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Our Community News - Home Vol. 5 No. 7 - July 2, 2005

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Tri-Lakes celebrates Independence Day

July 4th 2003 Photos and More July 4th 2003 Photos

Photos by George Barnes

Click on the photo to see more July 4th 2003 photos

Click on the photo to see more July 4th 2003 photos

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July 4th 2004 Photos

Below: Monument Hill Marching Band. Photo by Jim Kendrick:

Click on the photo to see more July 4th 2004 photos

Below: Palmer Lake Fireworks. Photo by Kim Makower:

Click on the photo to see more July 4th 2004 photos

The Tri-Lakes area is a great place to celebrate the Fourth of July. Activities begin early, at 7:30 a.m., with Palmer Lake Elementary’s four-mile run to Limbach Park in Monument. The starting point is the Palmer Lake Santa Fe Trailhead.

The Town of Monument celebrates Independence Day each year with a parade that draws over 100 entries. The parade is known as the "biggest small town parade in Colorado!" The Monument Hill Sertoma Club continues to sponsor and marshal the parade, as it has for over 12 years.

The parade will wind its way through downtown Monument starting with the children’s parade at 9:30 a.m. The main parade starts at 10 a.m. Youngsters participating in the children’s parade should assemble in the south parking lot of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, located at First Street and Jefferson by 8:30 a.m. No entry form is required for the children’s parade; just show up with decorated tricycles, bicycles, wagons, animals, etc.—but no skateboards or motorized scooters. Ribbons will be presented to all participants.

Many of the familiar entries are returning this year, and new entries have been added. The Monument Hill Marching Band, composed of LPHS students, will lead the parade. Many Sertoma, political, and esteem color guards will be there. The Al Kaly Shrine will have its entire group of clowns, small car drill teams, and the famous 20 Mule Team. The Pikes Peak Highlanders and Color Guard, local artist/musician Joe Bohler, and the Tri-Lakes Woman’s Club will provide additional musical entries.

Returning this year are the KSPZ "Yellow Submarine" van, Muzzleloaders, Safeway Buggy Brigade, Cowboy Steve, El Paso Mounted Sheriff Unit, Pikes Peak Soap Box Derby winner, regional fire departments, scouting organizations, classic cars clubs, individuals, and businesses. The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Girl of the West Corliss Palmer, the current El Paso County Fair Queen Pam Dawson and Rangerettes, and the Larkspur Renaissance Festival King and Queen, jesters, camels, elephants, and jugglers will be returning for your entertainment.

Jim Berry of Citadel Broadcasting Company’s KSPZ Oldies FM 92.9 will simulcast the parade for the fourth year. Over 30 awards are given to the outstanding entries. Parking is available at Palmer Lake Elementary School, Lewis-Palmer High School, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, Creekside Middle School, and the new Monument Park and Ride, with free shuttle buses running continuously between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The drop-off points are Vitamin Cottage, on Beacon Lite at Highway 105, and at the corner of 2nd Street and Beacon Lite.

After the parade, visit the street fair in downtown Monument, where you’ll find delicious things to eat and drink, and interesting things to buy, including many handcrafted items. The Monument Hill Sertoma booth will be selling 4th of July T-shirts at bargain prices. Also, watch for their roving sales people selling hats, bandanas, noisemakers, and much more. All proceeds help defray the cost of the parade.

The festivities continue in Palmer Lake at the ball field on Highway 105 at the south end of town. An inflatable playground by Daisy Twist, old-fashioned games and fun by Kiwanis, vendors, and live bands will entertain from 2:30 to 8:45 p.m. The holiday culminates with a dazzling fireworks display over the lake at nightfall.

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Red Rocks Ranch Homeowners’ Association, June 13: Prosecutor discusses Unger embezzlement case

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By John Heiser

The prosecutor for the criminal case against Patricia Unger met with residents at the Red Rocks Ranch Homeowners’ Association (RRRHOA) meeting June 13. Unger is accused of embezzling $315,000 from the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD).

Robyn Cafasso, Senior Deputy District Attorney for the State Fourth Judicial District, said Unger is charged with one count of theft, which is a felony, and 16 counts of forgery. Cafasso said conviction on the theft charge would automatically include conviction on the forgery charges. She added that there were more instances of alledged forgery, but the 16 specific documents were chosen based on the "egregiousness of the forgery and the amount."

Cafasso said that if convicted of a felony, Unger would have a permanent criminal record and could receive a sentence of up to 12 years in prison. Cafasso said, "It is my position that she should go to prison."

Cafasso noted that alternative sentences include probation or community correction and that residents of the FVAWD can address the judge prior to sentencing, which would come 6-8 weeks after a guilty verdict or plea.

Cafasso cited a recent first-time conviction in an $350,000 embezzlement case in which the defendant received six months in county jail with work release and 15 years probation. In another case, she said a convicted embezzler of $1.5 million received a 10-year prison sentence.

She said that under the community correction program, inmates are released to work during the day and return to the facility at night. She said there are two private facilities in El Paso County offering community correction. The inmates must pay about $25 per day. Cafasso said she is not a fan of community correction because the $25 per day is not going to victims as restitution.

Cafasso said that in this case, as in virtually every case, some attempt at plea-bargaining occurs. She said, "The purpose is to ensure that justice is met and avoid a trial." She added, "We are lucky to get two trials per year."

In this case, all the parties have agreed to enter into mediation. Cafasso said mediation is like plea-bargaining except that a third party, the mediator, is involved. The mediator in this case is Senior Retired Judge Richard Toff.

The parties to the mediation are Cafasso, Unger, the attorneys in the civil case, and the attorneys in the criminal case. Each of the parties will be in a separate room, and the mediator will shuttle from room to room.

In response to questions, Cafasso said that up to three residents of the district could be present as spectators. Later in the meeting, RRRHOA board member John Sharp was appointed as a spectator. FVAWD board member Brian Cross reported that the FVAWD attorneys in the civil case told him they do not want anyone present except the board’s representatives.

Regarding who accepts or rejects the result of the mediation, Cafasso said, "I represent the people of Colorado and the ultimate decision will be up to me." She said she would consider the wishes of the victims, that is, the wishes of the residents of the FVAWD. She noted that the judge could decline a mediated agreement.

The preliminary district court hearing on the Unger case was continued to July 12, 10 a.m. Mediation is scheduled for July 8, 8:30 a.m.

District resident Ketch Nowacki requested that as a part of any settlement, Cafasso require documentation of what Unger did, when she did it, and who else was involved. He said the residents were interested in whether there was any "deliberate indifference" on the part of the FVAWD board.

Cafasso said that if Unger enters a guilty plea, then she must give a recitation of what she is guilty of. Cafasso said an exit interview of Unger by a detective could be required. She added that an accounting of Unger’s assets could also be a requirement of any mediation agreement.

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Forest View Acres Water District, June 15: Recall initiated against two board members

Below: FVAWD resident Susan Gates reads the recall petitions into the record. Seated at the table (L to R) are board members Barbara Reed-Polatty, Kevin Lonergan, Brian Cross, and John Anderson and contract water operations manager Dan LaFontaine. Photo by John Heiser

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By John Heiser

More than 20 people attended the June 15 special meeting of the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors. The meeting was rescheduled from June 8.

Four of the five directors—Kevin Lonergan, John Anderson, Brian Cross, and Barbara Reed-Polatty—were present. Tom Guenther, president of the district, was out of town on business. Vice president Lonergan presided.

During the meeting, petitions were read into the record calling for the recall of Guenther and Lonergan.

Background

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

In February, a warrant was issued for the arrest of former contract office manager Patricia Unger on charges of embezzling more than $212,000 in district funds. That amount was subsequently increased to $315,000. Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16 and was released on bail awaiting a preliminary hearing, which was initially scheduled for April 18 and then postponed to May 19.

The May 19 hearing was continued to allow time for mediation and completion of the audit by Sheri Betzer, a forensic auditor, hired by the district. Subsequently, the District Attorney’s office consulted with Unger’s lawyers and the facilitator for the mediation, and scheduled mediation for July 8 and continued the preliminary hearing to July 12.

The district has filed a civil suit against Unger to recover the missing funds. The nonbinding mediation is intended to address the civil and criminal aspects of the case.

Public comments

District resident Ketch Nowacki asked the board to name someone other than Guenther and Lonergan as primary representative for the district during the mediation.

Reed-Polatty replied that Cross has volunteered to serve in that role. She added that she has also asked to attend the mediation sessions as an assistant to Cross.

District resident Craig Ketels asked if $315,000 is the actual amount of missing funds. Reed-Polatty replied that the sheriff’s office has evidence to support the $315,000 but that the forensic audit could determine that the total is higher. She added that the audit was to be completed by June 9 and the auditor has submitted an invoice indicating that the work has been completed.

Referring to a recent letter sent to district residents proposing the recall of board members, former board member Jeff Walker suggested that the parties "sit down in a room and discuss the situation." Resident Susan Gates suggested that Walker join the recall committee. She said, "We have open discussions." Former board member Pat Berkart said the letter misstates the situation and the condition of the district.

Resident Ed Taylor asked for an estimate of the attorneys’ costs associated with the Unger case. Lonergan replied, "Tens of thousands of dollars."

Taylor asked if the district would be imposing water restrictions this year. Lonergan replied that water restrictions have been imposed only when there were mechanical failures in the system and those lasted at most one or two weeks.

Former board member Jeff Dull asked for the status of the chlorine problem. Lonergan replied that the water system, like many designed in the late 1960s has one pipe running to the tank. He said, "When the inflow and outflow are balanced, the water in the tank doesn’t move."

Lonergan added that the district currently accumulates water in the tank during the week and then uses the water from the tank during weekends. He said a modern design would include another pipe to the tank so the water continuously flows through the tank, giving more time for the chlorine to act. Adding the second pipe is one of the projects affected by the district’s financial situation.

Lonergan noted that the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is holding grant money that could be used for some additional work.

Operations manager report

Some highlights of LaFontaine’s report:

  • During May, the plant that processes surface water produced 50.31 gallons per minute for 23.3 days for a total of 1.69 million gallons. For the first five months of 2005, the surface plant produced 5.77 million gallons.

  • The Arapahoe well produced 93.7 gallons per minute for 9.6 days for a total of 1.30 million gallons. For the first five months of 2005, the Arapahoe well produced 4.12 million gallons.

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

Billing report

Some highlights of the billing report for May:

  • The district billed 280 accounts for a total of 1.85 million gallons of water.

  • A total of $19,257 was billed for an average of $68.77 per account. Of that amount, $7,280 was for debt service and the remaining $11,977 was for administrative and water usage fees. The debt service funds go to pay off an $880,000 bond issued in 1995 and a $45,000 loan obtained in 2004.

Financial report

Lonergan reported that the operating account balance stands at $18,929, the debt service account stands at $3,601, and the contingency account stands at $1,500.

Invoices paid

The board unanimously approved checks totaling $18,832 for a variety of bills including $4,406 for LaFontaine’s services, $2,800 toward the $23,321 owed to Henkle Drilling, $2,518 to forensic auditor Sheri Betzer, $2,000 toward the $32,843 owed to law firm Petrock & Fendel, $1,280 for part-time contract bookkeeper Anne Bevis’ services, and $588 for electricity.

Bookkeeper’s report

Bevis reported that she is continuing to set up QuickBooks with a basic chart of accounts and has started a master customer list including owners of vacant lots. She recommended the district purchase information from the El Paso County Assessor’s office to help with that.

Recall initiated

Gates announced that a recall committee has been formed and has decided to initiate the recall of Guenther, who has served on the board for over nine years, and Lonergan. She read into the record, the following text duplicated in both draft recall petitions:

(The two board members) "…should be recalled for gross negligence in carrying out his fiduciary responsibilities and for failing to apply a degree of attention or care expected of a person in his position as member of the Board. The current deteriorated condition of the District’s assets, lack of comprehensive plan for repair and replacement of fixed assets, and the crime of opportunity allegedly perpetrated by a member of the District’s Staff resulting in the verified loss of more than $300,000 of District funds can be attributed directly or indirectly to (the two members’) failures and negligence while on the Board."

Gates then asked Lonergan if he wished to resign. He said, "No."

Schmidt inclusion

Leroy Schmidt said he has a house on 40 acres with a formerly low-producing well that has gone dry. He said he has no intention of subdividing the property. He said he would pay a tap fee, legal fees, and the cost of running pipe to his property and would transfer the water rights associated with his property. He asked for a waiver from the district’s inclusion fee, which Lonergan said would be about $120,000 for the property.

Reed-Polatty said the district should research the history of waivers from the inclusion fee.

LaFontaine suggested the district could enter into a temporary service agreement to provide water to the property using a temporary line until the details of the inclusion can be resolved.

The board unanimously voted to enter into the temporary service agreement with Schmidt and to accept the inclusion petition for review.

Posting requirements

Reed-Polatty reported that she attended a recent training session for board members presented by the Special District Association. The session included information on the statutory requirements for posting notices of meetings. She highlighted the following points:

  • The district posts notices at the Monument Post Office, Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Station 1 on Highway 105, and the district building at 18852 Rockbrook.

  • There is a 72-hour notice requirement regarding the day, time, and place of regular and special meetings. She said continuous posting of a resolution setting the schedule for regular meetings would satisfy that requirement for the regular meetings.

  • If a regular meeting is cancelled, posting of a cancellation notice is not required.

  • At least 24 hours prior to each regular or special meeting, the agenda must be posted at one of the designated posting locations. The board selected the Monument Post Office for the posting of agendas.

  • Emergency meetings can be held to address "unforeseen circumstances that need immediate attention." Reed-Polatty cited payment of invoices or approval of an update to a newsletter as examples.

  • There is no notice requirement for emergency meetings, which can be conducted by conference calls involving a quorum of the board. Minutes must be taken as for any other meeting and approved at the next regular or special meeting.

  • Executive sessions can only be called within regular or special meetings.

  • Citizens may request e-mail notification of meetings. Reed-Polatty said that each such request must be honored for a two-year period.

Cross elected treasurer

The board unanimously voted to elect Cross to be the district’s treasurer. Cross abstained from the vote.

Arapahoe well servicing

Lonergan reported that AmWest removed and replaced the pump, scrubbed the screens, and videoed the well. He reported that after the work was completed, production increased from 97 gallons per minute to about 115 gallons per minute. He said the work took nine or 10 days, and the well is now back in full operation.

Taylor said, "You need to have a schedule for preventative maintenance."

The board passed a motion to add creation of a preventative maintenance schedule to the responsibilities of the technical committee.

More on the recall

Cross said, "Four or five people have commented that items in the letter [regarding recall of Guenther and Lonergan] are misleading or inaccurate."

Walker said, "You can’t do justice to the issues with a written response. You need to get everybody in a room."

Resident Pete Pettigrew said, "I set the whole [district] up in the 1990s and got the $880,000 grant. You better get a letter out. "

Jeff Dull, Walker, and Birkart volunteered to help prepare a response to the allegations.

The board unanimously approved writing a letter regarding the condition of the district.

Reed-Polatty noted that no district funds may be used in responding to the recall.

Nowacki added, "It is okay to address the condition of the district but not the recall of the two individuals."

He added that the petition is being submitted to the court for approval, and an informational meeting on the recall will be held in July.

Executive Session

The board unanimously voted to go into executive session to discuss confidential matters regarding individual billing issues.

**********

The Forest View Acres Water District normally meets the second Wednesday each month at 7 p.m. The next regular board meeting would normally be held July 13. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to confirm the date, time, and location by calling the district at 488-2110.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, June 2: Challenges to refilling the lake discussed

By Jim Kendrick

Differing opinions on how to partially refill Palmer Lake and ensure that it will stay refilled were discussed by Town Council trustees and leaders of the Awake the Lake Committee. The council approved three new business license applications for consent items requiring no further discussion at the regular council meeting on June 9. Two replat proposals were also briefly discussed and approved in advance of public hearings on June 9.

Committee Reports

Community and Economic Development: Trustee Gary Coleman reported that citizen meetings had produced an initial consensus that the town’s current policy of lighting the star on Sundance Mountain only during the Christmas season and on Memorial Day probably should not be changed. He said there would be another meeting later in the month to give citizens one more chance to express their views on the issue. Controversy arose after the Town Council lit the star for one night in April during its regular meeting to honor Trustee George Reese, who had died unexpectedly.

Coleman also noted that Julie Lokken had completed her "housecleaning of Town Hall storage under the stage" and found lots of ice skates. He added that there have been some citizen concerns about signs and banners along Highway 105. Town Clerk Della Gray passed out copies of the town’s banner ordinance to the trustees and noted that the town cannot enforce sign prohibitions or restrictions in the state’s right of way along Highway 105.

Water: Trustee Chuck Cornell said that Town Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt had observed that creek flows into the town’s reservoirs had improved and that 12.9 acre-feet had been pumped into Palmer Lake from the town’s D2 well as of June 1.

Police: Trustee Trudy Finan noted that the equipping of the new 2005 Impala police vehicle was completed and that all the department’s vehicles have upgraded decals. In her police call report, she noted that total calls through May were 149, down slightly from 153 last year. In May, there were 3 custody arrests, 18 cases, 29 traffic citations, 61 traffic and dog warnings, and 2 dog citations. The number of traffic citations and traffic and dog warnings are up sharply from last year.

Parks and Recreation: Trustee Trish Flake noted that the Columbine art festival would take place on June 12 in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and in the park across Highway 105. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Spry also encouraged people to visit the displays in the park along the west side of the lake.

Flake announced the first annual Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Pancake Breakfast would also take place that same morning. Flake then said the last movie and discussion of the film festival on war would take place in Town Hall on July 3 and that the long-anticipated restoration of the town’s annual fishing derby for kids was set June 4.

Roads: Trustee Max Parker said that the town would be seeking bids for this year’s program of asphalting some of the town’s streets. He said the bids would be sequenced, starting with the highest priority projects first. He noted that much of the milled asphalt produced by grinding the roadbed of the town’s portion of Highway 105 had been successfully recycled to stabilize some of the town’s dirt roads. When a sealer is applied to the crushed grindings, he said it is called "poor man’s asphalt." Mayor Nikki McDonald drew laughs by retorting that this "repaving" was "right up our alley."

Parker also reported that resident John Savage is heading up an effort to form a road improvement district on the east side of the lake and that the town’s dust control project was under way. Finally, he noted that the town would be investigating the possibility of initiating a bond issue for road improvements for the town election in April.

Fire: Trustee Brent Sumner reported 19 fire calls in May including 5 fire, 10 medical, 2 wildland fire, 1 traffic, and 1 other calls; six of these were for mutual aid. Sumner noted that the department was supporting a number of activities including the fishing derby, the Elephant Rock Bike Race on June 5, and the pancake breakfast on June 11. Sumner also gave the standard monthly reminder to post house numbers by driveways where they can be seen from the street to ensure the swiftest response in an emergency; this has been a chronic problem in several wooded neighborhoods in town.

Three volunteers recertified for CPR, and a new member, Paul Keller, was sworn in on June 1 at a department meeting. Anyone wishing to become a new member of the volunteer fire department may contact Chief Phillip Beckman at 499-1066.

Fountain Creek Watershed Project: Bob Miner reported that there had been some severe funding cutbacks for the next few years and that the portion of the study affecting the north end of the county had lost its funding. He said that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments would start a vigorous letter-writing campaign to the state to restore as much funding as possible.

Awake the Lake: Parker, Cornell, and McDonald expressed concerns that the committee and the town council still appeared to be in disagreement about what was best for the lake and the town’s drinking water supply. Orcutt had recommended that pumping of D2 well water be reduced because the water level had dropped from 950 feet to 350 feet. As a result, the well was pumping a lot of mud and sand that was bypassing the well’s filtration system. There had been instances of brown and cloudy tap water in some parts of town.

