005, the Arapahoe well produced 10.59 million gallons. LaFontaine added, "We used the Arapahoe more than in prior years due to the loss of the Dawson well."

  • Total monthly system usage was 2.35 million gallons, bringing the total for the year to 21.54 million gallon; 1.74 million gallons were billed for the month. The water loss percentage for the month was not reported.

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

Schmidt inclusion

As reported in prior months, Leroy Schmidt has a house on 40 acres with a formerly low-producing well that has gone dry. He has submitted a petition for inclusion into the district. He has agreed not to subdivide the property and has agreed to pay a tap fee, legal fees, and the cost of running pipe to his property and to transfer to the district the water rights associated with his property. He has asked for a waiver of the district’s inclusion fee, which is estimated at about $120,000 for the property.

The board unanimously voted to accept Schmidt’s petition for inclusion, direct Rufien to review the petition, and schedule an inclusion hearing.

Public comments

District resident Susan Gates asked about the status of the district’s indebtedness. McCoy replied that she hoped to have that information ready for the Nov. 2 meeting. McCoy added that a meeting is scheduled with a financial adviser to consider refinancing the district’s debt.

District resident Genelle Deavenport asked for the status of the Raspberry Ridge development, which is now called Red Rock Reserve. Cross replied that the project has received four major approvals from the county, but progress has been hampered by the number of entities involved in the project.

Budget discussion Nov. 2

McCoy noted that a preliminary 2006 budget was included in the directors’ packets and will be discussed at the Nov. 2 meeting. She added that since the district does not have a property tax mill levy, the approved 2006 budget need not be submitted to the state until Dec. 31. (An article on the Nov. 2 meeting will appear in the Dec. 3 issue of Our Community News.)

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Regular board meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at Grace Best Elementary School, 66 Jefferson St., in Monument. The next meeting will be held Dec. 7. 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, October 18: Trail’s End lift station repair completed

By Jim Kendrick

Interior concrete joint cracks in one cylindrical section of the two wet wells that comprise the new Trail’s End lift station have been repaired. Developer Morley Companies Family Development LLLP will deposit $75,000 with the district to extend the warranty period to 10 years for any future costs for both wet wells. There were never any infiltration leaks through the interior cracks prior to the repair. Testing has been completed and normal lift station operations have begun.

Board chairman Lowell Morgan’s absence was excused.

Treasurer’s report

Four tap fees totaling $28,320 were collected since the last board meeting. The year to date total is $277,072.20.

The district’s share of costs for sludge removal from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) was $21,000.

District Manager Mike Wicklund said the district’s budget is on track for the rest of the year. Professional fees are almost double what had been planned due to additional testing for copper in the district’s wastewater. However, several other costs have been lower than expected, offsetting the testing costs.

JUC report

Wicklund reported that the Joint Use Committee, which represents the three districts that own the WWTF, had agreed to pay $15,000 for additional foundation design and construction costs incurred when the lab and administration building had to be moved 10 feet. The original location was discovered to be on top of the air line that connects the blowers in the existing administration building to the facility’s aeration basins. The fire marshal had requested additional access around the new building’s perimeter. Soils tests for the new location showed that caissons were now required to support the posts that hold up the roof.

Access Construction was also granted an additional 30 days to complete construction to offset the delay in obtaining approval for the changes from the Regional Building Department. An error in concrete testing produced the original "unsatisfactory" tests for the foundation concrete. Subsequent tests by another company eliminated these concerns.

The board appointed Chuck Robinove, Kristi Schutz, and Secretary Glenda Smith as additional alternates to the JUC. However, the Joint Use Agreement may have to be amended to authorize more than one alternate. Morgan is the primary representative, and Treasurer Ed Delaney is the alternate.

2006 budget review

The board unanimously agreed to pay off the lease-purchase agreement for the district’s building. Also, the board agreed to move the district office to the adjacent suites to the west. Pure Delights restaurant and catering business has been offered the space for expansion. The district will pay for a new grease interceptor in the east parking lot to handle this expansion. Rocky Mountain United Methodist Conference and Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church will be moving to new buildings.

The board determined it would not object to St. Peter Church seeking vacation of the alley through its property as long as the church grants an easement large enough to provide complete access to the utilities under the alley.

The first of three installation phases for the Wakonda Hills sewer system installation will go out for bid the first week of November. The design work for this eastern phase is complete.

The developer for the Monument Lake Road Townhomes asked for two additional sewer taps, though the intergovernmental agreement with Palmer Lake Sanitation District only allows 13 taps at this time. 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 the adjacent Raspberry Point townhomes. The Palmer Lake collection line may need to be enlarged from 15 inches to 18 inches at Palmer Lake expense.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m. The next meeting will be held on Nov. 21 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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Triview Metropolitan District, September 28: District seeks to serve new developments

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Triview Metropolitan District Board was called to order at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 to conduct their monthly business meeting. After the August meeting minutes were approved, resident Tanya Burstrum of Jackson Creek reported that the park improvements from a GOCO grant in Homestead Park were now installed and that the park sign was being put up. She added that the park would be dedicated at 10 a.m. on Oct. 2, and that the neighborhood children were already enjoying the new playground.

Monument Planning Status

Inspection Fee: The board reviewed the Fee Policy packet report prepared by the Town of Monument. This program proposed three levels of inspection. The first level would inspect private residential and include issuing of permits and fees. The second level would include public improvements by developers. The third level would be public improvements made through use of public funds.

Tom Kassawara, development services director, noted that it was never the Town’s intention to charge fees for water tanks or water lines and added that this was an initial draft and that the Town was still working on details. He added that many communities have a multi-level inspection and that this was meant to ensure a "fail-safe" system for the Town, the district, and, more important, for the property owners. He added that Monument won’t sign off on an inspection plan until Triview does.

Board president Steve Stephenson strongly objected to Monument’s proposed inspection fee schedule. He contended it was duplication of services and fees that new residents would pay when they purchased a home and questioned who was most responsible for inspection, the Town or the district.

In response, Cathy Green, Monument’s town manager, noted that the Town and the district were responsible for inspection and that the fees, estimated at approximately $50 per home, were not exorbitant. The money would pay for two inspectors to work together to ensure a higher standard.

The board asked what would happen if the Town’s inspector and the district’s inspector disagreed. Kassawara responded that the issue would then go to the Monument Board of Trustees or the Triview board to consider. He added that, given the rapid rate of development in the area, "two sets of eyes are better than one."

The board asked for staff’s opinion. Ron Simpson replied that Triview’s control extends from the street to the property line; they had no control over grading or building on individual lots. The builder is supposed to file a HUD report, but currently there is no inspection for the grading plan on individual lots, which has been an issue in the past. He added that Triview encourages correct grading on individual lots and that it would be beneficial if Monument inspected individual gradings.

Stephenson questioned the permitting process. Simpson replied that the Town required a landscape permit and noted Triview had no authority and would welcome the Town inspector’s help in this area.

The District’s attorney Pete Susemihl reported that Triview’s agreement with the Town allows them to impose fees, that the board did not have the authority to reject Monument’s proposed inspection fee schedule, and that the Town was working with the board as a courtesy to them. He further noted that because the district is responsible for maintenance of the infrastructure—including water lines, drainage channels, and pipes—it behooves the district to have the correct drainage on individual lots to prevent runoff from clogging the infrastructure.

Monument Mayor Byron Glenn added that the fees are passed on to the home buyer as added costs, but the extra factor of safety was the intent.

Stephenson questioned the difference in the level of inspection on the west side of Monument, where Triview does not provide service. He further noted that he was not worried about cost as much as creating unnecessary duplication of service.

Chuck Nolte of Nolte and Associates (the district’s engineering consultant) is updating Triview’s development standards to ensure consistency with the Town’s standards.

Construction Matters

Nolte reported that five candidates submitted bids for the ultraviolet wastewater system upgrade at the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. He noted that he had worked successfully with the low bidder on other projects in the past. He added that the construction estimates came in $20,000 higher than estimated and that this might be due to the higher prices for concrete, imported dirt, and rising energy costs.

Stephenson asked if they had considered making pellets from the wastes for fertilizer rather than using chlorine gas for treating and disposing of it in Monument Creek, which might be a safety issue with Colorado’s groundwater. Nolte responded that ultraviolet treatment is the current standard and has not been a problem. He added that processing waste into pellets for fertilizer is only done in large metro areas and that Triview’s wastewater treatment facility is too small for it to be cost-effective.

Nolte reported that he was now meeting with operational staff to ensure that untreated waste would not be discharged during construction of the new plant. He also noted that improvements were needed to strengthen the concrete bridge where the facility’s access road crosses Jackson Creek, just west of I-25.

Competing for new developments

Simpson reported that there were three proposed inclusions: Home Place Ranch, Promontory Pointe, and Monument Ridge (as well as the Baptist Camp, which can only be annexed after Promontory Point is annexed due to the one-sixth contiguity requirement.) He commented that some developers were trying to play the various water districts against one another to obtain a discounted rate. The districts are faced with the cost of building infrastructure to accommodate developments and that is why Triview created the Facility Investment Fee (FIF).

While in some cases the FIF works efficiently, in others it creates limitations such as with the Baptist Church Camp (BBC). The developer knows that Triview and Donala consider the long-term revenues from a high-end project like the BBC to be sustaining and therefore attractive. This profit motive forces them to reduce development fees to be competitive. Triview, because of its full metro district status, must provide services such as roads, drainage, parks, and traffic control, which districts like Donala cannot provide—putting Triview at a disadvantage when placed in a bidding situation.

The board discussed ways they could compete. Susemihl reminded them that they were required by state statutes governing special districts to charge the same fees to all entities. Therefore they could not negotiate or waive fees or bring a development into the district with a different mill levy. He suggested the only way to do it would be to provide a different level of service. He asked if the board wanted to reconsider the FIF.

Stephenson responded that Triview needed the cash from the FIF to build the infrastructure for new developments and recommended against changing it because of one development.

Simpson asked if the developer were to build portions of the required infrastructure, could the district pay them back over time, since the district would have had to hire a contractor to build it anyway. Susemihl asked what infrastructure the developer would be responsible for, and Simpson noted that he had made suggestions in the memo he circulated in the board packet. After reviewing the memo, Susemihl suggested that this would be too generous and that Simpson should adjust some of the numbers.

The board agreed that the district would be interested in serving this property and that they should consider creative solutions.

Development status

Home Place Ranch (HPR): Simpson noted that the developer is interested in coming into the district but that no letter of intent has been received. Simpson reported that the project build-out for HPR is eight years.

Monument Ridge: The former 30-acre Wal-Mart site is being considered for mixed use commercial and residential.

Discussion with bondholder

Triview asked Rick Blevins of Centre Development, the bondholder for Jackson Creek, if they would consider subordinating the loan for the wastewater treatment expansion. Blevins questioned why Centre Development would want to again accept a lower priority for bond interest payments than other lenders, given that they already had all the infrastructure capacity they needed to finish their development. Triview has not paid all the interest due on Centre’s high interest bonds for many years in a row. Blevins suggested that by subordinating the loan, Centre Development would be giving their competitors an advantage. Simpson noted that with additional funding, Triview could build the treatment facility, allowing the district to grow faster, which would enable them to pay off the bonds sooner.

Blevins noted that more consideration would have to be given to this request before a decision could be made.

Other business

  • Simpson reported that the Town requested a dinner meeting with the board and asked the board for some dates that might work.

  • It was reported that the 2006 budget hearing would be held in October.

  • Susemihl noted that the 2005 budget must be amended.

  • Higher than average legal fees were reported.

  • A final request for payment for the GOCO grant was filed.

  • The 457 retirement plan was discussed and the board changed the retirement age from 62 to 55.