Greg Cook, the new leader of the committee, expressed concern that with the new 8-hour per day pumping schedule, the town’s temporary pumping permit would expire at the end of the month before the goal of pumping 30 acre-feet of water could be reached. He asked if a different compromise of 12 hours of pumping per day might be possible to get as close to 30 acre-feet as possible. He also advocated obtaining storage rights as quickly as possible in order to resume refilling by pumping or other means in the fall.

A complete refill of the lake is estimated to require 85 to 90 acre-feet of water. Only when the lake has been completely refilled and it has been demonstrated that there will be no significant seepage, evaporation, or other losses will the $20,000 appropriated by the Board of County Commissioners be paid to offset water costs incurred by the committee.

Jeff Hulsmann said that brown water is an annual occurrence during high creek flows into the town’s reservoirs. He disputed the water quality issue and whether it was related to pumping D2 water. He said that he had some of the water tested, and the tests revealed no problem. He provided no documentation or details of who did the testing or where or when his samples were taken.

Gray said that the cloudy water problem had been cleared up by flushing some of the water mains by opening fire hydrants for a short time. McDonald, Parker, and Cornell said that the 30 acre-feet number was a goal rather than a fixed number to be obtained. Parker said the town must rely on the professional opinion of the certified water supervisor rather than the wishes of citizen volunteers.

McDonald expressed concern that even this much water would fill the lake to above the level of where the sandy bottom near the eastern shoreline might permit the potential seepage losses forecast by town water engineering consultant firm CTL Thompson. She added that pumping should stop when the water level reaches the sandy bottom level to experimentally determine whether water would actually be lost through the sandy bottom. Parker said the town must rely on the professional opinion of the town’s certified water supervisor rather than the wishes of citizen volunteers to protect the town’s water supply.

After more discussion, the committee leaders were invited back to the June 9 regular council meeting for a presentation by the town’s water attorney on relevant water law and options for attaining and maintaining a full lake. The trustees and committee members agreed on the need to better coordinate their statements to citizens and the press at their separate meetings to avoid appearing to be in disagreement on every aspect of the long-term project.

Three new business licenses approved as consent items

The Wee-Treat at Miss Sherry’s is a professional licensed preschool on 459 Virginia Ave. Owner Sherry Rodermund-Smith received approval for a conditional use in 2003 but was not able to open until this year due to illness.

Nicholas and Betty Cooper received approval for BNK Landscape, 296 Spring St. #2; they will also perform lawn maintenance.

Kenneth McNeilly was approved to open Colorado Turquoise Jewelry Company on 605 Academy Road. It will be a retail and wholesale manufacturing business for jewelry and Indian artwork.

Two replat requests raise no questions from trustees

Joan Lavellet and Ethel Engel received permission to vacate the lot lines for their 10 contiguous historic lots between Middle and Lower Glenway so that two new houses could be built, in addition to one existing house, on the properties without any setback or minimum lot size issues.

John and Susan Cressman’s request to vacate and replat some interior lot lines with rezoning from residential agricultural (RA – 5 acres) to residential estate (RIE – 2.5 acres) in Forest View Heights Filing 2 was also approved after a few questions to clarify where the parcel is actually located.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, June 9: Town water attorney lists storage rights alternatives

Below: At the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting June 9, water attorney Ronni Sperling recommended that citizens interested in understanding how the town could acquire storage rights for the lake should purchase the Colorado Foundation for Water Education booklet Citizens Guide to Colorado Water Law by Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr. at the web site https://cfwe.org/EducationalProducts/ss/ListCatalog.asp. Seated at the table, from left to right, are Town Attorney Larry Gaddis, Trustees Trudy Finan, Max Parker, Chuck Cornell, Mayor Nikki McDonald, Town Clerk Della Gray, and Trustees Brent Sumner, Gary Coleman, and Trish Flake. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council held its regular monthly meeting on June 9 after holding a short, but separate, Liquor Licensing Authority meeting to approve two one-day liquor licenses for events to be held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. The events are the "Broke Mountain" bluegrass concert on July 21 at 7 p.m. and the opening of the fiber art show on July 29. All members of the council were present, as was Town Attorney Larry Gaddis.

Consent items approved without discussion

  • New business licenses for BNK Landcape and Colorado Turquoise Jewelry Company.

  • A new business license based on a conditional use for Wee-Treat at Miss Sherry’s preschool.

  • Payment of all town bills.

Trustee Max Parker voted against the single motion to pass all the consent items, without comment.

Town water attorney presents Palmer Lake storage rights options

Ronni Sperling, of law firm Moses and Wittmyer in Boulder, presented five options that the council can choose from in pursuing the acquisition of water storage rights in Palmer Lake. The town has no storage rights at this time. She has been the town’s water attorney for 20 years.

In her introductory remarks, she said the town is in Division 2, the Arkansas River basin, and the court holds its hearings in Pueblo on new rights, changed rights, and disputes. There are 7 water divisions in Colorado. The state publishes a list called "the tabulation" that lists all adjudicated water rights, which are property rights, from most senior to most junior throughout the state.

Option 1: Create a "new junior water right" in state water court that would be the "most junior," "not worth much," and least likely to be useable since all available water in the Arkansas River Basin is "severely over-appropriated." Only in the case of a very severe flood would the town have a chance to own any flows that are not already owned, since water is not "shared" by the owners of the various adjudicated rights.

Option 2: Have a plan for augmentation that allows an entity to obtain the rights to water from a downstream rights owner and redirect an equivalent amount of water upstream.

Option 3: An exchange similar to option 2 except that it can be approved by the state water engineer after the application to the water court is published on the engineer’s Web site. in the "Water Resumé section. Anyone with objections has 60 days from publication to file a statement of opposition. If there is opposition that cannot be resolved by negotiations, go to court for a hearing.

Option 4: Redirect a decreed water right to a new use. Surface and ground water have completely separate hierarchies of decreed permitted uses. For example, water that has been decreed by a court to be used solely for irrigation cannot be used for domestic or municipal purposes. She added that recreational water rights, for parks and lakes for example, are usually far junior to water rights for irrigation. She indicated that this option would be difficult for the town to try.

Option 5: File a "change case" that swaps irrigation rights for domestic or municipal uses. The abandoning of historic senior irrigation rights is typically very risky because the court often reduces the size of the water right and adds restrictions to when or how it can be used. Typically there are numerous objections filed by individuals and the state in this type of action, which stretches to over two years the time before the case actually goes to court.

Sperling recommended that interested citizens acquire the Colorado Foundation for Water Education booklet called Citizens Guide to Colorado Water Law, by Justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., at https://cfwe.org/EducationalProducts/ss/ListCatalog.asp.

Resident Richard Allen asked Sperling, "How can we legally augment the lake on a continuous long-term basis and keep it a viable, beautiful, pristine centerpiece?" Sperling said the town had to file for a new right or an augmentation plan. The biggest expense would be for augmentation water from Monument Creek.

Resident Judy Herrington asked Sperling’s opinion of using well water instead of surface water augmentation for refilling the lake. Sperling didn’t answer that question directly, but said the town would have to go to court to obtain new junior storage rights if it wanted to avoid using well water as is currently being done. She added that refilling with surface water would cost even more than using limited underground water.

Awake the Lake Committee member Jeff Hulsmann said that the committee had met with the Colorado Water Conservation Board to inquire about an offer they had received for a donation from a senior water right owner. Sperling said there is a state precedent for one-time donations of water that has been decreed for other purposes being temporarily redirected to public uses in Boulder. However, the water rights for the water donated to Boulder were very senior, dating from 1860 to 1865, which helped reduce the number of objections from less senior owners of water rights.

Hulsmann also asked Sperling about the committee purchasing some water rights from around 1900. She said that this sale would still require going to court to "change the use" and show that the sale would not change or damage the rights of others. When a right is moved upstream, the amount of water that can be used is usually reduced, she added; the farther the right is moved, the sharper the reduction.

Gaddis and Sperling said that if the town and the citizen committee worked together on the purchase, it might create a conflict of interest and Sperling could not represent both. Gaddis then recommended that McDonald and Cornell meet with Hulsmann and Sperling after the council meeting in the town office building to discuss the town’s and committee’s options for purchasing and using specific types of water rights and to determine possible future courses of action for the town and the committee.

Hulsmann reported that the committee had raised $22,587.71 and that over 400 kids had a "great time" at the June 4 fishing derby. He also noted that progress is being made in the separate project to upgrade Bill Crawford Memorial Park at the north end of the lake. About 150 pavers, sold for $75 each and engraved with the donor’s name, are required to start the sidewalk that would run through the center of the memorial from the parking lot to the circular lake path. Crawford, a World War II Medal of Honor winner, was a long-time Palmer Lake resident before his death a few years ago.

Committee Reports

Economic Development: Trustee Gary Coleman said that the coal train railroad line through town would eventually become available for commuter passenger trains if new dedicated north-south freight rails are built to the east of Black Forest. The town may wish to consider investing $10,000 per year to be competitive for construction of a station stop. He also noted that the last opportunity for citizens to comment about the policy on lighting the town star on Sundance Mountain would be at a Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. on June 16.

Water: Trustee Chuck Cornell reported that 5.4 million gallons of water had been pumped into Palmer Lake (about 16 acre-feet). The town is pumping about 400,000 gallons per day, and 250,000 of those are used by the town for its water system, with the rest going into the lake.

Parks and Recreation: Trustee Trish Flake noted that the Columbine Festival would be held on June 9, along with the pancake breakfast for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. The board unanimously approved a motion to waive the standard peddler’s fee for those participating in the town’s July 4th festivities. Events include music, kids games, a fireworks technology display, and concessions at the baseball field 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. and the fireworks show at dusk.

Roads: Trustee Max Parker reported continuing progress on Highway 105 and the use of recycled shaved asphalt.

Fire: Trustee Brent Sumner advised trustees that they could attend a special evening session of the Fire and Rescue International Conference at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Aug. 11. He also announced that he had taken a new job in Golden, so his seat on the council will need to be filled after he moves.

Police: Trustee Trudy Finan read a memo from Police Chief Dale Smith asking Gaddis to draft an emergency ordinance regarding motorized toy vehicles and stand-up scooters to correspond to a new state law. The trustees agreed, and Gaddis said he would present a draft ordinance at the next council meeting. Currently, there is no ordinance prohibiting these vehicles on town streets.

Mayor Nikki McDonald suggested that the town’s meeting rules should be printed on the back of meeting agendas to simplify following procedures and recording the meetings.

A vacation and replat request from Ethel Engel and Joan Lavelett was unanimously approved, which vacates the lot lines for historic long and narrow residential lots 7-14, 85, and 86, east of High Street between Middle and Lower Glenway and creates four rectangular lots.

A vacation and replat request from John and Susan Cressman was unanimously approved, which vacates the lot lines for 11-acre lot 2 and creates four residential lots on the southeast corner of Forest View Heights Filing 2 by Red Rocks Ranch Road. It also rezones them from Residential Agricultural (RA) to Residential Estate (RIE) zoning. The Cressmans asked for and received "vested rights" that prevent the town from changing the zoning at a future date before the parcel is actually developed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held on July 14 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Regular council meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month.

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Monument Board of Trustees, June 6: Water is heading to Monument Lake

By Jim Kendrick

On June 6, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved the draft intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that Mayor Byron Glenn negotiated with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) that will enable the town to refill Monument Lake. The town will purchase excess effluent from Donala Water and Sanitation District and Triview Metropolitan District that is released from the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility into Monument Creek below the recently refurbished Monument Lake dam. This excess effluent will substitute for the amount of CSU-owned creek water used to refill the lake.

After an executive session at the end of the meeting, the board announced that the interim promotion of Cathy Green from town planner to town manager had been made permanent, contingent on legal approval of the wording of the contract by attorneys for both sides.

Trustees Dave Mertz and Frank Orten were absent.

A look at the water agreement

The Colorado Springs City Council approved Monument’s request to store water in Monument Lake on May 24. CSU has not allowed a purchase in the past few years due to drought conditions. The state has approved Monument’s plan for the repair and refilling of the lake.

The IGA supplements a 1998 agreement that allows Monument to buy excess water from CSU. Details of the IGA include:

  • The amount of water the lake can hold is 129 acre-feet.

  • Monument can retain up to 200 acre-feet to account for evaporation, leakage, and other losses.

  • The amount of exchanged effluent will be measured by CSU at its Las Vegas Wastewater Treatment Facility.

  • CSU’s monthly administration fee for exchange calculations and accounting will be about $1,500 per month.

  • CSU is responsible for obtaining the state water engineer’s approval for the exchanges that occur.

  • The cost of the exchanged effluent will be $50 per acre-foot.

  • The maximum amount of excess effluent that can be exchanged will be about 40 acre-feet per month.

  • The stored water can only be used for recreational and fire suppression purposes.

  • The draft agreement expires at the end of 2005.

Monument will continue to seek a legal right of its own to store water in the lake.

Town Hall security increased during court sessions

Police Chief Jake Shirk requested that security be tightened when court is in session at Town Hall to match that of other buildings with courtrooms in El Paso County. Specific changes include locking the front door and requiring all those who seek access to Town Hall for administrative or court business to use the side door and undergo a security check, including a metal check with a detection wand. As has become standard at airports and other venues, keys and coins will be placed in a small basket, and objects that could be used as a weapon will be prohibited.

Shirk noted that the new process will likely create some initial embarrassing moments for Town Hall visitors, until everyone adjusts to the new procedures that call for searches of everyone entering the building. Shirk added, "Don’t bring this stuff to court or you’ll get arrested."

One day a month, signs will be posted at both doors once the procedures go into effect. The board approved Shirk’s request unanimously.

Kassawara’s comments to county on Brookmoor Estates Filing 3 approved

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, recommended that the board provide two general comments to the El Paso County Planning Commission in response to its request for comments.

Brookmoor Estates is a county residential community on the south side of Lake Woodmoor Drive at Moveen Drive, about one-quarter mile northeast of the Highway 105 and Woodmoor Drive intersection. Though not within Monument’s irregularly shaped town boundaries, the development does lie within the Tri-Lakes Planning Area. The area to be developed extends south and east from 30 existing homes in the first two filings. The county originally approved the development plan in 1998.

Filing 3 is zoned PUD by the county and is the final phase of development by Mountain Desert Investments, The application to the county consolidates the original Filings 3, 4,and 5 into a single filing consisting of 29 single-family lots in a 16.69-acre area. About half of the filing is not suitable for construction, resulting in single-family home lots that average about 8,000 square feet.

Kassawara’s concerns, to be forwarded to the county planning commission, were approved unanimously:

  • Minimize disturbance of the existing terrain and trees, and replace or relocate any trees that must be removed.

  • The project should comply with the objectives of the Land Use Scenario section of the Tri-Lakes Plan.

Asphalt maintenance program approved

Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall proposed a prioritized list of street improvements that could be completed within the 2005 budget of $208,000 in the town’s Highway User’s Trust Fund. The board unanimously approved the following improvements, with the condition that they should be completed by mid-November:

  • Front Street will be widened and repaved, with curb/gutter on the west side, from Lincoln Avenue to Second Street.

  • Third Street will be widened and patched at the post office entrance

  • Sidewalks, curbs, and gutters will be added on the northwest corner of Second Street and Beacon Lite Road.

  • The alley east of Front Street will be paved from Second Street to Third Street.

  • The Town Hall parking lot will be overlaid with asphalt.

  • The eastbound lane of Higby Road at Jackson Creek Parkway will be widened and an acceleration lane added.

  • All other "old town" area streets and neighborhoods will be crack sealed, spot patched, and/or striped as the remaining budget allows.

The town engineer will solicit bids, coordinate project completion with the Town Streets Foreman, and administer the winning contract.

Mayor Byron Glenn asked why the plan was just being proposed. Wall said that the amount of money in the fund was approved at the end of the 2005 budget cycle. Glenn asked Wall to coordinate with the El Paso County Department of Transportation to "check on who does what."

Jehovah’s Witnesses Church rezoning approved

After some questions by trustees, the board unanimously approved the Monument Congregation’s request to rezone all three of its "old downtown" lots from historic downtown R-2 (medium density residential) to revised downtown C-1 (general commercial). The congregation’s proposal would bring them into compliance with the recommendations for the area in the town’s comprehensive plan and would match the commercial zoning of nearby properties.

The congregation’s parcel consists of lots 1, 2, and 3 of Block 11 in Town Addition 1. The proposed replat would vacate the historic residential lot lines and makes it a single commercial lot.

The Kingdom Hall (church) and parking lot were built in 1985. Lot 3, to the south of the parking lot is vacant. The congregation has no current plans for expansion or changing the current building and parking lot configuration.

Glenn expressed concern that the church was next to lots that would still be zoned residential area on Adams Street. Kassawara observed that the church had been there for 20 years and the use was permitted by the town, but a buffer area could be required if the use of the three lots actually changed at some point. Glenn asked, "What if a convenience store replaces the church?" Kassawara said the parcel was too small to generate significant customer traffic.

Trustee Gail Drumm said it would be better not to change the zoning. Trustee George Brown asked why the board would want to stop the rezoning of the downtown area to comply with the comprehensive plan. Kassawara noted that the town would still have site plan approval authority if the use of the lot changes.

Although he had no comments to make during the public hearing, commercial property owner John Dominowski asked to comment after a motion was made and seconded to approve the rezoning. He said, "This is exactly what should happen" and "businesses are next to residential all throughout downtown." Many downtown businesses are in older converted homes interspersed between residences.

Former Wal-Mart site annexation request referred to the Planning Commission

Owners Ken Barber, Beverly B. Miller, and Uwe Schmidt have formally asked the town to annex their 30-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. Kassawara recommended that the board direct him to refer the application to the town’s Planning Commission for review and recommendations, as required by statute, to initiate the town’s response to the request.

This parcel had been the first proposed site for a Wal-Mart Supercenter, which the El Paso County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners rejected in 2004.

The request is being initiated by the parcel owners even though a preliminary sketch of the planned development had not yet been submitted. In most recent town annexations, a completed final development plan has been simultaneously approved.

Brown asked if the board could deny the request now. Green said it would not be a good idea because it would deny the applicant’s due process. Brown asked if Green could tell the applicants that "we’re against it." Town Attorney Gary Shupp said "No." Green added that there was no specific rezoning request yet. Shupp said that the town should consider requiring planned commercial zoning.

Several trustees expressed their reluctance to approve a motion to refer the annexation request to the Planning Commission unless there was a specific development and rezoning proposal for the property. However, the board unanimously approved Kassawara’s referral request

Grant request for downtown parks and street beautification approved

After two trustees initially disagreed about the priority of the project, the board unanimously approved a request by the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) for a town Community Development Fund grant of $22,500 to build new irrigated flowerbeds and gardens in four downtown locations and to install new park signs. The grant will pay for materials only, and HMMA will provide the labor from its member businesses and interested volunteer citizens. The remaining fund balance for the rest of the year is $11,323.

Trustees George Brown and Gail Drumm initially said the town should use the funds for the previously proposed band shell for Limbach Park that has been put on hold. Trustee Tommie Plank stated that HMMA had already set aside another $20,000 for band shell construction. Brown said, "I doubt that." Plank countered that project manager Woody Woodworth had made the original grant request to the town’s Parks and Landscape Committee and BOT during the 2005 budget preparation cycle. The grant was approved unanimously.

Dominowski said that the Fort Carson civil engineering unit that had offered to voluntarily build the shell had been deployed to the Middle East for a year and had not finalized the design and construction. After the unanimous approval, Brown said, "No more flowers."

The grant work will be split into two phases. The first phase ($16,875) will begin immediately and include projects in Limbach Park, Lavelett Park, and the Third Street historic Monument Archway. The second phase ($5,625), will be delayed until after the sidewalk, curb, and gutter street improvements around the water facility on Beacon Lite Road and Second Street are completed.

Volunteers can sign up in person with project director Woody Woodworth at his High Country Store, 243 Washington St., by phone at 481-3477, or by e-mail at woody@homebrewwine.com.)

Bills Paid

The BOT unanimously approved the following payments:

  • Well #9: Engineering consultant GMS, Inc. recommended payment of $11,421 to Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) for a service agreement and grant of right-of-way for the electrical service to new town well 9 near the recently annexed Trails End development. GMS recommended against the alternative "indeterminate" option of the town paying the full amount of $12,666 because "there is essentially no opportunity to receive shared cost refunds on this service extension" in the future. The GMS report also stated that by choosing the "permanent" installation option, "MVEA will provide a construction allowance of $1,045 towards this line construction." A $200 engineering fee was paid previously to MVEA

  • Entry sign: Kassawara recommended approval of M. W. Golden’s second request for payment of $43,968.25 for work done in May on the construction of the Monument entrance sign at Highway 105 and Second Street. Total payments to date are $67,179.25. The approved project budget is $73,216.50. Four change orders increased the price by $3,425. The town’s various retainage fees totaling $3,535.75 will be returned to M.W. Golden if there are no warranty period problems.

  • Booster pump station: Wall recommended approval of Layne Western’s final payment request of $4,009 for station modifications. There was one change order for electrical work that increased the original contract cost of $66,000 by $21,072 to $87,072.

  • New meter reader: Interim Treasurer Pamela Smith recommended approval of an initial payment of $9,000 to National Meter & Automation, Inc. for the unit price of the ORION Mobil Automatic Meter Reading Starter Kit. The town water department, like the Woodmoor and Triview water districts, is replacing worn-out water meters at the end of the useful battery life of the meter’s digital data transponders with this new ORION equipment. The kit includes meter reading equipment, related software, and two days of technician training for water department meter readers. Water meter transponder outputs can be remotely recorded without the technician having to enter individual homes or businesses. The cost for the new meters and transponders that will be installed in new homes and for replacement of existing installed units at the end of their service life is separate.

  • Lease payments: Smith also recommended payment of $6,979.99 to Wells Fargo Brokerage Services, Inc. for the lease of three town pickup trucks.

Financial report mostly positive

Smith reported that most areas of town finances are better than planned through the end of April. She told the board she is still learning how to collect and report sales tax information from former treasurer Judy Skrzypek and will provide this missing data next month. The board unanimously accepted her 50-page report.

Liquor license requests approved

The board unanimously approved liquor license renewals for the 7-11 and Broiler Room restaurant and a permanent liquor license for the new owners of the Cork ‘N Bottle, all on Highway 105. The board also unanimously approved a liquor license for the modifications to the patio of the La Casa Fiesta restaurant on Front Street.

Ballot question decision deferred

Smith then reported on her May 16 meeting with legislative expert attorney Thomas Peltz of the Kutak Rock legal firm. He provided a number of tentative but incomplete answers to her questions about whether he could provide useful legal advice on how to word a town ballot initiative for November.

The board had sought his advice on whether revenue that was approved in a previous town ballot solely for the water enterprise fund could be diverted to other town capital improvements, such as paying for a lease-purchase agreement for new police department and courtroom buildings.

After the unanswered questions in her memorandum to the board were discussed, the board decided to postpone making a final decision until the regular June 20 meeting on whether to have Peltz attend a special workshop meeting on June 27. The purpose of the delay was to allow time to explore the additional questions that have been raised.

Glenn reported that the town staff was doing an outstanding job in adjusting to leadership and organizational changes. He singled out Green, Kassawara, and Shirk for their enthusiasm and quality of work, and Deputy Town Clerk Irene Walters for the additional duties she had taken on since Skrzypek’s departure. The trustees unanimously thanked all the staff members.

The board went into executive session at 7:32 p.m. to discuss Green’s promotion.

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Monument Board of Trustees, June 20: Brown and Drumm unsuccessful in revoking HMMA grant

Below: On June 20, Gov Vaughn, Parade Chairman for Monument Hill Sertoma, requested the Monument Board of Trustees pass a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of the July 4th parade route from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon.

Seated at the front table, left to right, are Trustees Tommie Plank, Scott Meszaros, Gail Drumm, Dave Mertz, George Brown, Frank Orten, Mayor Byron Glenn, Town Attorney Gary Shupp, Town Manager Cathy Green, Deputy Town Clerk Irene Walters.

In order to make the parade even safer, Vaughn said that throwing candy from parade vehicles and the use of high-volume "supersoakers" and water cannons would be vigorously discouraged to assure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time at "the biggest parade of any small town in Colorado."

Zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

At its June 6 meeting, the Board of Trustees (BOT) approved a Community Development Fund Grant requested by the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) for new landscaping and signs at town parks, town buildings, and the Third Street arch. At the June 20 meeting, Trustees George Brown and Gail Drumm attempted to overturn this decision and the board’s previous budgeting decision to include this grant in the 2005 budget. They claimed that the money would be better spent on improvements at Monument Lake and a band shell in Limbach Park.

Trustee Comments

Mayor Byron Glenn announced a new standard agenda item for BOT meetings called Trustee Comments. This item will follow approval of the agenda and previous meeting’s minutes and come before Public Comments (which also precedes all BOT business). Glenn said a trustee may speak on issues that are not part of the regular agenda.

Glenn solicited more citizen input and participation and thanked several volunteers for their contributions:

  • John Dominowski, who volunteers and attends many BOT meetings even though he does not live in town.

  • Lowell Morgan, who has served on the Planning Commission as an alternate after being replaced as a commissioner in January, despite volunteering for reappointment.

  • Glenda Smith, a former trustee who continues to attend BOT meetings and provide comments even though she was "term limited" and could not run for re-election.

  • Town Manager Cathy Green, for volunteering to be interim town manager after the resignation of Rick Sonnenburg and for all the additional time she spent helping with the town staff reorganization.

July 4 Street fair approved

Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Spry requested a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of a portion of Second Street, from Front Street to Jefferson Street, and a half-block of Washington Street, north of Second Street, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. to conduct the July 4th holiday street fair. In addition to all the regular vendors, the Chamber hopes to have antique cars on display again.

Trustee Tommie Plank asked that Spry notify all vendors of their sales tax collection obligation and that Spry facilitate the revenue collection and remittance for interim Treasurer Pamela Smith. Plank added that the procedure should be similar to that for the Saturday farmers’ market sales tax collections. Green noted that the Chamber would forward the collected sales tax to the state, and then they would be forwarded to Smith. The board unanimously approved Resolution 11-2005 authorizing the street closure.

July 4 parade route approved

Gov Vaughn, parade chairman for Monument Hill Sertoma, requested a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of the July 4th parade route from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The board unanimously approved Resolution 12-2005

The 100 participant groups will line up on Old Denver Highway, Santa Fe Road, and the south end of Jefferson Street for judging starting at 8:30 a.m. The Children’s Parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. from First Street and Jefferson; the route runs north on Jefferson, then east on Third Street, and south on Beacon Lite to Second Street. The main parade starts at 10 a.m. from Lincoln and Jefferson; the route runs west on Lincoln, then north on Front Street, east on Third Street, and south on Beacon Lite to Second Street.

Vaughn asked the trustees to participate in the parade, noting he would provide a convertible for them to ride in. In order to make the parade safer, Vaughn said that throwing candy from parade vehicles and the use of high-volume "supersoakers" and water cannons would be vigorously discouraged. All drivers would be licensed and insured, he added. Vaughn said that he had coordinated with the police, sheriff, and county for traffic control and use of Old Denver Highway. He also noted that the event is known as "the biggest small town parade in Colorado."

Walters Promontory Pointe annexation

The board unanimously approved the referral of an annexation petition from developer Pat Marshall of Landco for the 78-acre parcel between Kingswood and the Heights at Jackson Creek and north of the previously annexed 39-acre parcel on the north side of the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive. The rectangular Promontory Pointe parcel totals 117 acres. State statutes require that the town’s annexation hearing, negotiation, and decision cycle must be completed within 60 days, per state statute. The first Planning Commission annexation hearing on this application, rather than this formal referral vote, will initiate the 60-day review period.

Brown asked, "Can we say no?" Green said that would not be giving the applicant due process on the annexation petition. Mertz confirmed there had been no change from the pre-application presentation that indicated it would be completely residential development. Drumm asked if the developer would be required to contribute to the widening of Baptist Road and to early construction of the I-25 Exit 158 improvements. Green said these two funding issues could be made a condition of annexation if the board chose to do so.

Triview agreement for road recovery rejected

The Triview Metropolitan District requested that the BOT approve an agreement that enables the town to collect cost recovery plus interest from any property owner who develops along certain roadways that were constructed by Triview. The money is to be collected when a permit is issued by the town and is to be passed on to Triview. The agreement would expire after 15 years, and there is no cost to the town.

Green said this kind of agreement is common and is being initiated by Triview due to a dispute it is having with a Jackson Creek developer. Glenn asked if the agreement really was for cost recovery or if it would implement a double payment, and if it was legal. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the proposed agreement was not part of the district’s service or bonding plan. The town would be obliged to pay collection costs if the payments were not made promptly.

Shupp recommended tabling the request; the board unanimously agreed to deny the request. Glenn said he would invite a representative of Triview to attend a future BOT meeting to provide additional information and answer trustee and staff questions, should the district wish to renew its request.

Financial report postponed

Interim Treasurer Pamela Smith did not receive sales tax information that the board had requested. She will present the information on July 5. The board unanimously approved Smith’s request to make a payment of $40,508.71 to Triview for its share of town motor vehicle and general sales tax revenue collected by the state.

HMMA grant request revisited

Brown attempted to gain support for withdrawal of the Community Development Fund grant of $22,500 to HMMA for landscaping that was approved unanimously by the board on June 6. The grant pays for landscaping materials including plants, rock, gravel, timber, irrigation equipment, electrical wiring, and new signs. All labor on the project would be donated by HMMA employees and citizen volunteers.

Brown said, "I was wrong in approving this." He said he had not determined how these improvements fit in to the town’s parks, trails, and open space master plan. He said a better use of the money would be to improve the pavilions next to Ernie Biggs’ Lake of the Rockies Campground to complement Biggs’ promotional stocking of the lake with 2,000 pounds of large trout. He said the pavilions were unusable. He added the lakeshore by the campground was at least as important a draw for people outside of town as Limbach Park. Drumm concurred.

Brown then said he would need to see an overall development plan for Limbach Park improvements from Dominowski’s volunteer committee that would include currently unfunded restrooms and food concession stands in addition to the band shell that HMMA has set aside $20,000 to build. Brown said the town’s Public Works Department could not provide the 90 hours of labor required to install the electrical and irrigation components as evidenced by their inability to mow any of the town’s parks or maintain any of the landscaping around town buildings and infrastructure. He concluded by saying the parks and the playgrounds are "a disaster" and "flowers won’t bring people to downtown."

Drumm said that HMMA had not solicited donations of landscaping materials from Home Depot or Foxworth-Galbraith and the board had no way to verify that HMMA businesses were really providing landscaping materials at cost or if other suppliers would have a lower cost. He said the "lake is not exciting" and "it’s too late for flowers."

Trustee Scott Meszaros said that the grant was already approved. Plank said that the board had approved a new Public Works employee for the full year whose sole responsibility was park maintenance. Brown interjected that all Public Works employees had been redirected to provide labor for construction of the department’s new Jefferson Street garage that is significantly behind schedule due to foundation and material delays. He added that the lake was a higher priority than a project whose sole objective is to help downtown retailers.

Plank asked if she could continue her initial remarks then respond to Brown’s questions but he continued to interrupt each of her attempts to speak. Then Dominowski also interrupted Plank, without being recognized by Glenn, noting that he was in charge of the band shell project. He acknowledged the Fort Carson military civil engineering team that had volunteered to build the shell had just started a one-year deployment to Iraq. However, he said, he thought he might have plans completed soon, but did not offer dates for planning or construction completion. No town funds have been approved for band shell construction. Dominowski also expressed his concern about revoking any unanimously approved community development grant. He said he would "hate to see you pull out of it after you’ve approved it" because "a lot of people have worked very hard on it and I’d hate to see a trend in that regard."

Glenn said he was not sure that they should landscape the "Historic Monument" arch by the post office or even leave it in place after access to Third Street is limited to right-in/right-out only from the southbound lane of Highway 105. He added, "Instead of scattering the money all over, let’s focus on a specific plan and get it done."

Green confirmed that there are significant time management and periodic equipment issues in Public Works that have not been addressed recently. After further discussion, Plank was able to say she would schedule a meeting between trustees and members of HMMA to discuss long-term development. No action was taken on the grant to HMMA.

Public Works Superintendent resigns

On June 13, Tom Wall submitted his "Notice of Resignation" effective June 24. He had informed the board six weeks earlier that he would resign when his house had sold. Wall plans to retire and move out of state. A luncheon was held for him in Town Hall on June 21. The town had already initiated a search for his replacement and had received 12 applications.

Code enforcement by summer intern postponed

Green’s proposal to initiate the code enforcement program regarding residential weeds and junked cars was deferred. The board had previously approved her suggestion to use a summer intern for enforcement. Green also noted that residents incorrectly believe they are not responsible for maintaining the landscaping between their sidewalks and their curbs.

Brown said that the town could not ask homeowners to cut their lawns when the town was not mowing its property. Shirk said that code enforcement by police professionals is not appropriate and that negotiations about cutting down weeds should be handled by civilian employees.

Deputy Town Clerk Irene Walters said that Triview Metropolitan District Manager Ron Simpson did not want his district to participate in the town’s code enforcement program because he does not believe there are significant code problems in Jackson Creek. Brown reiterated that the town should not start the program until all town property was mowed, weeded, and trimmed. He concluded his objection to starting an enforcement program by saying, "That’s just ridiculous."

A motion to mail an "An Advisory to Monument Residents" to give initial notification that town enforcement of the code would begin soon passed 5-2, with Brown and Drumm voting no. Glenn said he would discuss the matter with Simpson to gain Triview’s support.

Police building update

Shirk informed the board that the police station subcommittee had interviewed three architects and qualified two of them, DLR and Barnes, for further consideration to design new police station and courthouse buildings. The architects will be asked to perform a program assessment review to analyze the subcommittee’s preliminary recommendations on size and design of the interconnected buildings. Shirk said he may be able to present a final recommendation in July on which architect to select.

The board agreed to hold a special meeting on June 27 at 6:30 p.m. to receive legal advice from an attorney who specializes in ballot issues on how best to finance the new buildings.

Town clerk to be hired

The board unanimously approved a revised job description for a full-time town clerk position. Currently, there is no town clerk, but state statute requires the town to appoint one. The position will be advertised and filled in time for upcoming election certification requirements.

Reports

Glenn reported that every improvement in northern El Paso County had been dropped from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government recommendation list for Referendum C and D of the November ballot initiative in order to fund bridge and road improvements into Fort Carson. Glenn also noted that the pace of new construction and development continues to be high in the county.

Drumm said the town needs to develop a plan to secure a commuter train station and parking in the downtown area for the conversion of the coal train lines to passenger service in the next decade. He said this would have a "huge impact on the area" even though there are "some negatives" associated with a rail station. He added, "No stop, no growth." Glenn noted that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority is responsible for building the new Baptist Road bridge over the railroad tracks to facilitate traffic flow when Forest Lakes residential construction nears completion.

The meeting went into executive session at 8:10 p.m. to receive advice from Shupp on pending litigation. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.; there were no announcements about the executive session. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 5 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month.

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Monument Board of Trustees Special Meeting, June 27: Possible November ballot issues discussed

By Jim Kendrick

Interim Treasurer and acting Town Clerk Pamela Smith presented extensive preliminary legal and financial advice about how to word a ballot issue that would allow for the reallocation of some of the revenue from the town’s 1 percent tax on water sales to pay for a new police department and courtroom building.

The water tax was created in a ballot issue that directs that all this revenue be allocated to the water enterprise fund for water projects only. However, TABOR restrictions on enterprise funds limit annual spending to 10 percent of the amount collected. Much of the water tax revenue is accumulating and cannot be spent for current water system debt or other town requirements under this constraint, without invalidating the TABOR exemption of the enterprise fund.

Smith said the primary purpose of the meeting was to determine "what sales tax obligations are pledged against the existing bonds" the town has issued. Also on the agenda was a preliminary discussion of the wording of the issue and the type of procedure to use for the November election. The board must notify the county by July 22 if it wishes to initiate a "coordinated election" ballot question and must then present the actual wording of the question by Sept. 1, if it decides to move forward.

Smith was emphatic that no revenue that is needed for any town water requirement would be reallocated to debt for the police station/courtroom building. She also suggested that rate increases not be considered because the town’s are already among the highest in the state.

Smith presented documentation summarizing the town’s six long-term debt components. The interest and principal on the three major bond issues for the town’s water infrastructure are paid for through property tax. The other two loans are paid using current water sales income, not the tax. Only the Monument Lake Dam rehabilitation loan of $2,443,000 is paid for through a portion of the water sales tax.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp stated that a vote by the electorate would be required to enable the town to use the accumulating revenue for other purposes that would ordinarily be paid for through the General Fund. He added that specialized legal advice from a bond and a TABOR attorney were needed to ensure that the ballot issue would not be subject to a court challenge.

Shupp said that the town’s bond counsel’s legal opinion is that a transfer of the funds from the water fund to the general fund outside the 10 percent TABOR limitation might be legal, but the concept has never been tested in court. Without a vote, he said "Anyone desiring to challenge such a process would no doubt argue that such a contribution (to the police station debt) is a grant in disguise and that it thus must be valued at fair market value and calculated in the 10 percent limitation." Shupp advised against being vulnerable to being the "test litigation" and "potentially endangering the status of the Enterprise Fund." Substantial taxpayer refunds might have to be paid if the fund was invalidated.

Shupp also advised the board that the town could own storage rights in Monument Lake and surface water rights that are separated from the enterprise fund. However, he added that the mechanisms for ownership, revenue, and debt for it would have to be devised by the town’s bond counsel and water attorney.

Former mayor Betty Konarski said she would help Smith with the details of the dam loan until Smith can locate the actual documentation, and provided her with the names of the water attorney, water engineer, and bond company who assisted her with the negotiations for the loan.

After a wide-ranging discussion, Smith was directed to meet again with the Town’s TABOR attorney in Denver to ask the numerous technical questions that arose during the discussion about the ballot issue and its wording. Smith said she hoped to be able to report back to the board at their next regular meeting on July 5.

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Monument Planning Commission, June 9: Realignment of lot lines by First National Bank approved

By Jim Kendrick

On June 9, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved a joint request from First National Bank of Animas and Vision Holding’s Monument Plaza to replat and rezone the empty lot between the bank and the shopping center to the south. No plans for construction on this lot were presented or discussed.

Commissioners John Kortgardner and Tim Davis were absent. Davis has not attended a meeting since writing a letter to the Board of Trustees requesting a January appointment to the commission. He was appointed for a two-year term over all six other candidates who attended the BOT meeting to present their credentials and answer questions from the members of the board. Davis’s qualifications were not discussed by the trustees prior to their first vote, which he won by an unspecified margin. Town Attorney Gary Shupp never announced what the actual vote counts were for any of the candidates in the three rounds of voting by the trustees nor were they listed in the approved minutes for public review.

Remington Hill application continued

The hearing on the Final Plat and Final PD Site Plan for the first filing in Remington Hill, Jackson Creek was unanimously continued for one month for additional staff review. The size of the first filing was cut in half after a pre-application presentation by Jackson Creek’s developer Vision Development earlier this year.