At 7:50 p.m., the board went into executive session to consider the limitation on an ongoing condemnation issue. No action was taken.

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The next meeting of the Triview board is Nov. 23, 4:30 p.m. at the district office, 174 N. Washington St. in Monument. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Triview Metropolitan District, October 26: Rate increase approved

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors voted to increase rates for water and wastewater treatment at the meeting on Oct. 26.

District manager’s report

District manager Ron Simpson reported that he and board president Steve Stephenson had attended the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority meeting in Durango in October. They decided to attend after learning that the Authority’s finance committee had recommended against granting Triview’s loan request to pay for its portion of expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Facility (WWTF). Stephenson reported that this committee expressed concerns that impact fees were being used to fund the district’s operation and maintenance; they felt this was an inappropriate use of impact funds. Simpson added that there were concerns about the district’s debt load.

Stephenson and Simpson made a presentation to the finance committee to explain that these assumptions were indeed misconceptions and that in fact the impact fees were being used by Triview to pay off the debt incurred for its capital improvements. Impact fees were not used for operation and maintenance. They also told the committee that this Triview debt would be retired in 2008. They said they were pleased with the success of their presentation to the committee because the Authority subsequently overturned the recommendations of the finance committee and will review Triview’s request again at the Authority meeting on Nov. 7 in Denver.

The authority’s finance committee requested additional information. While Simpson and Stephenson agreed that this did not guarantee that the authority would now approve the district’s funding request, they felt that they had made significant progress toward that end. Stephenson said he felt the district was a perfect candidate for the loan because they were in the position to pay it back in a timely manner.

Rate increases approved

Simpson reported that, based on the "Enterprise and District Rate Analysis" by Red Oak Consults, the district should increase its water rates by 9 percent and its wastewater treatment rates by 10 percent. The study also proposes increases in 2010 and 2012. The board noted that the rate analysis report was developed to compare the rates of different districts. The report indicated that Triview’s rates were on average lower than many districts.

Attorney Pete Susemihl reminded the board that once the increases were in place, by law they could not be lowered. The board approved both rate increases recommended by the report.

2006 proposed budget

Simpson presented the proposed operations budget and delineated the line item changes to the board. He reported that the Nov. 16 budget meeting had been advertised and that a copy of the proposed budget was available for public review at the Triview office in Monument. He noted that the meeting might be held at 3 p.m. rather than the regularly scheduled time of 4:30 p.m.

Simpson reported that the total revenues are expected to be $4.2 million. These revenues were projected as $2 million from impact fees and $2.2 million from taxes and water and sanitation fees. The proposed 2006 budget was $2.4 million, an increase of $198,318 (or 8.92 percent) over the audited 2005 budget.

One reason for the increase was the addition of $100,000 for street re-paving. Simpson reported that roads that are 10 years old are now in need of an asphalt overlay. The budget also reflects increases for staff salaries of up to 7.5 percent, professional services, and total legal fees, although some legal fees and costs for professional services were reduced.

Simpson noted that rising energy costs from Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) were a serious concern for Triview’s future expenditures. He suggested that all area districts might consider forming a "power partnership agreement" with MVEA to try to obtain a better rate. The board encouraged Simpson to pursue this with the other districts.

Parks and open space

Simpson asked the board for approval to spend $5,330 to purchase a variety of trees to replace the 14 that had died over the summer. He added that it was the district’s policy to replace trees each fall. The board approved this request.

Simpson reported that he had received a request from the El Paso County Parks Department to allow a trail easement under I-25 through a box culvert. This would allow for an east-west trail connection between the Santa Fe Trail and Jackson Creek Parkway.

Potential Inclusions

Carriage Point West: Simpson reported that the developer for Carriage Point West had talked to him about inclusion. It is proposed as a 39-unit residential development with mixed lot sizes. Simpson noted that it is speculative at this point.

Beck property: Simpson also mentioned that a developer had approached him with questions about a possible inclusion for a retirement community similar to Liberty Heights on the north side of the Beck property. It was speculative at this point, and the developer had not called back for further information.

Baptist Camp: Simpson went over some figures that he wanted to present to Classic Homes regarding the cost of streets, parks, water, and sanitation. Classic has not determined whether it will seek inclusion by Triview or Donala Water and Sanitation District. Simpson said that Triview must provide streets and parks, unlike Donala, because it is a metropolitan district; Donala would not and cannot provide streets and parks for Classic. He recommended adjusting some of the Triview cost figures in order to be competitive with Donala.

Because of the competitive nature of this information, the board elected to postpone further discussions on this topic until the executive session at the end of the meeting. No announcements were made or any action taken on this matter prior to adjournment when the board meeting returned to regular session.

Monument Ridge: A developer is considering a mixed-use commercial and residential plan for the 30-acre former Wal-Mart site. Simpson has had no recent communication with the developer.

In addition, Simpson reported that a Chili’s restaurant is going into the Marketplace soon.

Engineer’s report

Charles Nolte, of Nolte and Associates, reported that one of his engineers would be in Washington, D.C., the following week for a wastewater conference and would further investigate the ultraviolet system technology that was planned for the new wastewater treatment facility.

Wastewater Treatment Facility expansion: Of the eight pre-approved contractors, Western Summit has dropped out of the running. The request for proposals will be distributed on Nov. 1. The seven remaining contractors will have two weeks to respond.

Access road: Simpson reported that he had received notification from the El Paso County Parks Department regarding construction vehicles on the Santa Fe Trail. The parks department must have an agreement with the district before the contractor can begin work. The department must take all agreements before the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for approval; before that can happen, the item must be placed on their agenda.

This is a concern because the contractor was awarded the bid based on the timeline stipulated in the contract, and the agreement with the county may take more time to complete than is shown in that contract. Simpson expressed concern that this delay would drive up the cost of the contract. Stephenson questioned why it is a problem for construction vehicles to cross the trail. Simpson replied that the parks department has liability if an accident should occur and takes all matters before the BOCC for direction.

Simpson further suggested that he would see if it would be possible to negotiate a trade of the requested east-west trail easement under I-25 through the district’s box culvert in exchange for parks department approval of a temporary disruption on the Santa Fe Trail. He said he would further discuss these matters with the parks department.

Simpson noted that if he issued a notice-to-proceed to the contractor, the district had 15 days from the time the notice is issued until the contractor was to begin work, and the matter may be resolved before that time. If it’s not resolved, Simpson would then have to issue a notice to stop work and that would mean more costs.

The board gave direction to Simpson to issue a notice-to-proceed.

Updating of water standards: Nolte was contracted to update the district standards to be consistent with those of the Town of Monument. Simpson noted that the water specifications section seemed to be the most inconsistent.

Financial matters

Dale Hill reported that there was one new housing permit in October.

The bond payment in November was $337,529, of which $5,000 was principal. She added that the interest rate had increased from 3.975 percent in 2004 to 5.25 percent in 2005. It was suggested that the district lock in an interest rate. Simpson noted that the interest rate had increased two full percentage points since 2003.

The board passed a resolution to accept the new interest rate and approved the bond payment.

Executive session

The meeting went into executive session at 6 p.m., to consider the limitation on an ongoing condemnation issue and inclusion negotiations with the Baptist Camp. No action was taken and no announcements were made when the board returned to regular session to adjourn.

The board noted the change in the date for the next meeting, which will be the annual budget hearing, to Wednesday, at 3 p.m. on Nov. 16, rather than the fourth Wednesday of the month.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, October 11: District begins 2006 budget preparation, plans deep well

By Sue Wielgopolan

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District plans to drill a well into the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer in 2006. The district does not presently have any wells in that aquifer, which is the deepest of the four in the Denver Basin. Hydrologists have speculated that the water in the Laramie-Fox Hills may be much less desirable due to several factors, including a high content of hydrogen sulfide, which has the odor of rotten eggs. The presence of iron and other minerals may also affect water quality.

The district has the capability to effectively treat these problems. Drilling the well would enable Woodmoor to determine quality and yield, which would provide information necessary to plan for future use of the aquifer.

General Manager Phil Steininger announced that the board would begin work on the 2006 budget during a half-day session on Oct. 18.

Financials

Treasurer Jim Wyss told the board that in spite of lower-than-anticipated water and sewer tap fees, the district was presently in a good cash position for 2005. Income came in at just below 75 percent of annual expectations, which is right on target for the end of September. Water use fees were higher than projected.

Steininger said that additional tap fees were expected before the end of the year.

Joint Use Committee (JUC)

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s representative to the JUC, said he had nothing new to report as the October meeting had been moved to that evening. The JUC governs the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and includes representatives from Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Monument Sanitation District, and Palmer Lake Sanitation District, which jointly own the plant.

Nasser asked that an additional alternate be appointed for those days when he or alternate Ron Turner was unavailable. Erin Smith, attorney for the Woodmoor district, will go over the intergovernmental agreement for the Tri-Lakes WWTF to make sure the appointment of director James Whitelaw as a second alternate is not prohibited.

Transit Loss Study

Steininger reported on the status of the Transit Loss Study, which is being conducted by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS). Study data will be collected through 2006 from USGS gauging stations on Monument and Fountain Creeks, and will be used to construct a computer model that will simulate and measure El Paso County tributary flows to the Arkansas River. Agencies and private interests participating in study and model funding anticipate that the ability to more accurately monitor effluent contribution and flow loss throughout the system would result in more water credits available for sale or trade to downstream users.

The Woodmoor district had considered funding the construction of an additional gauging station on Monument Creek just upstream of its confluence with Dirty Woman Creek. The addition of the station would allow the district to monitor the amount of water Monument is releasing from the lake.

Steininger told board members the station would cost about $13,000 to install and an additional $13,000 per year to operate and maintain. Since other districts would not benefit from data provided by the station, Woodmoor would probably be responsible for all costs associated with it. Steininger told the board he felt the cost was too high to assume at this time, and recommended the board delay the project.

New billing system

Woodmoor converting to a new billing system. Customers will notice the initial changes as the district sequences meter readings to correspond with the calendar month. Lori Akers will attend training on the new billing system Oct. 17-21 in Salt Lake City.

Office manager Hope Winkler, in response to a question from Whitelaw, told board members that a short message to inform customers of the impending changes would be included on the postcard bills.

Sewer lining operations

The district recently completed video inventory of its sewer pipes. Over the past four years, Woodmoor has been using a remote camera to examine the interior of its older pipes, especially those composed of clay, which are generally more subject to deterioration than PVC. In addition, the more porous clay allows water in the surrounding substrate to pass into the pipes, increasing the volume of wastewater and subsequently the expense of treatment.

Operations superintendent Randy Gillette reported that of the four defined zones, staff has completed most major repairs and lining with durable PVC in zone 1, which is the oldest area. The lining procedure, which renders existing clay pipe identical in performance and life expectancy to plastic pipe, is cheaper than digging up and replacing existing infrastructure. Zones 2 and 3, which contain the majority of remaining clay pipe, have not yet been lined.

Woodmoor is presently conducting pre-bids to lock in the unit cost of lining work for the next three years. Steininger stated that the budget contains $250,000 for PVC lining work for 2006. Shaffer said the district plans on completing about 6,200 feet next year, with the goal of lining approximately 6,000 feet of clay pipe per year until completion. Once the condition of all sewer pipes in the district has been assessed, Woodmoor staff can set a realistic timetable for needed repairs. Steininger anticipates that lining of all clay pipes within the district will take from 5 to 10 years, depending on cost and total footage.

President Jim Taylor asked how many linear feet of sewer pipe existed in the district. Steininger replied that until the sewer model, which district engineer Jessie Shaffer was currently working on, was complete, any estimate he could give would be a guess. Shaffer said he expected all necessary data and figures would be submitted to contract engineering firm RTW by the end of November.