Timbers tabled

Commissioner Lowell Morgan asked why the Timbers proposal continued to show up on the agenda only to be postponed month after month. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said there was no reason for "continuing to continue" the Timbers application. He said the developer has not provided a revised plan or responded to the staff’s comments "in over a month."

Town attorney Gary Shupp also recommended that the application be tabled and that the developer be informed that advertising hearing announcements and posting the property will have to start over, at additional cost.

The developer’s request for a continuation of the hearing for the Preliminary/Final Plat, Final PD Site Plan, and Development/Master plan for the Timbers at Monument shopping center was unanimously denied and the application was tabled.

Visions replat and rezoning

The vacant southeast corner of the bank’s original Lot 4 (0.54 acres) lies within the Mountain View Subdivision Filing No. 3. The original lot line separating the bank and shopping center runs from the center of the east boundary of the skate board park to the southwest corner of the People’s Bank/Starbuck’s property, which is Lot 1 of Filing No. 3. The new lot line runs northeast from the northeast corner of the skateboard park along the edge of the bank’s existing landscaping. The lot line was shifted north to better align with an existing drainage easement. The vacant lot is now the northern end of Lot 1 of the Briley-Smith Subdivision.

The existing water line easement remains unchanged. The existing 20-foot utility easement just north of the water line easement was vacated and shifted north to be aligned with the new lot line. The applicants will pay for moving Mountain View Electric Association’s existing power lines from the vacated utility easement to the new one just inside the shopping center’s new northern boundary.

This vacant lot was rezoned from the bank’s PCD (planned commercial development) zoning for their Lot 4 in the Monument View Subdivision to match the shopping center’s C-1 zoning for Lot 1 of the Briley-Smith Subdivision.

No citizens attended the public hearing, nor did the commissioners have any comments or questions before the proposal was unanimously approved.

Development and annexation applications announced

Kassawara noted that the town received a new annexation application for the 30-acre Barber-Miller-Schmidt parcel on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. This is the property that Wal-Mart had initially selected for a new big box supercenter. The county Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners rejected the Wal-Mart proposal last summer.

Kassawara said the annexation application had been formally referred to the Planning Commission by the Board of Trustees on June 6 and the commissioners would see the proposal at their July meeting. Morgan noted that this was the third development application by the three owners and asked if they were aware that if the parcel is annexed with the staff’s preference for rezoning to Planned Development, that the town might later reject their development proposal. Kassawara said they were and that they would likely be unable to de-annex the parcel if the town rejected their development proposal.

Kassawara added that the owners were choosing instead not to run the risk of investing a lot of money in engineering, studies and planning required for significant traffic access, buffering, and drainage issues on the parcel without knowing whether they would be annexed.

Kassawara also said he did not know whether the owners had decided to seek water and sewer service from Donala Water and Sanitation District or Triview Metropolitan District. The town provides no water or sewer services to the east side of I-25.

Kassawara then informed the commissioners that in addition to the Timbers and Remington Hills applications, they would be reviewing proposals for the Jackson Creek Commerce Center on the northeast corner of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. Also, the commission would be reviewing the previously undefined patio home filing in the recent Wahlborg annexation and the new Ent Federal Credit Union building on Leather Chaps. In addition, Kassawara noted there would be annexation and development applications for Home Place Ranch and Promontory Point.

Commission Chairman Ed Delaney asked if the staff would resume publication of the planning staff’s development summary spreadsheet so that the commissioners could track the proposals they had reviewed and approved to completion. Kassawara said that the staff tracks all action items and that Town Civil Engineer Tony Hurst regularly inspects all infrastructure installations and confirms that all the conditions the town has placed on developments are complied with. The development status spreadsheet was e-mailed to all interested parties the next day by Assistant Planner Natalie Ebaugh.

The short meeting adjourned at 7 p.m. The next meeting is on July 12, at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, June 13: New administrative building delayed

By Jim Kendrick

At its monthly meeting on June 13, the Joint Use Committee for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility unanimously accepted the 2004 audit (which will be forwarded to the state in July), reviewed the construction status of its new administrative building, and scheduled a discussion regarding establishment of a capital improvement fund at its annual meeting in August.

Plant operations manager Bill Burks reported that the plant is performing very well now that warm weather has enhanced the bacterial activity that cleans the wastewater. All members of the committee and several additional district directors were in attendance.

Tax status reviewed

Secretary Hope Winkler reported that she had sent a notification to AT&T that the JUC and the treatment facility are tax exempt. The committee then discussed unique tax aspects of its separate legal identity.

The committee’s purpose is to set policy for the operation of the facility, which is a joint venture owned in equal shares by tax-exempt Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Monument Sanitation District, and Palmer Lake Sanitation District. It is a separate legal entity that is also tax exempt, like the three owning districts, but cannot get a separate tax-exempt identification number. The committee has no bylaws and no taxing authority. A separate tax ID number will be requested.

Capital account to be considered

The committee unanimously concurred on a recommendation to evaluate whether to create a separate capital asset fund for the facility as an agenda item for its annual meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Palmer Lake office building. Creation of a capital fund would require separate contributions from each of the districts in addition to the current monthly billings that are based on equal ownership or on the amount and type of wastewater treatment the facility provides to each district from month to month. Another topic suggested for this August agenda was a review of how the facility’s assets are being depreciated.

Discharge monitoring report

Burks reported that all measurements except one were normal and well below limits for the past month. The fecal coliform count was high briefly because of a dead goose trapped in the processing equipment; the problem was swiftly resolved and the readings returned to their normal levels.

Copper levels in the facility’s effluent dropped from 8 to 7 parts per billion, well below the current temporary average limit. There still could be a long-term problem if the state does not change its preferred limit of just over 8 parts per billion in a few years. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District adds a tiny amount of caustic soda to its drinking water to stabilize the interior lining of new copper pipes, to reduce the effect and amount of copper shavings that dissolve when water pressure is first applied in new buildings.

Sludge hauling payments may be slightly higher than normal for Woodmoor due to a contractor damaging a sewer collector line with a backhoe, which resulted in the infiltration of a lot of gravel. Woodmoor is recovering the costs from the contractor for removing this gravel.

Burks will continue to research the costs, with the help of engineering consultant firm RTW, for installing sensing devices in the aeration basins that would give better information on ammonia and nitrate concentrations. These sensors, which may cost up to $250,000, may enhance his ability to manually, and perhaps automatically, control the amount of oxygen pumped into the basin water for digestion of these two waste products. Warmer weather has stabilized the active bacterial processes and made it easier to control the water treatment process for now.

Committee member Todd Bell, a Palmer Lake Sanitation District director, distributed copies of a five-page draft "public education article" that addresses topics including what chemicals residents should not drain into sanitary sewers. Members were asked to recommend how best to provide the information to their customers and to provide edits and comments on the document at the July meeting.

New building delayed

There has been a delay in delivering final plans to Regional Building to initiate approval of a building permit. However, the committee still plans to hold a formal groundbreaking ceremony, with a date to be determined.

The committee adjourned at 7:15 p.m. The next meeting will be held at Palmer Lake Sanitation District on July 11 at 6 p.m. Meetings are normally held on the second Monday of the month and rotate between the three district offices.

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Palmer Lake Sanitation District, June 14: District copes with loss of Bonnie Hanson

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Sanitation District board and remaining staff are still adjusting to the loss of long-time office manager Bonnie Hanson. At the June 14 meeting, the board unanimously approved the designation "Bonnie Hanson Memorial Board Meeting Room" and funds to provide for plaques and a framed photograph of Hanson, after opening the meeting with a moment of silence for her.

The board has decided to upgrade her vacant leadership position from office manager to district manager and has advertised the new position. A review of the applicants is scheduled for the regular July 11 board meeting. In the interim, Janet Grau, who was serving as Hanson’s assistant, has taken over as acting office manager and Duane Hanson continues to serve as operations supervisor. Both are part-time positions currently though the number of weekly hours may be changed in the near future.

Board president Kathleen Williams temporarily approved the temporary part-time hire of Linda Dillon to assist Grau with the administrative transition after Hanson’s death. The board unanimously approved Dillon’s temporary position, retroactively. Grau thanked Dillon for her assistance in her time of need. Grau also listed all those who helped Duane Hanson and his family before, during, and after the memorial service attended by several hundred Palmer Lake residents.

(See the letter to editor from Board member Todd Bell for more details.)

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, June 14: Board okays new metering and billing systems, considers Lake Woodmoor’s storage potential

By Sue Wielgopolan

In a busy session on June 14, board members approved purchase of a new billing software system and gave staff the nod to initiate replacement of most of the meters and all of the registers in the district. Woodmoor staff recommended that the district stay with Badger, which manufactures the equipment currently in use. Meters and registers will be replaced in 2006. Board members also considered expanding the role Lake Woodmoor plays in the district’s water resource picture.

Financials

Jim Wyss, board treasurer, reported that income for the district was at 42 percent of the projected total for 2005. He said that the figure was typical for this time of year, and he expected income to jump as tap fees for new homes currently under construction are collected and water usage increases. Wyss added that the Village at Woodmoor and Walters Commons projects are running behind schedule; he anticipated that tap fees for these projects would significantly increase income.

Wyss said that operating expenses, salaries in particular, were under budget. He credited part of the savings to General Manager Phil Steininger’s efforts to keep overtime pay at a minimum. He expects operating expenses to increase over the summer as seasonal employees are added to the district’s payroll.

Repairs and maintenance expenses were over budget, primarily due to the repairs on two wells in the first quarter. After Wyss summarized his report by telling members the cash position of the district was good overall, the board unanimously accepted the financial statement for May.

Paul Gilbert, engineer for consulting firm RTW, then briefed the board on the progress of plans to expand the Central Water Treatment Facility (CWTF), and his evaluation of Lake Woodmoor’s potential storage value for the district.

Central Water Treatment Facility Expansion

Gilbert stated the design work for the CWTF was about 60 percent complete. He planned on going over the control systems with Timberline Construction, the contractor selected to do the work, on June 17. Because the lead time for ordering the filter unit was 12 to 16 weeks, the district decided to purchase it separately, before the contractor had been selected. Usually, the equipment would be included as part of the expansion package bid, and the contractor would then adjust the work schedule as needed to accommodate the delivery date. The treatment unit should arrive sometime in October; at that time, the contractor will receive notification from the district to commence work. The cost of the project will run about $400,000.

The addition of the third Trident treatment unit will bring the plant, located west of Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Woodmoor Drive, to its design capacity. At present, the district has the potential to pump more water than it can treat. New construction has increased the demand for water; the expanded water treatment plant will enable Woodmoor to treat and distribute as much well water as it can pump.

Possible use of Lake Woodmoor as storage reservoir

Gilbert presented his findings to the board on how best to utilize the storage capacity of Lake Woodmoor now that the district has the ability to pump water from the lake to the South Water Treatment Facility (SWTF). This enables Woodmoor to use the lake for drinking water, which was not an option until the infrastructure linking the lake to the SWTF was completed. He said that efficient use of the lake’s storage capacity during peak demand (in the summer) could put off the need for one of two additional new wells that the district would otherwise need in the near future.

Bishop and Brogden, a water resource consulting firm, put together a report documenting past water availability by year for storage through the exchange program, which trades the district’s excess effluent exiting the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility for water pumped upstream from Monument Creek. The range hit a high of 400 acre-feet, and the lowest number during the period examined (1985-2003) was 70 acre-feet. Gilbert said that, according to his calculations, Woodmoor could anticipate a yearly availability of approximately 100 acre-feet of water.

The water in the lake is presently used solely for irrigation by the Woodmoor Golf Course. Gilbert recommended that if the district chooses to use the lake as storage for potable water, it could maintain a large enough reserve to meet the district’s agreement with the golf course for three years.

At the golf course’s current rate of usage of approximately 50 acre-feet per year, he calculated that the district would need to maintain a minimum pool depth of 12 to 14 feet in Lake Woodmoor. Gilbert added that his minimum pool calculations did not take into consideration evaporative loss or irrigation for Lewis-Palmer High School’s grounds. (Though a pipeline leading from the lake to the high school has been installed, the district wants to wait until the lake has completely filled before allowing the high school to irrigate with lake water.)

Gilbert told the board that yearly storage of 70 acre-feet in the lake to offset summer peak demand would equate to a well yielding 129 gallons per minute for a four-month period.

Following Gilbert’s report, Steininger talked to the board about the importance of looking at what the lake represents in the district’s water portfolio. Water that can be pumped from Monument Creek (and to a lesser extent gravity-fed from Dirty Woman Creek) and stored in the lake for later use is the cheapest water for the district. Steininger told board members that it is up to them to decide policy regarding use of the lake for storage. Their decisions will drive how the lake is operated.

Though Woodmoor has always used its wells to satisfy the district’s water requirements, the type of growth that is occurring in the district is changing. Until now, growth was primarily residential. A significant portion of new development is commercial, which is generally more water-consumptive. Using the lake to postpone the need for at least one additional well could represent a significant cost savings for the district.

Steininger asked if the board was comfortable utilizing the lake for storage purposes. He said he felt that keeping 180 acre-feet in the lake would guarantee a sufficient supply to cover the district’s agreement with the golf course, and a conservative estimate of 70 to 80 additional acre-feet per year was attainable, even during drought years. During a prolonged drought the district could choose to place restrictions on water usage.

A brief discussion followed on future development and its impact on Woodmoor’s water resources. Board president Jim Taylor inquired when a new well would be needed if Lake Woodmoor were not used; Steininger replied that the district would need at least one new well in 2006, possibly two if the lake were not used as storage.

James Whitelaw asked at what point the district would say no to supplying water to new development. Steininger answered that district policy requires that the density of all new residential development be supported by what water lies beneath. He also told the board that the district is mindful of the long-range regional plan and allots excess water to current commercial ventures, keeping in mind that it needs to reserve a proportional amount for future businesses.

Draft audit approved

Tim Cusick, with the auditing firm Reynolds, Henrie and Associates, then took the floor to discuss the district’s draft audit and answer questions.

Only one significant change was necessary. He asked that the district recalculate depreciation on its wells that were over 10 years old. According to the state, water districts must recalculate and readjust depreciation figures for any well still in service past the expected 10-year life. Cusick added that it is common for districts or other entities with large capital assets to be required to recalculate depreciation.

The board unanimously approved the draft audit. Steininger asked Cusick if his firm was comfortable with the district’s record-keeping. Cusick replied that auditors may voice any concerns through "reportable conditions," which would be included in the paperwork submitted to the state. Absence of such a statement indicates approval. Cusick added that the district’s board is considered the audit committee. Steininger then praised Office Manager Hope Winkler’s meticulous handling of the books and records.

Businesses request additional water

Tuscan Hills Plaza: The father-son team of Joe and Tony Duca, owners of the new Tuscan Hills Plaza under construction on the southwest corner of Cipriani Loop and Knollwood Boulevard, appeared before the board to request additional water for their small commercial building. In addition to their own Italian restaurant, a second restaurant, a dry cleaner, and a children’s learning center will also occupy the structure. Tony Duca said that they expect the building to be finished in June, and the tenants would like to move in as quickly as possible after that date.

The Woodmoor board had previously approved an allocation of just over 3 acre-feet per year for the building. Duca told board members that they had acquired copies of past water bills from the other tenants’ similar businesses and, with the help of Steininger and district engineer Jessie Shaffer, used the figures to recalculate total water requirements based on the types of businesses proposed. Duca stated the original estimates of water consumption presented to the district were his best guess; knowing the tenants’ business categories allowed them to more accurately predict yearly usage. Based on their new projections, the Ducas want an additional acre-foot per year.

Duca assured members that in keeping with the district’s water conservation emphasis, they had chosen water-saving icemakers, dishwashers, and other equipment for their restaurant.

The board had no questions at the time. Steininger informed the Ducas that the board would discuss their request in executive session, and that they might not get an answer that day.

Proposed new car wash: The second excess water request came from Kerry Hicks, a commercial investment broker who owns and operates the Monument Car Wash, a four-bay self-service facility located on Woodmoor Drive. Hicks would like to build a new car wash on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Boulevard and close the present one. The new facility would be larger. In addition to four self-service bays, Hicks wants to include a 120-foot automatic car wash tunnel and a gas and convenience store.

Hicks told the board he would like to build a new car wash because the present one is insufficient to serve the needs of the Tri-Lakes area. In addition, the tunnel in the new car wash would be much more efficient and would use significantly less water per vehicle than the old one. He intends to install a new type of system that captures, filters, and reuses much of the water used in the process. Hicks claimed that according to his projections, he could triple his business while only using one-and-a-half times the water. He also said that the water reuse feature of the new system requires use of organic soaps, which are environmentally superior to what he is currently using.

He is requesting an additional 5.4 acre-feet per year of potable water and a maximum of 2.5 acre-feet per year of water from Lake Woodmoor, which is already connected to the site via a nonpotable line.

Hicks also pointed out other advantages to his proposal. He said that the water reuse feature of the new system requires use of organic soaps, which are environmentally superior to what he is currently using. And because the majority of his business occurs during the winter months, his business would not be taxing Woodmoor’s water supply during the summer peak.

Erin Smith, the Woodmoor district’s attorney, informed Hicks that all excess water agreements were contingent upon the availability of excess water. She then asked whether he had a backup plan in case the district was unable to supply excess water.

Hicks replied that he would incorporate the ability to close down some or all of the self-service bays. Only 30 percent of the water used for the self-service area could be captured and reused. Since that area is the least efficient, it would be reduced or eliminated.

He informed members that if his request for excess water is approved, he may bulldoze the old car wash and redevelop the site, possibly as a medical or dental facility, or convert it to a car detailing shop.

Hicks was told that his request would also be considered in executive session and that the board would contact him later with a decision or a request for more information. (Author’s note: The board will ask Hicks to clarify the volume of water he is requesting; inconsistencies between the excess water requested verbally at the meeting and the amount in the written memo led to some confusion.

Some board members expressed concern over potentially toxic substances that could wind up in the wastewater system, specifically dry cleaning fluids and road de-icing chemicals, and whether the current plant was set up to handle the problems created by commercial enterprises. They agreed that such matters would be taken under consideration when looking at excess water requests. (Author’s note: the board discussed the two requests for excess water during executive session, but made no decision.)

Joint Use Committee (JUC) report

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s delegate to the JUC, briefed the board on the previous night’s meeting. The JUC consists of the three joint owners of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF): Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Monument Sanitation District, and Palmer Lake Sanitation District.

The committee reviewed water quality measurements, which were all within allowable limits for the month except the fecal coliform readings, which were unusually high. Upon investigation, technicians discovered a dead goose in one of the ponds. Removal of the carcass remedied the problem.

Nasser told the board the facility’s effluent copper readings for the month of May were well within state limits. However, copper readings for Palmer Lake and Monument wastewater were three times higher than those for Woodmoor’s wastewater.

Copper problems: Ongoing concerns over copper limits prompted a side discussion by the board. The WWTF had previously applied for and received a temporary waiver from the state doubling the amount of copper that may be present in the plant’s effluent. Officials have speculated that copper plumbing in newer homes may be partially to blame for the levels of copper delivered to the treatment facility. Staff from the three districts suspects that until copper water service pipes are older and a "scale" forms on the interior of the line, copper may leach into the water. Another, more preventable cause is the use of copper sulfate by homeowners to kill infiltrating tree roots in residential sewer service lines.

Clay pipe, used primarily in Woodmoor but also present in Monument, and improperly installed plastic pipe are subject to root infiltration and subsequent clogging and cracking. The newer PVC pipe should be impervious to tree roots, but infiltration can occur at weak points at the joints. Since homeowners are responsible for maintaining the section of sewer pipe connecting their service to the main line, many turn to copper sulfate to kill infiltrating roots. However, the residual copper is difficult and expensive to remove from wastewater.