Central Water Treatment Facility (CWTF)

Mike Rothberg, contract engineer with RTW, told members he had finished reviewing the submittal for the Trident filter and gave U.S. Filters the green light to begin manufacture of the unit. The drawings for the expansion are 90 percent complete and are being reviewed by the district.

The new filter unit will be delivered the first part of December; the contractor will schedule construction around the delivery date. Steininger told the board that most of the cost of the expansion would fall in the 2006 budget cycle.

New warehouse

Steininger said plans for the new warehouse had been submitted to the Regional Building Department, but he warned the board that the foundation would be more costly than originally estimated. Woodmoor staff recently discovered that the first set of soil bores had been taken at a location on the property other than the actual building site. Construction debris is buried under the area where the district intends to build the new warehouse. Woodmoor will institute a change order at the district’s expense to modify the foundation to add stability.

Subdivision status update

Shaffer updated board members on the status of developments in the district, and used a PowerPoint map to point out locations of the various areas. Several developments in Woodmoor are in preconstruction planning. A few notable updates include:

Misty Acres: Though Woodmoor has not yet seen the plans, inholdings within the tract are slated for multiple smaller subdivisions, including high-density homes. Misty Acres is located south of County Line Road and east of the campground.

Monument Hill Road Business Park: Not to be confused with Monument Business Park, the land is owned by Rocky Mountain Custom Wood Structures and is located along I-25 immediately north of the campground. The development will be divided into six commercial lots and will consist primarily of offices.

Undeveloped land surrounding Lake Woodmoor: Several undeveloped tracts surrounding Lake Woodmoor owned by KAB Pankey LLC are being considered for purchase by Cheyenne Mountain Development Company LLC and may be developed within the next two to six years. The property already has water rights attached, equivalent to about 400 single-family homes.

The prospective buyer’s plans indicate that the areas north of the lake houses, known as Waterside and The Cove, will contain townhomes and/or multi-family homes; building will probably occur in the next two to three years. The west side of the lake north of the fire station, in an area called The Dunes, will probably be primarily residential. Further commercial development will occur around the southern edge of the lake. Though there are no definite plans at present, the developer has indicated that the southeastern tip, known as The Beach, may become mixed residential and commercial.

District growth in 2006 outlined

Shaffer projects from submitted developer plans that the equivalent of approximately 380 single-family units will require water in 2006. The majority of the growth will occur at the Village Center at Woodmoor and Walters Commons. Pulte plans to build about 144 multifamily units at Walters Commons; Richmond American Homes expects to build 68 single-family homes next year at the Village Center.

Depending on market factors such as home mortgage interest rates and availability and cost of cement and other building materials—which have become limiting factors this quarter—the actual number of single-family equivalents could vary between 300 and 400 units. (A single-family equivalent as defined by Woodmoor equals an average usage of 9,500 to 11,000 gallons of water per month.)

Close estimation of the actual count is important, as Woodmoor needs to ensure that enough water is available to meet demand without prematurely spending the $750,000 needed to drill and equip each new well. Presently, approximately 12 to 14 developments are building or in the planning stages. Steininger expects that 2006 may be even busier. In order to provide enough water and pipelines to accommodate possible growth, Woodmoor will have to drill at least one and possibly two wells next year.

Woodmoor is presently evaluating favorable locations for the wells, one of which will be into the Arapahoe aquifer, the other into the Laramie-Fox Hills.

Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility lab/administration building

Shaffer showed slides of the new building under construction. The foundation has been poured, and the contractor, Access Construction, is in the process of framing. The current lab was too small to accommodate the equipment needed to conduct testing specified under the operating permit issued to the WWTF by the state’s department of health. The building will also provide administrative office space, as well as a lunchroom for facility employees.

Investments

Steininger said that at the board’s approval, the district had invested $500,000 in a money market account with Integrity Bank. An additional $3.5 million will be invested in certificates of deposit and other investments meeting Title 24 state requirements for special districts that are organized under Title 32.

Nasser asked if Integrity would regularly update the board on the status of Woodmoor’s investments. Treasurer Jim Wyss replied that the bank could speak to members as requested. The board agreed to hear quarterly presentations, starting the first of the year.

Adjudication and augmentation

Water underlying subdivisions annexed to the Woodmoor district since 1998 has never been formally adjudicated. All water rights, including surface rights, are adjudicated, or allocated, by the Colorado State courts. Adjudicated water is the volume of water, formally quantified by the courts through a decree, which a petitioner may legally withdraw. In this case, it refers to the amount of groundwater a property owner or special district may pump. During the past three months, Woodmoor water attorney Ronnie Sperling has been working with the district to prepare documentation for the hearing.

Part of the process is the presentation of an assessment, provided by the district and verified by hydrologists, that declares the amount of water estimated to exist below the included properties.

Steininger informed the board that although the district had originally planned to petition the water court in October, it now appeared more likely that adjudication would take place in November. In addition, the district decided not to submit an augmentation plan at the present time. A plan would be required if Woodmoor wished to drill into the shallower Denver and/or Dawson aquifers, which are considered "not non-tributary." (Augmentation, which means partial or full replacement of the water pumped, does not apply to water rights for the Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers, which are considered too deep to have an influence on surface water supplies, and are therefore non-tributary.)

District long-range plan

Steininger told board members that money has been set aside in the 2006 budget for Woodmoor staff and consultants to work on the fourth update of the district’s long-range plans, which will take into account future inclusions. The purpose of the plan is to project what water will be available and how to make best use of the district’s water resources.

Xeriscape classes to continue in spring

Steininger deemed the Sept. 16 tour of Woodmoor’s demonstration Xeriscape garden a success. Ten residents attended the introductory session, which was hosted by the district and presented by Don Clausen, the independent landscape architect who designed the garden.

Steininger plans to schedule the next class for late February or early March, when gardeners are most likely to begin thinking about spring planting. The focus will be on specific plants that are well adapted to a drier climate.

2006 budget

Steininger announced the board would meet to work on next year’s budget on Oct. 18 at 8:30 a.m. He expected the workshop to take about a half-day.

Members briefly discussed additional information that they would like to have available to use in projecting income and expenses. Several issues could potentially impact the district’s budget.

Nasser noted that with fuel costs rapidly rising, it would be helpful to know what proportion of the cost of water can be attributed to electrical power, which is necessary to pump water from the wells. Power providers nationwide are anticipating major increases in charges this winter. He pointed out that if a significant percentage of the cost of providing water to customers is attributable to power, the board would need to adjust expense figures accordingly.

Steininger said the district has received little response to the vacancy announcement to replace technician Toby Ormond, who transferred to the Tri-Lakes WWTF. He told the board that Woodmoor might have to increase the salary and benefits package in order to attract qualified applicants.

Revised rules and regulations

Woodmoor attorney Erin Smith distributed the final two sections of the rules and regulations for review and comment. She stated that most of the changes involved wording or bookkeeping. The only real change was her proposal in the "ownership of facilities" section that the district assume ownership of commercial meters.

Woodmoor already owns all residential meters in the district. Smith pointed out that although this step increases expenses, the district and not the business would control the timetable for the repair of broken meters. Smith said delays in fixing metering problems could cost the district substantially more in untracked water consumption than the price of meter replacement or repair.

Smith asked board members to review the new sections and ask questions or offer comments at the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m. The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board of directors will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, October 19: Open house a big success, draft 2006 budget reviewed

Below:  Oct. 8: Extrication demonstration and simulated removal of an injured driver and loading the driver onto the Memorial Star helicopter Photos by Ginnette Ritz 

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Below: The expansion of the Gleneagle Drive Station and a variety of equipment was on display. Participating agencies included Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, Palmer Lake Volunteer FD, Falcon FD, Flight for Life & Memorial Star helicopters, Air Force Academy FD, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, El Paso County Search & Rescue, E911, and District 20 Robotics team. Photos by John Heiser

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By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Pension Board reviewed its draft budget for 2006 for the first time on Oct. 19. Having just made the final payment on the expansion that added an engine bay, offices, a conference room, and a spacious physical training room, the board started a new phase of development for the department. The board unanimously passed a resolution appointing Battalion Chief Jeff Edwards to acting chief to formally begin the transition as Chief Bill Sheldon nears retirement. The district will host a ceremony honoring Sheldon’s many years of service to Wescott on Nov. 19. Directors Dave Cross and Brian Gould were absent.

Reports

Finances: Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz reported that budget matters, revenue, and spending, are on track for the end of the year close out. Specific ownership tax revenue continues to exceed the amount budgeted for 2005. The board unanimously accepted her report.

The board increased the number of people authorized to sign checks in order to have better controls on district cash flow, further separating the people who determine which checks are to be written from those who sign them. The district’s auditor had recommended these procedural changes in the 2004 audit to improve monetary safeguards.

Open house: Edwards reported that the open house on Oct. 8 had been a tremendous success with over 600 people attending. A highlight was a vehicle extraction, simulated removal of an injured driver, and demonstration of the procedures for treating and loading the driver onto a shock-trauma helicopter. Both the Flight For Life and Memorial Star helicopters participated in the open house.

Gleneagle house fire: Edwards noted that the district had "quickly knocked down and contained a kitchen fire" in Gleneagle, limiting the heat and smoke damage to under $60,000 while rescuing two dogs. The homeowners were away, and the house alarm system saved the day, "just as it was supposed to."

"Hero’s day:" Edwards drew a laugh when he described a "Hero’s day" for his shift at Antelope Trails elementary school. Six firefighters showed up ready for an hour of "answering questions and stealing a few tater tots from the kids." They were shocked when they found out their duty for the day was to serve lunch to the entire school in the cafeteria. He said the lunch went off with only a few glitches, and wryly noted that the same task is taken care of by only two school staff members with "far less drama."

Staffing: Edwards said the district would be conducting testing and interviews to fill the position on his shift that would be vacated when his schedule changes in November from every third shift to every weekday. The prioritized list of successful candidates will be used to fill full time, part time, and volunteer positions in the future.

The board approved a motion to provide flu and hepatitis shots on an as-required basis for the staff.

Run report: Assistant Chief Vinny Burns reported that the district made 144 runs in September bringing the total to 1,121 for the year, a 6 percent increase over 2004. The calls consisted of 36 medical, 3 hazardous material, 9 automatic alarm, 2 good intent false, and 89 AMR ambulance calls, plus 2 mutual aid calls for traffic accidents. There have been no firefighter injuries this year.

2006 budget review

During a long interchange, the board did a line by line review of each cost and revenue figure. The requested funding and listed revenue figures were conservative, leaving a large cash reserve for contingencies even though Edwards proposed a number of aggressive programs to upgrade a variety of staff certifications and purchase complete wildfire equipment ensembles (shelters, clothing, packs, and helmets) for all paid as well as volunteer firefighters. Edwards will present the additional documentation and options at the next budget review session. The final budget hearing was scheduled for Dec. 7.

The meeting went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 8:22 p.m. There were no announcements or actions taken prior to adjournment.

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The next meeting will be Nov. 23 at Station 1, 15425 Gleneagle Dr. The pension board will meet at 6:30 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, September 28: Chief, firefighters receive honors for their efforts

By Susan Hindman

It was an upbeat evening of accolades at the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority meeting on Sept. 28 as the chief and several firefighters received awards for their efforts locally and nationally.

Director Tim Miller, who succeeded former director Jeremy Diggins, was welcomed onto the Fire Authority board for the first time. All other members—consisting of the boards of both the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument fire districts—were present.

Awards and thanks

National efforts: Five Tri-Lakes firefighters were publicly acknowledged for their roles in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Elliot Linke and Capt. Kris Mola were sent to Dallas, where they helped at the stadium providing shelter for evacuees. They wrote a letter to the Fire Authority, which was read at the meeting, that discussed their efforts and thanked the authority for their support in allowing them to go.

A letter from FEMA was also read, thanking the chief and the department for contributing firefighters to the efforts.

Chief Robert Denboske discussed the efforts by three others district employees, Captain John Vincent, Mark Vanlandingham, and Greg Boisvert, who were sent to Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, to help with the hurricane cleanup efforts.

"Much of the area is completely wiped out," with no fire stations or apparatus, Denboske said. In the PowerPoint presentation Vincent had sent, there were pictures showing some of the destruction, and one showed the Port Sulphur Fire Station with a crypt in front that had floated from an above-ground cemetery.

Denboske noted that the trio was part of a group of 23 firefighters who had come from Colorado; Tri-Lakes was the smallest department represented.

Local efforts: Battalion Chief Max Mabrey introduced Woodmoor residents Bob and Alice Venturella. On July 20, firefighters had responded to a call that their 7-year-old daughter, Rachel, was in cardiac arrest. The crew resuscitated her and have since "developed a bond" with Rachel, Mabrey said.

"These guys were fantastic," Alice said.

The following were awarded medals of merit for their lifesaving efforts: Mabrey, Ryan Graham, Chris Sobin, Capt. Joe Yordt, and Ken Cox. Board president Charlie Pocock read their names, and Alice handed a pin to each. Chief Rob Denboske gave Rachel—who hid shyly in the hallway—a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, a patch, sticker, and stuffed animal.

It was noted that firefighters responded to this incident in 4½ minutes, and the ambulance was 40 seconds behind.

Mabrey reported another incident that had occurred on I-25. A baby had been born in a truck on the interstate near Pueblo. The driver continued on north, and by the time the family made it to the Tri-Lakes area, the baby’s heart had stopped beating. The Fire Authority responded and resuscitated the child, who was transported by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Denver.

Mabrey was again highly complimentary of the response team: "This is the most outstanding crew I’ve had the opportunity to work with," he said.

Chief’s award: Chief Denboske received the Distinguished Manager Award from the Special District Association of Colorado (SDA)—an organization that includes all special districts (water, fire, etc.) and taxing authorities in the state—at its annual conference in September. A PowerPoint presentation recapping Denboske’s career was shown.

Financial report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that the authority has received 90 percent of anticipated revenue to date; 97 percent of property tax has been received. He said they’re within 3 percent of their expected expenses for the end of August. Ambulance revenue is down, which he said "will come in but not by the end of the year." The new law (the loss of no-fault insurance) "has made a significant impact on everybody" and affects ambulance payments, he said.

Hildebrandt also presented a look at the budget for 2006, taking the Fire Authority and the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument districts into account. He said he tried to anticipate increases in fuel costs, heating costs, and salaries, among other things. Tri-Lakes has a grant request in for a water tender, which would cost around $165,000.

The numbers are "not absolute," but at this point, he said, for 2006, Tri-Lakes appears to have an excess of $34,164 and Woodmoor-Monument an excess of $72,631. The estimate for the Fire Authority’s costs for 2006 are budgeted to be around $3 million, compared to around $2.5 million for 2005.

The SDA Conference

Four board members, Denboske, and Assistant Chief and EMS Manager Ron Thompson attended the conference, Sept. 21-23 in Keystone.

Pocock said he attended a session about the National Incident Management System (NIMS). "It is the standard" for how to manage incidents such as blizzards, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. "It works well when everyone is on the same page," he said. In addition, he said for any federal or state grant requests to be considered as of Oct. 1, districts have to be 100 percent NIMS compliant. He said he took a required orientation class on NIMS, and Denboske said firefighters get NIMS training and have taken the test.

Pocock also attended a legal forum where he was given a sample board member manual and was "highly advised" to follow it. After comparing it with the manual currently used by the board, he said they are similar. The one from the conference doesn’t include the Colorado Revised Statues, provides for no authority for individual board members, and notes that public business should not be discussed in e-mails.

Pocock suggested the board compare both manuals and vote at the next meeting on which to adopt.

He also suggested at the next meeting they elect a public information officer for non-operational matters—"which is still the purview of the chief," he said.

Miscellaneous

Pocock said, "When we did our six-month review, we had a question from the audience regarding training. We spent 3,089 hours in formal training as a Fire Authority from Jan. 1 to Aug. 1."

Keith Duncan responded, "You saw the results of that training in the awards" that were given out this evening.

Pocock announced that the board would be going into executive session. Director Rick Barnes said, "We ought to consider having an attorney available to us at critical board meetings, especially for executive sessions so we don’t go into things we can’t go into." No decision was made.

The board went into executive session from 8:15 until 8:55 p.m. There were no announcements, and the meeting was adjourned.

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The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board holds regular monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley). The next meeting will be held Oct. 26. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312, or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, October 26: Fire Authority personnel help with hurricane disaster relief

Below: Captain John Vincent (left) discusses hurricane relief efforts with TLMFA board members Rick Barnes, John Hartling, Charlie Pocock, Si Sibell, Rod Wilson, Bob Hansen, Tim Miller, and Bill Ingram. Photo by John Heiser

Click here or on the photo to zoom in and see another photo

Click on the photo to zoom in and see another photo

By John Heiser

On Oct. 26, the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District met jointly as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board. All directors were present except Tri-Lakes directors John Hildebrandt, who was traveling, and Keith Duncan, who was ill.

Chief Robert Denboske introduced Captain John Vincent who reported that from Sept. 21 to Oct. 6, Vincent, Greg Boisvert, and Mark Vanlandingham from the fire authority participated in hurricane disaster relief efforts as part of the 25-member Colorado Task Force. The Tri-Lakes contingent worked in the Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana.

Vincent said, "There were only two [fire] stations left standing of seven departments down there." While there, he said they responded to several fires. Vincent said that in one instance, they fought a fire from a boat using saltwater, which was a new experience for him. The team received thanks and a round of applause from the board.

Financial Report

Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes district and the fire authority, distributed copies of a financial report covering the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/ Monument district and the resulting financial status of the fire authority through the end of September. Some highlights:

  • The districts and, in turn, the fire authority have received $1.87 million or 98 percent of the anticipated $1.91 million in property tax revenue for the year, and $211,977 or 75 percent of the anticipated $284,000 in specific ownership taxes for the year.

  • The districts also received ambulance revenues of $215,634 or 72 percent of the anticipated $300,000 for the year. That is 3 percent below budgeted levels at this point in the year.

  • Administrative expenses stand at $156,276 or 70 percent of the $222,635 for the year called for in the revised budget. That is 5 percent under the expected level for this point in the year.

  • Salary expenses were $1.18 million or 79 percent of the budgeted $1.48 million. That includes $87,749 for part-time employees, which is 94 percent of the $93,433 for the year called for in the revised budget.

  • Overall expenses year-to-date have been $1.99 million, which is 75 percent of the annual budget of $2.65 million, which is right at the expected level for this point in the year.

  • The only lease payment remaining this year is $36,950 due Nov. 1 for the new Smeal engine 2212 purchased in 2004.

A motion to accept the financial report was unanimously approved.

Pocock expressed thanks for the efforts of Hildebrandt and Woodmoor/Monument treasurer Bob Hansen in developing the budget and thanked Denboske "for keeping us on budget."

Pocock noted that the 2006 budget hearing would be held at the November meeting.

Operational report

Firefighter Lisa Frasca reported that 10 area schools with 1,300 students participated in this years’ Fire Prevention Week.

Denboske’s written report covered operations through the end of September. Some highlights:

• The fire authority responded to 138 calls during September, bringing the total for the year to 1,163. Vehicle trips made totaled 2,370 in responding to the 1,163 calls, with an average of 2.03 vehicles responding to each call. The 138 calls handled in September consisted of 66 medical, 33 fires or fire alarms, 31 traffic accidents, 6 public assists, and 2 calls involving hazardous materials.

• 65 people were transported to local hospitals during September, bringing the total for the year to 477.

• Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 54 calls, Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 17 calls, and Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 66 calls. For the year, Station 1 responded to 527 calls, Station 2 responded to 223 calls, and Station 3 responded to 413 calls.

Public Information Officer (PIO)

The board unanimously agreed to a proposal made by Pocock that the PIO for the board be the president of the board. They confirmed that Denboske is the point of contact for operational information.

Board member handbook

The board unanimously approved a board member handbook derived from the Special District Association’s model.

Personnel Manual update

The following two changes to the personnel manual were unanimously approved:

• Twelve hours per year of personal leave are allowed. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said this clause was inadvertently omitted when the Woodmoor/Monument and Tri-Lakes manuals were merged. The Woodmoor/Monument manual provided for compensated leave. The board approved inclusion of that provision in the fire authority manual, with the understanding that the leave cannot be accumulated from year to year.

• A definition of the 10 pay grades was approved as follows: 1. Probation (first six months), 2. Probation (second six months), 3. Firefighter 1 w/1 year experience, 4. Firefighter 2 w/2 years’ experience, 5. Firefighter 2 w/3 years’ experience, 6. Captain, 7. Fire Marshal, 8. Battalion Chief, 9. Assistant Chief, 10. Chief.

Proposals from audit firms

Hansen reported that he had received proposals from five audit firms. The board agreed to have representatives of three of the firms (Bondi & Co., Gordon Hughes & Banks, and Mason Russell West) come to the November meeting to answer questions on their proposals. The presentations would be scheduled at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

Meeting schedule

To avoid conflicting with the Thanksgiving holiday, the board decided to hold the November meeting on Nov. 16.

In order to certify the 2006 budget prior to the statutory deadline of Dec. 15, the board decided to hold the December meeting on Dec. 13.

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The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board holds regular monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be Nov. 16.

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

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, October 26: District pursues grants for tank truck and staff

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors held its regular meeting Oct. 26 following the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority board meeting. Directors Charlie Pocock, Rick Barnes, and John Hartling were present. Treasurer John Hildebrandt was traveling, and director Keith Duncan was ill. The minutes of the July 27 meeting were unanimously approved.

Grant status

As previously reported in OCN, the district has applied for a federal grant to pay 90 percent of the cost for a $165,000 tanker truck. They also applied for a Staffing Assistance for Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant managed by the Department of Homeland Security to add seven paid staff, six full-time emergency workers, and one full-time mechanic.

Chief Robert Denboske reported that the district’s grant applications are still under consideration.

$200 per month approved for station 2 incidentals

The board unanimously approved $200 per month for incidental expenses for the residents at Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16, immediately following the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board, which meets at 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Fire Protection District, September 28: Ambulance for Woodmoor station not feasible at present

By Elizabeth Hacker

The meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District (WMFPD) board was called to order at 9 p.m., following the joint meeting of the area’s fire boards. All board members were present, and they approved the agenda and the August meeting minutes.

Opening Comments

The El Paso County fire marshal, Jim Reid, opened the meeting by complimenting staff for their response to two Hazmat calls on the north end and noted that the county was moving forward with a new Hazmat truck.

2006 Proposed Budget

Board Treasurer Bob Hansen reported that he was working on the initial draft of the 2006 proposed budget and said it would be ready for the Oct. 26 WMFPD board meeting. He noted that he would e-mail them the proposed budget and urged board members to e-mail their comments prior to the next board meeting.

Financial Report

Hansen reported that 97.3 percent of the property tax had been collected. He noted that the taxes were 3 percent above the budgeted amount for 2005 and that this amount was due to an increase in rising energy costs for travel and fire and training supplies.

Hansen added that the department’s budget has averaged about $95,000 a month, and if this remains constant until the end of the year, they could expect to be about $50,000 over budget for 2005. This would be 1 percent over the previous year and might amount to $10,000 over what was spent in 2004.