The board discussed ways to discourage homeowners from using copper sulfate. President Jim Taylor asked if it would be feasible for the district to assume responsibility for all sewer pipe repairs, including those on the section belonging to the homeowner. He reasoned that if the responsibility to repair the pipes belonged to the districts, the homeowner would have no reason to use copper sulfate. Steininger replied that new equipment would be needed and that such a change in operations would be cost prohibitive.

Operations Manager Randy Gillette told the board that other non-copper-based chemicals are available and effective on intruding roots. He said a compound called ROOTX is used by professional drain services. He said an education campaign to inform homeowners of other options might be effective. He further suggested that the sanitation districts could give homeowners the option to purchase ROOTX through the districts, to encourage its use as an alternative to copper sulfate.

Nasser stated that only the Woodmoor district controls the pH of its water. He said the pH may affect the solubility of copper. Gillette said that the towns of Palmer Lake and Monument had little incentive to adjust the pH of their municipal drinking water, as the water and sewer functions were separate entities. However, if the two towns were made aware that adjusting the pH might lower their high copper readings, they might consider taking such an action.

Other issues: Nasser returned to his JUC meeting synopsis. He said that the lack of a reserve for capital expenditures was to be one of the topics of discussion at the annual meeting of the three districts, scheduled for Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Sanitation District Office. He asked that board members submit to him any issues or topics they would like see addressed, and he would ensure that those subjects made it onto the meeting’s agenda.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Gary Barber, manager of the PDWG and executive agent for the El Paso County Water Authority, recently presented his program outlining projected water needs of northern El Paso County and possible solutions to the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. Among the ideas outlined in his PowerPoint presentation, viewed last March by Woodmoor board members, was a proposal to lease water from Arkansas Valley farmers, who would voluntarily fallow a percentage of their land and sell a proportionate amount of water to the PDWG.

Barber contended he is proposing a win-win alternative that could provide supplemental water to northern El Paso County users while allowing farmers to remain on their land and providing them with supplemental income. The idea, however, proved controversial.

Steininger distributed copies of a recent article in the Pueblo Chieftain about Barber’s presentation and the PDWG’s activities. He wanted members to be aware of the growing opposition by the city of Colorado Springs and Pueblo to the PDWG’s efforts to acquire supplemental surface water and be included in plans for the Southern Delivery System pipeline.

Operations update

The Woodmoor district is currently conducting fire hydrant maintenance. The process includes testing and oiling the hydrants to ensure smooth operation; any that are not functioning properly are flagged for repairs. Steininger stated at the meeting that there are 420 hydrants in the district. Two people have been working on them for more than three days and have completed maintenance on about 100.

Whitelaw noted that some of the red flags that made the hydrants easier to find were absent, and he wondered whether the crew was replacing them. Steininger replied that employees would put the flag back up if it were there; the fire department is responsible for replacing any missing flags.

Steininger reported that the district had hired four employees for the summer, and that they are currently videoing and cleaning the sanitary sewer lines. The crew is also working to locate all the district’s manholes. In some cases, the manholes are 4 feet below the road surface. The crews will raise the manholes where needed.

New Warehouse

Steininger announced that S.J. Diller Construction, Ed Green Construction, and Access Construction had applied for prequalification to build the new warehouse. All three were approved. Woodmoor will conduct a bid meeting on June 17, at 1 p.m. to inform the companies of the district’s needs for the building, including details such as heating requirements and the desired number of bays.

Bids will be accepted until close of business on June 29. Steininger told the board the winning bid won’t necessarily be the lowest. Many factors will be considered in choosing the contractor, including previous experience and reliability.

Developer updates

Shaffer presented the development updates to the board.

Walters Commons: Pulte completed the last sewer tie-in to Higby the first week of June. The contractor will begin installing curbs and gutters, and expects to finish in the next two months. Walters Commons will consist of multifamily homes and is located north of Higby and east of Lewis-Palmer High School.

Village Center at Woodmoor: WED construction is working on the water system on Waterflume Way for Filing 1. The Village Center will consist of mixed residential and small commercial, and is located off Highway 105. They expect to begin laying asphalt in the middle of June. After Filing 1 has been completed, WED will begin work immediately on Filings 2 and 3.

Water Fill Station: The district has finalized its agreement with WED construction to build the water station. Staff anticipates that access to the site will be installed as part of the Knollwood improvements in Filing 1. The station will be constructed off Knollwood across from the Lutheran church.

Greenland Preserve: Masterbilt is installing water and sewer mains. The main servicing the lift station will have to be redesigned, as the initial alignment conflicts with other utilities. Plans for the lift station have been submitted to Woodmoor and are under review. The preserve is located south of County Line Road.

Misty Acres: Woodmoor has approved the final water and sewer plans for Filings 1 and 2, located near County Line Road east of the campground. Work has temporarily stopped as the contractor seeks El Paso County’s approval for the plans.

High Pines: The contractor has completed the water system and is currently installing the sewer lines. High Pines Filing 2 is bounded by County Line Road on the north and High Pines Drive on the west.

Monument Business Park: The developer submitted construction plans to the district, which Woodmoor staff reviewed and sent back for revision. The business park will be located directly south of the Plowman property.

Sweet Property: The developer has submitted a preliminary site plan for the area located just east of the Amoco-BP station off Woodmoor Drive. The conceptual plan shows a commercial strip mall with retail and office space, and possibly a fast-food restaurant. After looking at the sketches, Steininger anticipates that the proposed complex would need additional water, though the developer has not yet approached Woodmoor with a request.

Parcel A in Jackson Creek: Developers have initiated discussions with Woodmoor regarding water needs for an anticipated resubdivision of the area north of Higby between I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway (directly west of Lewis-Palmer High School.) The area will be subdivided into three parcels. One parcel will be the site of a new YMCA, another will be used for a nursery; the third will be yet-unspecified commercial space.

Steininger asked when the YMCA planned to open its new facility. Whitelaw said he had heard that they planned to build within two years. Because of the unique nature of the building, which will probably house a swimming pool, Steininger hopes to be able to speak directly with a YMCA representative to discuss the district’s water policy.

Plowman property (MGP): MGP has submitted a preliminary development concept plan to the Woodmoor district. The property is located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-25 and County Line Road. The MGP plan calls for single-family residential lots on the east side of the parcel and commercial on the west side facing I-25.

New meters and registers approved

Shaffer presented staff recommendations regarding new meters and registers. Many transponders, which read the meters and send a signal to technicians allowing them to get the readings remotely, had reached the end of their battery life and must be replaced. Because the meters also lose accuracy as they age, board members considered replacing them at the same time.

Woodmoor staff recommended that the district use Badger meters and Orion transponders (registers), as they offered the best combination of desired features and price.

Presently, all meters in the district averaged together are operating at an accuracy of about 96 percent. Approximately 2,600 meters in the district are at least five years old. Staff determined that the greatest benefit would be realized by replacing all transponders, but only those meters that are five years old and older. Replacing all the meters would only raise the overall accuracy slightly and would not be cost effective. The new Badger/Orion combination units carry a 10-year full warranty and a 10-year pro-rated warranty. The average life is approximately 15 years.

Coincidentally, meter accuracy will again drop to about 96 percent at the same time the batteries on the registers start dying. The district anticipates full replacement of both components at that time.

Staff calculated that the gain in metering accuracy would pay for the replacement of the older meters in about 28 months. (The calculations did not take into account transponder replacement, which was necessary.)

Woodmoor then considered whether it would be cheaper to outsource installation or purchase the meters and registers and hire additional district staff to install the units. After comparing cost, staff found that doing the work in-house would save the district about $16,000. In addition, technicians would also be able to inspect each homeowner’s meter set-up and look for violations or potential problems.

Staff concluded with the following recommendations, which were unanimously accepted by the board:

  • Complete the changeout in one calendar year

  • Replace all registers; replace meters that are at least 5 years old

  • Immediately begin issuing Badger/Orion units to all new accounts

  • Have the district perform the changeout

  • Set aside approximately $700,000 in the 2006 budget for the project

The district will send out flyers in 2006 informing homeowners of the changeout. Homeowners will be contacted to set up a mandatory appointment to perform the work.

New Billing System

Winkler briefed the board on the staff’s recommendations regarding a new billing system. A new system was needed for several reasons. The current system is DOS-based and obsolete, and freezes up the district’s computer system. In addition, the current billing system uses postcards; Woodmoor would like to use envelopes, as more detailed customer data can be included on a full sheet, and the district can include flyers with important information for residents. She also said installation of the new system will dovetail with new meters and registers.

Woodmoor staff compared two systems, Continental and Casselle, which both met the district’s needs. They selected Casselle based on its responsive customer service, support, and flexible features. Casselle allows the district to customize its system to include bar code scanning and an electronic meter-reading interface. Customers will also be able to use direct pay.

The cost of the new billing system will be approximately $19,375, not including technical support, which is included only for the first two months. Winkler said that because Woodmoor is replacing postcard billing with envelopes, there would be an additional expense of $5,000 to buy equipment to fold and insert the bills. If the district decides to outsource the printing and mailing, the purchase of that piece of equipment would be unnecessary. She also reminded the board that with the use of envelopes, postage costs would increase.

Board members unanimously approved purchase of the Casselle billing system.

Cash Investment Changes

Steininger asked the board’s permission to invest reserve funds, while leaving a sufficient amount of cash to cover major expenses. He will consider various possibilities, including government securities, CDs, and ladder funds. The board gave its approval for Steininger to invest reserve funds and report to the board as needed.

Revised Rules and Regulations

Smith distributed another section of Woodmoor’s Rules and Regulations, which addresses articles of inclusion. She said it was important to note before proceeding that inclusions into special districts were completely at the discretion of the board; they have exclusive power to say yes or no. She said that there were no significant conceptual changes to this section of the rules and regulations. She pointed out one minor change involving inclusion petitioners.

Smith collected comments on the previous section, which involved applications and permits.

When asked by board members how many sections remained, Smith replied that there were ten, and they had covered three so far. One of the sections consists of definitions.

The public portion of the meeting ended at 4:10 p.m., and the board went into executive session to consider personnel matters and negotiating positions involving water rights and/or property.

The next meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors will be Tuesday, July 12 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, June 15: Contractors submit proposals to bid on wastewater plant expansion

By Sue Wielgopolan

Eight contractors submitted proposals to enable them to bid on the wastewater treatment plant expansion, General Manager Dana Duthie told members at the June 15 district board meeting. Donala will submit paperwork this month to the Colorado Water and Power Authority for a low-interest loan to cover their share of the plant.

Duthie also informed the board that problems with the small bridge over Jackson Creek could delay the project, and changes to state ammonia standards may necessitate some design changes.

Duthie also talked about recent articles in the Pueblo Chieftain opposing the Palmer Divide Water Group’s idea to lease water from lower Arkansas Valley farmers.

Jake’s Lake pipelines promised to current golf course owner

Rick Fendel, Donala’s water attorney, has heard no news regarding Jake’s Lake. Bethesda Management Company has agreed to deed the property underlying the pipelines feeding Jake’s Lake over to the Gleneagle Golf Course, but so far the golf course has not received the paperwork. When MCTN, LLC purchased the golf course from Bethesda in 1993, the pipelines were not included in the sale. Since then, disputes over the use of Jake’s Lake for irrigation purposes has led the new proprietors to seek ownership of the pipelines and property still owned by Bethesda.

Investment portfolio update

Duthie informed the board that since Kirkpatrick-Pettis had been hired by Donala to manage the investment portfolio, the district has made approximately $33,000 on its investments. Duthie distributed sheets to the board showing a breakdown of the investments by category.

Duthie told the board he would not be touring Kirkpatrick-Pettis’ Denver office as planned. The date for the August meeting of the Colorado Water and Power Authority (CWPA) has been rescheduled for Aug. 26. That date is also the opening day for the Colorado Water Congress’ annual summer conference, for which Duthie had already registered. He had planned the investment company tour to coincide with the CWPA meeting. Duthie will reschedule the tour, and welcomed interested board members to contact him.

El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) meeting

Duthie briefed the board on the most recent meeting of the El Paso County Water Authority.

Pat Ratliff, lobbyist for the EPCWA, discussed passage of HB05-1177. The bill, part of Phase II of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, establishes interbasin roundtables, whose mission is to provide a forum for negotiations and resolution of issues surrounding water transfers between basins.

An interim water committee, called the Water Resources Review Committee, has also been established to address conflicts between water providers and to propose solutions. Duthie passed out a sheet listing the participants. He said of the 10 members, all but four are Democrats, and two of the four Republicans are from the Western Slope. Duthie said that given the current composition of membership, and the fact that several past members of water committees with considerable experience were not appointed, he didn’t expect to see proposals favorable to Front Range interests.

Among several handouts Duthie distributed to the board was one stating the Colorado Springs Utility (CSU) Board’s policy regarding water rights and projects. Duthie said the policy illuminated Colorado Springs’ position on assisting in supplying water to areas outside city limits. Cooperation from CSU is unlikely, particularly as it applies to inclusion of northern El Paso County in the Southern Delivery System or any other cooperative water venture.

Dave Miller, president of a corporation he founded called the Natural Energy Resource Company (NECO), presented his proposal for building a high mountain storage reservoir named Union Park to the EPCWA. The plan calls for construction of what would be the state’s largest reservoir, capable of holding over 1 million acre-feet of water and positioned at an altitude of 10,000 feet on the headwaters of the Gunnison River. Union Park would be almost 35 percent larger than the Western Slope’s Blue Mesa Reservoir, according to a Denver Post article distributed by Duthie. The reservoir would be capable of gravity-feeding five river basins through a network of pipelines.

The $2.5 billion Union Park proposal is not new. Miller, who is an engineer and designer of the project, originally presented plans for the Union Park Reservoir Project during the early 1990s. Environmentalists and communities on the Western Slope strongly opposed the proposal. A state Supreme Court decision dealt the final blow to the initial version of the project.

Colorado state law prohibits water speculation. Miller must obtain the financial backing of water providers in order to build the reservoir, which is the reason he is seeking support from the EPCWA. He claims that, according to governmental interstate compacts, Colorado is entitled to 240,000 more acre-feet of water per year (part of what is know as the Aspinall pool) than it uses or stores. Miller said that water flows out of the state unclaimed because the state currently lacks the capacity to store it. He proposes to capture and use the water initially to fill the reservoir. The water would later be sold to participating water agencies. An additional 60,000 acre-feet of already allocated water, also part of the Aspinall Pool, would be pumped up from Blue Mesa Reservoir for storage.

Uncertainty surrounds the purported 240,000 acre-feet of water. The Bureau of Reclamation is currently assembling several environmental impact studies to determine the amount actually available. The ongoing studies are still a few years from completion.

Though State Sen. Jim Dyers is a vocal advocate, strong opposition to the project by Western Slope communities and environmentalists could make support for the proposal a political liability. Gov. Bill Owens opposes the project. Larry Bishop, EPCWA president, has already received numerous calls in opposition to the plan.

Miller’s water rights will expire soon. He has invested millions of dollars of his own money in the project and wants to expedite action on his plan. Gary Barber, executive agent for the EPCWA, said the group would look into the proposal. Use and storage of Aspinall pool water through other projects is being considered as part of the SWSI initiative follow-on studies; the Union Park proposal is not one of those projects.

The EPCWA executive board, which consists of the EPCWA officers and two at-large members, met to discuss Miller’s proposal and will make its recommendation to the general membership concerning the project at their next meeting on July 6 at 9 a.m. in the 3rd floor hearing room of the El Paso County Building, 27 E. Vermijo.

Dick Parachini appeared before the EPCWA to update the group on the status of the state’s flawed Source Water Assessment Report. Duthie noted the briefing in his memo to the Donala board, but did not comment on the presentation during the meeting.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Duthie distributed a copy of an editorial in the May 9 Pueblo Chieftain concerning the PDWG, and his response. The editorial referred to Gary Barber’s recent presentation to the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District outlining projected water needs of northern El Paso County and possible solutions. Among the ideas outlined in his PowerPoint presentation, viewed last March by Donala board members, was a proposal to acquire water from Arkansas Valley farmers, who would voluntarily fallow a percentage of their land and lease a proportionate amount of water to the PDWG. Barber is manager of the PDWG and executive agent for the EPCWA.

Barber maintains his proposal provides a win-win alternative whereby northern El Paso County users would attain additional water while allowing Arkansas Valley farmers to remain on their land and providing them with supplemental income. The idea has proven to be controversial.

The Chieftain editorial, titled "No more raids," criticized northern El Paso County water suppliers and their efforts to secure additional surface water from the lower Arkansas Valley. Duthie wrote a letter to the editor pointing out several errors and misrepresentations.

The PDWG has not met since the May 27 Donala meeting. The next meeting of the PDWG will take place on June 23.

Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) expansion

Work on the preconstruction phase of the WWTF, jointly owned and operated by Donala Water and Sanitation, Triview Metropolitan, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan Districts, is moving forward. The site application has been reviewed by the state’s district engineer in Pueblo, who made no comments. Duthie considers it likely that the application will be approved by the State Health Department’s Denver office.

Eight contractors responded to GMS’ request for proposal (RFP). (Each district employs its own engineering firm: Triview works with Nolte Engineering, Forest Lakes with JDS engineering, and Donala works with Roger Sams of GMS Engineering. Sams is also designing the plant expansion; GMS was hired to do the work on the WWTF.) Duthie commented that all eight "looked good." Of the eight applicants, seven had worked previously with at least one of the engineering firms employed by the three joint owners of the WWTF. The eighth applicant, though unfamiliar to all the engineers, had the most previous experience building treatment facilities and appeared very qualified.

A committee of seven people is reviewing the proposals. The group is composed of three engineers (Sams from GMS, an engineer from Nolte, and an engineer from JDS), the head staff member from each of the three owning districts, including Duthie, and Rick Sailler, chief operator of the WWTF.

The seven committee members are doing a "grading evaluation" of each proposal. Duthie said all would probably be invited to submit bids. The deadline for bid submission will be in August or September. The operations coordination committee will select the winning contractor in late September or early October.

Member Dale Schendzelios asked whether a specific ultraviolet process had been chosen for the expansion. Duthie replied that a separate RFP would be released for the UV process. He said that a decision did not have to be made before selection of the contractor for the plant expansion.

Duthie informed the board the equalization basin would probably be needed sooner rather than later. The WWTF is handling as much as 730,000 to 750,000 gallons of wastewater per day on occasion, and sometimes has trouble keeping up with peak flows. The basin will store incoming wastewater and equalize flow throughout the day. Duthie said the chosen contractor might need to start building the basin in November or December of this year.

The district continues to evaluate the safety of the bridge across Jackson Creek. The consulting engineer hired by Transit Mix and the Forest Lakes engineer think the bridge should probably be rated HS15, which means it can handle a 15-ton capacity on "tandem load." Put simply, a 2-axle trailer can carry as much as 15 tons on each axle, as long as the axles are a minimum of 14 feet apart, for a total of 30 tons. (Most bridges are an HS20, which means that each axle can carry up to 20 tons. Most highways have a capacity of 84,000 pounds, or 42 tons.)

Sams hired Mike Gaines, a local structural engineer, to look at the bridge. He indicated the bridge would be safe for trucks servicing the WWTF. Gains said the bridge could handle 30-ton tandem loads as long as axle separation was at least 15 feet; the sludge trucks weigh 26 tons, and the axles are 20 feet apart.

Duthie is concerned about liability for the plant. He asked for a letter from Gaines specifying what loads the bridge can handle and a recommended course of action. If reinforcement is indicated, the WWTF will probably need an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the bridge and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit, as the bridge crosses Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat. Sams estimates that the engineering costs for bridge reinforcement would run about $17,000, and the construction costs would be between $50,000 and $100,000.