District 3 Ambulance Feasibility Study

Hansen reported that residents had asked if reserve funds could be used to fund an ambulance at Station 3 (on Woodmoor Drive). In response to the resident’s concern, Assistant Chief Ron Thompson presented the findings of an Ambulance Feasibility Study to the board that examined the startup and operational costs for an ambulance at Station 3. The summary of the report states the following:

"Initial start-up costs would average approximately $370,000; this includes purchase of a new ambulance, purchasing all associated support equipment, and staffing the ambulance with two personnel 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Start-up costs could be slightly lowered through the use of state EMS grants and the use of a double EMT Basic crew. Start-up timeframe should be anticipated to take six to nine months from the initial RFP on a new ambulance purchase.

If only surplus monies were used for start-up and continued funding of this program, all surplus funds would be expended by the first quarter of the third year of operation. However, if revenue collection is anticipated to generate approximately $93,000 per year and this money is in turn put back into the program, then the program would be viable and operating in the black until operational year four.

If surplus funds and ambulance revenues were used to support this program there would be approximately a $146,398 deficit by the end of year four. Additional funding sources would need to be identified to keep this program operating."

Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority Chief Robert Denboske noted that the space impact of having additional crew at Station 3 would also need to be addressed. He reported that AMR, another ambulance service, needs three transports a day to break even and that Station 3 did not have anywhere near that many calls at this time.

The board concluded that it might not be feasible to add ambulance service to Station 3. Board member Si Sibel suggested that when Wal-Mart is finished and its mill levy kicks in, that might be the time to review the feasibility of adding the ambulance service.

District Reserve fund

Hansen reported that there was $569,000 in the Reserve Fund and noted that many residents were concerned that this fund would be transferred to the Tri-Lakes Fire Authority once it was formed and that it was important for the WMFPD board to address this concern.

It was suggested that there were areas in Woodmoor that could use fire mitigation funding but that there were legal limitations to the way these funds could be used. For instance, the monies could not be used for the Woodmoor Improvement Association’s fire mitigation program.

They all agreed that they would have to carefully consider options for the fund’s monies before the merger, but that it would not be enough to adequately fund private ambulance service. It was agreed that Hansen and Denboske should review the figures and present more options at the next board meeting.

Other matters

The board briefly discussed the "them versus us" attitude between TLFPD and WMFPD and suggested that once a consistent mill levy was established, much of the aggravation and haggling might be resolved.

Audit

Hansen noted that the audit had finally been completed, approved by the WMFPD board, and sent to the state for approval on Sept. 19. The audit cost $2,800 but Hansen noted that it was a painfully inefficient process. He hoped this experience would help the WMFPD get the next audit done more efficiently.

He reported that he had received three proposals for the audit, ranging from $4,500 to $9,000. After discussing what was involved in the audit, he managed to get Bondi to agree to drop their fees to $3,000.

He recommended that all three firms be interviewed but said he felt comfortable with Bondi because they responded quickly, were easy to communicate with, and cost less. Also, board member Tim Miller had worked with Bondi and found them to be capable and had no problem communicating with them.

The meeting adjourned at 9:58 p.m. The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District board meets regularly on the fourth Wednesday each month at Tri-Lakes Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 near the bowling alley west of Monument. The next meeting will be Nov. 23 following the Fire Authority meeting that begins at 7 p.m. For information, phone 488-3303.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Fire Protection District, October 26: Training program may pave the way for regional facility

By Susan Hindman

Capt. Joe Yordt presented to the board of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District a comprehensive in-house firefighter-training program that could lead to the district becoming a regional training facility. After viewing the detailed breakdown of the program and its costs in a PowerPoint presentation, the board voted to fund the training, which will begin in January.

All board members were present. The meeting began at 8:57 p.m. following the meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority board.

Financial report

Treasurer Bob Hansen gave a summary of where things stand for 2005. He reported that the district has received 97.9 percent of the property tax revenues for the year as well as 75.4 percent of the amount budgeted for specific ownership tax, for a total of $1,031,875. The two accounts at Peoples National Bank total $307,986, and the Colo Trust account has $570,380. Through September, total expenses were 2.2 percent over budget.

He noted five accounts to watch, which are currently over budget: travel expenses, 139.7 percent over budget; accounting expenses, 92.1 percent; general expenses, 185.8 percent; firefighting fuel expenses, 3.1 percent; and part-time salaries, 154.1 percent (due to money spent on firefighters sent to help with hurricane relief; federal monies will cover some or all of those costs).

The bottom line is that, when figuring in the rest of the budget, if expenses continue to average $94,435 per month for the remainder of the year, the district will end up 3 percent, or $32,132, over budget for the year. Hansen said, however, the figures in the 2005 budget are still subject to change.

He then presented the 2006 budget for the district. Highlights include:

  • Total assessment values will increase 11 percent, resulting in an increase of $117,755 in property tax revenue. That combined with an increase in the specific ownership tax will bring revenues from these two sources to $1,223,798.

  • The remaining sources of revenue will be interest income from the three bank accounts and the required Article X Reserve Rollover, bringing the total revenue amount to $1,267,831. Expenditures, including $80,591 in the contingency fund, are set to equal that amount.

  • The budget allows for a 3 percent increase for all personnel and $80,591 in the contingency fund; the overall spending increase is $166,741 over that of 2005.

  • TABOR requires the district set aside 3 percent of the yearly budget into an emergency fund. In the past, the district has set aside cash; this year, on the advice of the auditors, the district "will pledge 3 percent of our assets" and reserve $38,035, Hansen said. Tim Miller was going to check into comments made by the auditors at the last meeting regarding using cash or assets for the emergency funds.

The 2006 budget won’t be voted on until December.

The training program

Saying "the public requires us to be highly trained" and "we’re at a turning point in bringing the two districts together," Yordt asked the board to fund an in-house academy that would standardize training, save money on outsourcing, provide a level field for promotions from within, and, by 2007, become a regional training facility.

There are eight curricula and nine adjunct components in the nationally recognized program. Training would include all aspects of firefighting and help accomplish the requirement that all firefighters be level I after six months on the job and level II after 1 year on the job.

Among the many subjects, the material would cover building collapse, mobile home fires, "flashovers," fire command, utility emergencies, rapid intervention teams, driver operator, aerial apparatus, and hazardous materials first responder.

Yordt pointed out that 11 personnel would start training in January. If they were to take the training elsewhere, it could cost up to $1,200 per person for the training, depending on the level of training—or more, depending on where they go to get that training—plus the cost of overtime and time off.

On-site classes, in contrast, would be held in conjunction with a normal shift.

"This will pay for itself three times over in the first year," he said, adding that it will become self-supporting.

The cost of the materials is $14,757, minus a 20 percent discount for purchasing the entire program, plus shipping.

Because the two districts’ sources of income are still separate, and Woodmoor-Monument would be footing the bill for training Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District firefighters as well, there was concern about Tri-Lakes’ contribution to the costs to the program. While Tri-Lakes doesn’t have money in reserves to pay, Hansen said they have contributed in-kind upgrades that have benefited WMFPD such as a new training laptop, an LCD projector, 30 chairs, a screen, and a white board—totaling $8,100.

In response to a concern about how frequently the material would need to be updated, Yordt said that the program is upgraded every 5 to 7 years, but the changes in the last round of materials was minor. He noted that there is technical support.

"I think it’s a great idea," Hansen said. Director Rod Wilson agreed: "The way I look at it is, it’s being proactive."

The board voted to pay for the materials, with the stipulation that when the time comes that Woodmoor-Monument realizes a profit, then the district would keep that money.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:48 p.m.

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The next meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District will be on Nov. 16 (earlier because of the Thanksgiving holiday), following the 7 p.m. meeting of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority, at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley).

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, October 5: Vice president Shields resigns

By Chris Pollard

Common area maintenance

The first item for the Oct. 5 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board of directors was a request from a resident, John Fal, who was interested in becoming a Common Area captain. Fal wanted to know what common areas needed attention and what the responsibilities of the position were.

This led to a related update from the director of Open Space, Alan McMullen, on attempts to reduce the number of cattails in some of the common area ponds. He had help from six high school football players for 2½ hours in one pond but had been able to clear only a small area of the plants. He added that he needed advice on how to do the job more productively.

John Ottino, WIA president, said that it was for problems like this that he wanted to invigorate the volunteer base. Help was needed in many places for maintenance tasks. Perhaps because hockey players use one of the ponds, they could help with that particular pond and cut some of the cattails.

Pulte townhome signage

Elizabeth Miller, director of Architectural Control, announced that Pulte Homes had requested the placement of additional signage at their Woodmoor Park townhome development just east of the Lewis-Palmer High School. Current WIA rules only allow the placement of one small sign. Pulte has asked for much larger signs, including one up to 12 feet by 12 feet. Other members of the board noted that balloons that were present had since been removed.

Pulte had also asked for a banner and a 50-foot flagpole, but the latter had already been denied by the Architectural Control Committee because there were already rules in place for reasonably sized flagpoles. Most board members felt that an excessive number of signs had been requested.

After extensive discussion, the board decided that they did not want large signs present, and in particular, nothing so large that it was readable from I-25. Ottino felt that they could allow the 4-foot-by-3-foot sign for the model. There was no enthusiasm for a banner, but the board would allow a sign in front of the sales office and additional small signs for each model home. The recently written rules for multi-family developments had no section allowing additional signs. It was determined that a time limit on the placement of the signs should be allowed.

VP resignation and replacement board candidates

Susan Shields, currently the vice president of WIA, announced that she was resigning because she had sold her house and was moving out of Woodmoor.

Ottino said that this made the search for candidates for the upcoming election more urgent, and he wanted to put an advertisement on the WIA Web site to get more people interested.

As it happened, one candidate, Bill Walters, was present to volunteer for the board and answered questions from the current members. Ottino noted that if Walters were appointed to the position, he would fill it until January 2007. He stressed his concern that people should serve on the board for the full term when they volunteer. A number of past candidates had resigned after just one or two months. Walters said that he wanted stability.

Covenant violations

There are insufficient staff to go out and look for new covenant violations. Some residents have asked for Woodmoor Public Safety to do this, but currently they are only used to respond to complaints. Walters said he did not believe that they should be driving around and jotting down violations.

Ottino asked about Walters’ views on finances because people were expecting more and the current finances are not expanding to meet the demand, so he thought a special assessment might be necessary. Walters said he needed to be convinced of what was being done with the current income and whether residents were getting value for money. He said he did not think that the extra assessment would go down well with residents.

Pine Beetle and fire mitigation

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, said there were a couple of common areas where he wanted to do some fire mitigation close to homes. This was particularly suggested for scrub oak concentrations, as this might be cheaper to remove than trees.

Alan McMullen said he was considering putting in a walk at Piney Trail but had not found appropriate equipment to do that. He made the suggestion that there was spare open space money and this might be put toward the fire mitigation now. McMullen would then get money back in 2006 from the refund of the matching grant money.

On the subject of slash removal, Woodman said the original rules required immediate removal. A recent rule change allowed six weeks for removal of slash or dead trees and given the changing circumstances he wanted to change back to 30 days. For diseased trees, he wanted the wording changed to allow for a $100-per-tree fine for non-removal, as incentive.

Other Business

Ottino said he planned on asking for feedback in the upcoming newsletter on the ancillary building rules and on increasing the number of vehicles allowed to be parked outside a home. After some discussion, it was decided that the parking rules had already been determined by residents and that the only question to be asked would be on allowing a 530-square-foot ancillary building.

Mottl got a response from the attorney with regard to entering properties to perform upkeep and maintenance. According to statutes, WIA cannot do that and would continue with its present system of inspecting and then imposing a progressive system of fines.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, October 20: Superintendent Dilley to resign

By Tommie Plank

The Board accepted Dave Dilley’s request to resign his position of Superintendent of Schools in District 38 effective June 30, 2006. His retirement will mark the completion of a 32-year career in education.