Ammonia standards

The State Health Department was scheduled to meet on June 16. Duthie expected them to discuss EPA stream quality standards. If the standards are tightened, the Sequencing Batch Reactor, which is part of the expansion, may have to be modified. Duthie said the plant could probably meet standards during the summer. But during winter months, technicians would have to make adjustments, monitoring and fine-tuning the system more frequently.

Struthers Road extension problem

Duthie told the board that the Struthers Road extension, designed for El Paso County by Nolte engineering, is off grade. The road is supposed to connect the north end of Struthers to Jackson Creek Parkway, but there is a 3.7-foot difference in elevation in the plans. Nolte claims there is no money left to fix the problem. Duthie said he does not want to use Donala’s engineering funds and has halted work on infrastructure to be placed under the road until the discrepancy is remedied.

Drilling on Well 9A is complete

The district is waiting for AmWest to equip the well. Duthie said the sands in the Arapaho aquifer at the site are favorable; when the district begins pumping he expects the well to yield 500 to 600 gallons per minute.

Global Excavation has completed the bore connecting Well 13 to the upper lake of the golf course. The bore will enable Donala to capture water used to flush the well and transport it to the lake to use for irrigation. The contractor is presently installing a rock swale; the pipeline is expected to be operational before the end of the month. During excavation, Global accidentally severed a cable line. The break has since been fixed.

Financing for waste plant expansion

Duthie requested the signature of board president Charlie Coble for the loan application Donala is submitting to the Colorado Water and Power Authority (CWPA). The authority controls the funds Donala is seeking from the Colorado Water Pollution Control revolving fund. The loan will finance Donala’s share of the WWTF expansion. The application will be considered at the CWPA’s Aug. 26 meeting.

Triview Metro District will also be applying separately for a similar loan to finance its share of the WWTF; the Authority has indicated it wants to consider both applications at the same time. The loan the two districts are seeking is at a very low rate; the current interest rate is at 3.75 percent, but could change. The cost of the loan will be split among the approved applicants.

Eight or nine groups from all over the state are submitting loan applications at this meeting; many are seeking approval for the fall bond cycle.

Even though the bonds for the two districts will not be issued until the spring cycle in May, Donala and Triview want to seek approval now. Donala is likely to qualify. Should Triview be denied approval, Donala and Triview will consider other options for financing Triview’s share of the expansion. The state will only approve the site application if all three owners are approved for some type of financing.

Petition for inclusion postponed

Duthie distributed a petition for inclusion that the board discussed at their May meeting. Harland and Latisha Baker have subdivided their five-acre Chaparral Hills property on Lariat Lane and would like to annex one of their lots. They intend to build on the other lot, drill their own well, and install their own septic system.

Originally, the Bakers asked for water service only for the second lot. But county regulations stipulate that homes lying within 400 feet of a sewer line must hook up rather than providing their own septic system. The county grants waivers for exceptional circumstances; the sanitation district manager must write a letter requesting the exemption. Because the sewer line in this case was 200 feet away and downhill, Duthie refused to ask for an exemption.

Duthie told the board that because the couple’s lawyer did not provide 30 days public notice prior to the meeting, the inclusion agreement would have to wait until the July meeting.

Erickson property

Gary Erickson has finished the sewer pipeline through the Barash property and is presently working on installing the water lines. The pipeline was delayed for several weeks as the district negotiated with James Barash for a promised easement.

Erickson informed Donala that he is not planning restaurant space for his new two-story office and retail building, located across Struthers from People’s National Bank. He had previously indicated he wanted to lease to a restaurant, which would necessitate installation of a grease trap. Erickson said he might lease to a coffee shop instead. A grease trap could be installed later if needed.

The board went into executive session at 2:25 p.m. to discuss the lease, sale, or transfer of property, negotiation strategies, and personnel matters. The next meeting of the Donala Board of Directors will be on Wednesday, July 20 (the usual 3rd Wednesday) at 1:30 p.m. at the district office, 15850 Holbein Dr.

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Monument Sanitation District, May 10: Zonta’s infrastructure intentions unclear

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Sanitation District Board meeting for June was routine for a change, with updates on new construction being the main topics of discussion. Two directors were absent, Jeremy Diggins and Chuck Robinove. Robinove’s absence was due to a sudden illness and was unanimously excused. Diggins had previously notified District Manager Mike Wicklund that he would be selling his rental property within the district on July 1, which would make him ineligible to be a director, but he did not notify the board that he would be absent for this meeting.

Financial statement format changed

The district’s new accounting firm, Mason Russell West, LLC, provided the monthly statement in a new draft format for review and comment by the board and staff. The format is more closely aligned with the General Accounting Standards Board format that is now required of enterprise fund districts for reporting assets, liabilities, capital, and income. The directors will review the forms and provide comment to Wicklund, which he will forward to accountant Ray Russell for inclusion in the report for the next board meeting.

There have been 20 sewer taps purchased to date this year, for a total of $129,360. After a lengthy discussion about format options, the content of the financial report was unanimously accepted.

JUC building status updated

Operations Manager Bill Burks reported that:

  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Civil Engineer Jessie Shaffer had informed him that Access Construction would submit the final plans for the new Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility administrative/lab building to Regional Building by June 24.

  • All operations and reportable chemicals in the plant’s effluent were normal and easier to control due to warm weather and lower flows through the plant.

  • A new third plant operations position will be advertised.

  • Copper levels were lower this month and well below the temporarily higher limit.

  • Copper may be a long-term problem if the proposed maximum average level of just over 8 parts per billion is adopted.

After an extensive discussion that included a review of what might be appropriate and not appropriate for a combined press release, Chairman Lowell Morgan asked the directors to review a draft public education article about which chemicals are harmful to the sanitary sewer system and to provide comments prior to the July 11 Joint Use Committee meeting.

Manhole fine confirmed

The board unanimously approved using the corporate ownership address in California for billing the $1,000 fine assessed at the May meeting for the unauthorized opening of the sanitary sewer manhole lid at 339 Fourth St. Although a new house is being built on this lot, it appears the ownership of the property was transferred to API Properties 604 LLC of California. However, the deed for the property submitted to the district does not show API’s California address. The payment for the first billing included the required $1,000 penalty for unauthorized opening of a manhole.

Treasurer Ed Delaney said that the fine might end up in court and result in a lien against API’s property. In that event, the county would collect the penalty and a significant interest penalty through a subsequent tax bill to API and reimburse the district. Wicklund reminded the board that contractor Kurt Erhardt had acknowledged at the May 17 meeting that he had opened the manhole cover without authorization.

Trails End infrastructure inspection delayed

Wicklund reported that the video inspections of the new gravity flow sewer system could not be initiated because the manholes and pipes were completely filled with water. Wicklund said the problem was probably inflow of storm water rather than infiltration of groundwater since the system had already passed a pressure check. No estimated completion date was given by the contractor.

Wakonda Hills sewer planning initiated

Zonta has until Aug. 1 to make a final decision on whether it will initiate sewer infrastructure planning and installation on its 99-acre parcel between Monument and Wakonda Hills on the west side of Beacon Lite Road. This option would allow a higher percentage of Wakonda Hills lots to be connected for gravity flow than if all the Wakonda homes were connected solely to the Beacon Lite sewer collector. Final planning was initiated for the eastern one-third of Wakonda Hills since it would be a gravity line connected to the Beacon Lite collector in any event.

Each of the board members expressed concern that the district had not heard from the Zonta owners, Ken and Doug Barber, for several months despite several inquiries from Wicklund by mail and phone.

Raspberry Point inclusion

The exact location of the privately owned sewer lines that the district has agreed to take over is still being determined. Once the easement descriptions can be completed, signatures of each of the property owners must be obtained before the district takes over the responsibility for operation and maintenance of these lines as requested by the homeowners association.

Lien approved

A resolution to place a lien on the property at 244 Mitchell Ave. was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m. The next meeting will be held on July 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the district office at 132 Second St.

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Triview Metropolitan District, June 22: Treatment plant loan application being prepared

By Elizabeth Hacker

The meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District board began at 4:35. Board president Steve Stevenson and member Chuck Burns were absent. Board member Julie Glenn presided.

District Engineer’s report

District Engineer Chuck Ritter, of Nolte and Associates, reported that planning for the wastewater treatment plant expansion was progressing. He had received statements of qualification from eight contractors. The contractors will be evaluated in July, and the selected contractors will be asked to submit a proposal in October.

Ritter noted that they were putting together the application for a low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Pollution Control revolving fund. These loans are federal monies given to states that are designated for pollution control. The state departments of Health, Local Affairs, and Water and Power will review the applications and approve the loans for wastewater treatment. The application will be essentially completed by July 1.

Three districts (Donala, Forest Lakes, and Triview) own and operate the wastewater treatment facility, and District Manager Ron Simpson noted that there was some confusion about which district would be applying for the loan. He added that there would be coordination, but that if Donala applied for and was granted the total loan for $9 million, then Triview would get its portion of the loan from Donala rather than the state.

District Manager’s report

Reimbursement for roads: Simpson reported that Monument denied a reimbursement agreement with the district for roads. Triview is scheduled to appear before the Board of Trustees on July 18 to explain the proposal. According to Triview attorney Pete Susemihl, because of the Recovery Ordinance already in place, the council may be obligated to approve it, but he would have to look into it further.

GOCO grant status: The playground equipment for Homestead Park "A," funded by a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, will be delivered and installed in the next few weeks.

Irrigation: The irrigation system for the Heights Trail is nearing completion, and the maintenance issues still need to be addressed.

Development status: Last month’s inquiries for inclusions from Home Place Ranch, the Baptist Church Camp, and Jackson Creek Crossing South have not progressed at this time. Simpson noted that often applicants wait and tend to all show up at once. The one he met with this month was Ent Federal Credit Union. One sit-down restaurant had also made inquiries but has not committed.

Wal-Mart is submitting plans to the Regional Building Department next week but noted that not all of the issues with the Jackson Creek Land Development Company have been resolved. Simpson anticipated that these issues would be resolved by Sept. 1.

The Remington Hill subdivision, a 91-residential lot subdivision between Higby Road and Leather Chaps, is waiting for final approval. The over-lot grading on the property will start on June 23.

Water and sewer: Simpson noted that there were expenses for normal maintenance.

Water use notification program: The board approved Monument’s request to participate in the water use notification program. The way this program works is that the blue tags used to inform residents if they are delinquent in payment on their water bill would also be used to let them know that they were observed watering during unapproved times. The blue tag states that residents can be fined or that their water could be turned off.

Striping: The board agreed that the thermoplastic striping looked very nice. Simpson noted that there were areas that had not been completed because of weather delays. He noted that to finish, they needed the weather to be hot and dry and that the recent rains have prevented the striping contractor from completing the job. Simpson added that more paint and thermoplastic was used than was estimated.

Water and sewer plant expansion: The master plans for the water and sewer plant need modification, and Simpson asked the board to approve a plan "not to exceed $30,000". The board approved expenditures of up to $30,000 to allow modifications to the master plans, an increase over the previously approved modification allowance, which was $26,125.

Construction standards: Simpson asked the board to approve an increase in what the district charged for their Construction Standards document. They now charge $50, but it currently costs them $90 to print the document. The board approved a price increase from $50 to $90 for the document.

Simpson noted that they anticipate that it will cost $20,000 to update their construction standards and that the Town may also want to participate so their standards will be similar.

Preble’s meadow jumping mouse: The board approved $7,745 for monitoring services and habitat certification.

Estoppel certificate for Promontory Pointe: Susemihl explained that an estoppel certificate is a legal document issued by the lender, which restates all the conditions that the District agreed to with the Walters in the 1980s plan. The board must approve the estoppel before the Walters can obtain funding from a lender. The board approved the estoppel certificate.

School’s flashing light: The board noted that the flashing light at Creekside Middle School would not be turned off until the end of June, after summer school classes are over.

Skateboards: The board noted that they have seen a number of kids skateboarding down Lyon’s Tail and expressed concern for their safety. They suggested that a sign stating, "No Skateboarding" be located at the top of Lyon’s Tail to protect the District from liability. Simpson recommended that they take this under advisement of the Monument Chief of Police. He noted that several signs had already disappeared and that a "No Skateboarding" sign may also be a popular sign for sign collectors. No action was taken, but the board recommended revisiting this issue at a future meeting.

Bills: It was reported that payment was made for striping, GIS, and office supplies. It was further noted that the Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) bill was higher than budgeted and that the rate structure should be discussed with MVEA.

The meeting adjourned at 5:20 p.m.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, June 15: Paramedic pay approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board approved a new incentive pay for qualified firefighters who are also paramedics at their meeting on June 15. The board will also consider offering firefighters the opportunity to purchase additional insurance from the Police and Firefighters’ Association.

After several weather delays, construction of a third engine bay and new offices is now moving ahead at the scheduled pace, with an estimated completion date of mid-August.

Insurance plan offered

Sergeant Dennis Juhl of the Colorado Springs Police Department gave a presentation on the association’s fraternal benefit of accidental death, injury, and illness insurance and asked that the district allow them to contact paid and volunteer members about the insurance coverage and other benefits. The board unanimously approved Sheldon’s request to invite Juhl back to make his presentation to all the members of the district’s staff.

Treasurer’s report

The 2004 audit is moving forward satisfactorily, and the final draft should be available for approval at the next board meeting. The finished report will be submitted to the state by the end of July. Specific ownership tax revenue for the first five months of 2005 already equals the amount budgeted for the whole year. Interest income is $3,000 ahead of the amount budgeted through May.

Paramedic pay approved

Chief Bill Sheldon reviewed the amount of incentive pay that other districts and departments in El Paso County pay fully certified paramedics—which ranges from no pay to $625 per month. After a lengthy discussion, the board unanimously approved a payment of $250 per month for the rest of 2005. The rate will be reviewed during the 2006 budget preparation and approval.

One firefighter will receive the pay initially. A second firefighter has completed all academics and is working on completion of 500 hours of clinical certification training, which should be completed by the end of this year. Sheldon said the goal is to have at least one Wescott certified paramedic for each shift to staff the fire engine, in addition to the paramedic AMR provides at all times for the district’s AMR ambulance.

IFC adoption postponed

The board tabled a proposal to approve a resolution to adopt the 2003 International Fire Code. Sheldon noted that Denver Metro and the Colorado Springs Fire Department had delayed adoption as well and had submitted numerous proposed changes. He added that these issues would not likely be resolved before October.

Sheldon also reported that he and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns had completed the National Fire Academy’s National Chief Officer Training Course. In the past, this was a resident course only in Emmitsburg, Md.; Colorado was selected to offer the first nonresident course in the nation. Sheldon added that the training took three years to complete.

Run report

Burns reported that the district made 133 runs in May, bringing the total to 601 through the end of May, a 4 percent increase over 2004. The calls consisted of 31 medical, 2 traffic accident, 3 automatic alarm, 2 structure fire, 1 vehicle fire, 3 hazardous material, 1 smoke, 3 carbon monoxide alarm, 1 lightning strike, 77 AMR ambulance calls, plus 5 mutual aid calls comprised of 1 medical, 1 traffic accident, 1 brush fire, 1 structure fire, and 1 other.

The meeting went into executive session at 8:20 p.m. on a personnel issue. There were no announcements after the executive session concluded at 9 p.m. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on July 20 at Station 2, 15000 Sunhills Drive. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board, June 22: Meeting cancelled for lack of quorum

By Elizabeth Hacker

The regular monthly meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. was officially cancelled at 6:47 p.m. due to lack of a quorum. Si Sibell, Bob Hansen, and Jeremy Diggins were unavailable for a meeting. Board member Rod Wilson apologized to the attendees.

District residents Tom Conroy and Gloria Ingram were in attendance and noted that the non-attending board members were being irresponsible to the voters who elected them. They added that the schedule was posted at the beginning of the year and board members should make every effort to attend. They stated that this was the third meeting that had been cancelled due to lack of a quorum and that if the board members did not want to be there, they should resign.

Conroy stated that he had a letter he planned to present to the board about a personnel matter. Chief Denboske responded that since the Fire Authority was formed, the Woodmoor staff no longer worked for the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District and that the board no longer had jurisdiction over the staff. The letter would now have to be presented to the Fire Authority board. Denboske and Conroy made copies of the letter to discuss with the Fire Authority.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board, June 22: District applies for grants and disposes of old vehicles

 Below: The two new identical Smeal fire engines purchased by the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District shown in front of the Woodmoor/Monument fire station on Woodmoor Drive. The one on the left entered service in 2004. The one on the right entered service June 21. Photo by John Heiser

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By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors held its regular meeting June 22. Directors Keith Duncan and John Hartling were out of town.

Financial Report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt summarized the financial status of the district and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority. The full report is covered on the facing page in the article on the fire authority meeting that followed the Tri-Lakes district meeting.

Disposal of old equipment

Board President Charlie Pocock said the district received an offer of $500 for the 1975 pumper truck (#2211) that was rejected by Pikes Peak Community College. He said the $500 offer came from the district’s mechanic who is also the Elbert County Fire Chief. The board unanimously approved accepting the offer.

Pocock said the Woodmoor Mountain Homeowners’ Association (WMHOA) has offered $750 for brush truck #2270. Pocock added that the WMHOA intends to build a two-bay fire station to house the brush truck and a surplus tanker from the Larkspur Fire Protection District. He said volunteers from the Larkspur district would staff the station.

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack noted the brush truck is a maintenance and insurance burden to the district.

Hildebrandt said he favors the idea because it "is keeping it in our response area."

Director Rick Barnes added that all Tri-Lakes insignias should be removed before selling the truck to the WMHOA.

The board unanimously voted to sell the brush truck to the WMHOA.

The board also unanimously voted to give ambulance #2283, a 1985 Ford E350 Econoline, to the Monument Police Department. Pocock said the department is interested in using it to respond to calls involving hazardous materials.

Station 2

Barnes reported that he has the list of unfinished Station 2 items with contractor Thomas Construction. He added, "It’s getting done."

In response to a question, Barnes noted that no penalty clause in the contract applies to this situation.

Grants

Pocock announced that the district applied for a federal grant to pay 90 percent of the cost for a $165,000 tanker truck.

He added that the district 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.

Jack, who helped write the grant application, said that of the $65 million available under the SAFER program, only $30 million had been applied for as of the meeting date, and the deadline for applications was less than a week away.

Term limit removal ballot measure approved

The board unanimously approved submitting a ballot measure to exempt the district from the current limit of two four-year terms. Unless the voters in the November 2005 election pass the measure, Pocock and Hildebrandt would be ineligible to run for reelection in May 2006.

Equine Acres inclusion

Pocock reported that the district received a petition signed by 11 of the 12 property owners in Equine Acres. The petition was unanimously accepted. A formal hearing on inclusion of the 11 properties will be held at the board meeting July 27.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for July 27, 6:30 p.m. immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting 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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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority Board, June 22: Authority gives commendations, wrestles with future and board member absences

Below: June 22 - Senior Fire Cadets (L to R) Matthew Behrens, Frank "Buck" Maher, and Blake Mertz received commendations for their actions at a vehicle rollover incident. 

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By John Heiser

On June 22, following their respective district meetings, 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. Each of the boards had three members in attendance, the minimum needed to achieve a quorum.

Absent were Tri-Lakes district directors Keith Duncan and John Hartling and Woodmoor/Monument directors Bob Hansen and Jeremy Diggins.

Fire authority president Charlie Pocock expressed concern about the poor attendance by board members. He said it would be an agenda item for the next meeting.