Board members stated their appreciation for the leadership Dilley has shown during his 11 years with the district, first as director of student and personnel services, and the last three years as superintendent. Calling him a true servant-leader and "the right man for the time," board members said they look forward to working with him the remainder of this school year.

The Board hired Educational Leadership Search Associates, Inc. (ELSA) to assist in the process of filling the upcoming superintendent vacancy. ELSA is a team of experienced professionals in the field of public education, comprised of (former District 38 superintendent) Dallas Strawn, Don Crist, and Kathie Crume.

Board members Hugh Eaton and Bob Manning will be leaving their positions as Board Directors due to term limitations following the election. Dilley and the other board members thanked them for the time and commitment they have shown to District 38 and its students over the past eight years. Later in the meeting, Manning presented a PowerPoint tribute to the last eight years of his involvement on the board.

The official Oct. 1 pupil enrollment count shows a Full Time Equivalency of 5,758 students for the entire district (5,031 not including Monument Charter Academy). This is an overall growth of 3.69 percent for the entire district.

The Board appointed Donna Wood to serve as public information officer to assist with communication in the district. She will be working half-time in this newly created position.

The Board authorized the superintendent to organize a Traffic Forum similar in format to that used last spring by the Growth Coalition. The forum will study the impact of traffic on current school operations and on future potential new school sites. Noting that, while traffic is not the school district’s responsibility, the Board and superintendent will nevertheless take the lead to invite area officials who are knowledgeable about local traffic to work on this community issue.

The Board approved an Extra-Territorial Service Agreement with Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District (WWSD) to maintain the water and sanitation systems at Prairie Winds Elementary School at a lower rate, due to the school’s reduced demand on these systems. Phil Steininger of WWSD proposed the agreement, and Dilley pointed to this new agreement as yet one more example of what a good community partner Steininger has been to the school district.

Reports to the board included Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) Student Council President Mike Laband, who spoke of the driver safety campaign and Harvest of Love drive, in which the LPHS Student Council is currently involved.

District Accountability Advisory Committee president Becky Yoder discussed the October meeting, which included breakout workshop discussions concerning respect, communication, and boundary and transportation issues.

Ray Blanch reported that District 38 achieved 70 of the 74 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets for the last school year. AYP is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and is determined by the Colorado Department of Education using only the CSAP test. The only areas not making AYP in District 38 were in categories of middle and high school students with Individualized Education Plans.

Two new informational articles are posted on the district’s Web site, www.lewispalmer.org.: "Standards Based Report Cards," under the Curriculum category, presents the new report cards now being used in district elementary schools; and the "Board of Education Presentation on Growth Coalition Study," which discusses the questions and concerns that were raised during the recent presentations of the board’s findings from the Growth Coalition Study.

The school board presented commendations to the following people: Noel Eggers, Howard Eggers, Lisa Mitchell, Gale Hasselbach, Jan Jarka, Julie Keim, and Pat Cimino for their exemplary work as officers of the local oversight committee for the Colorado Preschool Project; Lorrie Bechaver for her organizational work on the Fall Institute; Lisa Ruhnow for her work as Lewis-Palmer Elementary School (LPES) Parent-Teacher Organization president; and Chris Bains and Yvette Brown for their work on LPES Building Advisory and Accountability Committee.

The newly elected board members will be sworn in at a special meeting Nov. 10 at 7 p.m., and the board will then conduct its election of officers to reorganize the board. The next regular meeting of the board will be Nov. 17. Both meetings will be held at the Administration Building.

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October Weather Wrap

Below: Oct. 11, the day after our big snowstorm. Photo by Bill Kappel taken 1/2 mile east of Highway 83 and Walker Rd.

Click here or on the photo to zoom in and see more photos

Click on the photo to zoom in and see more photos

By Bill Kappel

The month started off on the dry and mild side as highs reached into the upper 70s and low 80s for the first weekend of October. But just when you thought winter would take its time to return, the Tri-Lakes region got a rude awakening.

A cold front made itself felt during the evening of the 4th, blasting through between 6 and 7 p.m., with a dramatic drop in temperatures and gusty north winds. Temperatures quickly fell from the mild 60s to the low 40s in about 10 to 15 minutes. Rain developed during the evening, along with some low clouds and fog.

Skies cleared out by the next morning, and temperatures dropped into the 20s. Clear skies and cool mornings were the rule for the next few days as highs moderated back to above-average levels by the 7th and 8th, reaching all the way back into the 70s. Ah, but Mother Nature was just recharging herself, as a major winter storm was taking shape.

The first touches of the storm were seen early on the 9th as clouds filled in and temperatures cooled. The storm continued to intensify during the day, and rain showers were common by noon throughout the area. As the storm deepened over the southeast plains, cold air was drawn down the Front Range and extra lift was added from the strengthening storm. Precipitation continued to intensify and turned to snow around 8 p.m. Winds also continued to increase, and soon blizzard conditions were felt across the region. Snow piled up quickly, and roads became nearly impassable by late that night.

The snow continued to fall and blow around all of the 10th as well, snapping trees and stressing residents. The storm began to wind down late on the 10th with only a few lingering flurries left by early the next morning.

That was quite a storm for us, because it occurred about two to three weeks earlier than normal. Many areas around the Tri-Lakes region, and points north and east through Limon, received 12-24 inches of wet snow and 2-3 inches of liquid equivalent moisture—not bad for the second week of October and an awfully good start to the snow season.

Temperatures moderated in the following afternoons, moving from the 40s on the 11th and 12th to the 60s by the 14th and 15th. The weather remained fairly quiet to start off the third week of October. Conditions changed quickly during the early morning hours of the 19th, however, as a storm system moved over Colorado from the west. This storm had plenty of lift, but not a lot of cold air or moisture.

It resulted in rain and thunderstorms before sunrise on the 19th that were accompanied by some hail as temperatures hovered in the mid 30s to low 40s. Upslope flow pushed in as the storm departed, resulting in low clouds and fog throughout the afternoon and evening hours, but the lift and deeper moisture had already left the area, so we didn’t see any more precipitation. Highs struggled to reach above 40 throughout the day after starting around 50 at midnight.

We were on a roller coaster ride for the next few days around the region. Highs reached back into the 60s on the 20th before dipping back into the upper 40s and low 50s behind a push of cool air that brought morning fog and low clouds on the 21st. This cleared out quickly and left the 22nd sunny and mild, before another shot of shallow, cool moist air moved in, bringing more low clouds and fog for 23rd. This too cleared out by mid-afternoon, but highs stayed in the low to mid 40s.

The last week of the month started with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures from the 24th to the 29th, but as usual, cold air and some snow returned just before Halloween. A storm system rolled through the region, with rain changing to snow during the afternoon of the 30th, leaving behind cool temperatures and a dusting of snow for trick-or-treaters.

A Look Ahead

The month of November can be an active weather month and often turns out to be one of the snowier months of winter. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to low 40s by the end, with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits. Most years, the first sub-zero temperatures are recorded in November as well.

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

October 2005 Weather Statistics

Average High 59.7°F
Average Low 31.0°F
Highest Temperature 79°F (on the 2nd, 3rd)
Lowest Temperature 20°F (on the 11th, 31st)
Monthly Precipitation 2.99"
Monthly Snowfall 24.1"
Season to Date Snow 24.1" (snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 7.20" (precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

For more detailed weather information and climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/Weather.htm.

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday 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

I’m not going to take it any more

I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but in cases of war, the Army, the Marines, the Navy and the Air Force come together as one force to fight the battle. Every community within the area will be affected by the actions of the developers of the proposed Promontory Pointe and Baptist Camp projects and the extensive work on Baptist Road needed to accommodate these subdivisions. We ALL must join together in a joint effort to protect our homes and ourselves.

Beyond the traffic problems and the year or more of commotion, dirt, and noise, there is an even more serious problem–the underground water depletion (receding, diminishing, lowering, going down about 35 feet a year). The more homes and people that come into this area, the faster the depletion of water will happen. If there were no other reason to fight these developments, the cause of protecting our water resource is enough to cause all of us to do battle. As Ben Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately."

Every community in the whole of Colorado Springs and beyond should all become one unit and determine our own destiny. Don’t leave such important decisions in the hands of a few elected politicians who are easily swayed by the power of the developers. It’s like sending a high school football team on the field with the Denver Broncos.

I often wonder, "Who is really in charge of our city, the developers or the elected politicians?" From what I saw in the County Commissioners’ meeting during our battle over the proposed Wal-Mart on Baptist Road, the Wal-Mart developers were definitely going to win if not for the residents who came and stood their ground.

I pray our politicians will get the backbone (and they will, with our support and guidance) to say enough is enough and put some sort of a moratorium on all this "uncontrolled" development that is "everywhere" around ALL our communities.

Honestly, I do not blame the developers for our problems; they are out to make the big bucks, and that is their right. It’s as much our own fault as it is the politicians. We, the people, trust our politicians to protect us and we abandon our responsibilities and take the attitude that they are there to see that we don’t get hurt. They are not doing their job because we are not doing ours. If ever they needed us, it’s now! If they don’t listen to us—well, that’s another problem, one we can jointly handle.

Take a lesson from that movie where the newscaster told the people to get up out of their chairs and go outside, or stick their heads out the window, and shout, "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!" Come to the town meetings, the county meetings, and homeowner association meetings and experience that feeling of taking control of your own destiny. By your actions, you can say: "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore."

Gene Scalf

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Best Durn Reads...Encore!

By the Staff at Covered Treasures

In this third addition of BDRs, the entire staff at Covered Treasures is contributing. We hope you enjoy some of our recent, and not so recent, favorites. We began semi-annually to share books with you that didn’t obviously fit into any specific category, and we continue here—just in time for holiday shopping for someone on your list, or just for you, because you deserve the best.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
By Lisa See, $21.95

This one is part The Red Tent, part The Secret Life of Bees, and part Memoirs of a Geisha. Like each of these "best durn reads," this one will astound you. The novel is many things at once: a portrait of a patriarchal culture that valued sons and banished girls to a lesser sphere; an exploration of friendship in all its ups and downs, jealousies, loyalties, and betrayals; and a comment on the spiritual meaning (or emptiness) of tradition, ritual, and ceremony. The wonder of this book is that it takes readers to a place at once foreign and familiar–foreign because of its time and setting, yet familiar because we all inhabit this landscape of love and sorrow.

The Wild Girl: The Notebook of Ted Giles, 1932
By Jim Fergus, $23.95

Like adventure? History? Romance? This novel is for you. You may already be familiar with Colorado author Jim Fergus’ bestseller, 1000 White Women; this book is a worthy second effort. Set at the height of the Great Depression, this is the adventure of Ned Giles, a 17-year-old orphan who answers an "advert" in a Chicago newspaper asking for volunteers for the Great Apache Expedition. Through sheer luck and determination, he is selected to join the eclectic cast of rich characters, and the novel unfolds with rip-roaring adventures and depictions of the lushness and harshness of the Mexican canyon lands. One cannot help but want to jump on Ned’s mule and follow the narrow trails of the canyons and ride forever.

Angle of Repose
By Wallace Stegner, $13.95

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1971, Angle of Repose has also been selected by the editorial board of the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. Lyman Ward is a noted historian who relates a fictionalized biography of his pioneer grandparents at a time when he has become estranged from his own family. Through a combination of research, memory, and exaggeration, Ward voices ideas concerning the relationship between history and the present, art and life, parents and children, husbands and wives. Set in many parts of the West, Angle of Repose is a story of discovery–personal, historical, and geographical–that endures as Wallace Stegner’s masterwork.

Julie and Julia
365 Days, 524 Recipes and 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

By Julie Powell, $23.95

If I described this nonfiction gem as delicious, there would be a bit of a pun intended. Thirty-something and stuck in a dead-end job, Julie Powell decides to get "unstuck." She uses 60 pounds of butter while cooking all 524 recipes in one calendar year from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. You could call this a cooking memoir, but that description would miss the parts about Julia Child and her romance with husband, Paul; Julie’s penchant for tantrums and midnight meals; blogging and the responsibilities one incurs by beginning a blog and then having to "answer" one’s bloggees; and the fame and "fortune" that followed from this most personal challenge and journey. And, as an extra bonus, you learn an enormous amount about cooking! Lots of fun!

Waiting for Teddy Williams
By Howard Frank Mosher, $13.00

The Red Sox finally broke the curse of the Bambino last season. Even to those for whom baseball is a big yawn, it was exciting. This novel is about a small town and a young boy (Ethan Allen, known as E.A.), and his passion and talent for baseball and the Red Sox. One day, a drifter comes by and takes a keen interest in E.A. and his amazing baseball abilities. The drifter coaches E.A. in all aspects of the game, and the reader learns right along with him. Questions abound: Will the Red Sox win the World Series this year and will E.A. have any part in the game? Who is the drifter and why is he aiding in E.A.’s training? Author Mosher captures not only the excitement of the game but also the color of the region with the following passage:

The Home of the Boston Red Sox was the most colorful place he had ever seen. The ball park as it filled up reminded him of the Kingdom in the fall, with each bright-sleeved shirt and top and cap a different splash of foliage on an autumnal mountainside. The square, gleaming white bases, the snowy chalk lines newly laid down on the red dirt of the infield, the shimmering emerald of the natural grass under the lights, the deeper green of the fabled wall in left field, the cardinal red of the players’ socks–it was all dazzling.

Now, doesn’t that make you want to catch a flight to Boston to witness the beauty of good ol’ Fenway Park?

Mountains Beyond Mountains
The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

By Tracy Kidder, $14.95

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tracy Kidder (Soul of a New Machine, Among School Children, and his latest, My Detachment) brings his amazing talents to the difficult job of capturing Paul Farmer, M.D., healer, charismatic leader, and visionary. It was a struggle when reading this book to describe my feelings about Farmer. Fortunately, the reviewer from Newsday says it perfectly: "His complicated humanity only makes him more like the rest of us in our shortcomings—and leaves us asking why we all aren’t a little more like him in our virtues." Harvard-educated, Farmer finds his life’s calling and his passion—indeed, his soul—in developing programs, procuring funding, and training medical personnel to confront infectious disease in one of the most medically needy places in the world: Haiti. This is an amazing book about an amazing human being.

So there you have it, our latest set of favorites. As we light candles and cozy in for the winter, perhaps one of these titles will please either you or someone on your holiday list.

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High Country Highlights: Fall care for roses

By Woody Woodworth

Now that summer is over and winter is near, here are some basic tips to help protect roses and keep them healthy throughout the winter.

The rule of green thumb is that when roses have seen three consecutive hard freezes in a row, they’re dormant. A hard freeze is defined as at least 28 degrees. Except for our southernmost points, most of our region has already shivered through that kind of weather. If, by Thanksgiving or so, you haven’t had temperatures that cold, you can prune climbing roses anyway.

Fall pruning is preventive medicine for climbing roses, but leave your rose bushes alone until spring. When we remove all that top growth from the climbers, we take away the wind’s ability to rock the roses loose from their root system. Lop off the rose canes at about 2 feet high–all the same height, nothing fancy right now. Then strip off all remaining leaves. When we remove all the leaves, we ensure that the roses will go into dormancy even if they haven’t seen those days with hard freezes. And we eliminate a lot of hiding places for fungi and insect eggs.

Put everything you removed into a trash bag, then rake up all the rose debris you can from the garden floor and add that to the bag. Don’t compost it. The insects and diseases on that rose debris can easily survive composting. You want to make sure there is at least a 3-inch layer of protective mulch covering the entire root zone. That’s in addition to the 6 inches or so of mulch (leaves, grass, bark chips, straw) you’re going to pile up over the graft and as high on the canes as you can. That will protect the roses from winter’s fluctuating temperatures by keeping them cold.

Most rose bushes meet their doom from the rollercoaster fluctuations in temperatures and lack of moisture. When your rose bushes are dormant (the foliage has ripened, current season’s wood is hardened off, and many of the leaves have fallen) be sure to give them a good, deep drink. Moisture is often lacking in late fall and early winter, so this watering is essential to charge the soil supporting the roses’ root systems.

Soon after, as the ground begins to freeze, it’s time to apply mulch around those varieties that are grafted. A grafted rose has a swollen knob at the base of the bush where the specific variety was budded. This part of the plant is most vulnerable to winter damage from temperature swings and wind exposure.

An easy and inexpensive way to mulch is to throw a couple of shovels of loose, compost-enriched soil around the base of the bush. You can pile this "mulching soil" 10 to 12 inches deep around the crown. Some gardeners use rose collars that are designed to hold the mulch in place. They’re easy to use and an inexpensive way to protect and hold the compost around your roses. Place them around each bush and fill each collar with soil or compost.

Our autumn has been reasonably warm, golden, and wonderful, but this won’t last much longer. Take advantage of the nice days and stockpile some loose soil and compost mix, like EKO compost. Cover it with a tarp to keep it from eroding away and to keep out weed seeds. It will be ready to use when winter mulching time arrives.

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: Migration

Below: Photo by Gil Moore of a Red-naped Sapsucker. The photo was taken in his backyard. 

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Clcik on the photo to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

As November approaches, most migratory songbirds have left the Palmer Divide for their winter ranges. In some ways, this is a sad time of the year for birders, but it is during such transitional seasons that it is occasionally possible to spot a bird that is uncommon to this area. Spotting them may occur after a storm or change in the weather due to "fall-out." While we birders are elated when we find a recuperating migrant, we also understand that for every bird that survives, there are many more that perish.

Why would a territorial bird leave its hard-won piece of real estate to fly to parts unknown? During migration, birds expend an enormous amount of energy and their mortality risk is high. While ornithologists are still studying this question, they have begun to understand some fundamentals of bird migration and navigation. According to David Allen Sibley, the reason many birds migrate north is for seasonally abundant food supplies, to avoid numerous nest predators and parasites found in warmer climates, to take advantage of longer days to forage for food, and to breed.

There are distinct variations in navigation and migration among bird species. For instance, some migrants make long, non-stop flights, while others make a series of shorter flights, stopping to refuel along the way. Some birds migrate very long distances, moving from their breeding territory in the Arctic to their winter homes south of the border. Short-distance migrants may breed in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains and move to lower elevations to winter in the lowlands.

Some bird species, such as the western tanager, completely leave their breeding range, while others only partially leave. The dark-eyed junco adult female migrates the farthest south of its species each winter, while the young males tend to remain near their northern breeding ground so that they will be in position to establish a territory before the socially dominant adult males return in the spring.

Birds that soar, such as hawks and other large birds, rely on thermals, or columns of warm air that occur as the surface of the earth heats up during the day, to propel them high into the sky. Soaring birds migrate along these thermals while using their keen eyesight to hunt for food. They then rest at night.

Nocturnal migrants, including the thrushes (bluebirds), wood warblers, and vireos, use the setting sun and the stars to navigate. They tend to migrate in huge flocks; because of their large numbers, when they take flight they appear as a cloud on radar.

One of the perks of writing about birds for OCN is the calls and e-mails I receive from readers. Last month, Gil Moore e-mailed information about a bird I have not observed before. He reported that during the final week of September, a male red-naped sapsucker spent every daylight hour on an old, gnarled Russian olive tree that overhangs his back deck. The sapsucker is a woodpecker that pecks rows of holes in the trunk of a tree in an effort to sip the sap that slowly oozes from them. Gil was able to get close enough to take the wonderful photo of the bird shown below and said that his presence did not deter it from feeding.

Because I have never encountered the red-naped sapsucker, I looked up this species in Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds of the Western North America only to learn that it is a summer resident in Colorado. Because we were both surprised to find it here, I called Ben Sorensen, who oversees the bird count each year for the Aiken Audubon Society in Colorado Springs. He told me that, while they were uncommon at this altitude, the red-naped sapsucker was indeed a summer resident in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains and that he often spots them around Divide.

Birds traditionally follow flyways, geographical routes along rivers and mountain chains, to migrate between summer and winter habitats. Studies of these routes have revealed that dispersions and variations frequently occur within migratory patterns. This past spring, many birders reported seeing flocks of cedar and Bohemian waxwings. While uncommon, sightings are reported about every 10 years. According to local ornithologist and photographer Stephen Vaughn, "Birds don’t read the guidebooks," so sometimes you can expect the unexpected, especially during seasons of migration.

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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Art Matters: Art, Pop Art, or Plop Art

By Janet Sellers

Art adds more visual impact for a space than any other element. Globally and nationally, many communities look increasingly to creating a renaissance between the relationship of artists and the local communities. Here in Colorado, fine art is considered so important to the community, tourism, and cultural enrichment that the Denver area alone has laws stipulating public construction projects to reserve 3 percent purely for fine art.

Art adds style, personality, and color, and can serve to open up space, balance a room, or offer refreshment on a blank wall. In all cases, how the art is arranged can make all the difference. Artwork that is in the landscape or horizontal format can widen a narrow room or hallway. Adding height to a room may seem impossible, but it is a simple matter when using the right art or arrangement of frames.

Hanging art can be difficult. How high should a picture be? How does one group a collection? Is it gauche to use colored mats or frames? These are questions that could stump one in deciding what goes up and how, especially in the home or corporate lobby. Arranging and hanging art is reportedly the most baffling issue to most decorators, yet it is by far the most cost-effective design solution for private as well as public scale projects. And a fine art asset goes with you when you move, unlike a fine art mural or frieze that remains part of the real estate value.

In planning for two-dimensional art as a design solution, the artwork size and scale is relative to the presentation for impact or stature. Small images in large frames or grouped en masse gain prominence when framed in the same color or using repetitive elements in the frames. Museums and fine art galleries respect the integrity of the artworks by using "museum white" or other neutral matting, although it is not impossible to have some success with a colored liner, called a fillet, in the framing of the piece.

Serious collectors stay away from colors in the matting and framing so as not to compete with appreciation of the artwork. Staying with neutral colored, compatible mats and frames is a safe bet. Choosing black, metallic, and the myriad browns in woods is fairly standard practice, as reflected in the endless choices for frame moldings in those hues.

A substantial frame and mat for a small image is brilliant due to the size contrast. The rule of thumb is that the bigger the mat around the art, the more stature is accorded to the image.

Delicate works such as watercolors, pastels, and fine art prints use mats, frames, and glass for a protected presentation. Varnished original oil or acrylic paintings don’t tend to be limited to picture frames or typical colors for effective presentation. They are often especially well-suited for canvas or wood panels, and can be "gallery wrapped" (the artwork’s canvas is wrapped around to the back of substrates of 1 to 3 inches in depth)—or the artist may prefer an innovative approach for visual impact sans any frame and use grommets, raw edges, or simple edge moldings as a finish to wood panels or the canvas panels. The latter presentation methods impart a stylish, modern effect, rather free and uncontained, with the artwork right up against the wall or slightly offset.

In European Salon style picture presentation, the wall is covered end to end. Framed pictures from chest level to the ceiling (and even on the ceiling) fill the gallery. By contrast, American and Asian museum/gallery viewing more often remains just at eye level along a wall, uncluttered and allowing for an independent, personal visual experience.