Financial Report

John Hildebrandt, treasurer for the Tri-Lakes district and fire authority, distributed copies of a treasurer’s report. The report covers the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/Monument district and the resulting financial status of the fire authority through the end of May. Some highlights:

  • The districts and, in turn, the fire authority received $1.13 million or 59 percent of the anticipated $1.91 million in property tax revenue for the year, and $115,512 or 41 percent of the anticipated $284,000 in specific ownership taxes for the year.

  • The district also received ambulance revenues of $109,469 or 36 percent (5 percent below expected levels at this point in the year, an improvement from last month) of the anticipated $300,000 for the year.

  • Administrative expense stands at $106,451 or 46 percent of the budgeted $233,635 for the year.

  • Salary expense is at $635,693 or 44 percent of the budgeted $1.43 million.

  • Overall expenses year-to-date are $1,007,165, which is 38 percent of the annual budget of $2.62 million. That is about 4 percent less than expected at this point in the year. Hildebrandt noted that a recently paid $70,000 lease-purchase payment for Station 2 brings the total expenses in line with the budget.

Audience member and former Woodmoor/Monument district board member Tom Conroy asked about the status of the difficulties with the Tri-Lakes district’s 2004 audit.

Hildebrandt said the problem arose from capital leases covering more than $1 million for a new fire engine and construction of Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road. He said, "The auditors feel [the money for those two items] is part of revenue." He added, "It is essentially a reporting error. The audit is not finalized."

Pocock added, "If you pay $200,000 for a house, you don’t show the amount of the mortgage as income." He said the problem was made worse by the Board of County Commissioners’ initial vote against Station 2 because that delayed construction so the bank funds were held past the end of the fiscal year.

Conroy asked why capital leases were used rather than a loan. Pocock said, "We cannot encumber future boards with a loan. This is viewed as a year-to-year lease."

Hildebrandt added, "The alternative would be to issue bonds, but the 4.2 percent rate on the capital lease-purchase is as good as bond rates. The district hasn’t issued any bonds since 1977."

Pocock said that the bond underwriting fee of $40,000 or more makes it impractical to issue less than about $6 million in bonds.

Hildebrandt added, "With bonds, the voters have to approve an additional mill levy to pay for the bonds."

Chief’s report

Chief Robert Denboske reported:

  • The fire authority responded to 122 calls during May, bringing the total for the year to 676. The 122 calls consisted of 62 medical, 27 fire, 25 traffic accidents, 3 public assists, and 5 calls involving hazardous materials.

  • 54 people were transported to local hospitals.

  • Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 60 calls, station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 21 calls, and station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 41 calls.

  • The fire authority has applied for two federal grants. One for a $165,000 tanker truck that carries about 3,500 gallons of water to areas not served by hydrants. The second is 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.

  • The second Smeal fire engine (#2211) entered service yesterday. The chief expressed appreciation to the board for the two new engines and the new 4x4 ambulance that entered service three weeks ago.

  • The Insurance Services Organization (ISO) will visit in August to determine a hauled water rating for the authority.

Si Sibell, president of the Woodmoor/Monument board and vice-president of the authority board, reported that he observed that emergency equipment responding to a call at Synthes was delayed 6 minutes by a passing train. He asked why the equipment did not use a different route to avoid the train. The chief replied that the equipment was returning from a call in Colorado Springs and went by the shortest route.

Merger

Pocock noted that at the end of June, the authority will have been in operation for six months. He distributed a short paper entitled "Where To From Here," which made the following points:

  • Three positions on each of the district boards are up for election in May 2006. Those whose terms are expiring are Hildebrandt, Rick Barnes, and Pocock on the Tri-Lakes board and Bob Hansen, Bill Ingram, and Jeremy Diggins on the Woodmoor/Monument board.

  • The voters could be asked at the May 2006 election to decide the future of the fire authority. If so, the authority needs to decide now what option to pursue. The options are:
    1. Continue operating as a fire authority and reconsider the question for the May 2008 ballot.
    2. Propose consolidation of the two districts. The voters of both districts would have to approve dissolution of the districts and formation of a new district encompassing the area of the two existing districts. He said, "This is a complex process and fraught with risks."
    3. Propose including the Woodmoor/Monument district into the Tri-Lakes district.
    4. Propose including the Tri-Lakes district into the Woodmoor/Monument district.

  • For options 3 or 4, the name of the surviving district could be changed to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue District. Of the two existing boards, the four board members not up for election plus one newly elected board member could constitute the board of directors of the surviving district.

  • A two-person committee should prepare a list of pros and cons for each of the options.

Ingram said, "I don’t think we are ready or can be ready soon."

Pocock replied that the authority would have about six months to prepare the ballot issues.

Hildebrandt said, "We should stay the course and see how it goes, see whether we get the SAFER grant."

Pocock concluded, "The consensus is that we will not be ready for consolidation or inclusion by the May 2006 election."

Commendations

The board unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the Special District Association name Chief Denboske a distinguished manager for 2005.

Pocock said, "The chief has a lifetime of firefighting service and has done an outstanding job melding the two districts."

Senior Fire Cadets Matthew Behrens, Frank "Buck" Maher, and Blake Mertz were given commendations for their actions at a vehicle rollover incident at about 3 a.m. on May 1. Captain John Vincent read the commendations, which were presented by Pocock and Denboske.

Potential change of district auditor

Bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer said the district is not getting a "good, solid audit" or prompt responses from the current auditor. She recommended contacting firms that do audits of fire districts.

Hildebrandt said, "I was quite upset because I specifically spent time with the principals of the firm about this issue. They agreed they didn’t give us proper direction. They said [the issue of underreporting of revenue and expenses in violation of state law] doesn’t matter."

Ousnamer added, "They said the state will send you a letter."

Hildebrandt and Ousnamer were tasked with obtaining bids from other auditing firms.

Board attendance

Ingram said, "Lack of attendance is killing us. I’m embarrassed."

Conroy added, "There is no excuse."

Woodmoor/Monument board member Rod Wilson said, "We need to talk to the individuals."

**********

The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board holds regular meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be held July 27.

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

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Lewis-Palmer Board of Education, June 16: Principal selected for Grace Best

By Tommie Plank

The board unanimously approved the appointment of Alexis Miller Gibbore as the new principal for Grace Best Elementary School. She has served as assistant principal at Lewis-Palmer High School, and replaces Bob Wedel, who is leaving to take the position of principal in District #20’s new Discovery Canyon School. The board thanked him for his contributions to District #38 students, mentioning specifically his humor and humanity.

After conducting a public hearing to address taxpayer questions, the board approved the 2005-2006 budget of approximately $63 million. The approved budget differed from the preliminary version due to refunding (i.e., refinancing) of Series 1995A bonds, which will save the district $731,000 over the next ten years.

Monument Academy will have a total enrollment cap of 690 Full Time Equivalency students in grades K-11 for the 2005-2006 school year. An addendum to the charter school’s contract was negotiated between the boards of District #38 and the Monument Charter Academy, and approved at this meeting.

The form for the Single Assurance Statement for Federal Grants Program, the state-administered federal education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, was approved. This will allow District #38 to receive partial funding for some mandated programs. Board members commented that the statement is the result of a great deal of paperwork on the part of the administrative staff, which is extremely important to the District, but also indicative of the time and dollars spent on mounds of paperwork and red tape that these two federal actions have created.

The School District will continue to participate in the Pikes Peak Area School District Alliance, which employs a lobbying firm to represent the interests that are unique to Pikes Peak area school districts in the legislature. With the intensity and scope of new legislation, the board believes it is imperative to have a local voice that can address the legislature in a professional and effective manner.

It is uncertain whether there will be a regular monthly School Board meeting in July. Interested patrons are encouraged to call the administration offices, 481-4776, or check the web site, http://lewispalmer.org.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, June 21: Commission approves two controversial projects

By Steve Sery

On June 21, the El Paso County Planning Commission considered three issues of interest to the region.

The first item on the agenda in the Tri-Lakes area was location of the water treatment plant for the Forest Lakes development off Baptist Road and west of I-25. This was on the consent calendar and was approved along with most of the other consent items.

The first item on the regular agenda was the final plat for Cathedral Pines filing No. 2. This is the development north of Shoup Road that is to be accessed by the extension of Milam Road through Black Forest Regional Park. The final plat was approved but the Milam Road extension is still in litigation and the developer could possibly have to access the subdivision by existing roads. This could impact the amount of land that is being dedicated to the park. The plat was approved 9-0.

The next item was a re-hearing of a cell phone tower on Highway 105 and Sierra Way. This had been denied previously and the applicant was told to evaluate alternate locations. The applicant reduced the height of the tower by 10 feet, to 70 feet, but remained at the same site. There was again strong objection by homeowners in the area and it was denied 8-1.

Although out of the Tri-Lakes area, the most contentious item was a zone change for an "event center" located just south of the intersection of Shoup and Black Forest Roads. The zone change was approved from RR-3 (5 acre residential) to PBC (Planned Business Center). This is in a commercial node as noted in the Black Forest Preservation Plan but the objection was that the proposed use was for a facility designed to serve much more than the Black Forest Community. The zone change was approved 9-0, but some commissioners had reservations as to the suitability of the proposed event center and will be looking at that when the preliminary plan comes forward.

The Development Services Department is outsourcing some of the applications in an effort to reduce the backlog. As a result it looks like the Planning Commission may be having two meetings per month for the next few months. This may allow staff to better evaluate the applications and reduce the amount of time required on each one at the Planning Commission hearings.

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June Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

June started off mild with highs in the 70s on the 1st and 2nd. However, some changes were beginning to take shape. A vigorous upper-level low pressure system moved through the region starting on the afternoon of the 2nd through the 4th producing some active weather and snow in the mountains.

As this system approached the region, storms began to develop during the early afternoon of the 2nd in eastern Douglas and western Elbert counties. Several supercells developed just east of Denver and rolled east/southeast along the I-70 corridor. These produced at least eight tornadoes and over 40 reports of damaging hail. In fact, hail up to softball size (4.25 inches in diameter) fell at Cedar Point along I-70. For residents in the Tri-Lakes, storms rolled through during the late afternoon and early evening from the southwest to the northeast. Areas around Falcon, Peyton, and Calhan experienced hail up to 2 inches in diameter, while the western and northern edges of the Tri-Lakes area missed out on the most active weather.

The second week of June started off with warm and dry conditions, as highs on Monday the 6th and Tuesday the 7th reached the upper 70s under sunny skies. Temperatures cooled slightly on Wednesday afternoon, but it remained dry and quiet. Changes began to take shape on Thursday the 9th as a vigorous series of storm systems began to affect the region. Thunderstorms developed during the evening and high temperatures stayed in the 60s. Friday the 10th was even cooler, with plenty of clouds around. Showers and thunderstorms developed during the late morning and continued off and on through the afternoon. Highs on Friday struggled to reach the upper 50s across the area.

The active weather continued through the weekend, with thunderstorms again popping up late on the 11th and continuing through the early morning hours of the 12th. More thunderstorms developed during the afternoon of the 12th as well, but the storminess finally began to clear out of the area by late in the day. Overall, many locations around the Tri-Lakes received .50 inches to 1.50 inches of rain from Thursday through Sunday, just what we needed after a dry start to the month.

Summer heat made a run at the Palmer Divide during the middle of June. The week of the 13th started off with slightly below-average temperatures under mostly clear skies. However, a strong ridge of high pressure continued to build over the area from the Southwest. This brought with it the warmest air of the season. Before this warm, dry air could take control of our region, we had to deal with afternoon and evening thunderstorms on the 15th and 16th. The heat really took hold the 18th and continued through the 20th as highs soared into the mid and upper 80s under clear to mostly clear skies.

Above-normal temperatures continued through the last week of the month, but were accompanied by a more typical pattern of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Some of these storms did manage to produce heavy rain and hail, especially on the 21st, 24th, and 25th. Storms that developed during the mid-afternoon hours on the 21st produced brief, heavy rain and hail up to half an inch in diameter in the Tri-Lakes region, but we just missed out. This was the same thunderstorm complex that stalled over Colorado Springs and caused the extensive flooding, hail damage, and claimed several lives.

Overall, June was slightly wetter than normal for most of us, with close to normal temperatures.

A Look Ahead

July is often a stormy month for the Tri-Lakes region, with afternoon and evening thunderstorms becoming common, as moisture moves out of the Southwest in association with the monsoon pattern. July 2004 was much cooler and wetter than normal, and we had several days of hail.

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

June 2005 Weather Statistics

Average High 75.9°
Average Low 43.8°
Highest Temperature 87° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature 34° on the 5th
Monthly Precipitation 1.66"
Monthly Snowfall 0.00"
Season to Date Snow 154.1" (note-the season snowfall extends from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 24.59" (note-the season precipitation extends from July 1 to June 30)

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life 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 Kappel is the KKTV 11 News morning meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.

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Toppled tree troubles town

By Todd Bell

On June 28 at 8:04 p.m., a 49 mph gust of wind toppled a tree onto power lines behind the Rock House Ice Cream Shop in Palmer Lake. The large tree resting on the power lines caused the switch gear to shut down power for the entire town. The Palmer Lake fire department was dispatched at 8:11 p.m., and crew members cut down the tree to clear the lines.

An Independent Rural Electric Association truck from Elizabeth responded after 9:15 p.m. At 10:12 p.m., most power was restored to Palmer Lake. The rest of the circuits were restored an hour later, according to Rock House owner Jeannine Engel.

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Letters to Our Community

We will miss our friend

The Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board of Directors would like to thank the many citizens for the overwhelming support for the recent passing of Bonnie Hanson. Bonnie Hanson was the Office Manager for the Palmer Lake Sanitation District for over 17 years. Bonnie took her job seriously and was very instrumental in ensuring we received our sanitation bills, providing a high level of customer support including respectful and personal communication with constituents, working with developers, and making sure we never had a problem with our sanitation service for the citizens of Palmer Lake.

We want to acknowledge and say "Thank you" to all of you who sent flowers and offered support for over two weeks. Your contributions, thoughts, and prayers were most appreciated. The Sanitation District would like to thank the following individuals for your gracious support of Bonnie and her family during this tremendous loss to our community:

Jess Smith and Nikki McDonald, for the use of the Pine Crest Chapel and Pine Crest Event Center at no cost during its peak season;

Janet Riddle, for stepping in and maintaining control of existing office processes Bonnie Hanson had created at the Sanitation District;

Kathleen Williams, Pam Meyndert, Della Gray, Gary Atkins, Virgil Watkins, and Joseph Stallsmith, who worked behind the scenes to provide flowers, food, and organized the service for Bonnie;

Tim Shutz, for his touching eulogy of Bonnie Hanson;

and Pastor Tim Miller for providing a meaningful service for Bonnie.

The Palmer Lake Sanitation District will miss Bonnie Hanson’s beautiful smile, her delightful personality, her significant contributions to running a solid sanitation district, but most of all we will miss our friend.

We are very thankful to all of those who attended Bonnie Hanson’s service, and we appreciate the continued community support for Duane Hanson and his family.

Bonnie Hanson remains alive in our hearts.

Todd Bell
Palmer Lake Sanitation Board of Directors

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Santa Fe Trails landscaping

The Santa Fe Trails HOA landscaping committee has been very busy this spring!

We updated our entrance island and planted trees outside our fence on Old Denver Highway. We won a 50/50 matching tree grant from the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association, which is sponsored by Colorado Garden Show, Inc., and Leanin’ Tree, Inc. The Highland Fling, Inc. gave us a really great deal on the trees–thanks guys! If you need trees, I recommend calling them.

I want to thank all our volunteers from the neighborhood! It was a lot of hard work but the results are beautiful. We could not have done it without you!

Ginger Boult

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Tri-Lakes Region is a misnomer!

I’m not quite sure we can call ourselves the "Tri-Lakes Region" any longer!

Palmer Lake has been reduced to a mud pit and Monument Lake is all but empty. Woodmoor Lake is privately owned and is off-limits to the public!

The latest efforts underway are to try to raise money to fill Palmer Lake back up with people’s well water! Monument Lake is barely accessible to the public when it is full. And how did Woodmoor Lake ever become a privately owned lake that could keep the public out??!!

Some Tri-Lakes Region! It’s time the residents of the Tri-Lakes area stood up and raised their concerns to the Monument Council!

James Diefenbach

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The Unger hearing was continued not postponed

In your article ("District approves well maintenance work, seeks recovery of missing funds," OCN, June 4, 2005) on the proceedings of the May 11, 2005, meeting of Forest View Acres Water District, you stated: "Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16 and was released on bail awaiting a preliminary hearing, which was initially scheduled for April 18 and then postponed to May 19. (After the meeting, OCN learned that the hearing was postponed to July 12.)"

That is inaccurate information. The preliminary hearing for Patti Unger scheduled for May 19, 2005, was not postponed, it was held as scheduled. I attended because I was subpoenaed to testify on behalf of the District at the hearing, if needed. Mrs. Unger and her lawyer asked for, and received a continuance of the preliminary hearing. The District Attorney for the criminal case of "The State of Colorado versus Patricia Unger," Robyn Cafasso, was not opposed to that because a forensic audit of the District’s records was not complete (estimated date of completion was June 9), and mediation of the civil and criminal case together had been proposed.

The presiding judge took this into consideration and agreed to continue the preliminary hearing to allow time for the forensic audit to be completed and mediation to take place. Subsequently, the DA consulted with Patricia Unger’s lawyers, and the facilitator for the mediation, and scheduled mediation for July 8 and continued the preliminary hearing to July 12.

As the Public Information Officer for, and Board Member of FVAWD, I did not receive a call from OCN verifying these facts which you "learned after the meeting." I’m not sure who you learned these facts from, but we have not appointed anyone else from the District to act as a spokesperson. So much information regarding this incident has been reinvented in the retelling from person to person, or is "restated" with a personal bias that differs from resident to resident—it’s probably better to verify facts with me
prior to printing them.

Barbara Reed-Polatty

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Pancake Breakfast in Palmer Lake

Below: Ariana, Ferrin, and Todd Williams enjoy a pancakes and sausage breakfast prepared by Assistant Fire Chief Robert E. Lee of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department at the first annual pancake breakfast in Town Hall on June 11.

Despite short notice and limited publicity, over 40 people attended the event.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: For a child’s eyes

By Judith Pettibone

Having featured moms and then dads in these past two columns, it’s now time for kids. Make no mistake: I am not advocating a "kids day." We don’t need it and neither do they. However, recommending children’s books is another notion altogether. Children’s literature and children’s illustrations have never been finer. In fact, it is an abiding pleasure to watch what comes into this bookstore for our young readers. Unless you have children or work in a bookstore, keeping up with all the wonderful new books is nearly impossible. But here is a start both for those with kids and for those who simply admire the genre.

Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?
By Carmela La Vigna Coyle; $15.95
Illustrated by Mike and Carl Gordon

Joining the immensely popular 2003 Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?, Coyle’s and Gordon’s 2005 book is equally charming. Another rhyming book that follows the adventure of Dad and his princess, this one is a winner. For example: "Do princesses dangle their toes in the river?… If they don’t mind getting a bit of a shiver." In an interesting example of teamwork, father and son created the illustrations; son draws the figures while father computer-generates the color. It is a nice touch to have a bookplate printed on the inside cover so you are able to inscribe this book.

Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones
By Claire Freedman; $16.00
Illustrated by Tina MacNaughton

"Bold leopard cubs rest from practicing roars. They snuggle together, all tired, tangled paws." We all had our favorite "good night" books when we were raising our own children, and this 2005 offering could compete with all of those, joining them as a classic. Lovely soft pastel drawings of babies of all stripes, spots, and feathers complement the clever, gentle rhymes. What a special birth or first birthday gift for a newcomer in your midst.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
By Mo Williams, $15.99

This book is very funny, reminding me, rather painfully, of the time we left "Blankie" in a motel room and were already 45 minutes down the highway before we realized that scary fact. Williams, a writer for Sesame Street and a well-known cartoonist, creates an intriguing book using colorful cartoons laid over black and white photos. The charming tale of the pre-verbal toddler who discovers that "Knuffle Bunny" has been left behind at the Laundromat is sure to evoke giggles from all who cozy up on the couch for that bedtime read.

The Boy Who Saved Baseball
By John H. Ritter, $5.99

As the back cover says, "It was the kind of game from which legends are born." Now, if you are an eight to ten year old boy and love baseball, doesn’t this sound like a page turner? With a game that decides the fate of a town, a baseball legend, and a new kid in town, this book is bound to make most young readers eager—even if you are not a "baseball nut."

Sliding Into Home
By Dori Hillestad Butler, $5.95

Giving equal attention to the female side of the ball and bat squad, this award-winning novel is about a girl who does not want to play softball but wants to play baseball. The young heroine is determined to play the sport she likes and not the sport predetermined for her sex. Follow her adventures as she tries to make her sports dream come true.

The Steps
By Rachel Cohn, $4.99

Best-selling author Cohn treats the 8- to 12-year-old reader to this tale of Annabel’s unexpected Christmas vacation adventure. A tale about a stepfamily and a trip nearly around the world gives the young reader a peek at what makes all different kinds of families tick. Consequences and relationships come into play as well, as Annabel tries to "steal" her father back.

The Conch Bearer
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, $5.99

In Divakaruni’s first foray into children’s literature (Vine of Desire and Sister of My Heart), this book has made a splash. Having received Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, a Book Sense Top Ten Pick, and many more accolades make this book a top choice for the 8- to 12-year-old reader. This story of a young Indian boy’s adventure with a mystical conch shell as he tries to return it to its rightful owner will keep adult and child reading with a flashlight under the covers. A sentence to tempt: "The grin transformed Anand’s face, turning him from the solemn, gangly twelve-year-old with knobby knees and elbows into the happy young boy he’d been before ill luck turned his life upside down two years ago."

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
By Stephen King, $7.99

Ever since I read On Writing by Stephen King, I have had enormous respect for his writing gifts. Though his genre is not my cup of tea, he treats his craft with passion and respect and a young reader will not go wrong in his hands. This book’s heroine is 9 and her horror adventure begins as she is separated from her family on a hike in the Maine-New Hampshire woods. Once all alone, as the terror mounts, she takes comfort with her Walkman and Boston Red Sox baseball. Her favorite player begins to be her ‘protector’ as she navigates through her peril.

What a challenge to choose from the pantry of delights that is children’s literature. Hopefully, whether you have young readers in your life or not, this review might encourage you to check out the books in the children’s section. Until next month, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: The Essence of Mulching

By Woody Woodward

Summer is the season of mulching. The idea is to apply a protective layer around plants to reduce evaporation, prevent erosion, maintain even soil temperatures, reduce the invasion of weeds, and in the case of organic mulches, enrich the soil. Proper use of organic mulch can help to reduce soil moisture loss by up to 70 percent. Plus the insulating ability of mulch helps keep the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Mulch helps reduce rain splash and water runoff, and in some cases this quality reduces the spread of plant diseases and pests. A mulch barrier makes it harder for the disease spores of powdery mildew and rust to reach the plant foliage. Cedar and redwood shavings also can discourage slugs in the garden.

One of the primary uses of mulch is to suppress weed growth. A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch prevents sunlight from reaching the soil surface, thereby reducing the chance of weed growth. Any weeds that do sprout are easier to hand-pull. As organic mulches break down and decay, they form a rich, dark organic soil amendment called humus. This enriches the soil with nutrients and improves the soil structure. You can also enhance the beauty of the landscape using mulches. There is a wide range of materials, colors, and textures available to suit your gardening needs.

Bark: Bark can be found in large, medium, and small sizes and is long lasting. It decomposes slowly and may not be of as much value as some other organic sources in improving the soil. It has a tendency to blow away in strong winds and float away if flooding occurs. Slugs find bark a nice haven to hide underneath during the day.
Shredded Bark and Shavings: These make excellent materials for mulching around flower beds, trees, and shrubs. Many of the materials stay together well and form a nicely knit barrier for moisture retention and weed prevention.

Compost: Besides being a superior soil conditioner, compost makes excellent mulch. Apply in the spring and summer, then work some into the soil in fall.

Leaves: This is probably the least expensive mulch for home gardeners, but it does have disadvantages. Some leaves are difficult to apply evenly. For example, cottonwood and other waxy leaves mat together and take years to decompose. Shredding leaves before using them as mulch is helpful and will speed their decomposition for soil conditioning later on.

Pine Needles: If you have evergreens in your landscape, you can recycle many of the needles that fall around the base of pine and spruce trees. They provide a uniform covering that stays in place. In our Rocky Mountain region, the concern about acidity in dried pine needles is a minor concern since most soils are alkaline in lower elevations. It takes years and years of accumulation and decomposition to appreciably change soil pH by using pine needles alone. Pine needles are not recommended around perennials and other deciduous shrubs

Inorganic Mulches: Gravel, stones, pebbles, crushed volcanic rock, and pea gravel are good mulches to accent the landscape. They are not used to improve soil structure or fertility, but can be aesthetically striking. These materials will not require replenishing as frequently as organic mulches.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: American Robin

Zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

As far back as I can remember, the cheerful song of the American robin (Turdus migratorius) has brightened my day. Each year, the robin arrives in spring to dig for earthworms in our yard. Remember all those poems about the robin and its red breast that your elementary school teachers would read to class each spring? In fact, its name in Spanish is mirlo primavera, "spring blackbird."

It wasn’t until I traveled away from the United States that I stopped taking this bird for granted. In the same way many American zoos exhibit parrots, foreign zoos often exhibit the American robin as an exotic bird. This seemed odd to me until I observed foreigners commenting on the beauty of the robin. It then occurred to me how wonderful something so common could be and it made me long for those lazy summer days when the robin’s song broke through the morning silence to wake me. I’ve often wondered how this energetic bird rises so early, as it is the last to sign off at night.

The robin is a member of the thrush family of birds that also includes the bluebird. At 10 inches in length with a wingspan of 17 inches, it is considered one of the larger songbirds. It uses its long, strong legs to forage for food in residential yards. It has a flexible esophagus that allows it to swallow more than one fruit at a time and a unique stomach that digests waxy substances. The carotene in the fruit and insects contributes to its bright orange breast.

Though we may think of robins as eating mainly earthworms, in fact earthworms and other invertebrates make up only about 40 percent of their diet. Their primary food source is fruit. They locate earthworms with their keen sight, which is thought to be rather like infrared photography. In addition to worms, robins eat beetles, grasshoppers, other insects, and on occasion, a small snake or a shrew.

Have you ever noticed that robins forage on the ground mostly in the morning? That’s because they consume fruit in the afternoon to stay warm at night. They eat invertebrates mainly in the morning during their breeding season when they need extra protein to maintain the stamina necessary to mate and raise a brood. Their breeding season occurs from April through August.

A robin’s courting ritual includes the male feeding the female, the male and female approaching each other to touch beaks and then swiftly fly off, and the male singing to the female. The female chooses the nesting site and constructs a cup-shaped nest of thick mud reinforced with grass, leaves, twigs, paper, or twine. The inside is lined with soft grass. She forms the nest with her feet and beak to the shape of her body.

A female robin will have two or three broods per season. Typically each brood contains three to four eggs. The eggs are a distinctive shade of blue referred to as "robin’s-egg blue." And one day, when I get so old and crotchety that I don’t care what my neighbors or covenant officers think, I may paint my house that color.

The female robin incubates her eggs for about 12 days. She sits on the eggs for about an hour before she turns them in the nest and flies off for a short break to feed. The male stands guard while she is away and will sit on the eggs if the female doesn’t return in a timely manner. Both parents feed the chicks, which must be a daunting task because they eat between 35 and 40 meals a day.

Just before they are ready to fledge, the father takes over the feeding because the mother must leave the nest to build a new nest for the next brood. This is the time I often see chicks on the ground that have fallen out of the nest. It is so sad to see the parents helplessly trying to urge the injured chick to get up. When the chicks are about 13 days old they fledge the nest but stay in their parents’ territory for a few weeks to learn the finer points of flying and foraging.

Robins generally remain together for one breeding season, but often mate with other individuals the following year. It is thought that breeding adults return to the same general area each year but their offspring must establish new territories.

The peak migration periods are March and October. Robins migrate but they may actually spend winter in their breeding range. I often see robins in Colorado Springs during the winter months. But because the robin’s winter diet consists of fruit, they spend most of their time in trees, and thus are less obvious. Robins also form flocks when not breeding and roost with other species such as European starlings and grackles. When birds group into flocks it helps them locate food and guard against predators such as domestic cats, bobcats, owls, raccoon, hawks, and crows.

In the fall, the robins celebrate a sort of Oktoberfest in our backyard. We have a mature European mountain ash tree with clusters of bright orange berries that ferment after the first few frosts. These berries must be sweet because every year robins descend in mass, and in a matter of a few hours they strip the tree of its fruit. The robins get a little crazy and are often stunned when they bump into the windows of my studio and drop to the ground in a stupor. We enjoy gathering to watch all the goings-on! While they see us, our presence does not deter them from going after the berries.

On a final note, even though the American robin is common here, don’t take it for granted. Because it feeds in our yards, it is vulnerable to pesticides. Be aware of the chemicals used to eradicate weeds and insects or to fertilize lawns because they may be harmful to robins.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

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The Society Page: Society meets again at Town Hall

By Leon Tenney

The Palmer Lake Historical Society again held its annual Ice Cream Social at the Palmer Lake Town Hall on June 19. Here was the opportunity to get ice cream and pie with the soothing sounds of Archie Archuletta on the ivories. All the usual Society stalwarts were there: Jodi Watkins, Phyllis Browser, Jim Sawatzki, and Hans Post.

Sawatzki is our local historical filmmaker. His latest film, The Man on the Iron Horse, was a biography of General Palmer and aired statewide on all the PBS channels. It is Jim’s best effort to date.

Post is our current chair of the Estermere Committee. Once a year, the Wards, who own this historic 115-year-old mansion, open it up for public tours to show how they have maintained the past in our midst. This year, you can visit it on Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number of people who get a guided tour is limited, so be early. This event is the only fundraiser the Society has all year, so a nominal fee is charged. However, the Wards also open their grounds, which are magnificent. Hans says he has enough volunteers to staff the various posts that serve the public that day.

So we will see you all there.

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Fish in Monument Lake

Below: Veteran avid fisherman Evelyn Spencer of Colorado Springs catches the first trout after Monument businessmen Ernie Biggs and Steve Marks stocked partially refilled Monument Lake with 2,000 pounds of trout on June 13. Photo of Spencer by Jim Kendrick. Other photos provided by Stephen and Melissa Hayes

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Art Matters: The Art of an Endless Summer

By Janet Sellers

Art has been a cultural necessity since the beginning of humankind. Art connects the imaginative and the spiritual to the physical world of actions. It is a form of creation, or co-creation, by artists. We can say that art manifests the imagination for our senses, and we can enjoy such creativity on more levels that way. While some events may be short-lived, a work of art can remain an ongoing and thoughtful tribute.

"Art is the one form of communication we have that acknowledges we have a body and mind," said Dana Gioia, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, in a talk on why art matters. "Art is not a luxury, but absolutely necessary to complete our humanity. It is mainstream civic common sense."

What better place to interact with the arts than Saturdays in Monument at the farmers’ market. Beyond celebrating the wonderful foods from Colorado farms, the market offers some of the most interesting, unusual, and ephemeral offerings in not only fine art and crafts, but artisan foods.

If you do nothing else to take pleasure this summer in our area, go and savor the spring blossom honeys. It is an experience of a lifetime, because of the limited time the bees can harvest from these spring-blooming flowers of blackberries, orange blossom, raspberries, and fireweed. Diana, our cherished "Honey Lady," knows each beekeeper personally and visits them on location to select the honey for our enjoyment.

The French pastry chef proudly displays his creations (I love the filled brioche). At Two Old Goats, the goat cheese is made each week, and these all go quickly. Ephemeral, too, are the short-season fruits and vegetables such as Colorado "sink peaches" (so juicy you have to eat them over the sink) and the famous Colorado sweet corn.

Then, for a visual treat, go catch the watercolor show of these blooms and fruits in the art festival. This part of the market grows over the summer, with more variety of fine art and crafts appearing each week.

Out of about 200 vendors, roughly half are arts related. Some make and sell birdhouses (even the hard-to-find, special-specification bluebird houses) and bird art, iron and garden art, western art and collectibles, wearable art and jewelry, paintings and sculpture, fiber arts and alpaca yarns and knits, al fresco studio experiences, pony rides (okay, that isn’t art, but it is fun), and more.

There will be demonstrations in various fine arts each week: painting, sculpture, pottery, calligraphy, music, fiber arts and spindling, weaving, and more. By summer’s end, you will surely have many fine and enriching arts experiences to savor and tempt you to explore even more.

July Art Events

Art Festival at the Farmer’s Market: every Saturday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the first and third Sundays 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Third and Washington Streets.

Tri-Lakes Views, at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) through July 15, For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

The Art and Nature of Fiber, A Fine Art Fiber Exhibition, features fiber art such as weaving, batik, tapestry, quilting, and more. The opening reception is July 29 at TLCA. The show runs through Aug. 27. For more information, call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

Art Hop in Monument: A monthly art evening in Historic Monument, with food and drink, fine art and crafts, and plenty of schmoozing and conviviality. Thursday, July 21, 5 to 8 p.m. Just follow the Art Hop banners into Old Town from Highway 105.

Art Enrichment and Classes: Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, art classes, camps, and gallery art shows; call 481-0475 or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

Monument School of Fine Arts: Classes for children and adults, art camps, art events and day tours, Galerie du Jour art shows in local businesses; call 488-8280, or visit www.startmyart.com.

2-Watts Creative: pottery, painting, and parties; call 488-0889.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Fourth of July in Tri-Lakes

Palmer Lake Elementary’s four-mile run to Limbach Park in Monument. The starting point is the Palmer Lake Santa Fe Trailhead, at 7:30 a.m.

Monument’s Independence Day Parade: This popular annual event–"the biggest small town parade in Colorado"–is sponsored and marshaled by the Monument Hill Sertoma Club.

Parking is available at Palmer Lake Elementary School, Lewis-Palmer High School, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, Creekside Middle School, and at the new Monument Park and Ride. Five free shuttle buses will run continuously from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The drop-off points are Vitamin Cottage, on Beacon Lite at Highway 105, and at the corner of 2nd Street and Beacon Lite.

9:30 a.m.: Children’s Parade–participants line up by 8:30 a.m. at the south parking lot of St. Peter Catholic Church, at First Street and Jefferson. No entry form or fee needed; just show up with decorated trikes, bikes, wagons, critters, etc. No skateboards or motorized scooters.

10 a.m.: Fourth of July parade through historic downtown Monument.

9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.: Monument Street Fair sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce: Nifty things to buy, delicious food, and more! The Monument Hill Sertoma booth will be selling 4th of July T-shirts at bargain prices. Also watch for their roving salespeople selling hats, bandanas, noisemakers, and much more. All proceeds help defray the cost of the parade.

Palmer Lake’s afternoon events: At the baseball field on Highway 105 at the south end of town, an inflatable playground by Daisy Twist, old-fashioned games and fun by Kiwanis, vendors, and live bands from 2:30 to 8:45 p.m.

Fireworks show at Palmer Lake at approximately 9:15 to 9:30.

Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site Open

The Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department. The slash-mulch recycling site is located in Black Forest on the east side of Herring Road, between Shoup Road on the north and Burgess Road on the south. Residents may bring slash up to 6 feet long and up to 8 inches in diameter to the slash-mulch site, where it will be ground into mulch and recycled. Slash is accepted through Sept. 17, Tuesday and Thursday evenings 5 to 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. No stumps, roots, lumber, railroad ties, dirt, weeds, or household trash will be accepted. Loads must be covered and tied, and children and pets must stay inside the vehicle while at the site. The cost is a donation of nonperishable food for nonprofit Black Forest organizations.

Mulch will be available to Sept. 24. Bring your own tools and load mulch free of charge. The mulch loader schedule for July is Saturdays only, 7 a.m. to noon. In August and September, the mulch loader will be available Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call El Paso County Solid Waste Management at 520-7878 or Ruth Ann Steele at 495-3107, or visit www.bfslash.org.

Free Concerts in Monument’s Limbach Park

Wooden Rose Productions and the Historic Monument Merchants are presenting the sixth annual Concert in the Park series in downtown Monument. Performances are Wednesday nights, 7 to 9 p.m., at Limbach Park, located at the southwest corner of Front and Second Streets in historic Monument. Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy family entertainment. Food and drinks are available for purchase. A hat is passed for donations to compensate the musicians. Contact Woody Woodworth at 481-3477 for more information.

July 6: Bob Turner with Sandy Reay; Jimmy Young

July 13: Jody Adams with Gypsy Heart, the String Dudes

July 20: Chuck Pyle and Gordon Burt

July 27: Third Road Home; Woody Woodworth, Jody Adams, and a special guest

August 3: The Mitguards

Attention, private well owners

Protect Our Wells (POW) invites you to review and provide input to a presentation on water issues that they will be making before the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners. POW is the only organization that speaks for private well owners. They need to be sure they have your issues documented. Plan to attend the POW meeting July 17, 3 p.m., at the Black Forest Community Club (northeast Shoup Road and Black Forest Road). POW is an advocacy group for private well owners in the Denver Basin. Information about POW can be found on the Web site http://protectourwells.org.

Monument Hill Sertoma annual peach sale

It’s time to order those delicious freestone peaches from Palisade, Colo.. An 18-pound box costs $25. Payment by check, cash, Visa, or Mastercard must be received by July 24; the pick-up date is Aug. 6 at Lewis-Palmer High School. For more information, call Bob Tuggle at 488-2212, Ed Kinney at 481-2750, or Peggy Wilmoth at 650-1397.

The 2005 Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival and Workshops

Some of the West’s best storytellers will perform at the 2005 Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival. Free children’s and family storytelling performances and a free evening concert with the featured storytellers take place on July 29 at The Wildlife Experience Museum in Parker. This year’s storytellers include musician Julie Davis of Caribou, Colo., Cherie Karo Schwartz of Denver, and John Stansfield of Monument.

Adult and children’s storytelling workshops and more concerts of story and music for all ages occur on July 30 at Palmer Lake Elementary School, 115 Upper Glenway in Palmer Lake. Festival cost is $50 in advance, or pay for individual events and workshops separately at the door. For more information and a free brochure, contact John Stansfield at PO Box 588, Monument, CO 80132; or phone (303) 660-5849 (Denver metro), or toll-free at (866) 462-1727.

Tour the Estemere Estate!

On July 30 the Estemere Estate, 380 Glenway St. in Palmer Lake, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Palmer Lake Historical Society will organize this event, but the owners of the estate, Kim and Roger Ward, will be your hosts inside their beautifully restored Victorian mansion.

To liven up this wonderful historical and cultural experience, food and drinks will be sold and there will be music and other amusements. Local artists will have a display and historical books will be on sale. There will also be a traditional bake sale. The Lucretia Vaile Museum under the library will be open that day, too. The entrance fee is $5 for members of the Palmer Lake Historical Society and $8 for nonmembers. The proceeds of the day will be donated to the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

It is regretted that handicap access to the Estemere mansion is not possible. Visitors to the house should remove their shoes and preferably walk on socks or slippers (bring them). There is no smoking on the premises. For more information, phone 481-2323.

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