Below: Photo from Janet Sellers’ exhibit - screened watermedia on paper

Click here or on the photo to zoom in and see additional photos

Click on the photo to zoom in and see additional photos

**********

This month, our community has an abundance of art exhibitions and events every week, and a number of shows begin this month and next.

Art Hop Update! Encore, Nov. 17

Eight galleries will keep the monthly art evenings going, including special openings. Some of those openings include:

Winter Gallery, 47 Third St.: Gala Grand Opening of the Winter Gallery to be held on Nov. 17, 5-8 p.m. Enjoy the eclectic mix of local and regional art and artists, as Steve and Mary welcome you to their grand event.

Bella Art and Frame: Ezra Tucker is currently the featured artist. His show is mainly of his superbly detailed and crafted paintings of horses and reflects his career-long, brilliant art spirit. In other news for the shop, the previous owner, Susan O’Banion, is back on the scene with current owner, Sabrina Culley. Sabrina will oversee the framing aspect, while Susan will apply her gallery knowledge to transform the shop into a gift boutique destination.

Pankratz Gallery, Second Street and Beacon Lite, John Petet Designs: Beautiful and innovative jewelry designs by John Petet are in a special sales exhibit.

The Tri Lakes Center for the Arts

will feature 50 paintings of watercolorist Robert Gray in a show titled "Cowboys, Horses & Things." It runs Oct. 25-Nov. 12, at the center, located in Palmer Lake, Highway 105, in the yellow Kaiser Fraser Building.

On Fri., Nov. 18, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., there will be a free reception for the opening of the "Great West Show," which explores part of our country’s identity with pieces representing our western heritage. The show runs through Dec. 31.

For more information, call the center at 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

Monument Branch Library

presents Janet Sellers’ solo show, "Mountain, Meadow, Monument," a very contemporary exhibition of artworks as commentary on life in and near Monument. Vibrant, energetic, and colorful, the large-scale works represent Sellers’ first major public exhibition in Colorado. Open every day in November.

Calls for Artists

Tri-Lakes Area and Northern El Paso County: Join in the establishment of an annual Northern El Paso County Artists’ Studio Tour commencing in September 2006, to educate the public and promote the visual arts, artists and galleries in the region.

The core group of artists and galleries involved are seeking additional participation by artists in the Tri-Lakes area and northern El Paso County. Please send five slides of your work and your resume by Nov. 30 to Burink Sculpture Studio, 1550 Woodmoor Dr., Monument 80132. This is a unique opportunity for artists in all media to join fellow artists in promoting their own art by welcoming people into their studios to see what it takes to create original artwork. For additional information, contact Ruth Burink, 481-0513.

ArtFest: Celebration of local artists in all media. A call for artists is in the works for a January/February Snowball Festival, an indoor winter season of fine art and innovative gifts. The exhibition will be online and in the gallery location to be announced. Proceeds benefit local community arts projects. For artists, there will be awards of cash prizes. Collectors/buyers making purchases will receive an art collector’s certificate and will be eligible for a prize drawing. For more information, entry guidelines, fees, and details, visit http://comoca.tripod.com. The deadline for artists’ online digital entries is Dec. 15; send jpg images to artsalons@mac.com.

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 (9-11:30 a.m.) include breakfast biscotti; Saturday afternoon salon meets for a quick bite and then off to the galleries. Contact information: artsalons@mac.com; class art galleries and registration at www.startmyart.com, or phone 488-8280.

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Tri-Lakes Cares receives donations

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

Below: The Tri-Lakes Cruisers held their annual Benefit Car Show on June 19th 2005. The proceeds from the show were donated to Tri-Lakes Cares of Monument, Colorado. On August 3rd a check in the amount of $2,000 was presented to Judith Pttibone, Executive Director of Tri-Lakes Cares. Judith stated that she is "very appreciative of the broad base of support that Tri-Lakes Cares receives from the community. This is the second year that proceeds from the show were donated to Tri-Lakes Cares. In the picture presenting the check are L to R: Barbara Cook, Judith Pttibone, Barbara Beeson, Pat Doucett and Dick Cissell. Photo provided by Dick Cissell

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: The Greater Monument Plaza Merchants Association presents a check for $2,867 to Carrie Oliver (2nd from left) and Judith Pettibone (3rd from left) of Tri-Lakes Cares. Merchant representatives are (left to right) Karen Evans, Sandy Bauers, Fay Vogel (holding grandson Eric Smith), P.J. Harshman, Genny Natvig, and Lela Nemmers (not pictured). The proceeds from the first "Dance at the Plaza" were divided equally between Tri-Lakes Cares and the Monument Hill Sertoma Club. Tri-Lakes Cares will receive matching funds from the Gates Family Foundation in Denver to make their new building energy efficient. The first "Dance at the Plaza" was a fantastic success raising over $5,500.00! Photo provided by Sandy Bauers

Click on the photo to zoom in

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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.

Sierra Club presents an evening with John Fielder, "Colorado’s Photographer"

John Fielder is a nationally renowned photographer and conservationist, author of several books including Mountain Ranges of Colorado and Colorado 1870-2000, which is Colorado’s all-time best-selling book and was recently updated as a second edition. Fielder will be speaking and autographing his books and calendars at All Souls Unitarian Church in the Great Hall on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and a portion of the sales will be donated to the Pikes Peak chapter of the Sierra Club. This is a great opportunity to meet this famous photographer, ask questions, and buy signed copies of his books and calendars for holiday gifts. The Unitarian Church is at 730 N. Tejon in Colorado Springs. For information, phone 481-0085.

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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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Pine Creek Holiday Bazaar

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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Local Libraries Celebrate The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Join a celebration of the beloved children’s classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe of the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, in anticipation of the December release of the feature film. You may win a special prize, and you can create a craft based on one of the Narnia characters, as well as sample some other Narnia delights. Come in a costume if you wish. No registration required. This program is suggested for school-age children.

  • Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. - Palmer Lake Branch, 66 Lower Glenway, 481-2587

  • Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m. - Monument Branch, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., 488-2370.

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Western Museum of Mining & Industry’s Super Saturday: Art Rocks!

On Nov. 12, 1 to 3 p.m., local artist Steve Wood returns to assist the museum’s staff with an afternoon of art, science, and fun for the whole family. Steve will explain how his study of geology has impacted his artistic works, including the Uncle Wilber Fountain Mosaic, the Transit Building Mural, and WMMI’s own award-winning Mining Through History Mural. Steve will also highlight the work of the nonprofit organization Concrete Couch, which works to create community through public art projects. The museum’s staff will give an overview of the mineralogy and chemistry involved in mined art materials including paint pigments and clay. Afterward, everyone will make a piece of art to take home! The cost is ­$3, and reservations are suggested. To reach the museum take I-25 to the Gleneagle exit (156A); the entrance is immediately east of the interstate. For reservations and information, phone 488-0880, or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Gleneagle Women’s Club Annual Art & Crafts Fair and Book Sale

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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Ski/Snowboard/Skate/Bike Swap

The Lewis-Palmer High School ski/snowboard club is hosting their first Ski/Snowboard/Skate/Bike Swap on Nov. 19, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School. Nov. 18 is the day for people to drop-off their used equipment/clothing, 3:30 to 8 p.m., with pick-up Nov. 20, 2-5 p.m. Admission is $1 which includes a ticket for door prizes to be drawn hourly. There will also be movies and a concession. A percentage of the proceeds will go to the ski/snowboard and mountain bike clubs to be used for activities and trips. For information, phone 243-3524.

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Palmer Lake’s Chili Supper

This popular fundraiser will be Nov. 26, 5–8:30 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. All proceeds go toward maintaining the Palmer Lake Star on Sundance Mountain, which will be lit at approximately 8 p.m., as part of the Chili Supper festivities. There will be door prizes and a bucket raffle. One lucky raffle winner will be the one to light the star! To donate prizes or for more information, phone the Palmer Lake Town Office at 481-2953.

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First Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert

A two-piano concert with Dr. Michael Baron and Renato Premezzi to be held Dec. 3 will feature sounds from The Nutcracker Suite, mixed with Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, and more. The remaining concerts in the series will be held Jan. 21, Mar. 5, and Apr. 8

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.

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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Riders in the Sky Concert

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and Classic Companies present Grammy-winning Western music group Riders In The Sky Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Lewis-Palmer High School auditorium in Monument. Riders In The Sky grounds their music in the rich American traditions of such legendary cowboy singers as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and the Sons of the Pioneers. The four performers infuse humor with musical performance sure to entertain music lovers of all ages. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to enjoy an afternoon of legendary fun! Visit www.trilakesarts.org for further information. Tickets are available at www.ticketswest.com or by calling (800) 464-2626.

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Monument’s Small Town Christmas

Get into the holiday spirit Dec. 3 in historic downtown Monument, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities throughout the day include crafts for kids starting at 10 a.m. in the Town Hall, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at 10 a.m. in the Chapala Building on Second Street, a historical walking tour departing Limbaugh Park at 1 p.m., hayrides 11 a.m.-1 p.m. leaving from High Country Store–which will also have cupcake decorating, carolers and entertainment throughout the day, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and other family activities. Galleries and shops will be offering holiday treats and special sales. There will be a potato bake in Town Hall, 3 to 5 p.m., with proceeds going to the Red Cross Hurricane Fund. Bring a donation of boxed pie crust or canned pie filling for Tri-Lakes Cares to any Gallery Center Shop for a 10 percent discount on your purchase. For information call 488-8306.

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Yule Log Potluck

Bring a dish to share and come enjoy the festivities Dec. 6, 5 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. For information, call the town office at 481-2953.

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Handbell Concert

All are invited to the annual Tri-Lakes Community Christmas Handbell Concert Dec. 10, 7 p.m., at Monument Community Presbyterian Church, 238 Third St. The free concert will feature multiple handbell choirs, chimes, the Monument Hill Brass Quintet, organ and piano, and a sing-a-long. For more information, phone Betty Jenik at 488-3853.

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Yule Log Hunt

This popular event takes place Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. It is recommended that hunt participants arrive between 11 a.m. and noon. The winner will ride the Yule Log back to town and get the first cup of wassail. Those not participating in the hunt can stay indoors to help make wassail and enjoy a holiday program and other fun activities. For more information call the town office at 481-2953.

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Tri-Lakes Music Association Concert

The Tri-Lakes Music Association is performing a Christmas concert series at Lewis-Palmer High School on Dec. 16 and 17 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. The proceeds from this event will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares, a nonprofit organization.

The Tri-Lakes Music Association’s orchestra and choir will perform Phil Barfoot’s "Spirit of Christmas." The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir and the Tri-Lakes Music Association Children’s Choir will also entertain. Admission is free and a free-will offering for Tri-Lakes Cares will be collected during the concert. For more information, contact Bob Manning at 481-3883 or rwmanning@adelphia.net, or visit www.trilakesmusic.org.

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Local author writes biography of pioneer conservationist

Filter Press announces a new biography, Enos Mills: Rocky Mountain Naturalist, by Colorado storyteller, outdoorsman, and award-winning author John Stansfield. Enos Mills (1870-1922) was the driving force behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park and lived a remarkable mountain life. Nature photographer John Fielder stated, "Enos Mills influenced Americans and their appreciation for all things wild and natural. As a role model, Mills affected much of what I have done in my own career and without him my life would have been incomplete. John Stansfield brings to life a man whose passion for life must never be forgotten."

Stansfield is the author of Writers of the American West: Multicultural Learning Encounters and recipient of a Colorado Authors League Award and finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2002. He presents a one-man performance reenacting key moments in the life of Enos Mills, as well as numerous other storytelling programs and workshops. The Wilderness Society presented him an Environmental Heroes Award in 2004 for his longtime work in wilderness preservation.

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